Living Death by Graham Masterton

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Living Death is book #7 in the Katie Maguire series by Graham Masterton and the second one I have read. I have to remind myself occasionally that Masterton wrote horror stories for a time and that this foray into Irish crime novels, with its visceral taste of dark foreboding creatures, whose thirst for violence and blood, that prey on the innocents. Only this time Masterton’s monsters are cloth in flesh and blood and the dark heart of man.

“…When he looked up from doing that, he saw that a man was standing in the upstairs window, silhouetted against the light. He didn’t wave or acknowledge that he had seen him because he knew that the man wouldn’t respond. As far as Milo was concerned, he wasn’t there, and he would never say that he had seen what Milo and Garret were going to do next.
Garret lit a cigarette and then climbed back behind the wheel of the car. Milo stepped clear, but not too far away, in case Siobhan suddenly regained consciousness and rolled herself out of position.
Garret started the Opel’s engine, although he kept his door open so that he could look over his shoulder and see where he was reversing.
‘All right, boy, you’re fine,’ said Milo, beckoning him backwards.
Garret slowly edged the rear wheel over Siobhan’s legs. Her bones snapped like muffled pistol-shots, and this was followed by a soft crunching sound as two thousand kilos of car crushed her knees…”

A kidnapped girl who disappears without the hint of a ransom. A home invasion, where the only thing the thieves initially want are the dogs in the kennels, turns into a beating and a rape and then the dead body, leaving more questions then answers. After breaking up the biggest drug ring in Cork, DS Katie Maguire thought her life might have been getting simpler, but now it seems to be taking a dangerous and violent turn. The drug trade has increased and a rash of random attacks that lead to disappearances seem eerily connected to a home invasion and the theft of kenneled dogs. Maguire knows that the missing dogs somehow hold the key to these crimes and the increased drug trade. But it is difficult to concentrate on crime when her own life is in upheaval. Her ex-lover John, who is now in her care after having to have his legs amputated. A result of Katie Maguire’s investigation into the Irish drug trade. A pet detective brought in to help find the missing dogs and their undeniable attraction for each other. Dogs taken to fight or to be used as bait in the fight pits. And the missing people and the clinic where all their patients seem disabled and unable to communicate. All somehow tied to the increase in the drug trade. Maguire must navigate all of this and defend herself from the personal and political attacks within her own department.

These are violent novels, don’t expect Masterton to shy away from any violence. Whether it is against man or woman or child or pet. Masterton never takes the camera away from the action. This may make some uneasy and I can understand that. But what cannot be denied is that there is a damn good story here and none of the violence is gratuitous. In fact it seems a statement. This is not Hollywood. This is not a fairy tale. This is the streets and the underbelly of crime that lives in it. This is the criminal element, no honor among thieves, just the harsh lack of care for another human being. No value of life, just in getting their own.

Katie Maguire is a terrific character, full of flaws and insecurities but single minded in her pursuit of justice. Coming from a family of policemen she is hell bent on being the policeman no one wants to give her credit for. She lives hard and fast with her work and her love life. Maguire dives deep into the cesspool that it the criminal element in her city and she is determined to clean it up no matter the cost and she too often pays too heavy a cost.

Living Death continues the story of Katie Maguire and leaves us breathless to follow.


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