Rag Doll: A Novel by Daniel Cole

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Rag DollDebuting with an embroiling work of thrilling crime fiction, Daniel Cole’s Rag Doll familiarizes readers with its dysfunctional hero William “Wolf” Fawkes, a seasoned but damaged police detective forced to match wits with an insanely depraved criminal whose gruesome acts resound with pure evil genius. As book one of the William Fawkes Detective series Rag Doll
is a memorable read that thrills with its uber-twisted plot as much as it disturbs with its gore.

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A genuinely good man, but nevertheless teetering on the edge with his sanity, Wolf finds himself suspended after exacting his own brand of vengeance on a nefarious criminal that should have remained in jail. Following his return to the police force, a gruesome crime sets everyone on edge with the discovery of a body built from the parts of six apparent murder victims, given the nickname, The Ragdoll. Possibly dealing with the work of a serial killer, Wolf, ex-partner Emily Baxter and her trainee, Alex Edmunds set about finding a connection with the victims, hoping it will lead to the killer before he or she can strike again.

In the meantime, things take on a particular fervor when a list of murder victims, which includes their intended death dates, surfaces and shockingly contains Wolf’s name as well. Stumped and struggling in a race against time to beat each “death date”, the investigators’ lives become deeply affected as the body count grows in horrifically creative ways, shortening the list, racing ever closer to Wolf’s intended death date. Ever the lone wolf, and believing there is a deeper connection between the victims, himself and something dark from his past, Wolf attempts to take matters into his own hands.

Altogether, I found Rag Doll to be a thoroughly enjoyable mind boggle of a read. The characterizations were well developed, especially that of William “Wolf” Fawkes, whose intriguingly imperfect personality and complicated relationships with his ex-partner Emily Baxter, and his ex-wife made him all the more engaging to read. Moreover, lending further depth to the story, the supporting characters shone as well, particularly when the focus of the story moved to their personal lives and perspectives, creating tangible scenes of realistic human nature throughout the book. This turned out to be a thoroughly worthwhile read and I highly recommend it.

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