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Thursday, 8 March 2018

‘Cloning the Hate’ by Jeff Dowson

Published by Williams and Whiting,
17 August 2017.
ISBN: 9781911266648

Bristol based Private Investigator Jack Shepherd is an ex-policeman who usually has a good working relationship with the local police, mainly because he steers clear of treading on official toes by intruding into current cases. However, the case of the murder of Alfie Barnes is different. Alfie is the younger brother of Jack’s friend and lover, Linda. Jack is very close to the Barnes family and Linda had supported Jack and his daughter, Chrissie, when Jack’s wife, Emily, was dying of cancer. Alfie had high-functioning autism, he had been clever and funny and vulnerable, and Jack suspects that somebody had exploited his skill with computers and unravelling puzzles to do something illegal and dangerous. He feels guilty that he is not doing all he can to discover who murdered Alfie, as if he is failing his friends.

Jack receives a visit from Danny Malone, a crooked ex-cop and thug whom Jack was instrumental in getting dismissed from the police. Danny’s manner is, as always, threatening, but he actually wants to make a deal with Jack. Malone claims that he knows who Alfie was associating with and will tell Jack if Jack locates Malone’s missing daughter, although Malone and his wife divorced many years ago and he is not part of his daughter’s life. To Jack’s surprise, Malone’s daughter is Amy Turner, a popular young Soap star.

Before Jack makes a decision regarding Malone’s offer, Malone is badly beaten and left in a coma. Unable to get the information about Alfie’s new contacts from Malone, Jack starts to search for the missing actress, and soon encounters people with more reputable motives to employ him to locate Amy. Jack also follows leads of his own regarding Malone’s underworld associates. If Malone has been attacked as a punishment for offering to talk to Jack about Alfie, Jack believes he may be able to backtrack and discover those responsible for Alfie’s murder. Jack’s search leads him to some dark places as encounters the Far Right and witnesses the brutish violence of the Neo-Nazis and the evil of the smooth-talking, corrupt businessmen that are seeking political power and will kill and maim anyone who stands in their way.

Cloning the Hate is the third in the series featuring Jack Shepherd. As a series it started off as very good and gets better, more passionate and powerful all the time. Jack is an excellent central protagonist, at times tough and ruthless is also generous, with an intrinsic sense of fair play and determination to protect the weak and vulnerable. The author has mastered the trick of engaging his readers so that they really care about the core characters, with Jack’s entire family circle cleverly portrayed as caring, decent, believable people, while the villains are truly mindless, violent and scary. The plot is fast-paced, and the terror attacks and crowd scenes skilfully portrayed. This is a superb political thriller but, more than that, it is a book with insight into things that really matter. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Carol Westron

Jeff Dowson began his career working in the theatre as an actor and a director.  From there he moved into television as an independent writer/producer/director. Screen credits include arts series, entertainment features, drama documentaries, drama series and TV films. Turning crime novelist in 2014, he introduced Bristol private eye Jack Shepherd in Closing the Distance.  The second thriller, Changing the Odds, was published the following year.  Cloning the Hate is the latest in the series. He is a member of BAFTA and the Crime Writers Association.

Carol Westron is a successful short story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.  She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  The Terminal Velocity of Cats, the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published July 2013. Her latest book Strangers and Angels published 28 November 2017 is set in Victorian England.  Also published in 2017 is her fourth novel in her scene of Crimes Series Karma and the Singing Frogs.  

To read a review of Karma and the Singing Frogs, click on the title

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