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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
Tooth and Claw: A Mystery
Format: Hardcover|Change
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on November 22, 2014
McCrery is one of my top five favorite crime writers.
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on September 7, 2015
good writer
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on April 2, 2010
In England, Detective Chief Inspector Mark Lapslie finds his synesthesia worsening so he has special compensation to work from his house; sound is the sense that gives him his most difficult challenges as often he nauseatingly tastes noise although he is beginning to hear smells making noises. His wife and child left him even before his olfactory sense changed as he is impossible to live with due to his condition. His sometimes partner Sergeant Emma Bradbury arrives at his house to take Lapslie to the Essex home of TV newscaster Catherine Charnaud, a torture murder victim who was horribly skinned alive. Before arriving Emma gives Mark headphones to keep noise away from him.

Meanwhile psychopath Carl Whittley continues to experiment with explosive devices while constantly fighting with his profiler mom and watching his dad remain bedridden. He is riding high since he skinned Catherine. He plans even more gruesome homicides.

Rotating perspective between a psychopath and a cop with synthesia, Nigel McCrery provides an intriguing English police procedural psychological suspense. Lapslie's sensual issues along with Whitley's obsessive compulsive behavior deadly impulses overwhelm the investigation. Readers who relish a psychological comparative study of a cop and a killer adjusting to their respective worlds will want to read Tooth and Claw and its predecessor Still Waters; as for those who prefer a more typical British police procedural needs to pass as the lead duo supersede the case.

Harriet Klausner
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VINE VOICEHALL OF FAMEon February 23, 2010
Detective Chief Inspector Mark Lapslie returns in another thriller, assisted by his able Detective Sergeant, Emma Bradbury. But in this novel, Lapslie's disability plays a major role. He suffers from an unusual ailment, synaesthesia, a condition where sound translates as taste, hearing as odors, often in stomach-churning combinations. Separated from his wife because it has become intolerable to endure daily family chaos, Lapslie's "constant sensory anguish" is exacerbated to the point that he cannot work at police headquarters, ensconced at his desk in a quiet country cottage where he interfaces with the department via technology. But when a particularly brutal murder occurs, a female newsreader systematically tortured to death in her home, Mark's supervisor demands his presence as head of the investigation. Although Emma does her best to run interference for her boss, Lapslie is caught in a conundrum: he must be present physically if he is to solve the crime.

When another high profile murder occurs, a bombing in a train station, Lapslie is burdened with another case, simply the best man for the job. While juggling autopsies, crime scene investigations and press conferences, Lapslie is overcome, the price of his efforts a severe attack of gut-wrenching odors beyond his tolerance. Although it seems unlikely, Mark links the two crimes, but proving the connection is an impossible task.

Mc Crery casts Lapslie's disease in a starring role in this bizarre thriller, as is the demented psyche of a serial killer driven to add more murders to his macabre list of victims. For once, Lapslie's obscure psychological disorder allows him access to the mind of a killer, but at a terrible emotional price. Given the extremes of sensory stimulation Mark must endure, it's hard to imagine that these two cases are not the DCI's swan song as a detective. A thriller with a new twist, a detective who can literally smell his prey, makes for fascinating reading, the killer a study in emotional damage in his own right. Luan Gaines/2010.
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on June 21, 2012
I got this book because I so enjoyed Still Waters, McCrery's first Lapslie/Emma Bradbury book, but I was very disappointed with this one. Way too much of the book is focussed on describing the really horrible crimes, the torture, killing, awful stuff in excruciating detail. I had to skip whole chunks of the book, and now I am asking myself why I bothered to keep going at all as it has left a nasty taste in my mouth (no pun intended given Lapslie's synesthesia). Also, this is not a "whodunnit", we know almost from the very start who is responsible, although we don't fully understand why until the end.

I did notice that at times in Still Waters, there seemed to be a little too much relishing of the intricacies of painful death, but in this story this issue became really intrusive. Too much gore and awfulness, so unnecessary, has put me off trying another McCrery book.
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on June 8, 2010
Nigel McCrery isn't a household name in the United States yet, but he should be. McCrery has a fascinating vocational background, beginning with a stint as a police officer on the British Murder Squad and later as the producer of the British television series "Silent Witness." Along the way, he has written an impressive number of novels. While he is best known for his mysteries featuring Dr. Samantha Ryan, his series with Mark Lapslie is equally as intriguing, if not more so, as demonstrated in TOOTH AND CLAW.

Lapslie, a Chief Inspector with the British Police, is an interesting enough character in his own right by virtue of his cases, but is made more so by his affliction with synesthesia, a neurological condition whereby his senses are crosswired. In Lapslie's case, sounds strongly trigger certain tastes in his mouth. If this does not sound like a difficult condition, please keep in mind that not all of the tastes that Lapslie experiences are chocolate or a derivative. The condition over the course of the series has gradually worsened, to the extent that Lapslie has basically been assigned to home duties.

All of that changes when Lapslie is assigned to head up not one but two major murder investigations simultaneously, one of which involves the heinous murder of a television newsreader in her home, the other of which concerns the sole victim of a bomb that explodes at a British railway station. The crimes appear unrelated, yet, as the reader learns early on, they are both the accomplishment of Carl Whittley, a disturbed but brilliant young man who is guilty of so much more. Whittley has a very twisted motive for his multitude of sins, and he is on to Lapslie much faster than Lapslie is on to him.

Actually, that is not quite accurate. Lapslie senses Whittley's presence without really knowing it at first; it is the method by which this occurs that forms the backbone of TOOTH AND CLAW, as these two adversaries switch roles repeatedly as hunter and hunted. Emma Bradbury, Lapslie's sergeant, is there to help, and Lapslie needs all the assistance he can get as his condition not only worsens but also expands in a way that he does not anticipate. To make matters worse, police politics take their toll on him, to the extent that matters concerning his job status are not wholly resolved by the time the book concludes. The real meat of the novel, however, is the deadly dance between Lapslie and Whittley, who have more in common than they might suppose.

McCrery is a marvelous writer, possessed of a wondrous if grim imagination. One of Whittley's victims is done away with in such a gruesome manner that it tops any method of murder I have come across in some 50 years of reading detective fiction (the previous winner was Rodent, a Dick Tracy villain in the daily comic strips). McCrery infuses his story with both irony and coincidence, to the extent that it is possible that TOOTH AND CLAW contains a bit of cross-polarization with his Ryan series. It will be a pleasure to read McCrery's next offering to see if that is the case.
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on October 25, 2013
This detective novel is better written than most, and gorier than most I've read. My one big disappointment, and I think it is huge in this kind of book, is that you know very early on how the murderer is going to be caught. And the detective's method is one in a million, as is the criminal's flaw. What are the chances that these two would find each other in the same murder cases, or even on the same planet? Also, the killer's reason for killing is pretty creaky, even for a madman. It smells more of a writer desperately trying to give some coherence to an already shaky story.

I did finish it, but by skimming over a lot of the "suspenseful" chase towards the end.
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on October 2, 2014
Good story, but a more graphic than many readers might want.
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