By Their RulesA new, ruthless and implacable mastermind from Africa has surfaced in gangland, carrying out his darkest deeds in the murky grey shadows of London s back streets. But, following the multiple slaughter of a large number of policemen by this monster, and his intention to commit further atrocious crimes, the challenge has to be met. The result is that this reign of terror is likely to have catastrophic consequences so emergency action is imperative.   Together, Lee and Burrows form a talented, resourceful, athletic team of experienced investigators who become dedicated to the eradication of this evil, yet powerful killer. But Cabilla’s awesome control of his murderous gang who torture victims to death, and his totally ruthless plans still appear to be gaining ground throughout the City…

Overall I was singularly impressed by debut thriller By Their Rules from the pen of former police officer Roger A. Price and for the most part enjoyed this high-octane and pacey tale, centring on the insidious activities of the vicious African gangster Shonbo Cabilla. and his criminal involvement in sex trafficking and drug smuggling. Price teams together two extremely effective characters, John Burrows and Jane Lee, both with backgrounds in the police or security services, who are tasked to track down Cabilla, and drawing on the author’s own former career in covert intelligence, there is an authentic and knowledgeable tone to the whole affair, with an exceptional eye to the detail of how operations such as this would play out. Admittedly, at times the central thrust of the action is slowed by the insertion of a little too much factual detail, and Price does use the trusty plot device of Lee asking weighted questions of Burrows to put across this information to the reader, but for the most part the attention to detail adds to the richness of the plot, providing the reader with an interesting window into the legitimate and more clandestine operational activities of those tasked with protecting the public.  There is also a satisfying interweaving of Cabilla’s chequered history in the Congo during civil conflict, conveying to the reader the development of violence within his character and his utter disregard for, and persecution of, others- not a man to be met in a dark alley or even broad daylight! Both Cabilla and his henchmen, are well characterised overall and the danger placed on an undercover police officer who has infiltrated their gang is truly nerve shredding- edge of the seat stuff indeed.  The interplay and dialogue between Burrows and Lee, is effective throughout, with the inevitable ‘will they-won’t they’ scenario nicely played out along the way, and I was delighted to see with the inclusion of Lee, a more mature and feisty female protagonist imbued with a determined streak who can hold her own in times of peril, set against the strength and dependability of John Burrows himself. Neatly done.

So overall there is much to recommend By Their Rules, and aside from the minor quibble of pacing the only thing I would add in a purely cosmetic comment is that maybe the cover is a little old-fashioned and doesn’t really reflect the ‘thriller’ side of the book- would probably benefit from looking a little more contemporary to prompt that initial ‘pick-up’. A good debut though, and I would be more than happy to read any planned follow-up if this were to develop into a series.

Roger A. Price a retired detective inspector who had been in charge of a covert unit, which received national acclaim for its successes in engaging those who openly sold Class A drugs.   Prior to this, he d been in charge of the C.I.D. at Preston, having first led a dedicated informant unit.   He also worked on murders, drugs squads, and the regional and national crime squads, often in covert roles across the UK, Europe and the Far East, receiving several commendations.   Now writing crime thrillers, he uses his previous professional experiences to add gritty realism.  Visit the author’s website at www.rogerapriceauthor.com

(With thanks to the author for the ARC in exchange for an honest review)

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