Flesh Evidence, the fourth DCI Cyril Bennett novel, is a shocking and spine-chilling thriller. A killer targets teenage boys to turn their blood into honey.
DCI Cyril Bennett Harrogate Crime Series #3
It is great to come back to Harrogate in North Yorkshire and reconnect with DCI Cyril Bennett and his team, among which are DS David Owen and DS Liz Graydon, and Dr Julie Pritchett, the Pathologist. The third instalment in Malcolm Hollingdrake’s excellently written DCI Cyril Bennett Harrogate Crime Series is Flesh Evidence, a chilling and gruesome read! It is a tough case involving a psychopath abducting youngsters, cutting their flesh to taste the sweetness of their blood. What horrors the kidnapped youngsters have to go through, imprisoned, no one to see except for the pervert who feeds them nothing but honey. And there is more …
DCI Bennett and his team, among which are DS David Owen and Liz Graydon, need to investigate the disappearance of a fourteen-year-old boy, Tony, who has been missing for over three weeks. We already know the horrible truth: Tony was abducted. We witness the boy’s fear so thrilling and exhilarating to his captor. It is an extreme cruelty to let Tony believe there is hope his captivity will end. When he is too weak to care, the “skin shrunk, taut across his ribs“, at last, he is beyond human suffering. The psychopath’s mission is accomplished: he has created a sweet human nectar. Time to find a new victim, another teenage boy. At a fair a tall man gives a little girl a jar of honey and the family is in shock when they find a piece of tattooed human skin floating in the honey. Forensics discover the murderer ripped the skin off the remains with his teeth! The label says ‘Bee’s Kiss Yorkshire Honey‘ and there are some additional letters.
When more jars with their gruesome contents are left in public places, the once so quiet Harrogate turns into a frantic city full of concerned and agitated parents. The police struggle to find eyewitnesses to describe the man at the fair as time is running out for his next victim. The killer, meanwhile, notices the teenager’s blood is sweetening and almost ready to be ‘harvested’. DS Owen and Graydon interview food sellers present at several fairs and though they receive all sorts of information it is difficult to establish who would know anything or come forward with useful leads on the killer. Among the people they interview are a farmer and his son who is involved with a woman as well as her daughter, a nosy neighbourhood watch and a witness who is a woman now but was born a man. The frustration grows when another boy’s remains and the matching jar of honey with his tattooed skin in it are found.
Bennett suddenly realises that ‘Ichor’ is the honey-like fluid that is “lethally toxic to mortals” that, according to the legends, is in the veins of the old Greek Gods instead of blood. This can only mean one thing: the psychopath finds his inspiration in the old Greek myths. Adding to that, the letters retrieved from the labels on the jars combined form the word ‘INVICTUS’, the title of a poem by the English poet Henley about a man showing a strength of mind when facing misfortune. Could it be that the murderer identifies himself with the poem and if so, what does it mean? Bennett feels the criminal is challenging him, drawing him in with clues and leads, but it is all too real as there are lives at stake. When the next jar is placed within the vicinity of the police station, it confirms Bennett’s suspicions that the killer is playing dangerous games and he has to catch him as time is running out for the psychopath’s next victim.
I love that Liz Graydon is as much present as David Owen and their boss Cyril Bennett in this third book of the ‘DCI Cyril Bennett Harrogate Crime Series’. For me, this crime thriller is the most disturbing of all. All books so far consist of dark characters, of cruel behaviour, even more so towards children. But in this crime novel, the gruesome details are extensively disclosed and the reader watches closely the actions of the murderer, the process of ‘harvesting’ human nectar, the sweet substance that costs young lives. We can only witness, are powerless to intervene, to save the life of a terrified youngster. It is heartbreaking and so expertly written, with an ingenious plot twist! What touched me was the first part of the last chapter, about which one cannot say more as I would not wish to reveal too much, but it was very moving and a lovely ending of this expertly written and exciting but chilling detective novel. Highly recommended!
The ‘DCI Cyril Bennett Harrogate Crime Series’ currently consists of four books:
#1 ‘Only the Dead‘ (my review) – #2 ‘Hell’s Gate‘ (my review) – #4 Game Point – to be published on April 11th (my review will be posted on publication day)
Each book can be read as a stand-alone – but I strongly recommend starting with the first to get to know DCI Cyril Bennett and his beloved Harrogate.
About the Author
If you are born in a library … no wonder you have it in you to be an author one day! That is what happened to Malcolm Hollingdrake and although he took a circuitous route via a teaching career, once challenged to do so, he started writing vigorously. Malcolm has written a number of successful short stories and is currently working on the fourth book in the DCI Cyril Bennett Harrogate Crime Series. Did you know that Malcolm enjoys collecting works from Northern artists and attending art auctions? Yes, just like his protagonist Cyril Bennett! Malcolm Hollingdrake cherishes his home county, which is why his series of crime novels is set in Harrogate.
|Publisher||Bloodhound Books (19 Dec. 2016)|