MARKED FOR DEATH by Tony Kent (Elliott and Thompson, $A29.99)
Tony Kent made a sparkling entry on the British crime and thriller scene last year with his debut novel, Killer Intent. It was an exciting political conspiracy thriller that built to a very bloody climax. Now he has more than matched it with his second novel, Marked For Death.
Marked For Death once more features criminal barrister Michael Devlin and his fiancé, television reporter Sarah Truman, and introduces an interesting new character in the form of DCI Joelle Levy from the London Police Major Investigation Team. The story opens with the brutal murder, by crucifixion, of a well-respected retired Lord Chief Justice. Joelle is assigned to the case and struggles to narrow down the list of suspects from cases that the Chief Justice was involved with over his career, until a second murder of a former solicitor suggests some links. Sensing connections back to her fiancé, Sarah also investigates the case in parallel to the police. Meanwhile Devlin is largely oblivious to the killings as he focuses on defending a difficult murder case involving a scared young man who is an easy ‘fall guy’ for some hardened criminals. When tragedy strikes close to home, Devlin comes to realise that the killer may also have him in his sights.
This is a gripping, exciting thriller that moves rapidly through its 430 odd pages. Kent competently manages the various strands of his plot and keeps the reader entertained with some well-choreographed and suspenseful action set pieces, as the police work their way through various suspects. The flashes of gunfire and violence are well balanced by the clever, and no less exciting, courtroom scenes, as Devlin tries to help his reluctant client. The book twists and turns its way to a very thrilling conclusion and has a neat sting in its tail.
Adding to the pleasure are a good set of engaging characters, particularly the career driven DCI Levy, who surely deserves a book of her own. Kent does a good job of fleshing out his characters, even the minor ones, and his depiction of the courtroom behaviour of the various characters is particularly good. His extensive experience as a barrister also gives good credibility to the courtroom scenes.
It is a difficult book to put down and will keep you well entertained into the night. Some of the coincidences, and Devlin’s bare-knuckle skills, require a suspension of disbelief, but most readers will be too busy turning the pages to notice or care! A terrific read.
I give it four stars out of five.
Marked For Death is released in Australia on 1 February and in the United Kingdom on 7 February.
Thanks to Simon & Schuster Australia for an early copy of the book.