Saturday, October 28, 2017

Book Review: Death's Privilege (A Sarah Gladstone Thriller Book 2) by Darryl Donaghue

Interesting Theme, Solid Plot with an Ending that Fizzles a Bit

When British police detective trainee Sarah Gladstone is assigned to an apparent suicide, it appears a simple case, a chance to check off another training requirement.  But when a connection to another suicide is found, and both become murders, Sarah takes the lead on a case that will change her life.

There’s a lot to like in Death’s Privilege, not the least of which is character development.  Sarah Gladstone comes across as a real person – strong, caring, determined, although flawed.  Her personality is one side of a generational gap with the old-hands who mentor her (and another trainee) on the other.  While she is caring and sees people as salvageable, they represent more of a ‘keep your distance to keep your sanity’ approach to crime fighting.  Sarah resists that view and where she falls after the events of this book is a central theme, key to how you may feel about the ending.

The basic plot – two unconnected, apparent suicides that become murders – was also solid.  I was sold after reading the synopsis, and the book continues the suspense, especially in the early parts.  The rigors of Sarah’s job are also well described.  The long hours, the sacrifices, even the minor inconveniences of aging accommodations and limited budgets are well depicted.

But while the way Sarah was characterized was a strength, the process of developing that persona wasn’t.  The sections where Sarah lamented her sacrifices and worried about their effect on her family and herself were too drawn out.  All the angst pulled the story down.  Additionally, some facets of her personality seemed out of place, as if they had been added merely to increase complexity or suspense.  A minor example, to avoid any spoiler, was her claiming to remember nothing during an exam when by all other accounts, she was flying through the program.  But the primary downside was the ending.  It was too rushed and too convenient.  Most of the late reveals involved relationships, aliases, and basic facts about people that the police should have known much earlier.  And both the way the details of the crime were exposed in the final pages and the nature of culprit’s motivations were somewhat disappointing.

Overall, the ending leaves something to be desired, but as a police procedural across generational boundaries with characters who feel real, Death’s Privilege is tough to beat.

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