review by Maryom
At first an abandoned chapel going up in flames looks like just another case of arson but then a body is found amongst the ashes. Local thugs Neil and Noel Perry, both with previous convictions for arson, were seen in the vicinity but what motive would they have for shooting a harmless homeless guy? And where could they have got the weapon? While DCI Murray's team set to work on door to door enquiries trying to pick up leads, another building in the same area goes up in flames.....
Ruthless fits nicely in-between series 2 and 3 of the Scott and Bailey TV series, as Rachel is settling down to married life, or not, Janet and Ade are back living together but their marriage is definitely on the rocks, and Gill's husband is putting in a most unwelcome appearance. If you're a fan you'll know the set-up, if not the book gives enough back-story to fill you in, without giving too much away. I love the series for its strong female leads - there's not just the odd woman outnumbered in a male dominated department, but a more-or-less evenly split team, including Janet Scott and Rachel Bailey and led by the confident, commanding DCI Gill Murray - this though is the first of the novels I've read. As I'd expected it very much picks up where the televised story leaves off, following the troubled private lives of the three women while they try to clear up a spate of arson attacks and murder. The plot is twisting, turning and unpredictable, but I think for once the drama in the lives of Janet and her elder daughter Elise might almost overshadow the police investigation.
Helped no doubt by having seen them brought to life on TV, the characters feel like real people that I can relate to, understand the conflict they find between home-life and work, and their desire to do the job to their best ability while still having some semblance of a normal life outside it.
It's definitely a book for fans of the TV series, but even if you've never watched it (why?) give this a read, you won't be disappointed. I really enjoyed it and will be reading more of the Scott and Bailey novels in future.
Maryom's review - 4 stars
Publisher - Corgi/Transworld
Genre - adult crime fiction