Robert Adams - Antman (Bitterne Books)
Reviewed By Nick Quantrill
Antman is the latest crime novel from prolific Hull-based author Robert Adams.
It is his interest in ant behaviour that forms the heart of this book, and one
that allows him to craft a dark narrative that absorbs and terrifies in equal measure.
The novel starts with the discovery of a dead pig at a remote location in the Hull area.
Forensic investigation reveals that the animal was reduced to its skeletal form by an army of ants.
The stakes are then raised when a human body is found in a similar state.
It becomes clear to the police that the individual responsible for these acts,
Graver, is communicating with them through the use of anonymous letters which offer
an insight into his frame of mind.
As the bodies begin to mount up the baffled police, led by DI Chris Winchester,
recruit the specialist assistance of Dr Tom Fortius from the local university.
As the story unfolds the battle to bring Graver to justice becomes more personal.
Knowing that the killer must possess in-depth knowledge of the ant world, it becomes
a race against time to halt his killing spree.
It is to Adams' credit that as Graver's personality becomes more and more
fragmented and feverish, the twists and turns of the novel mean that his
identity isn't revealed until the very end of the book.
Adams presents a character with a terrifying yet unique method of murder.
The descriptions of the victim's suffering at the hands of the army of ants is at
times brutal and demanding, yet necessary as it creates an unsettling
atmosphere that pervades the whole book.
The characterisation of the lead characters is particularly skilful as it
invites you to draw comparisons between the similarly obsessed
Graver and Fortius, whilst examining their weaknesses and flaws.
The weakest element of the novel comes with the unfolding of the police investigation.
Although it may be procedurally sound, the number of police officers that feature
in the novel become difficult to keep track of and occasionally the characters
pander to stereotype.
However, by having a female detective lead the investigation, Adams is able
to explore issues of sexism in the police force in a thoughtful manner and
it goes some way to redeeming this aspect of the novel.
If you are looking for an original take on the serial killer novel, and enjoy
a psychological thriller, then this is an absorbing read with engrossing characters.
In an oversubscribed area of crime-fiction this is an inventive novel that will
have you turning the pages expectantly to discover the identity of the Antman.
Antman is now available to buy from any bookshop, priced £13.95.
Alternatively you can order it direct from the publisher at the discount
price of £10.00 including post and packing from Bitterne Books, PO Box 606 Hull HU5 3WW.
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