FALLING MORE SLOWLY is the first book in this new series by Peter Helton. Detective Inspector Liam McLusky is beginning his new assignment in a new place after recovering from injuries sustained when a suspect knocked him down and ran over him. His reputation precedes him – arrogant, loner, thinks he knows more than anyone. McLusky wouldn’t argue with the description.
When he arrives at Albany Street Station, he meets his sergeant, James, “Jane”, Austin and his shown into his office, the first he has ever had. When the phone rings, he answers quickly, perhaps too quickly. The constable on the other end is reporting a domestic situation, the call all police officers dread the most. More police officers have been attacked at a domestic than on any other call. One partner is fighting with the other partner. Things escalate. One calls the police. When the police arrive, they try to restore some calm to the atmosphere. Both partners resent the intrusion of the police and, together, turn on the people they had brought into the brawl.
McLusky and Austin arrive to find some injured constables and four destroyed cars, including two squad cars. The husband is driving his construction digger around his home, determined to destroy anything that gets in his way. He is determined to knock down his house, with his wife in it. Their marriage is ending. They have been living in his home but she wants it as part of the divorce settlement. He’d rather knock it down that give in, an example of why the police hate domestics. McLusky determines that the only way he can get to Mr. Spranger is by using the department car to distract him. The department is now down three cars. “Spranger got out and stood for a while staring at it all, trying to take it in. Half of hie house had collapsed. Water cascaded where the digger had bitten through the bathroom plumbing and the spare bedroom had now slid into the kitchen.” Mr. Spranger went off quietly with two police officers.
Before McLusky has a chance to return to the police station, he and Austin hear the sounds of an explosion near a city landmark. They arrive at the park to find a young man seriously injured and a woman barely alive. A fire is raging in what is left of a wooden shelter, a small, three-sided building, built on a cement block. The shelter was so small and the fire so big that the police realize a bomb a bomb had been set there. Who? How? Why?
It is this incident from which the story is built. Bombs go off across the city, some big, some small, all dangerous and all a threat to the lives of anyone nearby. The police can’t discern a pattern. Some of the bombs are designed to do as much structural damage as possible. Others are in full view, waiting to detonate when touched by any passerby. The people of the city are panicked. How can anyone defend against the random actions of a mentally unstable killer?
As time goes by, the police, especially McLusky, are increasingly pressured to find the killer. But how can that be done when there is no apparent motive?
Inspector McLusky grows on the reader. He is a police officer with all the necessary instincts to successfully solve the puzzle that all crimes are. Sergeant Austin is the perfect sidekick; he can anticipate his boss’s needs and, when necessary, he can read his mind. This is a promising beginning for a series.
Peter Helton is the author of three book in the Chris Honeysett series, SLIM CHANCE, HEADCASE, and RAINSTONE FALL. Honeysett is a detective/artist who lives in Bath, a great setting for any story.