BOOK REVIEW - BLOG TOUR Rage & Retribution (DI Sterling #4) by Lorraine Mace
A big thank you to @lomace @AccentPress @damppebbles
Can two wrongs ever make a right?
A man is found by the side of a canal, comatose and brutally attacked.
It quickly becomes clear that someone is abducting men and subjecting them to horrific acts of torture. After three days they're released, fighting for their lives and refusing to speak.
A councillor is accused of fraud.
Montague Mason is an upstanding member of the community. That is until he's publicly accused of stealing the youth centre's funds - an accusation that threatens to rip through the very heart of the community and expose his best-kept secret. But how far would he go to protect himself?
Two cases. One deadly answer.
As the two cases collide, D.I. Paolo Sterling finds he has more questions than answers. And, when torture escalates to murder, he suddenly finds himself in a race against time to find the killer and put an end to the depravity - once and for all.
This is my first foray into the DI Sterling series and I must admit that I am going to hunt down and consume the rest because I really, really enjoyed this novel. Not reading any of the other books in the series had little impact, rather the relationships between characters are so well constructed that I am eager to read the earlier novels to see how they have developed and grown.
As the synopsis evidences, the novel is constructed of two seemingly separate plots running alongside. We have a sadistic sexual predator targeting local men who are taken, submitted to three days of rape, torture, and water deprivation, before being dumped in semi-comatose states. Under the advice of an empathetic – but silenced by confidentiality – medical doctor to look for other hospital admissions with similar injuries, it becomes clear to DI Sterling and his team that they have a very dangerous serial attacker in operation.
The second plot involves a local councillor accused of fraud at the opening of a new local community youth centre, of which DI Sterling is a strong supporter and volunteer. Investigating the claim leads Stirling and his team down a rabbit hole of local turf wars, seedy sex clubs operating on the periphery of legality, corruption, financial fraud, and all manner of other criminal activities.
The two plots running alongside is a highly effective device that creates tension and suspense. You know that somehow the two cases are connected, but you don’t know how, and just like DI Stirling, you find it niggling at the back of your mind throughout. The answer is there, why can’t I see it?!
Eventually the two cases spectacularly collide in a fashion that is equal parts shocking and satisfying (but I won’t ruin that here!). This plot concept is particularly clever and well articulated. It is shocking but believable, understandable and – dare I say it – relatable.
Without giving too much away, this book leads you to question previously held assumptions about what is right, what is wrong, and whether eye-for-an-eye, in some situations, may be reasonable. Some people just deserve their comeuppance, but should this be delivered by a vigilante or by an officer of the law? What if the law is precisely the reason why such vigilantes must operate, and does that justify their deliverance of perceived justice instead?
The marks on his flesh would heal soon enough. I knew from experience, the marks on his mind would last him a lifetime. Kindle: Location 676
For me, the most enjoyable aspect of this novel was the characters and their relationships with one another. Paolo Stirling’s inner protestor and soap box extraordinaire is thoroughly enjoyable and the dialogue between him and his hardworking DS, Dave, made me laugh out loud at times (very awkward when on the bus):
He heard the anger in his voice and stopped mid-sentence. He grinned at Dave, then turned and walked towards the buildings set back from the canal bank.
‘You do it on purpose, don’t you?’ he said when Dave caught up with him.
‘What, wind you up? Course I do, sir. It’s so easy.’
‘Bloody well stop it. I’m not here for your entertainment.’
‘No, sir, whatever you say, sir,’ Dave said, pulling a non-existent forelock. Kindle: Location 612
It was this relationship between Paolo and Dave but also the one between Paolo and Barbra the pathologist that really made me want to read the other books in the series. The characters and relationships are very well written, tender, and funny at times. I particularly liked Barbra and her high-brow wit and look forward to getting to know her more:
‘You’re learning, Paolo. It’s not just in the words we use, but the hidden meaning behind them. Equal distribution of tasks is fine, but distribution because of gender expectations, regardless of whether or not it’s a fair distribution, is not. However, to show there are no hard feelings, I will pour the coffee.’ Kindle: Location 1402
Though the ending of this novel is satisfying, I would have loved there to have been some additional material relating to after the apprehension of the suspect (boy, would that be an interview I’d love to sit in on!) and I was left with a couple of loose end questions, such as from where particular people were able to source particular things (ooh, ominous!) but other than that, this was a great read and I cannot recommend it enough.
About the Author: Lorraine Mace
Born and raised in South East London, Lorraine lived and worked in South Africa, on the Island of Gozo and in France before settling on the Costa del Sol in Spain. She lives with her partner in a traditional Spanish village inland from the coast and enjoys sampling the regional dishes and ever-changing tapas in the local bars. Her knowledge of Spanish is expanding. To stop her waistline from doing the same, she runs five times a week.
When not working on the D.I. Sterling series of crime novels, Lorraine is engaged in many writing-related activities. She is a columnist for both Writing Magazine and Writers’ Forum and is head judge for Writers’ Forum monthly fiction competitions.
A tutor for Writers Bureau, she also runs her own private critique and author mentoring service.
Published in paperback, audio and digital formats by Accent Press on 13th February 2020