Thursday 15 November 2012

A Wee Wayne Simmons Review - BONE MACHINE by Martyn Waites


The body is discovered in a disused burial ground. A young woman, ritualistically mutilated, her eyes and mouth crudely sewn shut. Her boyfriend is arrested and charged with the murder. He might have a vicious temper and a history of violence towards women, but is Michael Nell really a killer? 

Michael's lawyer doesn't think so. 

She's hired Joe Donovan to prove his alibi. Donovan's investigations lead him into the murky world of people trafficking and illegal prostitution. But when the second body shows up, he realises it's not just local gangsters he's up against - but a deranged serial killer. A killer obsessed with the city's dark history. A killer who leaves clues pointing to his twisted plan. 

And if Donovan and his team can't decipher those messages in time, a killer who will kill again ...


What a great title, eh? BONE MACHINE. And the book lives up to its name: this is one hell of a ride! 

What we've got here is a serial killer novel/ gangster romp. The setting is Newcastle Upon Tyne, albeit the back streets and brothels of the city. We follow Joe Donovan and his quirky crew, an investigative journalist with a zeal for uncovering the truth. He's on the case of Michael Nell, a suspected killer. But a nose for trouble draws Joe & co into all sorts of bother with the local crime boss.

Written by Martyn Waites, one half of the Tania Carver writing partnership, I knew I was in for a good time with this one. Waites' writing style here is much the same as Carver's: short sharp prose, so stripped back that it's almost indecent; gritty setting and characters, with a splash of humour to wash it all down. It's my kind of writing. I flew threw all 481 pages within little under a week, proving this to be a page-turner.

It's a slightly more cluttered work to the Carver books, the plot somewhat meandering, looser and not just as procedural as the likes of THE SURROGATE. But Donovan's a likeable character, more principled than your average journalist, yet still flawed. He likes a drink or two, for a start. And then there's the ongoing story of his missing son: this plays out quite well in the book, leaving us with a killer cliffhanger.    

My only criticism is how easily I found it to identify the killer. 

Bottom line: if you like your crime pulpy and earthy, look no further..

Wayne Simmons
Genre Fiction Writer

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