Scandinavian novelists have, without a doubt, dominated the crime genre in recent years. The UK has lapped them up with an eager thirst for the macabre, with Jo Nesbo in particular topping the bestseller list with every release, his Harry Hole series selling over 20 million copies worldwide. It is certainly time for UK novelists to step up and claim the genre for themselves (Peter James can't do it alone!).
Enter Rhiana Ramsey, a serving police detective who has just published her debut novel, Sweet Oblivion. Not only is the author from the UK, currently residing in West Sussex, but she is also a talented female, taking on a typically male genre, and she does it well.
Louise Jackson is a successful, newly promoted editor-in-chief of a B2B magazine in London. When the magazine that she works for starts to have financial problems, her life starts to spiral out of control, and she begins to question her own sanity. At the same time, a series of harrowing murders are being committed, where the victims are left tied up naked and mutilated, all male and all with a passion for bondage. Though the main character is Louise, the detective team investigating the murders evidently play a crucial role, and DC Elizabeth Lane arguably takes the spotlight. Throughout the narrative, there are interruptions of flashbacks of a young child who is clearly being abused, and we're left to figure out who this could be and it's relevance to the main story.
It's worth bearing in mind whilst reading Sweet Oblivion that this is a debut novel, and there are a few areas that need work - the occasional cliched phrase or stereotypical character, and the storyline is unfortunately quite predictable (and whatever happened to Steve?). I had hoped for a twist towards the end of the novel, and was left disappointed. This would normally put me off a book, but the storyline, despite it's predictability, is actually really enticing. It kept me hooked for hours, perhaps not with suspense, but with genuine intrigue, and any fan of crime novels will agree when I say that the more gruesome the death, the better - and these deaths are nauseatingly so.
I'm also usually opposed to crime novels having too many romantic interruptions, and Ramsey was almost in danger of this, but thankfully her character Elizabeth is likeable as well as relatable and you find yourself wanting her to have a romantic encounter (though I would perhaps suggest leaving out the hot chocolate in future). The main character Louise is certainly not as relatable, nor likeable, which I'm assuming is intentional - her actions are irrational, which is to be expected, and most of the time the chapters featuring her were simply irritating.
This is definitely a debut novel worth getting stuck in to, especially during the winter months where many people crave a dark, sinister read, and I definitely look forward to reading her a second novel, supposedly in the pipeline as I write this review. Sweet Oblivion is simply the first taster of what I'm sure will be a series of enticing novels.