“The formidable DCI Cyril Bennett and DS David Owen of Harrogate Police find themselves embroiled in a series of bizarre events. A domestic dog attack on a child soon leads to a more complex case – the macabre discovery of a jigsaw of featureless, indiscernible body parts amongst bin bags littering a quiet road on the outskirts of the town. While under the leadership of a Chinese Mafioso, a team of Eastern Europeans spreads its tentacles into the sordid underworld of people trafficking, dog fighting, prostitution and murder.
Bennett quickly has his hands full investigating a gambling syndicate, the discovery of a mutilated corpse, the death of a prostitute and the case of a badly beaten police officer. As Bennett and his team are stretched to capacity cracks begin to appear. Is there a link between these cases and can they catch a twisted killer before he strikes again?”
This is the second book in the DCI Cyril Bennett series set in Harrogate, and this one is an absolute cracker! Hell’s Gate is a lot grittier than Only The Dead, and ever so much more savage. It can be read as a standalone but having read the previous novel, it gave me a much more deep insight into the characters. Bennett and his partner, DS Owen are the perfect pairing. They play off each others personalities giving their relationship the slant of a comedy duo. The unlikely friendship between them causing many “laugh out loud” moments for me throughout the book.
“The better I get to know men, the more I find myself loving dogs.” This quote by Charles De Gaulle features prominently in this book, as a gangland story of gambling, murder, human trafficking, prostitution, drugs and dog fighting (yes, really!) all swirl together to make this one ferocious and turbulent tale.
The complex plot has been well planned and perfectly executed, and it is clear with the depth of the detail that Malcolm has researched this topic well. This book is definitely not for the faint hearted. There is so much contrast in the book with the chapters alternating between the dark and brutal underworld, to Cyril and Owen detective antics, so the reader gets to see both the dark and the light. Malcolm’s books actually remind me of Stuart MacBride’s DS MacRae series, which I absolutely LOVE. This is a massive compliment from me, I am always amazed when an author can switch my emotions so quickly and seamlessly. One minute I was sitting holding my breath with a sick feeling in my stomach, then quickly change chapter and I am sitting laughing my head off. Only a skillful writer is able to flick the switch like that.
I would highly recommend this book, and if you want to enjoy the book as much as I did I would recommend reading Only The Dead first to help you fully understand Cyril and Owen’s budding friendship. Massive five stars from me. Thank you to Malcolm Hollingdrake, Sarah Hardy and everyone else over at Bloodhound Books for the advanced copy and the chance to take part in this blog tour.