What I enjoyed most about “Chasing the Dead” was the strong sense of place, the willingness to confront the seedy and unpleasant without wallowing in it and mastery of pace shown in the writing and the plotting.
The novel is centred around a big secret. This is a plus for page turning appeal but requires more than a little effort to suspend disbelief.
The big secret generates violence that escalates and becomes increasingly and disturbingly intimate as the story progresses. The violence is graphically and skillfully described. It’s not the kind of gratuitous “serial killer porn” violence that has stopped me reading Val McDermid, but it is very unpleasant. This made the book harder to read and, by the end, harder to believe. Our hero is subjected to treatment that would put someone in hospital for weeks and perhaps cripple them physically and emotionally for life and still puts up a fight. I found this implausible.
Nevertheless, the book is well written, well plotted and has a strong central character. It’s easy to see the sequels following thick and fast.