Thursday, 23 February 2017

Book Review: Ragdoll by Daniel Cole

Title: Ragdoll

Author: Daniel Cole

Pages: 378

Publication: 23rd February 2017 by Trapeze

Reason for reading: I heard about this back in April last year when The Bookseller announced it had been acquired by Trapeze for a six-figure sum, and once I saw it was an Audible exclusive I couldn’t resist.

Goodreads Synopsis: A body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together like a puppet, nicknamed by the press as the 'ragdoll'. Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William 'Wolf' Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Emily Baxter. The 'Ragdoll Killer' taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them. With six people to save, can Fawkes and Baxter catch a killer when the world is watching their every move?


I would like to start by getting something off my chest: certain tropes pop up all of the time in crime/thrillers and it needs to stop. After my initial excitement about getting hold of Ragdoll, I was disappointed in the first few minutes when the opening court case revolved around a serial killer who was a Sunni Muslim. This made me feel incredibly uncomfortable because of how huge a problem Islamophobia in the Western world is and how this just feeds into that attitude. Whilst there were other PoC in the rest of the story who weren’t criminals, they were minor characters and that just doesn’t justify this very conscious decision that is constantly recurring in crime/thriller fiction. It wasn’t the main focus of the plot, thankfully, but nevertheless it impacted my reading.

Moving on to more positive things: I thought that the ‘ragdoll’ murders were disturbing, creepy, and something which I hadn’t read before. The whole book reminded me of Robert Galbraith’s novels, particularly The Silkworm, in terms of the level of goriness and also the intelligence required to map out that kind of crime. I particularly enjoyed the fact that I had no idea who was behind it all until exactly the moment the author wanted me to, and knowing about the killer didn't detain from the excitement of the rest of the book.

I thought the pacing of the novel was very good. I even enjoyed the parts which weren’t entirely focused on the case, because they developed the characters further and made them feel more three dimensional. I did question how believable it was that the main character, William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes, was allowed back into police service after the ‘incident’ at the initial court case which clearly he should have been completely removed from the police service for. Once you suspend disbelief though, it’s hard to deny that Wolf is an incredibly complex and captivating character. I was annoyed that it originally seemed like the only female officer working on the case and previous partner to Wolf, Emily Baxter, had a thing for him (annoying crime/thriller trope alert). However, their relationship was much more complex than that and I'm hoping to hear more about Baxter in the next 2 books.

Speaking of the next 2 books, I’d definitely be interested in reading them. The way that Ragdoll ended makes me wonder how the author is going to continue the series, and I’m intrigued as to whether the intelligence and creativity of Ragdoll can be continued.

Overall, I’d give this book 4 stars: despite the problems I had with the beginning, I raced through it. The characters are complex, the plot fast-moving, and I’m left wanting to continue the series. If you’re a fan of Robert Galbraith, this is definitely a book for you.

If you plan to read Ragdoll/have already read it, let me know by commenting below!
Happy reading,