Hour Of Need by John Carson

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Hour Of Need by John Carson
Publisher: Vellum
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

A death in the family. A man cut down. A cold-blooded killer with no boundaries.
DCI Harry McNeil wasn’t fond of his stepfather, but he never wished him dead. And there’s no time to comfort his mother when he’s pulled away to upscale Edinburgh to investigate a sadistic doorstep stabbing. But despite the victim having lived a perfectly ordinary life, McNeil suspects a gruesome hit.

When the deceased’s widow witnesses a dark stranger lurking in the neighborhood, the seasoned detective is certain he has the assassin in his sights. But when his hunt for the culprit swerves too close to home, McNeil fears the killings have become personal.

Will he track down the murderer before death knocks on his own door?

DCI Harry McNeil and his girlfriend DS Alex Marshall are with Harry’s family at the funeral for his stepfather. Their grieving is interrupted when both Harry and Alex are called away for a difficult crime. A man has been brutally murdered on his doorstep practically in front of his wife and kids. The victim appears to be an ordinary man with a boring Bank job – so why does this look like a professional hit? Can Harry, Alex and their team solve this before anyone else gets hurt?

This is the fourth book involving DCI Harry McNeil and I have to admit I’m really enjoying the series. The mysteries are interesting, police procedural style of cases and while there are often a few coincidences that make me squint a little the quick pace, light tone of writing and interesting characters always have me reading these books pretty quickly. I find them very “moreish”. I’m starting to feel that Harry and Alex’s relationship – while progressing well – is the only aspect to the story that isn’t very “stand alone”, in that all other aspects of the story (the team, the plot, the victim, the crime etc) all stand very independently and well if this was the first book I had ever picked up. And while Harry and Alex are obviously explained, their connection, teasing and history thankfully isn’t rehashed over and over. So while as a reader who has been on board since the first book, I know what’s going on and how this relationship has evolved, it’s the only point I’m beginning to feel might give a pause for someone who picked this book up by itself not having read the previous ones.

I really enjoyed that in this book we get to know more about Harry’s family. His mother and brother are strong secondary characters throughout this story and his sister is also mentioned though not shown on page very much. I also really enjoyed catching up with Harry’s team again and refreshing my memory on some of the exceptionally memorable characters there.

Readers who are sensitive to character deaths should probably be warned that a supporting/secondary character dies in this book. I truly feel that this should add deeply to the plot and hopefully also the character development of Harry and I have to give kudos to the author for having the gumption to kill off an important character. I doubt it was done lightly or easily and I definitely feel it makes the story stronger for it.

Fast paced with an interesting plot and a good-sized cast of wonderful characters this is a great book and a good addition to the series. I’m eagerly looking forward to reading more.

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