December 2016

‘Hell’s Gate’ by Malcolm Hollingdrake

A disused railway tunnel where, cruel and sinister deeds are executed.

A policeman on a mission.

A killer who will stop at nothing.

The formidable DCI Cyril Bennett and DS David Owen of Harrogate Police find themselves embroiled in a series of bizarre events. 

A domestic dog attack on a child soon leads to a more complex case – the macabre discovery of a jigsaw of featureless, indiscernible body parts amongst bin bags littering a quiet road on the outskirts of the town.

While under the leadership of a Chinese Mafioso, a team of Eastern Europeans spreads its tentacles into the sordid underworld of people trafficking, dog fighting, prostitution and murder.

Bennett quickly has his hands full investigating a gambling syndicate, the discovery of a mutilated corpse, the death of a prostitute and the case of a badly beaten police officer.

As Bennett and his team are stretched to capacity cracks begin to appear.

Is there a link between these cases and can they catch a twisted killer before he strikes again?

I read and reviewed Malcolm Hollingdrake’s  first book ‘Only The Dead’ and I really did enjoy it.  It has certainly stuck in my mind and even now it is still making me think.  When I was offered to chance to read and review his second book ‘Hell’s Gate’, I quickly grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

I knew that I was going to enjoy this book as soon as I read that one of the characters had a Rhodesian Ridgeback (as I used to have one of these gorgeous dogs) but I didn’t like the purpose for the dogs nor did I enjoy the dog fighting scenes, which were rather gruesome to say the least.  Rhodesian Ridgebacks are very strong dogs, which were originally nicknamed ‘Lion Dogs’ as they used to chase lions, whilst running all day in the African sun.  Incidentally, in some parts of Germany Rhodesian Ridgebacks are actually banned as dangerous dogs.  As you can see I am slightly obsessed by Rhodesian Ridgebacks and I have somewhat gone off on a tangent.

Reading about DCI Cyril Bennett and DS David Owen really did feel as though I was reuniting with old friends or old work colleagues.  They still have a good working relationship and an almost ‘bromance’ although Owen is a bit lippier in this book.  I wasn’t sure if this was because of the nature of the case or because Owen is a bit more sure of himself.  There is a hint of romance for Bennett but as to whether or not it leads anywhere you really will have to read the story.  Regarding the villains, never have I wanted to jump in the pages of a book and box them round the ears as I did with this book.  How anybody could commit such horrid crimes and  expect to get away with them is beyond me.  I take this as a sign of a good writer though as a good author creates believable characters and you invest in the various characters.  ‘Hell’s Gate’ illustrates the ease with which such evil psychopaths can co-exist with the rest of the human race.

This book is really well written and the author certainly knows how to grab your attention from the start.  I found that I was drawn in from the very first word on the very first page and the book doesn’t release you from its grip until the very last word on the very last page.  I felt as though I was in a sort of trance reading this book and the pages just seemed to turn themselves.  This book really is a ‘CPID’ (can’t put it down) book and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Again the book is set in and around Harrogate which I loved.  I am from the North East of England and I loved reading about places where I have been and with which I am familiar.  Often books are set in the more popular areas of the country such as Manchester, London and Birmingham.

I enjoyed ‘Hell’s Gate’ just as much as ‘Only The Dead’ but I certainly didn’t have any empathy with or even an understanding of the motivations of the killer or killers.  I would definitely recommend this book to others.  For me ‘Hell’s Gate’ easily scores 5* out of 5* and I would award it more if I could.  This is one series that just keeps getting better and better.

(Many thanks to Bloodhound Books for the opportunity to read and review this book)


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