Head in the Sand - Damien Boyd
This is the second Nick Dixon novel in the series and it is a vast improvement on the first. I bought it on my kindle as I was going away for a few days and decided I needed a few quick reads during that time.
A severed head has been found in the sand bunker of a local golf course and this sets off a chain of events which means that it is a race against time to find out who committed the crime before the body count rises….
There are a number of unsolved cases with the same pattern. Can these possibly be linked to this new case? Is it the same person who has committed the most recent crime or are they now, more worryingly, after a copy-cat killer?
Time is against him. Can Dixon find out who is behind the crimes and keep those who could be next safe….?
What I thought of it
I would classify this novel as, at best, an ‘Agatha Christie – light’ type novel. In that it is easy to read, not overly contrived or complicated but not up to Christie’s standard of plot lines and twists. However, this is only his second novel and so there are still improvements to be made in Damien Boyd’s writing. If you are one of those who find Agatha Christie too simplistic then Boyd’s books are not for you.
There are not many chapters in this book but going by my kindle version there are a number of chapter breaks where, if you need to, you can put the book down for a while. I did read this novel, in a couple of evenings which is all I wanted for a holiday read.
Whilst the character of Detective Inspector Dixon is fairly believable I do feel the novel centres on him rather too much and at times too little is made of the more minor characters, some to the point of making them superfluous. Also there is Dixon’s dog, Monty, although him having a dog is all very nice and good I do feel that the ‘taking Monty for a walk’ bits in the novel have been used in order to pad it out a bit just in the same way as Dixon’s diabetes has been used. However, I do accept this may have been done to make Dixon appear to be more human. Also the number of meetings and what happens in them was a bit of a drag at times. However, I do know that this does happen a lot in the police with briefings on a daily basis. The novel is perhaps a little dialogue heavy but then again I don’t think having Trappist monks as police officers and the CID would work at all but a bit more scene setting would improve things.
Some of the characterisation is also lacking which does make some of the characters a bit one dimensional. Whilst some of this for the main characters was dealt with in the first novel of the series I feel more could be made of it in this one for the new characters for the reader to get a better understanding of them. Also I feel there are perhaps too many extras especially when it comes to the other members of the police. I feel that these could have been reduced in number to give them a bigger role. We again have some of the lesser PCs who seem unable to think for themselves and appear to have all the personality of a wet cardboard cut-out.
The settings of the local area work well and there is good use of some of the more gory details of the scenes the police sometimes come across without going over the top. However, there is only so much you can read about taking the dog for a walk on the beach or going to the local pub and curry house.
There are also a few too many coincidences within the novel and these appear to have been clumsily used to tie up some loose ends rather than to really plan them out. There are also too few plot twists for the experienced reader of crime fiction. Whilst I appreciate this is only Boyd's second novel I felt it was a little too simplistic but still far better than I could ever hope to do.
In all this wasn’t a bad novel and it did serve the purpose of a holiday read as it is short and a light read. It is certainly not a classic crime novel and there is still room to improve but it is only the second novel and there is signs of improvement from the first in the series. I will probably give the third one a go and see if further improvements have been made in Boyd’s writing style.
© 2019 mikec1978