I seem to be reading a lot of thrillers recently, although this one had been on my Kindle for a long time (and I’ve read it will become a TV series…)
Ragdoll: The thrilling Sunday Times bestseller everyone is talking about (Ragdoll 1) by Daniel Cole
‘A brilliant, breathless thriller‘ MJ Arlidge, author of Hide and Seek
‘The most exciting debut we’ve read in a long time.’ Heat Magazine
‘Highly anticipated debut that is surely bidding to be the year’s most gruesome thriller.’ Metro
‘Terrifyingly brilliant. I dare you to turn the lights out after reading!’ – Robert Bryndza, author of Cold Blood
ONE BODY. SIX VICTIMS. NO SUSPECTS.
A body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together, 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 & Baxter catch a killer when the world is watching their every move?
For readers who were gripped by Punishment, The Guilty Wife, The Girl Before and Dark Matter
‘A first class, dark thriller.’ Emlyn Rees
‘A high concept solution to a mystery.’ Sophie Hannah
‘Gruesome, twisty and wildly addictive… I couldn’t put Ragdoll down.’ Lisa Hall, author of Tell Me No Lies
‘I loved Ragdoll. A rip-roaring, inventive and riveting read.’ Jill Mansell, author of Meet Me At Beachcomber Bay
‘A star is born. Killer plot. Killer pace. Twisted killer and a killer twist. Kill to get a copy.’ Simon Toyne, bestselling author of Solomon Creed
‘Give an arm or a leg to get hold of a copy… An exciting thriller.’ – Linwood Barclay
What readers have to say about Ragdoll
‘Quite simply one of the best books I have read for years – and I read a lot of crime novels.I can see this being made into a film. Looking forward to reading the next one.’ Amazon, 5 stars
‘Brilliantly written. Very clever police procedural, crime writing at its best. Murder mystery, psychological thriller, a touch of romance. I can’t wait for the next book.’ Amazon, 5 stars
‘I think this is going to be one of the most memorable crime novels of 2017.’ Goodreads
‘This better be the first in a series Daniel Cole, I want to see Wolf again soon.’ Goodreads
‘One of the best stories I’ve have read in a long time! A masterpiece if I can say that.’ Goodreads
“Briskly paced. . . . Cole’s grim yet humorous first novel offers a fresh take on British detective drama that is bound to attract admirers of Robert Galbraith and Clare Mackintosh.” (Library Journal)
“A smart, psychologically complex read. Think Luther (BBC) meets Harry Bosch, and toss in some dark, old-country folklore for good measure.” (Booklist)
“[A] strong first novel. . . . Cole uses the rising tension and the mystery of the killer’s true identity to create a page-turning narrative.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Daniel Cole’s Ragdoll is a bold first step in what is liable to be a spectacular career. Disturbing, taut and compelling, this book took me down the rabbit hole as only the best of thrillers can. Bravo, Mr. Cole.” (John Hart, bestselling author of Redemption Road)
“I’d give an arm or a leg to get hold of Ragdoll. . . . An exciting thriller.” (Linwood Barclay, bestselling author of the Promise Falls trilogy)
“A star is born. Killer plot. Killer pace. Twisted killer and a killer twist. Kill to get a copy.” (Simon Toyne, author of Solomon Creed)
“A gruesome delight! Daniel Cole’s thriller Ragdoll, in which gritty detective William “Wolf” Fawkes comes upon a single corpse stitched together out of six bodies, had me flipping pages furiously. It’s an impressive debut, dark, propulsive, and surprisingly funny.” (Gregg Hurwitz, bestselling author of Orphan X)
About the author:
At 33 years old, Daniel Cole has worked as a paramedic, an RSPCA officer and most recently for the RNLI, driven by an intrinsic need to save people or perhaps just a guilty conscience about the number of characters he kills off in his writing.
He currently lives in sunny Bournemouth and can usually be found down the beach when he ought to be writing book two instead.
Thanks to NetGalley and to Trapeze for offering me an ARC copy of this novel that I freely chose to review.
This novel had passed me by (my to be read list is getting longer and longer) when it was first published, but I have been reading quite a number of thrillers recently, saw this book mentioned, and remembered I had yet to read it.
