I am well aware that it is very bad form to judge a book by its cover. However, having finished A Dark Redemption by Stav Sherez, I fully understand why such a dark and mysterious image of Big Ben and the River Thames was chosen as the artwork for his latest crime novel.
The London presented in this book is not that of pomp, postcards and holiday photographs. Sherez probes its sinister underworld as Detective Jack Carrigan investigates the brutally violent murder of a Ugandan student, Grace Okello. Sherez grew up in London and effectively communicates the difficulties of the city’s multiculturalism, the challenges of assimilation and the ongoing conflicts caused by Britain’s history of colonialism.
The author also draws our attention to the ongoing cycle of violence, systematic rape of women and training of child soldiers perpetrated by Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda which many Facebook crusaders focused on for a few weeks last year. One of the ‘big’ questions posed by Sherez is why such a lot of time and resources are devoted to solving one murder in London when the West expresses such apathy towards the blight of thousands in East Africa. Is it only when such violence is witnessed first-hand do we sit up and take notice?
The novel interweaves the present day (2012) and ‘Back then…’ when Carrigan, fresh out of university, travelled to Uganda for the adventure of a lifetime with his two best friends; one of whom never came home. The full details of this element of the storyline are revealed in tantalising stages which maintains the intrigue and suspense of an engaging plot.
As such, the novel is as much about ongoing friendships, the loss of youthful innocence and Carrigan exercising old demons as it is about uncovering the reasons behind Grace’s murder. Along with his second-in-command, Geneva Miller, Carrigan will discover that the truth of the past that so haunts him is vital to solving this case. He is dedicated to the point of obsession and whilst this has alienated him from his colleagues, I believe a reader will be drawn to him.
There is more to come from Stav Sherez and DI Jack Carrigan and I, for one, eagerly await the next installment in what is a promising new crime series.