If Fear Wins by Tony J. Forder #BookReview #BlogBlitz

When a torched body is found in a country lane, DI Bliss and Chandler are called in to investigate.
The detectives are drawn towards recent missing person reports, and believe their victim will prove to be one of them. Bliss thinks he knows which, and fears the outcome if he is proven right.
Soon the body is identified, and Bliss and Chandler discover evidence suggesting this murder might be a terrorist attack.
Meanwhile, someone from Bliss’s past needs his help, and soon he is juggling his personal life with the demanding case. To make matters more complicated, MI5 and the Counter-Terrorist Unit are called in to help solve the case. But are they on the right track?
Bliss and Chandler soon find themselves in a race against time, and this might just be their most challenging case yet…

I'm thrilled to be one of the hosts for the final day of the blog blitz for If Fear Wins by Tony J. Forder today, my grateful thanks to the author, Bloodhound Books and Sarah Hardy for inviting me and for my copy of the novel received through Netgalley.
Until November last year I hadn't read any of Tony J. Forder's books, that If Fear Wins is now the fourth I have read should be a good indication of how highly I rate his novels. It is his third book to feature DI Jimmy Bliss and DS Penny Chandler and despite some fierce opposition from the previous novels, I believe it is the best yet.
The book opens with a horrific crime, the sight of a torched body enough to turn the stomachs of even the most experienced officers. At first it's not even clear if forensic evidence will be able to identify the victim but with reports of two recent missing people, the  team are at least able to concentrate their initial investigations into trying to discover more about the two people currently unaccounted for. As it becomes apparent who the victim was, evidence comes to light which strongly suggests they may have been murdered as an act of terrorism. Bliss and Chandler must now work with a multiple agency unit knowing that this has become a deeply sensitive case which could lead to severe repercussions in Peterborough and across the country once the public become aware of their fears.
If Fear Wins is different to the previous books in the Bliss and Chandler series in that I didn't feel the two protagonists were ever directly in danger in this story. Instead the book concentrates on their painstaking investigation; the difficulties that arise from working alongside other units, the frustration and disappointment experienced when promising leads come to nothing and the moments of enlightenment that give them hope when it seems the case may stall. The book also sees the return of a face from Bliss' past and as he becomes involved in a second off the record investigation on their behalf, he is able to reflect on the path his life has taken in the period since they last met. Although If Fear Wins can be read and thoroughly enjoyed as a standalone novel, it does contain spoilers about the previous cases and so I would ideally advise starting from the beginning of the series if possible.
The events from the past continue to impact on Bliss in particular, both in his own responses and how others behave around him. The development of the main characters, particularly Bliss is one of the highlights of If Fear Wins. At one point in the novel it is acknowledged that in many ways he is the stereotypical damaged cop, living alone with just his music for company. And yet he never feels a stagnant character; although the essence of the man remains the same - his difficulties dealing with authority, his self-criticism, his propensity to keep things to himself and his dogged determination to handle cases his own way  - he has also undoubtedly changed. He has learned to control his temper better, is able to recognise that the politics of the job must sometimes be negotiated rather than contested and is beginning to accept that though outcomes of cases may not always be perfect he can focus on the positives rather than dwell on what went wrong. He has actually becomes one of my favourite fictional detectives, his troubled past gives him an air of vulnerability which juxtaposes well with his often brusque demeanour. His perceptive nature extends beyond his cases into his role as leader  and though he may be old school he bears none of the misogynistic or bigoted traits of some older officers, meaning he is a supportive and insightful boss. Though very much his book, Penny Chandler continues to play an important role too. The relationship between the two is a complicated one; their easy humour perhaps masking their real feelings for one another. There can be little doubt that Bliss relies on Chandler more than any other person but whether than extends beyond a deep friendship is something he isn't perhaps yet ready to contemplate. Chandler is far more than an adoring sidekick however, a discerning officer in her own right, she has the potential to go far in her career and has no qualms in questioning Bliss' handling of the case when she disagrees with him.
Tony J. Forder's assured writing coupled with his impressive research has produced a thoroughly engaging and intricately plotted story. I was engrossed throughout by the twists and turns of the case which eventually becomes a tense race to save lives, as the initial horrific murder is just the start of a compelling investigation into a web of crime. It recognises the delicate balance between the public's right to know information and the danger that the resulting fear from that knowledge may result in further bloodshed. It also acknowledges the reality that terror doesn't just come from terrorism and perhaps just knowing that there are people capable of carrying out the most brutal, evil acts means we are already subjugated by fear. I've read quite a few police procedurals and If Fear Wins is up there with the best of them. The mystery is genuinely perplexing, the characterisation is superb throughout and the complexities of the case are completely riveting and utterly believable. If Fear Wins is one of my favourite books of the year, I enjoyed every minute of this excellent novel and highly recommend it.

If Fear Wins is published by Bloodhound Books and can be purchased here. Don't forget to check out some of the other posts from the blog blitz, details are below.

About the Author
Tony J Forder is the author of the critically acclaimed crime thriller series featuring detectives Jimmy Bliss and Penny Chandler. The first two books, Bad to the Bone and The Scent of Guilt, will be joined in the series on 29 May 2018 by If Fear Wins.
Tony’s dark, psychological crime thriller, Degrees of Darkness, featuring ex-detective Frank Rogers, was also published by Bloodhound Books. This was intended to be a stand-alone novel, but Tony is now considering the possibility of a follow-up.
One book that will definitely see a sequel is Scream Blue Murder. This was published in November 2017, and received praise from many, including fellow authors Mason Cross, Matt Hilton and Anita Waller.
Tony lives with his wife in Peterborough, UK.
Website  Facebook  Twitter  Goodreads