Thursday, 14 June 2018

First to Die by Alex Caan

First to Die
By Alex Caan
Published by Bonnier (14 June 2018)
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher

Publisher's description
Bonfire Night and St James's Park is filled with thousands of Anonymous protesters in a stand-off with the police. When a cloaked, Guido Fawkes mask-wearing body is discovered the following morning, Kate Riley and Zain Harris from the Police Crime Commissioner's office are called in.
The corpse has been eaten away by a potentially lethal and highly contagious virus. The autopsy reveals the victim was a senior civil servant, whose work in international development involved saving lives. Why would anyone want him dead? 
As the research team looking into the origins of the deadly virus scramble to discover an antidote, first one, then another pharmacist goes missing. Meanwhile, a dark truth starts to emerge about the murder victim: he was an aggressive man, whose bullying behaviour resulted in the suicide attempt of one of his former staff members.
With thirty lives potentially at stake, Kate and Zain have their work cut out for them. Can they find the two missing pharmacists in time, or will they too end up dead?

My verdict
First to Die is the sequel to Alex Caan's Cut to the Bone, and you can't get more 'bang up to date' than this. Here you have a police team (and potentially the capital city) in crisis, with fears of a deadly virus on the loose. It's a race against the clock in case the killer strikes again.

Alex Caan has written a gripping, fast-paced crime thriller. He kept me guessing all the way through, as key characters (Kate and Zain) struggled to unravel the truth about who killed this senior civil servant, and why. The plot is complex, steeped in science and politics, with plenty of twists, turns and surprises throughout - and a few 'heart in the mouth' moments too.

Both Kate and Zain have complicated pasts and secrets to hide, with regular 'reveals' about their backgrounds fleshing out their characters and triggering intense emotions in both of them. While they're battling their demons, they're put their own lives in danger, which really ramps up the pace. There are plenty of other larger-than-life characters too, turning this into a fun read despite it's dark undertones.

While First to Die could be read as a standalone, I recommend reading Cut to the Bone first. I'm looking forward to seeing what Alex Caan comes up with next!

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