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The Dead Sit Round in a Ring (Ds Stella Mooney, 1 X) Hardcover – May 10, 2004


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Product Details

  • Series: Ds Stella Mooney, 1 X (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (May 10, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312327102
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312327101
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,128,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Rough dialogue, intricate plotting and cascading suspense mark British author Lawrence's excellent debut, in which four bodies are found sitting almost casually in a circle in a nondescript London flat: three are suicides, the fourth is stabbed through the heart. Det. Sgt. Stella Mooney, an intense, troubled and dogged investigator, learns that small-time crook Jimmy Stone, the murder victim, was an active trader in "murderabilia," such as a scene-of-crime photo of the Manson killings and O.J. Simpson's autograph. Jimmy's story is one of many subplots that lend depth to this absorbing police procedural. The trail leads Stella into contact with a crime family and into delicate turf wars and accommodations within her own organization as well as with other agencies whose aims are not always the same. The enslavement and prostitution of East European women is yet another element the author uses to telling effect, as is the crisis in Stella's relations with her housemate provoked by a persistent journalist. Lawrence smoothly shifts focus, allowing the reader to follow Stella, a prostitute, the journalist and a chillingly efficient and ruthless Serbian assassin, among other distinctive characters. Readers are sure to want to see more of the memorable Stella in further adventures.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* The titular clique of elderly suicides may be the gentlest thing that Detective Stella Mooney encounters in the whole of this riveting thriller. Trouble is, one of them wasn't invited to the party: a dealer in morbid "murderabilia" whose life has been snipped short with surgical precision by a hand more skilled than his own. This is Ivo Perec, formerly of the Bosnian killing fields and now showing the London hooligans a thing or two about brutality as he restlessly awaits employment in some imminent bloodbath obscurely linked to the brisk refugee flesh trade. Tenacious Mooney takes blows from man and beast, brushing off the scars and tinnitus, but not the psychological toll of the daily descent into a city so forlorn that the grisly predations of a cold-blooded Serbian mass-murderer are remarkable only for their efficiency. Lawrence's spare, keen-edged prose ploughs with irresistible force through this grim hellscape, churning up shards of dark poetry in its wake. From the spontaneous dialogue to the clear, convincing procedure and the menacing atmosphere, there isn't a single false note in this striking debut, which earns pride of place deep in the darkest circle of noir, down past Ian Rankin and John Harvey to the shadows where lurk Ken Bruen and Derek Raymond. David Wright
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Discerning Reader on October 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
What a fine debut novel! Lawrence's plotting is dark, textured, and laced with tales of the seedy underworld of London's crime scene. This first book in a (hopefully!) series starring Stella Mooney is well thought out and consistently gripping--the end is believable without being predictable.

If you like British police procedurals, like Val McDermid, Ian Rankin, Mo Hayder, and Denise Mina, then this will be an author to add to your list of fun authors to watch.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bucherwurm on September 4, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Here comes a likable female detective sergeant named Stella Mooney. Stella is an amazingly durable lady when you consider the mental and physical pummeling she takes during the course of the story.

First of all she finds four people sitting cozily in a circle in an apartment living room. Problem is that they are all dead. Three of the victims are cult suicide victims, but the fourth has a just slightly detectable stab wound to the heart, something that smacks of the work of a professional assassin. Stella's search for the killer takes her into the London underworld, and a mafia type family that the word evil really doesn't begin to describe.

In one scene one of the brothers arrives at a warehouse in a limousine to whack someone who is skimming from the business. He trots in complaining that it is too hot and humid for this sort of thing, shoots the guy in the head, and walks out still complaining about the weather.

It's a grim world of drugs and prostitution, and Stella cruises through it, getting beaten up periodically even when she is minding her own business. It isn't enough that she gets slugged by humans, she also has a turn with a jungle animal that leaves her quite shaken. Stella doesn't need these sorts of troubles as she is also seeing a shrink for the nightmares she is having about one of her previous cases. And in her love life she is torn between two decent guys.

People get whacked, and Stella continues her precarious chase for the murderer. People from Eastern Europe get involved, and matters get darker. Stella drinks a bit too much, but, hey, what would you do if you had her problems? Author Lawrence is also a poet, and he injects many a clever phrase into the narrative. A second book about Stella is out, but to date is only sold in England. American readers should note that British jargon is kept to a minimum. Just remember that "nick" is a police station or jail, and "shebeen" is an unlicensed liquor bar.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Harnett VINE VOICE on July 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The title comes from the opening scene of this outstanding debut - three elderly family members sitting in a circle, dead. Suicides. And one extra man. Not suicide.
London Detective Stella Mooney sorts out the bizarre scene soon enough, but finding the killer of the extra man, small time crook and purveyor of grisly "murderabilia," Jimmy Stone, leads her into the shadowy underworld of sex slavery and criminal turf wars.
A persistent and attractive journalist who seems to know more about the case than he should complicates Stella's murky personal life as he draws her into the bleak and dangerous corners of London inhabited by Eastern European girls forced into hopeless lives of prostitution.
Point of view shifts periodically among various secondary characters from cops and doomed petty criminals to George, Stella's live-in lover, and Ivo Peric, a vicious Serbian assassin (and Jimmy Stone's killer though we don't yet know why) growing bored waiting for his assignment. Each scene's focus is intense and local, and the panorama of views gives the reader a full and complex picture of the crime, the politics and the people.
The prose is spare and pointed and often poetic, the characters expertly fleshed and flawed, the pace sharply punctuated. A gritty procedural, sure to be enjoyed by fans of Ian Rankin and any who enjoy urban noir.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By L. J. Roberts VINE VOICE on July 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I generally like the tough, gritty, can-handle-anything character, particularly a female. But Stella is so unrelentingly dark as to be oppressive. Thankfully, she is in therapy, which offers the only hope of my continuing the series because I read first for character. The book is well written but, without a single spark of light, I did not enjoy this book as much as I might have done.
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Format: Hardcover
I got the first novel in the Stella Mooney series from the library. Now, all of the UK police terms are making sense!

In The Dead Sit Round in a Ring, the police find four people dead in a flat, three are related and suicides and the fourth, well, that is the problem. That fourth person, Jimmy Stone, has a punctured heart from a steel needle. Yes, Jimmy was murdered. Thus begins a mystery that takes Stella Mooney and her team into the underworld of London, where people trade in drugs, guns, and women. During the course of the investigation, the team comes up against some very powerful gangsters and a link to the war in Bosnia.

The writing and dialog are tight and gritty. Stella is an excellent heroine, a woman, as I have said before, that has some baggage. And while she is the center of the novel, she has her fair share of beatings and close calls with death. She is single minded in finding the killer of Jimmy and that gets her in trouble with some of her peers.

Like the other novel I read, Lawrence doesn't end the book cleanly. That is, not all loose ends are tied up, just like real life (or an episode of "Law and Order"). I think that is part of what makes these novels so good - sometimes the bad guys do get away. One thing that happens in the novel, I couldn't tell if it were a random act of violence or a premeditated attempted murder. There are a few episodes like that and I think that it lends a measure of realism to Lawrence's writing.

If you are interested in the Stella Mooney books, I highly recommend starting with this one. It prepares you for the others, laying the groundwork for Stella and her relationships and providing good explanations of policing in the UK. An excellent novel.
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