I’m welcoming guest reviewer Christine back to the blog today with this brilliant review of A Mind to Kill by John Nicholl! Take it away, Christine!
Author : John Nicholl
Title : A Mind to Kill
Pages : 227
Publisher : n/a
Publication date : July 12, 2017
The hunters become the hunted…
She watched as he slowly approached the room and stopped for a moment, seemingly weighing up his options. And then she called out in a hushed, well-practised childlike whisper she’d perfected over time and come to love infinitely more than any living person. ‘I’m in here. Come on. I’m in here. Come and play with me. I’ve been waiting for you…’
When Rebecca’s childhood abuser avoids prosecution, it sets her on the path to revenge, revenge on any man who preys on the innocent.
Twenty-three-year-old Rebecca poses as a child online and sets her trap, luring one predatory paedophile after another to their deaths.
When a man’s severed head is found washed up on a windswept estuary beach, the police begin their investigation.
Is vigilante justice ever justified?
A Mind To Kill is a combination dark psychological thriller and police procedural. We do know the identity of the killer from the start. She is Rebecca Smith, IT expert for the police department, who was sexually abused as a child. Unfortunately, there was not enough evidence to convict the rapist, even though 6-year-old Becca was brave enough to tell the authorities what had happened to her. Rebecca cannot come to terms with the horrors of the experience and is devoting her adult life to vengeance against as many pedophiles as possible. Rebecca gets sloppy though and the police find a severed head in a bag down by the river. It is then the cops get involved.
Enter DI Gareth “Grav” Gravel, familiar to Nicholl fans from his previous novels. Grav was lead investigator in 6 year-old Rebecca’s case. Rebecca feels the police let her down. Grav carries feelings of guilt that he was not good enough to get Rebecca’s rapist sent away. Grav’s and Rebecca’s paths are colliding again.
This is a quick, yet wrenching read. Rebecca is seriously disturbed. She is not a nice person any way you look at it. She is very unkind to her parents, who have tried to be supportive, but Rebecca cannot let things go. She has one mission in life and has willingly sacrificed everything but her day job for that endeavor. We are audience to her horrific methods, and as hardened as I am to dark graphic violence, some of these scenes were tough. Though I understood why she was the way she was, it was difficult to feel anything but sadness for this protagonist.
On the other hand, weathered DI Gravell is like an old comfy shoe to me, and I love him. He’s a crusty guy who doesn’t take care of himself, despite the frequent (imagined) whispers of encouragement from his beloved dead wife Heather. And he sure isn’t afraid to bend the rules when necessary in order to assure the right result. Though he is certainly rough around the edges, Grav is well respected by his colleagues.
John Nicoll has a wealth of experience with Child Protection services and law enforcement, lending a sense of real creditability to the story. As in all his novels, he makes his readers think. Is vigilantism acceptable? After all, as Rebecca tells herself, pedophiles ruin lives. Why should they get away with it? But who governs the rules of vigilantism? There have to be some guidelines and limits, right? How would that work? Or could it work at all? Should this even be considered??? Again, much to think about.
In summary, this is fast-paced and thought-provoking story with very good characterization and an ending that in my opinion could go no other way. A warning to the faint of heart: Take an anti-nausea pill before reading if you are prone to revulsion and skim the brutal parts. Or just skip this one. Otherwise, I recommend it to all readers who want a quick read that is well written and goes way below the surface.
Note to John Nicholl: John, could you please have Grav see a doctor? I don’t want him dropping dead on us anytime soon. He would be sorely missed.
And thank you, Mr. Nicholl, for providing me with an ARC of your novel. The opinions in my review are mine alone and are unbiased in any way.
A Mind to Kill is available to buy now!