THE SHEPHERD

Written by Ethan Cross

Review written by Philip Gooden

His historical novels include the Nick Revill series, set in Elizabethan London, a Victorian sequence, and a series of Chaucer mysteries, now in in e-books.


THE SHEPHERD
Arrow Books
RRP: £6.99
Released: 5th January 2012
Pbk

Here’s the standard mix. A psychopathic serial killer, an ex-cop with a troubled past, a Texas small-town setting, a sheriff  -  never given a name as far as I  can see but always referred to as the Sheriff  -  who may be corrupt and even a murderer.

 

The Sheriff’s daughter who the ex-cop falls for. The brutal slaughter in a deserted farmhouse. A conspiracy that may reach as far as the President. So far, so good, Unfortunately, Ethan Cross doesn’t bring it to life. Any thriller is likely to be far-fetched so it needs plausible detail to convince. In The Shepherd, people get chucked off buildings and saved by a cord round their ankle, fires are put out by a car colliding with a hydrant, characters are knocked out with a single blow from a blackjack. It might work if it was better dramatised but it’s more cartoon-style than anything else. Couple this with the serial killer’s habit of philosophising before, during and after every crime he perpetrates  -  ‘The world is a strange place, isn’t it? It is a place of great cruelty and great compassion, a place of great tragedy and great joy ... ’  -  and you have a book that sometimes moves too fast, sometimes too slow. Credit to Cross that he comes up with a genuinely surprise twist at the end, but it is the kind of twist that actually undermines much of what has gone before.

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