You could be forgiven for thinking that saturation of crime drama is beginning to result in repetition; just as the plot of the very first episode of CSI NY was influenced by Mark Billingham’s Sleepyhead, now we have Suffer The Children by Adam Creed (hereafter known as STC), which, like Ian Rankin’s Dead Souls 11 years before it, has elements of the movie An Eye For An Eye starring Sally Field in featuring a support group for victims of child abuse and their parents forming a core group of suspects.
In the more modern title, unlike Rankin’s book, there are almost no overlapping cases with the main plot aside from the one with a trial that finishes when the book starts. The rest of the STC is reserved for fleshing out the lead cop DI Wagstaffe as he tries to track down the vigilantes, much to the community’s disgust and interference of the investigation. There’s more than one paedophile in question being questioned over the revenge perpetrated against them.
The action is written present tense for a reasonably fresh stylistic perspective and cliché is minimized, but the ending is perhaps just a little too neat, even it it’s emotionally sprawling for the actual characters. Whilst the intricacy of the plot seems well thought out and the author’s experience of having daughters seems to inform his female characters well, considering there is a badge on the front stating “As good as Rankin or your money back”, Creed’s DI Wagstaffe is an emotional blank slate compared to Rankin’s DI Rebus without any Scottish hard drinking or winter-hewn wit to make you laugh occasionally. It would be easy to complain about the lack of any mention of male victims, but since the older book by Rankin seems to redress this despite its age, this isn’t as big an issue compared to trying to plug the book with comparisons with another crime author who is at least 18 books ahead of him.
Lots of promotion went into Suffer The Children, it’s reasonable, slick, examines some of the modern-day attitude to child abuse but has “TV Adaption” written all over it at the same time. It’s entertaining enough, I read it twice for review purposes and if the character progresses in his over-arching trek for justice separate to the A plot then it will be worth returning to Creed’s books in future, but since it’s previewing the next book in the series it’s best waiting for special offers at the supermarket or get it out of the library.
Amazon page is here.