As I’m a bookjunkie, I try to read as much as possible. And while my favourite genre is contemporary fantasy and preferably even Young Adult, I try not to stick to one genre. Sometimes I pick a new book when it’s recommended to me (by friends, colleagues, bookbloggers, etc). Sometimes I just go with the cover, because who isn’t a sucker for a gorgeous cover? But mostly I buy them when the blurb or story sounds interesting. And damn, Ragdoll has the most thrilling blurb, so I just had to read it, even though I hardly read detective novels.
So what’s Ragdoll about?
It’s not about cute kittens, that’s for sure. It’s about a body that’s found with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together. The head, torso, arms and legs all come from different people. The media soon dubs this freaky find ‘the Ragdoll’. And as the police is busy trying to find out who the six different bodyparts belong to, the killer sends out a list of names with the dates on which he will murder these people. So now, it’s a race against the clock to save six more people. Also on the list? The lead detective on this case, William Oliver Layton-Fawkes, better known as Wolf.
The six people on the list are set do die in a very short time period. It’s up to Wolf and his team to find our why they are on the list. And who are the six Ragdoll people? Are they also connected? Or is this just the work of a cunning killer? Because that becomes pretty clear quite early in the book: this killer is very smart. His means to kill are, without trying to spoiler anything, quite inventive.
The team has some major research on their hands as each of the six bodyparts only has one distinctive feature, from nailpolish to a faded tattoo. It’s only obvious who the head belongs to and that’s actually quite the shocker for everybody, including the reader.
Is Ragdoll any good?
It reads like a television series, or a film, so yes. It came as no surprise to me when I read that Daniel Cole actually wrote Ragdoll as a television script first. Sadly, that got rejected but all’s well that ends well as it’s now a worldwide bestseller. And fate would have it that the film/tv rights have been sold. It’s hard to believe that this is the debut novel for Cole. The plot, the setting (London) and the characters are very well written. I could picture everything perfectly so this was a quick read.
It’s also great that many main characters are flawed. And without getting to far from the main story, Cole finds the time to give the reader some backstory for his characters. Wolf is damaged by a previous case, which is featured in the prologue and throughout the book. His ex-partner Emily Baxter also had her own issues and newbie Alex Edmunds has to find out if the murdersquad is better than working at Fraud. The characters are well rounded and great to read about. Edmunds was my personal favourite and I really hope he’ll be back for the next book.
The plot itself is fast paced, very original and a bit gruesome at times. But I love horror and gruesome bits so that made the book even better for me. I wasn’t a big fan of the ending/outcome but the rest of the book was a fun read.
So what are the negatives?
For me, as a thriller/detective n00b (the only other whodunnit I read this year was the YA One of us is lying), I found it annoying that all characters are referred to with their last names. I wonder if this is common for detective novels? I kept thinking Simmons was a woman because of Simmons in Agents of SHIELD. But this was just a minor setback for me, I got used to the many surnames.
A huge flaw in my eyes, was the switching of POV mid chapter. Without any warnings, or blank lines even, some sentences just began with a new POV. This was hugely annoying and I had to read back many times since some paragraphs suddenly made no sense anymore. I hope that Cole (and his editor) have heard this critique some more and will work on it for book 2.
Which brings me to my last negative: the series is called ‘Detective William Fawkes’ so it’s no surprise he makes it out the book alive. Never, in all thrilling situations he got himself in, did I think he would die because the series is named after him. So that made the fact that his name was on the death-list… a bit boring maybe. This could have been handled better.
I’ll definitely pick up the second book in the series as it comes out. I can’t wait to see what happens to the main characters next. And Cole has stated that book 2 in the William Fawkes series, Hangman, will focus on Emily Baxter the most. It’s set 18 months after the Ragdoll killings and will make clear what happened to everyone involved in that case.
So while Ragdoll is no perfect debut, it’s still a great debut for Daniel Cole. It’s clear the man can write so I have no doubt Hangman will be a better book.