The Simian Curve By Mark Lalbeharry

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A debut novel by Mark Lalbeharry who, if he manages to keep upright on his particular surfboard, will become a name to watch. He has written an engrossing police procedural in The Simian Curve (Hale Crime), with strong characters, a coruscating plot and a neat twist to give a flourish at the end. 

Labelled as a ‘puzzling case for DCI Cresson’, the story opens with a child in jeopardy as a prologue to the main story, which involves animal testing, financial double-dealing, murder and sharp violence. The policewoman in charge, DCI Diane Cresson, is a respected senior detective, with younger officers around her, all well drawn and interesting.

Set in London, and including a neat subplot involving Frankfurt police and international terrorism, this is a detective cum thriller story, given pace by short chapters that manage to negotiate all the currents of the story, delivering the reader to the water’s edge with matters satisfactorily resolved.

Dave Duggan, Verbal Magazine

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When a little girl gets stuck between two garage blocks on a rundown estate, the fire service is called in. To rescue her, the fire officers have to demolish part of one garage and inside they discover a preserved but headless body.

The garage owner is a Thomas Tranmore, reported missing a few months ago. As well as the flat he also owned a big house around the corner. Tranmore was a scientist at a pharmaceutical development company and had previously worked at the MoD.

The homicide team assigned to the case is headed by DCI Diane Cresson and comprises mainly DS Mike Arnett and DC Claire Quant. Because of Tranmore's MoD connection, politics slow down the investigation. In fact the team hasn't got a lot to go on. The dead man had no job, was divorced and only one friend has come forward. His house was devoid of everything and only a few hairs provide enough DNA for the dead man to be identified with.

Running concurrent with Cresson's investigation is the progress of German arms dealer Joseph Kirby who has come to the UK to deal with a mystery contact who will provide him with Government secrets.

THE SIMIAN CURVE is a pleasant read which keeps your interest. Towards the end, a particularly unexpected incident involving one of the team certainly engages the emotions. The main characters' personal lives are fleshed out and smaller mysteries like who is leaving messages on Arnett's mobile phone are answered by the end of the book.

Well written but not flashy, this is a nicely plotted, realistic feeling police procedural and I'd like to read more about Diane Cresson if there are further appearances.

Karen Meek, Eurocrime

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