Book Review – Shifting Skin (DI Jon Spicer #2) by Chris Simms

First published, 2006

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

The second story of DI Jon Spicer, Shifting Skin finds our hero, rugby-fanatic, detective inspector and soon-to-be dad, Jon Spicer on the hunt for a killer in Manchester who flays his victims and leaves their bodies in the area of Belle Vue.

Meanwhile, Fiona Wilson, a friend and co-worker of Jon’s girlfriend, Alice, finds herself in a shabby motel room in Belle Vue, having left her violent husband. But when Fiona hears choking sounds and a heavy thud from the next room, could it be that she’s stumbled upon the murderer and his latest victim? And will Spicer find the time to follow her leads when he’s trying to chase his own?

A clever, psychological crime drama, this. I really enjoyed the relationships between the characters, particularly Spicer and new partner, university-educated, fast-track promoted DS Rick Saville.

The story proffers an intriguing, if uncomfortable, insight into inclusive hiring and how admittance of minority groups into the police force might just jar with older attitudes. The story, however, was well-written, with shades of Silence of the Lambs, and the observations regarding the more ghoulish aspects of human curiosity struck a chord with this reader.

“’Has someone been killed?’ A council worker in a shiny grey suit called through the fence. The eager note in his voice riled Jon. ‘It looks like a corpse.’
“Jon paused and stared at the man, took in his pallid skin and fish-like eyes. ‘So do you.’ He carried on, leaving gasps of shock behind him.
“Without turning his head, Rick murmured, ‘Please, don’t mince your words.’
“He smiled to indicate sarcasm but Jon’s face remained stormy. ‘One thing I hate is members of the public getting a thrill from this sort of thing.’
“As they reached the rendezvous point in the outer ring of tape Jon noticed a young man nearby lining up the crime scene in the viewfinder of his camera phone. ‘If I hear that click, I’ll impound your phone as evidence.’
“The man lowered his phone, an uncertain expression on his face. A uniform stepped over and, as he noted down their names, Jon nodded towards the man with the phone. ‘Take his name and address.’ Then, louder, “The perpetrator of a crime often returns to where he committed it.’
“The man looked as if he wished he’d stayed home.”
12% in, Chapter Three, Shifting Skin by Chris Simms