Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Rule Book by Rob Kitchin

Title: The Rule Book
Author: Rob Kitchin
ISBN: 978-1-906710-57-6, Pen Press, 2009
Genre: Police Procedural
Rating: B+

First Line: His eyes fixed on the sword and started to travel its length, down from the black handle, over the plain hilt and along the two-inch wide shaft to where it penetrated the young woman's mouth.

At the beginning of The Rule Book, Colm McEvoy is already a man on the edge of the abyss. A Detective Superintendent of the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation in Dublin, Ireland, he's still mourning the death of his wife from cancer while trying to adjust to being a single father. He's lost so much weight that his suits hang off him, and he's trying to stop smoking, since that's what killed his wife.

Responding to a call about a murder at the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation, McEvoy finds the body of a young woman who's seemingly been sacrificed... and Chapter One of The Rule Book, a self-help guide for prospective serial killers. Less than twenty-four hours later, a second body is found along with Chapter Two. When the third body (along with another chapter) is discovered, it's plain to see that the self-proclaimed "Raven" fully intends to slaughter one person per day until The Rule Book is published in its entirety. The case garners worldwide press, and with media, police and political pressure increasing by the hour, the shaky McEvoy must find The Raven.

Two characters lured me deeper and deeper into this book: The Raven, a serial killer who's completely convinced of his own brilliance, and Colm McEvoy. The sole maternal bone in my body is microscopic in size, but somehow Kitchin made me want to mother the detective superintendent:

"Well, hopefully, we can grab him before he has a chance to kill," McEvoy said without conviction, rubbing his face, exhausted. His left hand had started to shake again. He tried to still it, but it wouldn't respond to instruction. All of his muscles felt tight, aching with tiredness and stress. He tried to roll his shoulders to ease the pressure thinking that if someone was to tap him with their knuckle he would probably sound a middle C.

After some uninterrupted sleep, good meals, clothes that fit and some nicotine gum or patches, I could've helped McEvoy solve the case much quicker. (Or do I have a touch of The Raven's ego?)

I found the investigation compelling with a minimal amount of gore. Although I was quite good at seeing which leads McEvoy needed to follow, I was no good at identifying The Raven until just a few pages before the unmasking. With the storyline and pacing-- and especially with the character of McEvoy-- I'm hoping that The Rule Book is the first in a series featuring the detective superintendent.

[Source: from the author.]


  1. Good review. I too hope The Rule Book is the first of a series. McEvoy is a excellent lead character. I also like the strong female characters Rob included - Hannah Fallon, crime scene investigator; Elaine Jones, state pathologist; Kathy Jones, profiler. One reason I hope this is a series is because I would like to see them developed further.

  2. The first sentence was enough to interest me and the other quote cinched it. I must read this one.

  3. Thanks for the review, Cathy. If only I'd got a B+ in English at school. At least I got there in the end. I do have the second book finished - The White Gallows - what I don't have is a publisher. I'm working on that. It needs to come out soon as foolishly time stamped it (I've also almost finished book three - Land and Honey).

    The White Gallows is more of a straight whodunnit. Tagline: 'The past never dies ...'. Draft back blurb is as follows:

    In post-Celtic Tiger Ireland the murder rate is soaring and the gardai are struggling to cope with gangland wars, domestic disputes, and drunken brawls that spiral into fatal violence. To add to Detective Superintendent’s Colm McEvoy’s workload are the suspicious deaths of two immigrants – an anonymous, Lithuanian youth and an elderly, German billionaire. While one remains an enigma, the murky history of the other is slowly revealed. But where there is money there is power and, as McEvoy soon learns, if you swim amongst sharks, you’d better act like a shark …

  4. I love mysteries...police procedurals...and books set in Ireland...So I will simply have to read this one, will I not?

  5. Mack-- I am in total agreement. I also liked the female characters but got carried away trying to "feed up" McEvoy! ;)

    Barbara-- Wonderful! You have some good reading ahead of you!

    Rob-- Oh wow...I wish you well with the publishers because I certainly want to read these books!

    Caite-- Yes, indeed you will!


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