The Fourth Motive by Sean Lynch
Whatever it takes…
Deputy District Attorney Paige Callen is being stalked, and the man stalking her is motivated, methodical, and relentless.
The police aren’t merely one step behind Paige’s stalker; they’re stumped. So Paige’s father, retired Judge ‘Iron Gene’ Callen, instead hires retired San Francisco P.D. Inspector turned private investigator Bob Farrell, to the dismay of the local police.
The cops know all-too-well Farrell’s reputation as a reckless wild card. Judge Callen, however, knows Farrell as a man who never lets the rules get in the way of getting the job done.
Farrell enlists the aid of former Iowa Deputy Kevin Kearns to help him protect Paige, and to stop a madman before she becomes a statistic. But to find her stalker, Farrell and Kearns must first learn why he’s launched his crusade; a journey none of them might survive.
I’m always pleased when I discover that there is going to be a sequel to a novel that I’ve enjoyed. It feels like a real treat. Last year I read Wounded Prey by Sean Lynch, and was impressed with the debut. I’ve been looking forward to reading more and that chance has finally arrived.
Bob Farrell continues to be as irascible as ever. He’s the poster boy for not suffering the interference of fools, and his attitude in dealing with them is always refreshingly direct. Farrell is all business but underneath that gruff chain smoking exterior there is a keen analytical mind that relishes solving problems. I’d love to learn a bit more about his past. So far, there hasn’t been a great deal of insight into his career in the police force. Hopefully, this is something that will be explored in the future. In his thirty years as a San Francisco detective he is bound to have seen and heard some crazy things.
If Farrell is the brains of the outfit, then the younger Kevin Kearns is the heart. He doesn’t have the same jaded world-view as his partner, and he is driven by more honourable goals. Duty, justice and a sense of what is right feature more highly in his motives. I think Kearns is a little less defined as a character than his partner but that feels right. He is at the beginning of his career, rather than the end, and he has yet to gather that wealth of experience that Farrell has.
For anyone who can remember that far back, the late nineteen eighties setting remains tantalisingly evocative. As before, the methods used to investigate the crime can’t rely on the modern technology we have today. Many tools used today were still in their infancy at that time. Instead, Farrell relies on a lifetime of instinct and his gut reactions. There are a handful of other nods to the decade which were always fun when spotted. I’ll admit the throwaway reference to Appetite for Destruction in particular raised a smile*
When I read any book that is part of a series, I can’t help but try to picture what the characters would look like. In this case I’ve been trying to decide who would best play each of the leads if these books were ever adapted for television or film. After much pondering I’ve decided that for Bob Farrell, the veteran actor Michael Ironside would be perfect. He just does grizzled so very well. Kevin Kearns is pretty clean cut, so I’m thinking someone like Stephen Amell would be ideal. Not-quite-buddy cops in an eighties setting, it would be brilliant.
As with its predecessor, there are chapters in this novel that are told directly from the villain’s perspective. I like the use of this approach. As the plot unfolds, it begins to feel like a proper game of cat and mouse is starting to develop between the detectives and their adversary. Lynch also employs the same technique he used in book one to help explain the motivations of the criminal. Flashbacks are used to reveal what drives the stalker and why he has chosen the specific victims for his reign of terror. This additional insight certainly helps to add an air of realism to the plot. A series of clues are slowly drip fed until the final revelations in the book’s closing chapters.
Sean Lynch has delivered another solidly entertaining novel. Farrell and Kearns are back. If you enjoyed book one then you’ll definitely get a kick out of book two.
The Fourth Motive is published by Exhibit A Books and available as an eBook and on paperback in US/Canada on 24th April. UK paperback is released in 1st May.
* I’ll even admit to listening to the album while writing this review 🙂