Published by: Urbane Publications (30 March 2017)
Imperfection is a new crime series featuring D.I. Stewart Gardener and D. S. Sean Reilly, and set in the West Yorkshire city of Leeds.
A haunting message scrawled on the dressing room wall of a theatre: the scene of a murder. It had been written using the blood from the victim, previously drained in a separate location. At the autopsy, D.I. Gardener and D.S. Reilly are shown a riddle carved into the chest of the corpse, informing them there would be more. Their efforts to find out why are continually blocked by a wall of contradiction, with little in the way of evidence to support their cause. Steered back to the scene of the crime and a disused prop room, Gardener and his trusted sergeant find another puzzle. The murderer, it seems, is playing games.
It soon becomes clear to Gardener and Reilly that to find the killer they need to solve the clues, and to do that, they must tunnel their way into the past, where the streets were paved with gold, and to a man who had terrified people before either of them had even been born...
Imperfection is a different kind of crime novel, as we are introduced to the killer early on; we just don't know his identity at first. From the outset, he leads Gardener and Reilly in a game of cat and mouse, leaving seemingly unsolvable clues for them at the scenes of his crimes. Although it doesn't give a specific time period in the book, it seems as though it is set in the past, as there is no reference made to googling the clues! That would have been the first thing I would have done, so I found it rather frustrating that Gardener and Reilly weren't doing so! I felt there was a Sherlock Holmes-type vibe to the story on the whole, which would also fit with being set in the past, but it's just my theory.
I really enjoyed the parts with the killer and all his different guises, but I found some parts rather slow and quite hard going. Usually it takes me a few days to read a book, but I kept losing interest, so it took me much longer to read this one. It didn't surprise me to learn that Ray Clark writes fantasy novels; I'll have to read some.
If you like lots of detail, prefer a train journey over a rollercoaster ride, and have a thing for Sherlock, I recommend Imperfection.
Special thanks to Matthew at Urbane Publications for providing me with an ARC via Netgalley in return for my unbiased review.