3 out of 4 stars
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Running Amok by Paul Hughes is a C/T/M/H novel that immerses the reader into a world of plotting, manslaughter, and suspense to relate the story—set in the 1960s—of a New Scotland Yard (NSY) Detective Sergeant (DS) Kevin Devlin. The DS has just moved from Glasgow to a “swinging” London. While heading to work after a good old gym workout, he gets tailed by a stranger. Though Devlin “almost” captures his follower, the DS ends up with a concussion, requiring six stitches to his head. And this event marks Devlin’s official entry into the tricky web of conspiracy and murder that the NSY has been trying to break out of for quite some time.
With a new boss to report to—thanks to the old one being murdered—can Devlin work the never-ending string of mysterious cases out or will he join the line of people getting murdered one by one? Are some members of the MI5 involved in these murders?
Running Amok is book 2 of the DCI Spearing and DI Devlin Series. I have not had the opportunity to read book 1 yet, and so I had no idea what to expect from this one. However, the way the author managed to create the perfect blend, introducing tidbits from the personal lives of the main characters in between episodes from their professional lives, piqued my interest and the story seemed to flow smoothly without a hitch thereafter.
The author successfully creates the feel of the “psychedelic period” of England, when drinks and drugs flowed freely, the Beatles had weighed in with their iconic “Sergeant Peppers” album, Jimi Hendrix had emerged in that “Purple Haze,” and the peace movement and protests proclaiming the need for love set the mood along with the weed. When Hughes says it is 1967, you can imagine 1967 even if you haven’t seen that time period yourself in life. That’s how well the author has set the background for the story.
The book has brilliant character development—from those of the officers’ assistants right down to the murder victims (and there were many of the latter). While the author masterfully created two strong, capable female characters that are said to be in an intimate relationship, the readers were also given an insightful look into the changing laws on homosexual relationships during that period.
What I didn’t particularly like about the book is how it had a “congested” feel due to an overload of characters. Due to this, I had to flip back pages several times and reread some sections just to make sure I wasn’t confusing the characters. Some scenes ended too abruptly and I was left feeling that some of these chapters are just too dry and unsatisfying. For instance, the chapter that introduces one of the main characters of the book—The Fox—was too short, not overly informative, and confusing for the most part. If the character means enough that he is given an entire chapter just for introduction, I think he deserved to be presented better to the readers. There were also errors like missing and misplaced words and punctuation, awkward sentences, and multiple grammatical issues.
Owing to the aforementioned errors, I award this book 3 out of 4 stars. A gory scene describing the events connected to a particular murder makes the book inappropriate for young readers. However, if you love reading stories of murder conspiracies, then you will appreciate this book.
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