Keep Her Close by MJ Ford is the first crime story I have read from this author and it is the second in the series featuring Detective Josie Matthews. I didn’t feel that I had missed anything by not having read the first book especially as the main events of that story are told to us during the course of this one. The story is set in and around Oxford and the investigation starts as a number of female students go missing. Josie is heavily involved in the case but although she is often the person making the breakthroughs her boss has assigned the investigation to others because he doesn’t think that she is up to the job – it appears that she was involved with something horrific in the previous story which arose from her past.
I enjoyed the first third or so of this book a lot. I liked Josie and I enjoyed getting to know her and her team, and especially the new detective. Her personal life was in turmoil and she was also suffering from a bereavement but this added to the story and helped round out her character. The tension built nicely and I was looking forward to seeing what would happen when suddenly the story became related to Josie herself and it appeared that the victims were being chosen because of something else that had happened in Josie’s past. I have to say that I found the perpetrator’s reasoning very odd and the book became very far-fetched at this point. When the villain is revealed and we were told why the victims were chosen and the message that their selection was trying to send I found that I didn’t believe it at all. It didn’t completely ruin the book for me and I did finish it but I was disappointed that the author hadn’t come up with a different scenario that was more realistic.
I don’t know a lot about serial killers except what I read in crime novels so I suspect that what I have read isn’t always accurate. I do understand that they often have very convoluted thought processes which only make sense to them and that they are often trying to send a message to the outside world. I have found, however, that this is not the only novel where I think that the author pushes the plot too far into unreality. Often the stories seem to be designed as academic puzzles or games between police and criminals which doesn’t ring true to me – of course it is possible that this is how serial killers do behave but I have never seen evidence of it outside of crime novels.
I think that it is probably worth giving this series a chance if you like police procedurals and an interesting puzzle – everyone has different things which make them disappointed with a book so you may not have the same problems with this novel as I did.