|Date Published||08 December 2022|
CSI Ally Dymond, demoted and cast aside by colleagues for not playing along with a corrupt investigation, faces an uphill struggle to have her evidence-based thoughts accepted when murders occur in her new area.
As a result, several police officers lose their jobs and she becomes so unpopular that she is transferred to a lesser role in North Devon. I was quickly hooked into wishing the best for her.
Murders occur in her new environment, but she fails to convince her immediate superior, and even his boss, that things are not as they seem. The police make arrests and the officers are convinced there is ample evidence to support what they've done. Clever set-ups, not identified by the police, cloud their ability to adjust their conclusions.
An early reveal demonstrates that the malefactor is a paramedic who attends nearly all of the crime scenes. Simon Pascoe is exceptionally cunning and a great planner. He finds it easy to befriend and manipulate people so that his tracks are covered while committing his crimes. His wife Jackie, identified by him as a specific target, is disabled and suffers from anxiety, agoraphobia and Rapunzel Syndrome, which is where people pull their hair out and eat it, leading to the eventual collapse of their internal systems.
Matters escalate when Ally's daughter, Megan, becomes a target. She is severely injured and hospitalised and then remains in a coma.
Ally's single-mindedness at times is seen as selfish by both her best friend, Penny, and Ally’s step-mother, Bernadette, who believe she should be paying more attention to Megan in hospital rather than wandering off to continue her investigations.
Red herrings, including on relationship issues, are placed neatly throughout. Given the early reveal, however, the story's development is very much in a straight line and would perhaps have benefitted from some twists and turns. That said, the ending is both exciting and nerve-wracking, with strong indicators that Ally will not emerge a winner.
Breakneck Point is somewhat bleak in that nobody presents as happy or without baggage. Ally herself has a poor relationships history and now resorts to Tinder for companionship. Megan’s father disappeared once he heard of Ally’s pregnancy. Ally was then chronically abused by the man who became Megan’s step-father and the relationship ended after eight long years. Mother-daughter strains exist between Ally and Megan, and the relationship between Ally and her mother is also highly imperfect as Bernadette threw Ally out on learning that she was pregnant at age 19.
The tale is told in first and third-person accounts, in alternating chapters. The former has Ally narrating, while the latter covers Simon's comings and goings. This works without impacting the story's flow. This is an evenly paced book, where it is easy to turn the pages in support of a protagonist who does not attract the support she deserves in her roles as a CSI and an affected party.
Reviewed 29 April 2023 by John Verpeleti