How can you catch a killer When the only evidence is a dream…?
James Garrett was critically injured when he was shot following his parents’ execution, and no one expected him to waken from a deep, traumatic coma. When he does, nine years later, Detective Inspector Rebecca Kent is tasked with closing the case that her now retired colleague, Theodore Tate, failed to solve all those years ago.
But, between that, and hunting for Copy Joe – a murderer on a spree, who’s imitating Christchurch’s most notorious serial killer – she’s going to need Tate’s help.
Especially when they learn that James has lived out another life in his nine-year coma, and there are things he couldn’t possibly know, including the fact that Copy Joe isn’t the only serial killer in town…
Paul is an award-winning author who often divides his time between his home city of Christchurch, New Zealand, where his novels are set, and Europe, where none of his novels are set. His books have been translated into over twenty languages. He’s won the won the Ngaio Marsh Award three times, the Saint-Maur Crime Novel of the Year Award, and Foreword Reviews Thriller of the Year, and has been shortlisted for the Ned Kelly, Edgar and Barry Awards. He’s thrown his Frisbee in over forty countries, plays tennis badly, golf even worse, and has two cats – which is often two too many. The Pain Tourist is his (lucky) thirteenth novel.
My thoughts: I hadn’t heard the term pain tourist before, but it definitely makes sense – it’s for those people who are obsessed with other people’s suffering, reading about murders or podcasting about them for example, stealing “souvenirs” from crime scenes. Basically forgetting that behind every over sensationalised crime, there are victims – the family and loved ones left behind, whose world no longer makes sense to them or feels right. And there are certainly plenty of both in this ingenious book.
Serial killers are rare but Christchurch apparently has several bopping around killing people, or at least this version does, and that doesn’t include the men who killed James’ parents and left him in Coma World for nine years.
There’s the original Slasher Joe, his copy cat Copy Joe, then there’s another one James somehow intuited while unconscious. And then there’s the nutcases who want to kill him and sister Hazel, just in case he remembers them. Which he doesn’t, not really. It’s locked in a filing cabinet in his mind. Along with the alternate reality he’s been living in his head all this time.
That’s the heartbreaking part, if he’d stayed in the coma, he would have stayed in the amazing world he built for himself, where his parents are still alive and happy. Where he didn’t lie in a hospital bed from age 11 to 20, unaware.
The question of whether the real world or James’ internal one is better is something he struggles with. And I empathise. The real world is full of murderers and danger. His coma world was kinder, happier. But in waking up he can help the cops catch the people who killed his parents, and another depraved killer too.
Totally brilliant, packed full of moments that really make you think, a cracking plot and characters, I was gripped from start to finish. I’d love more with Kent and Tate, the detectives, and maybe even a what happens next for James and Hazel – they deserve to be happy.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.