Danny Sanchez is a journalist working in the Almeria region of Spain. When covering a story about the demolition of the home of a retired expat couple he gets much more of a story than he bargained for. A partially decomposed body is found wedged within the brickwork. How delightful.
Danny, unlike most journalists, is more interested in the truth than a rip-roaring headline so he takes it upon himself to find out just what the devil is going on. His excellent skills as a journalist give him leads that take him to more questions (and more bodies) than answers. Two bricked up bodies and a missing youth later, Danny decides to take a trip to England. His leads point him in this direction and they don’t disappoint. Danny discovers some disturbing truths that give him many more pieces to the ever growing puzzle.
After receiving a threat against his mother’s life, Danny rushes back to Spain in the hope that his mother is still alive. Thankfully, due to a terrible mix up, his mother is alive but another body joins the club. As the final pieces of this physiological thriller start to fall into place, Danny finally uncovers the truth as to who the killer is – and you’ll never believe it. The subtle hints that Pritchard has peppered throughout the novel come flooding back and you’ll marvel in the craftsmanship of such a wonderful piece of writing.
I can safely say that this book has one of the most chilling and intriguing beginnings I have ever read. Normally, this is a letdown because most of the books I read that have a cracking start tend to fall dismally below expectations by the time you wade your way to the final page. Not with this book. If anything, it gets better! With most crime fiction I find myself following the story along, guessing away at who did what, why that’s there and occasionally flicking the odd page, but with Scarecrow I felt as if I was Danny’s partner. Instead of reading his story I belonged to it, striding across the pages bold as brass with my theories and suggestions. (Mind you, it’s a good job I wasn’t really there because I’d have had him murdered and raped with my utterly rubbish detective skills.)
The twists in here are exceptional – none of this cliché stuff – and you’ll be impressed at how such a complex novel can be both easy to read yet challenging on the mind. Pritchard really gets into the minds of his characters and the physiological aspect of this book is very disturbing; probably because there are people out there that really are as disturbed as some of these characters.
Pritchard draws from his previous ten years’ experience as a journalist and utilises his knowledge and weaves it into this wonderful masterpiece. He also based the idea of bodies being bricked up after he saw it for himself. Not the actual bodies – dear lord – but from seeing how Spain can happily demolish people’s property for the most absurd reasons. It was the demolition of a property that sparked his imagination and so the gruesome plan was hatched and a novel was born.
This is actually the first book (crime or otherwise) that I’ve read from page to page without finding at least a few paragraphs of waffle, or self indulgence, that means nothing to me but the author would rather have had a limb off than delete that paragraph or chapter. It was all relevant and it was all fantastically written with a great plot line and fast pace. As satisfying as the ending was, my only niggle is that it all happened just a little too quickly. The climax was building to this final scene and then ‘blip’ it was over. In this case, maybe an extra paragraph or two wouldn’t have been so bad. Having said that, the book does deliver on ever point – loose ends are tied up, questions are answered and justice is served – but a little more time at the end would have been welcomed. For a debut novel this is quite extraordinary and I’m already looking forward to Pritchard’s next novel. If it’s half as good as this one it will still be an outstanding read.
I can’t recommend this enough. If you’re looking for a great plot, engaging characters, fast pace and a completely different read to the norm, then make sure you get it on your Christmas list – you won’t be disappointed.