Book review: Death in Profile by Guy Fraser-Sampson…

Death in Profile by Guy Fraser-Sampson…
The genteel façade of London’s Hampstead is shattered by a series of terrifying murders, and the ensuing police hunt is threatened by internal politics, and a burgeoning love triangle within the investigative team. Pressurised by senior officers desperate for a result a new initiative is clearly needed, but what?

Intellectual analysis and police procedure vie with the gut instinct of ‘copper’s nose’, and help appears to offer itself from a very unlikely source – a famous fictional detective. A psychological profile of the murderer allows the police to narrow down their search, but will Scotland Yard lose patience with the team before they can crack the case?

Praised by fellow authors and readers alike, this is a truly original crime story, speaking to a contemporary audience yet harking back to the Golden Age of detective fiction. Intelligent, quirky and mannered, it has been described as ‘a love letter to the detective novel’. Above it all hovers Hampstead, a magical village evoking the elegance of an earlier time, and the spirit of mystery-solving detectives.

Guy Fraser-Sampson is an established writer best known for his series of ‘Mapp and Lucia’ novels which have been featured on BBC Radio 4 and optioned by BBC television. This is his debut work of detective fiction, and the first title in the Hampstead Murders series.
I have been given an ARC by Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
The story opens with the discovery of a body by the dog of a local homeless person. Straight away it is established that this murder is the work of a serial killer. We start to meet the members of the team involved in investigation and realise the sense of despondence that pervades them as they have been investigating the serial killer for 18 months.
The investigation is led by DCI Tom Allen, a world weary man. He realises that with the discovery of the killers’ fifth victim that things are a little stale. However, when he receives a visit from his Detective Superintendent, he is taken off the case and ordered to take leave.
The team are jaded and feeling frustrated at the lack of progress in the case. The is, amongst some of the male characters, some misogyny towards one particular female character which left me feeling a little uncomfortable, which I felt was unnecessary on the part of the author.
There are some small advancements in the case which cause the team to feel a lot happier and feel like they are actually making progress. However, they soon realise that they were not making the progress that they thought they were. One of the team enlists the help of her partner to profile the killer. The profile leads to the arrest of a man who is sent to trial and convicted. He is assaulted and killed in prison, just as evidence comes to light, proving that he is innocent of the crimes.
The man that provided the profile slips completely into the persona of a great literary detective from the golden age. His character was an eccentric one to begin with, and he simply cannot accept that he may have contributed to the death of an innocent man. This point in the story makes it descend into a confusing mess, flipping backwards and forwards between reality and fantasy. What makes it even harder to accept is the press ganging of several police officers into role playing characters that were part of the detective story. Really? Come on! This just ruins what was turning out to be a credible murder mystery!
There is praise for this style of storytelling, but I’ve got to be honest. It spoils things for me. I love modern crime novels and classic ones too but this mashing the two together just doesn’t do it for me.
That said, the characters in the story are very well written and believable. I found the novel well written and enjoyable up until the ending, which left me feeling a little flattened and confused. I was left wanting to know so much. Overall an enjoyable 3 out of 5 star read. I’m profoundly grateful to Netgalley for my advanced copy, thank you very much!

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