By Joe Donnelly
Shrike, like most
is set in Scotland. The main character is a
policeman called jack Fallon. After a sťance goes wrong something evil
is unleashed into the town of Levenford. Something with claws and teeth
that likes the dark and high places. That is where the story begins and
Jack is in charge of the investigation into the death of the old woman
who chaired the sťance.
The crime scene furnishes more questions for Jack than answers and
Jack's next case is just as perplexing—the disappearance of a baby from
its pram. Then more children go missing and, on top of that, Jack has
to also investigate a sudden string of murders and suicides. All work
and no play might very well make Jack a dull boy, but in a situation
like this what can he do? He works around the clock.
The killer might like high places, but Jack does not. He hates heights
and I was filled with admiration for the way Jack plodded on onwards
and upwards whenever he needed to do so and did not let his fear
control him. I am not a lover of heights myself and the book contains a
few scenes that I found quite uncomfortable to read because they scared
me so much. All of these scenes involved a tall chimney and they were
very descriptive and well written. As I read the scenes I almost felt
like I was the one climbing up to the top of the chimney and it is the
first time that I have ever felt dizzy just from reading the written
word. In fact, in the past, I have watched movies about
mountain climbers, or berserk roller coasters, and never once felt the
terror that I felt when reading Shrike.
The 'high points' of Shrike,
as you can probably tell, suceeded in making a big impression
on me, but a few chapters failed to hold my attention and my mind
started to wander.
Jack is an interesting main character, who lost his wife, and their
daughter, in an accident and is still trying to come to terms with his
loss. Mostly by throwing himself into his work so that he is too busy
to think about the accident, but he also has a great love for his
sister and young nephew who, between them, seem to have helped him
through the worst of it.
Jack isn't the only interesting character in Shrike; there are
plenty of others. Young Librarian, Lorna Breck, is one of them. Lorna
is new to Levenford and, although she has always been a little
psychically gifted, her gift suddenly becomes an overpowering nightmare
for her as she is forced to witness, in her mind's-eye, the terrible
atrocities that are being carried out in the town.
I write a book review I often mention which guy or gal in the
story I loved to hate. In Shrike that person is one of Jack's
superiors, Ronald Cowie. Ronald Cowie is a knob, but not the kind of
knob anyone would want to stick on a door. He is the kind of knob who
seems preordained to have his head put through a door,
sooner or later. He makes Jack's life hard at every opportunity and
would have made a better politician than policeman.
I enjoyed reading Shrike,
but I think that I might have enjoyed it even more if it the story had
been condensed a bit to quicken the pace and, of course, if Ronald
Cowie had met the door he so richly deserved.