This tension filled police procedural is Rob Kitchin's first foray into writing crime fiction. He has previously written sixteen scholarly non-fiction books, and is a Professor of Human Geography and Director of the National Institute of Regional and Spatial Analysis at the National University of Ireland Maynooth.
A young woman is found with a sword speared through her throat at the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation in the Wicklow mountains, and with her body is Chapter One of The Rule Book, a self help guide for would be serial killers. Chief Superintendent Colm McEvoy from the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation is assigned to the case. But Colm's wife Maggie has died recently and he is struggling to cope with being a single parent to his young daughter Gemma, and trying to give up the dreaded cigarettes that killed his beloved wife.
When a second murder occurs within 24 hours, and another chapter left near the murder scene, Colm becomes involved in a battle of wits with a self proclaimed master criminal, The Raven.
The Raven is taunting the police to catch him before he completes all the chapters in his book.
Rob Kitchin has shown there is still some life in the serial killer theme if the main investigating officer and the villain can capture your attention.
Policeman Colm McEvoy is a sympathetic character who has so many problems to face both personal and professional that you feel for him and can identify with the stress he is under.
Superiors who want to stay away from any potential trouble, but take the credit for success, and very ambitious subordinates who want to make a name for themselves at anyone's expenses are prevalent in most organizations.
Rob Kitchin writes about that situation with some insight, and he also cleverly blends in facts about Ireland.
At one time, Ireland had the highest institutionalized rate per head of population in the world, almost double that of practically everywhere else in Europe.
The compressed time scale of the murders over the period of a week mean that the investigative team do miss a vital connection, but that would be forgivable in real life and in fiction.
This was a very promising first crime novel, and I hope Rob can take enough time off from his day job to produce a sequel, because there is a hint that profiler Kathy Jacobs and Colm might get together in the future, and the poor man needs some pleasure in his life.