Take an Aztec priest and plonk him down in a small town in southern England, ready to start sacrificing the sad, the lonely and the unloved. What a brilliant premise. Better yet – give him a killer octopus! I’m obviously a sucker for a good gimmick, and this bizarre set-up certainly makes The Repenting Serpent a little bit different from the average British police procedural.
The author had obviously done his homework on Aztec spirituality and, although the weird names involved do tend to interrupt the flow, this theme introduced all manner of obscure aspects to this fast-paced tale of psychotic serial killing. An entirely original and unique angle – on a subject I’ve never encountered before in crime fiction. Bravo!
On the other hand, it’s impossible to ignore the resemblance between the so-bad-she’s-good girl Lacey Ray, and everybody’s favourite female serial-killing sociopath, Alice from Luther. Mixed with maybe a smidgen of Lady Heather, the seductive dominatrix who teased / tormented Gil Grissom in CSI. Those similarities didn’t stop me cheering when Lacey appeared on the scene with her secateurs at the ready to inflict agonising injury on deserving individuals.
In fact, Lacey proves to be the perfect counterbalance to the lovey-dovey bubbles of domestic bliss and baby blooming that surround the detectives. I’m always infinitely more interested in a convincing criminal than I am in the average life of an ordinary copper, particularly those police officers who are so fragile that they turn a delicate shade of green when the coroner briefs them about autopsy findings. Bless! Poor little lambies. Bring back Regan and Carter, that’s wot I say…
Lacey is, however, treading the same path as Alice by involving herself in the cases which her pet policeman struggles to solve, so if I was author Wes Markin then I’d take her into entirely new territory next time.
This was an easy read, told fluidly, with some nifty twists and more graphic violence than you’d ever expect to find on Salisbury Plan. Bring on the next one!
Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason
The Repenting Serpent by Wes Markin is available at Amazon