The Safe Word – Karen Long

thesafewordTitle – The Safe Word

Author – Karen Long

Published – 2014

Genre – Crime fiction

Bloggers are often approached by self-published or independently published authors looking for reviews of their books. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with offers, but if the book sounds interesting I try to say yes – you never know when you might come across a gem, and it was no mistake to accept a review copy of this debut from Karen Long.

I was a little taken aback by the opening of the book (especially as I was reading it on the train) as it features DI Eleanor Raven engaging in some sado-masochistic sex. I hoped no-one was reading over my shoulder, and then hoped that this wasn’t a crime fiction author jumping on the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ bandwagon. As it turns out I needn’t have worried (on either score).  Raven’s sexual proclivities are what set her apart from other leading characters in crime fiction, but they are also integral to the story and the development of the investigation into a serial killer. Anyone starting the book thinking that they’re going to read ‘erotic crime fiction’ will be disappointed though.

The action takes place in Toronto, after the discovery of the body of a woman who has been tortured and then displayed in an abandoned power station. At the start of the investigation Raven is assigned  a new partner, so we see the relationship between the two characters develop. The trail leads Raven, who has personal knowledge of the Toronto club scene, to discover how the killer is targeting the victims, but not before there are more gruesome murders. Using multiple points of view the reader gets to know more about the killer and their actions, whilst keeping their identity hidden.

We’re introduced to a small cast of characters within the police department, and a dog, who offer some light relief from the brutal murders, and I can see scope for developing these further if Long writes more in the series.

I feel a little harsh in giving this only three stars, especially if one of my criteria for considering a book to be more than three is if it’s something I will remember – because that is certainly the case. However, I prefer books that have more of a sense of place, and coincidence has it that I read something very recently where the killer had a similar motivation.  Nevertheless, this was an engaging read with a well-paced plot.

Many thanks to the author for the copy of the book and you can find her on twitter – @KarenLongWriter. You can see another review of this book at The Book Corner and find out more about Karen on Crime Thriller Fella’s blog.

1star1star1star

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