Monday 17 & Tuesday 18 April 2017
Purchase at http://murdernovels.com
Like any writer, self or traditionally published, Bob wants to sell his books. And the books he wants to increase sales for are those in his Ghost Squad series. Bob sent this Snotty Bitch a reviewer’s copy of Ghost Squad and asked for a Snotty Bitch review. Actually, technically he asked for an honest review, but honest review and Snotty Bitch review are synonymous. Off we go then, into the ethereal unknown.
The aptly titled Ghost Squad is the first book in the prolific writer’s Ghost Squad series. Don’t be concerned though, it won’t scare the proverbial sh*t out of you. There’s a touch of humour and witty banter woven throughout the story. This makes it a lighter read than what you might expect of a murder mystery novel. Moats manages, in his way, to treat what are horrible crimes with a little levity. Not too much though, because that would be gauche. N.B. Yes, there are still some of us around who know words like ‘gauche’ and ‘heinous’ and ‘banter’.
The plot of Ghost Squad is simple to follow. Russ Baker is a homicide detective who has been banished to working the cold case files after messing up a case. He’s stuck in the basement with a mass of unsolved case files, no partner, and rather quirkily, a ghost who misses practically everything about being alive. Detective First Class Wesley Loomis, a former Detroit homicide detective who was slain by his own partner, has been sent by the ‘man with the book’ to assist Russ in solving as many cold cases as possible. In return, Loomis will earn his way out of the dark place he’s currently stuck in.
Over the course of the novel, a number of cold cases are solved with Wesley’s assistance, and the fact he’s able to speak to other ghosts involved in the cases. In solving these cases, Russ learns that he’s not so alone in his new basement office – it’s inhabited by the ghosts of the victims of the cold case murders and disappearances. Probably the most important sub-plots are interwoven quite nicely, when Russ is given an active case to have a go at solving because no one else has caught a break with it, and Wesley’s desire to hunt down his murderous partner leads him to an integral suspect in Baker’s new case. By the end of the book, you’re in no doubt that Detective Baker and his ghostly partner, dead Detective Loomis, make a formidable crime-solving partnership.
Whether it’s a budding romance, unrequited love, or a relationship that’s falling apart, it seems these days, that no crime novel would be complete without a romance. In the case of Ghost Squad, Russ has a thing for Mary from Missing Persons. The ‘will-they-or-won’t-they’ aspect of the relationship isn’t a huge focus in the story, but it’s present, and I found myself willing the potential Russ-Mary relationship to either get underway or get lost so Russ could focus on his cases.
It’s a fast-paced novel, and I usually find this a good thing. However, I feel Ghost Squad would have benefitted from a slower pace, so characters and plots could be further explored. For example, the opening chapter sees the reader introduced to the main character, and the ghost of the dead detective. However, it’s not until chapter two that we find out the name of the detective relegated to the basement cold case files. What confused me about this was that the ghost sort of knew who he was dealing with, but referred to him by a few names before Russ formally introduced himself. A slower pace would also have allowed Moats to delve deeper into the cases Russ was trying to solve, as well as playing out Wesley’s murder and corrupt partner scenario in more detail. Some of those cold cases had the potential to be as interesting as the active case given to Russ.
Before a book gets to publication stage, a lot of hard work is put into the writing and editing stages, and sometimes errors are overlooked. There are a couple of errors in the text, but they’re nothing that you’re going to go all Grammar Nazi over. This Snotty Bitch has read traditionally, professionally published novels and found them littered with errors, so Moats and his editing team have done well to keep it to a few small errors.
Ghost Squad was an enjoyable read that you can get through in a short space of time. It’s the sort of novel you might enjoy reading when you’re waiting for a connecting flight, or when you’re on a short haul flight, or you’ve got a bit of time to kill. It’s also the sort of novel that I’d recommend to someone who told me they didn’t like reading because it’s easy to read, quick to get through, and entertaining.
If you’d like to give Ghost Squad a read, or you’d like to get into any of Bob’s other series, head to his website, listed at the start of this review, and purchase a book or two.