Katherine Armstrong has worked in publishing for over six years. She is a crime fiction Editor for an independent publishing company in London.
When Trevor Cornwall, a wealthy horse owner and industrialist, is shot outside the gates of his home the most unusual aspect of the murder – other than who would want to kill an apparently well-liked and philanthropic man – was why the killer delivered an obituary notice to a newspaper shortly after his death. Dr John Thorneycroft is called in to help the police – in the form of DCI Dysart – investigate.
A psychologist, Thorneycroft soon comes to the conclusion that while the murderer may be mentally unhinged, he could also be a professional hit man or, at the very least, a well-trained marksman. After another wealthy man is murdered Dysart and Thorneycroft search for similarities in the two men’s lives in the hope of finding the killer before he strikes again. Their investigation leads them to an old kidnapping and into the sights of a greedy and vengeful murderer. Can they stop him before it’s too late?
Dead Shot is a quick and fairly enjoyable read. On first reading, however, I did think that it was set at least twenty years ago (until I read the mobile phone references). The author’s portrayal of journalists is perhaps more flattering than recent events would indicate them to be. When the obituary notice is delivered to a newspaper, the editor does the decent thing of trying to confirm with the police if the announcement of his death is true; the police perhaps surprisingly release the information that Cornwall has been shot.
While the paper does print it (it’s a scoop after all) the general demeanour of the ‘gentlemen’ journalists would lead the reader to expect a good bit of back-slapping and stiff upper-lips. The general language and characterisation seems a bit out of time for a modern crime novel. There’s a lot of ‘he should not have died. The world had need of his kind’ asides that is meant to draw the reader into sympathy with the victims and the senselessness of murder, but in fact – for this reader at least – drew exasperated sighs as it slowed down the pace of the novel and made it appear slightly moralistic. Yes, murder is a senseless act and can’t be justified, but readers of crime fiction know this. We are after the chase, the puzzle, and then the conclusion – have we managed to guess correctly who the murderer is? Dead Shot is like an old-fashioned cosy, best read on a rainy day beside the fire, but one to miss for die-hard thriller fans.