The ARC copy I read includes a funny introduction by the author, which sets the tone for what is to come quite well, although I did not see it in the look inside feature at the front of the published e-book version. The novel is a hard thriller but with a considerable amount of dark humour thrown in (a very British version of it as well). The initial premise is gripping. We have a brief prologue that introduces us to a past case and a deranged detective, and then we discover that four years later he’s back at work, and he has to investigate a very bizarre case. The ragdoll of the title is the name given to the macabre discovery of a body composed of the parts of six different victims. Not happy with that, the killer also releases a list of names of people and the dates when he intends to kill them. And the said detective (Wolf) is the last one on the list. The methods the killer employs are also very imaginative, and there is plenty of violence (and pretty extreme at that).
This thriller, set in London, follows the format of a police procedural novel, but as some reviewers have noted, it does require a certain amount of suspension of disbelief. The fact that somebody who was as disturbed as Wolf, and who very seriously assaulted a suspect in front of a whole courtroom, is allowed to go back to work, stretches the imagination. The way the team works, that seems confused and disorganised, also will surprise those who appreciate the attention to detail and authenticity. As a psychiatrist who has worked in the UK, I didn’t find the portrayal of the mental health secure unit where Wolf had spent time very realistic either (although one could query the fact that he was not well at the time, and other than a brief visit by one of the members of the team, we don’t have any objective accounts of it), and one hopes that news agencies will not be like the one depicted in the novel either (Wolf’s ex-wife works for a TV news station and becomes involved in the case also). But, if we accept the premises of the novel, and forget about how likely it is that this could happen in the real world, it is difficult to fault the book for its imagination, pace, energy, and for the way it grabs and keeps the reader’s attention.
This novel keeps taking us back to the past, and at some points it felt as if it should have been the second novel in the series, as it is evident that what happened four years earlier has a lot to do with the current events, and the way the narration is structured, around the previous case, is one of the strong points, in my opinion. It is as if the whole department had been affected by what happened to Wolf and it has become something of a dysfunctional family. Although there are things that seem far-fetched, on the other hand, the general feeling of pressure, desperation, media attention, cover-ups… felt very real. I have mentioned dark humour, and there is a very cynical undercurrent permeating the whole book, which suits it well and, perhaps, will be easier to appreciate by those who live in or are familiar with the UK, its politics, and its current social situation. I felt as if it was almost a caricature of the truth. Exaggerated and taken to the extreme but easily recognisable nonetheless.
Although it is not a psychologically complex story (and many of the characters play to stereotype: the older detective who is about to be retired, the young rookie who’s just been transferred from a different section and is a stickler for details and rules, the young attractive female detective who looks up to the lead investigator but whose feelings are unclear…), there is plenty of action and many twists and turns, characters, locations, and the ticking clock makes it a rather tense and intense read that will keep most readers guessing. There are a large number of characters, and although we get to know the members of the New Scotland Yard team fairly well over the novel (although quite a few of them keep secrets and are contradictory at best), victims, witnesses, characters from the personal lives of the detectives… all are given a bit of space, and it is important to pay attention not to get lost, especially because of the way the story is narrated. The story is told in the third person but from quite a number of characters’ points of view, not always the main characters either, and although I did not find it difficult to follow and it is a good way to keep the intrigue (by switching points of view and giving us snippets of information only some characters have access to), it means readers should not miss a beat.
Notwithstanding the dark and sharp sense of humour, there are some introspective moments, guilty feelings, and characters wrestle with the morality of the situation, although I do not think it breaks new ground or is the most successful attempt at delving into such issues. At some point, the novel seems about to enter into paranormal territory, and it did remind me of Jekyll and Hyde, as there comes a moment when you have to wonder what it takes to make somebody step over the fine line between fighting a monster and becoming the monster. I don’t want to go into too much detail to avoid any spoilers, but let’s say that good and bad are not ultimately such clear-cut concepts as we would like to believe.
This is a very enjoyable page-turner, especially recommended for those who like a tense and gripping read and are not put off by some over-the-top characterisations and some stretching of the truth, and who don’t mind graphic violence and dark humour. And if you enjoy a London setting, even better.
Thanks to NetGalley, to the publisher, and to the author, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, and REVIEW!