Kernick, Simon - 'Severed'
Simon Kernick is the UK's equivalent to Harlan Coben with his twisty tales of people in impossible situations, except his heroes are more likely to be ex-police, ex-military than Coben's everyman and can handle themselves like Lee Child's Jack Reacher.
In SEVERED we meet former soldier now BMW garage owner Tyler, divorced but with a new girlfriend, Leah. Everything's going well until he wakes up, with no memory of the last 24 hours, next to the decapitated body of his girlfriend in an unfamiliar room with a DVD lying around showing him killing Leah.
So begins "the worst day of his life". Tyler's then told by a mysterious caller that if he delivers a briefcase to an address in London, all evidence of his murder, the weapon, the DVDs will disappear and he'll never hear from the person again. Knowing he has no choice at the time, Tyler goes along with the scheme. Barely escaping with his life he has the opportunity to contact his best friend, a private investigator, who confusingly tells him that the previous day, Tyler had contacted him, saying there was something fishy about Leah.
However the evil mastermind has not finished with Tyler and Tyler has more to lose yet, before he can get to the bottom of the set-up.
SEVERED opens with a shocking scenario but it's not until seventy pages or so in, when Tyler starts to take charge of his situation that I began to be hooked. This is perhaps a personal preference of me wanting my 'hero' to win, rather than more and more bad things being piled on top of him. Nonetheless this is a thriller that will keep you turning the pages, with tense action scenes dotted around London. Tyler initially comes off as a likeable guy but you may find your perception of him has changed by the time you reach the stunning revelations at the end. Violent and gruesome at times, SEVERED is an entertaining way to spend a few hours.
Karen Meek, England