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Dead on Arrival Hardcover – April, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
British author Hall delivers another chilling, highly topical contemporary police procedural featuring journalist Laura Ackroyd and her lover, DI Michael Thackeray of the Bradfield (Yorkshire) police force, from whom she's become estranged since 2000's The Italian Girl. When Laura leaves Bradfield for a short-term assignment in London, little does she know that she'll be entering the netherworld of illegal-alien smuggling and murder. At a Docklands rail station Laura silently watches as several skinheads viciously attack two Somali brothers, killing the younger of them. When the youthful murderers realize that this striking redhead has been a witness, they scatter, and the older brother makes his escape. Within days of agreeing to write an article on the assault for the Sunday Extra, Laura receives threats and ends up getting stabbed in a crowded club. Thackeray and his crew in Bradfield meanwhile must solve the murder of a prominent Pakistani businessman, as well as the disappearance of a young "Paki" woman. Throughout, Michael and Laura's suffering as they struggle to find a way to mend the broken pieces of their relationship provides ample human interest. Although the idea of a Yorkshire mystery may sound simple, even cloying, the author provides all the gore and grunge the staunchest murder aficionado could hope for and then some. From container shipments of illegals to beastly murders, this novel has what it takes to make the reader shiver.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Reporter Laura Ackroyd has left the security of small-town Bradfield to journey into dangerous London for a meeting. She is also taking a break from her intense relationship with Chief Inspector Michael Thackery, who has been hiding important information about his personal life. When Laura witnesses the brutal beating and murder of an African youth by skinheads, she discovers bigotry is alive and well--and that those who try to stop it can get hurt. Hall vividly portrays the underbelly of London life, where poverty and racial tension between whites and Pakistanis are rampant. Investigating the Somali youth's murder for a magazine article, Laura gains a new, often painful awareness of the real world around her, and of the horrors of illegal immigration. Back in Bradfield, DCI Thackery is dealing with the disappearance of a Muslim girl and the potential loss of Laura. An expert portrayal of aspects of British life that Americans rarely see but will not soon forget. Jenny McLarin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
Now here's the but - character development. Initially in this series Thackeray,(dark past, brooding, man of few words), and Mower, (shallow womanizer), had the potential to become extremely predictable, one dimensional characters. Not so. Interestingly, and ironically perhaps, considering the author's background, Laura Ackroyd is the one who seems out of place/left behind as this series progresses - we spend a lot of time reading about her "outfits", shopping sprees, nail-polish selection, hair-dos, etc. - as well as her needing to be rescued on a fairly regular basis much like a B-movie actress. In a sense Laura has become extraneous or even a hindrance to the plot - hence the three star rating.
Having broken up with DCI Michael Thackeray once again, journalist Laura Ackroyd is in London, looking into job options and trying to decide what to do about Thackeray. On her way home one night, she witnesses in horror a gang of skinheads beating up on two African teenagers. One of the teenagers escapes, but the other one dies. Angry and horrified, Laura is further put off by the investigative officer's dismissive attitude of the crime and of her eye witness account of the incident and culprits involved. And when she is offered the opportunity to do an investigative article about the incident and the social and cultural implications of the crime, Laura jumps on it. Menacing 'phone calls to give up her crusade and to go home only fuels her determination to persevere.
In the meantime DCI Thackeray still reeling from the breakup is called in to investigate the disappearance of a teenage girl. On the surface of it Safi Haque seems to be the dutiful Muslim daughter, hardworking, intelligent and obedient. Where then could she have disappeared to? Could she have runaway? Her parents claim that she has not, but seem reluctant to provide any useful information. And then an account from a witness points to the possibility that Safi may have been kidnapped. But the Haques are not a wealthy family, and seem to have no enemies. Thackeray cannot help but wonder exactly what is going on within the Haque family even as he begins to fear that the search for Safi may end with the discovery of her dead body.
How these two events are connected is what makes this mystery novel such compelling reading. I was able to figure rather early on how these two seemingly different investigations were connected, but even I ws not prepared for the poignancy that the connection would bring. Laura's quest for justice for the dead boy and her outrage at the plight of the asylum seekers resonates through the pages. While Thackeray's quiet anguish at their separation is almost too painful to read. Will Laura and Thackeray finally put all their differences and issues aside and move on together, or will this rift be a permanent one? (Well, I won't go into that as that would be telling, as well as why this novel is really so agonizing.)
"Dead On Arrival" is a very sad and touching novel, but one that is well worth reading.