Monday, August 18, 2014
GHOST IN THE MACHINE by ED JAMES - A REVIEW
This is the author's first novel in the series about DC Scott Cullen. He has been a full detective for only a short period of time, and has a very strong ambition to move higher within the Department. He is assigned a missing persons case, which turns out to be that of a young and recently-divorced mother. Friends relate she had a date with a new man in her life, but she never returns to pick up her son and is never seen again - alive.
When DC Cullen investigates her case, which has now become her murder after her brutalized body is found, he discovers a tangled web of deception, and as the body count rises, finds his own life caught up in this twisted scenario. Someone is using an Internet social media site, Schoolbook, to manipulate the victims' lives and set them up for the kill. Who is the Ghost in the Machine?
I couldn't put this one down. The storyline is a very well crafted mystery and the characters are believable and engaging. The police procedural aspect of this novel never becomes routine or stale and it clearly illustrates how a police investigation can never be done in a straight line. Around every corner is a new twist and clue. At times, the police can continue to move forward; however, most times, they are thrown ten steps back and need to regroup and begin again at square one.
What brought an especially fascinating sense to this story was the inclusion of current technology. The Internet, with all its promise and available knowledge, can also be used to obscure and confuse and harbor dark secrets. The police use technology to aid in their investigations, but killers use it too for their own evil purposes. Is there a balance between the two? Does one serve to counter the other? Who can say...
I recommend Ghost in the Machine to anyone who loves a classic mystery and enjoys tagging along with the police (via the printed page, of course) as they investigate a series of murders. There are others in the series, and information can be found on the author's website here. Check it out for all his work and sign up for his newsletter to get word on his new releases. I did!