Your child has been taken. Snatched in the dead of night from the safety of the family home. There’s no sign of forced entry, no one heard or saw a thing. DI Sean Corrigan investigates. He needs to find four-year-old George Bridgeman before abduction becomes murder. But his ability to see into dark minds, to think like those he hunts, has deserted him – just when he needs it most. Another child vanishes. What kind of monster is Corrigan hunting? And will he work it out in time to save the children?

Having established himself on the British crime scene with Cold Killing and The Keeper , Luke Delaney once again delights and chills with the new outing for the wonderfully tortured Sean Corrigan in The Toy Taker

Although on the surface, both in The Keeper and The Toy Taker, Delaney takes quite well-trodden themes of female and child abduction, he lifts his books out of the ordinary with the power and mesmerising interest created by his central character DI Sean Corrigan. In The Toy Taker, small children are being abducted from their homes, and with his team woefully under-employed, Corrigan and his team are redeployed at Scotland Yard as a Special Investigation Unit as the abductions increase. This is a great move by Delaney in the development of the characters in Corrigan’s team, as nothing winds up your average copper more than being in the full glare of the top brass, and the demands they place upon the team’s success. Delaney captures this tension beautifully throughout as we see Corrigan returning to mental and physical fitness after the events of The Keeper, and the tensions that arise through his recovery and the impact on the psychology of his team. Once again, we are immersed in the darkest imaginings of the incomparable Corrigan as he seeks to channel the thoughts and motivations of the abductor, and the personal mental anguish this produces in him. Thus the plot is punctured throughout with these glorious streams of consciousness by Corrigan, trying to think like and outwit this cruel and unusual abductor. On the road to discovery, there is a brilliant game of cat and mouse with a particularly insidious pervert, giving Delaney the chance to portray the frustrations so prevalent for the police in investigations of this kind. Again thanks to Delaney’s personal experience within the police, the feeling of authenticity and realism in this book is always resonant, making the whole premise of the investigation that much more vital and chilling, to the genuinely tense conclusion.

There is always the fear that as a writer becomes more established, that sometimes the quality of their writing, particularly within the demands of producing serial novels, can become diminished with the deadlines placed upon them. I am more than happy to report that Delaney is genuinely going from strength to strength, both in the compulsive attraction of his central protagonist, but also by the fleshing out of others within Corrigan’s team. As I said in the opening, child abduction is an all too common motif of crime thriller writing, but Delaney really does ascend the other pedestrian portrayals of this type of crime, with the day to day angst of, and the demands placed upon police officers, as the clock ticks against them. Through the ruminations and analytical mind of Sean Corrigan, who shows no compunction at fully entering the mind of the perpetrator, there is always an increased level of interest for the reader, that I’ve seldom seen bettered in the police procedural/serial killer genre. Delaney has produced another winner, begging the question- just what will he come up with next? A great read.

Raven reviews the Sean Corrigan series:

Cold Killing

 The Keeper

Redemption of the Dead

(With thanks to HarperCollins for the ARC)

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