No Ordinary Killing by Jeff Dawson #BookReview #BlogTour

1899, South Africa:  As the Boer War rages, Captain Ingo Finch of the Royal Army Medical Corps pieces together casualties at the front. Then, recovering in Cape Town, he is woken by local police. A British officer has been murdered, and an RAMC signature is required for the post-mortem.
Shocked by the identity of the victim, the bizarre nature of the crime and what appears a too-convenient resolution, Finch turns detective. He is soon thrust into a perilous maze of espionage and murder.
Along with an Australian nurse, Annie, and an escaped diamond miner, Mbutu, Finch finds he has stumbled on a terrifying secret, one that will shake the Empire to its core...
An extraordinary and unputdownable historical crime thriller and Kindle bestseller, perfect for readers Philip Kerr, M.J. Carter and Abir Mukherjee.

I'm thrilled to be hosting the final stop on the blog tour for No Ordinary Killing by Jeff Dawson today, my grateful thanks to the author and Ellie Pilcher from Canelo for inviting me and for my digital copy of the novel.
I read a lot of crime fiction but have a particular love for historical crime so No Ordinary Killing immediately appealed to me. Set during the Second Boer War - a period I'm not that familiar with - I was soon completely engrossed in this complex tale. The beginning sees Captain Ingo Finch engaged in a dangerous mission to save an injured man and at first the book seemed to be rather more a war story than a crime novel. I wasn't complaining though, the vivid descriptions brought the awful, visceral conditions in a field hospital to bloody life and I couldn't tear myself away from the page. Finch is entitled to a much needed break in Cape Town following his heroic efforts to save lives at the Battle of Magersfontein but his rest is brought to a sudden end when he is called upon to identify the body of a British officer who has been murdered. He is shocked to discover he knows the victim and though the Cape Town police are instructed to hand the case over to the MFP - Military Foot Police - he can't help but conduct his own investigation when details don't quite add up.
Meanwhile, a former diamond miner, Mbutu whose natural ability to run fast has earned him the nickname Johnny Fleetfoot and a role delivering messages for the British army, is given a task he has no choice but to accept but when his life is threatened he is forced to flee. His troubles have only just begun and as he learns of a horrific crime, he has to take desperate steps to save himself and others who depend on him. Far from home, Mbutu doesn't know if he will ever be reunited with his wife and son. Australian nurse, Annie is even further from home; she knows she is embarking on a trip into the unknown but mortally wounded soldiers and the inevitable diseases that come from people living in such close contact in unsanitary conditions eventually become the least of her worries as she too is thrust into a deadly mystery that becomes a race for the truth.
There's such a lot going on in No Ordinary Killing that it's hard to know quite where to begin when reviewing it. In many ways it reminded me of a John Buchan novel; the reluctant protagonist who unwittingly finds himself in mortal danger and must doggedly fight for justice and the truth in the face of  despicable treachery. There is also a clear Holmesian connection with a few mentions of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his detective stories - some more significant than others. The three narrative strands of the story are told separately for some of the book and I did need to concentrate to fully appreciate what was happening, this is one of those books that drew me in gradually, the intricacies of the plot proving to be a puzzle which doesn't fall finally into place until the latter stages of the story. The richly descriptive characterisation and magnificent scene setting - Cape Town is brought to life as is Camp Eureka - is matched by the gripping action particularly when the tension builds almost unbearably towards the end of the book. Though most definitely a murder mystery, No Ordinary Killing is also a political thriller and Finch discovers he can't trust anybody as it becomes clear that there is far more at stake here than the death of one man. Though there are some wry smiles raised at the pomposity of the British (and their maps), it's painfully obvious that this is a society split along  racial and class divides meaning some lives are considered more disposable than others.
I know I'm reading a superb historical novel when I find myself researching more about the period after reading little fascinating snippets of information contained within the story. No Ordinary Killing enthralled me; the intense descriptions of the Boer War itself; the fascinating history of the indigenous people of the area, especially the Nama; the terrible sense of foreboding at what we know is to come - apartheid, a war ravaged Europe, concentration camps, genocide...
No Ordinary Killing is a thoroughly exciting, perplexing and intelligent mystery which never shies away from the realities of the atrocities of war and imperialism or the resulting moral and emotional impact on people. I loved this outstanding debut thriller from Jeff Dawson and look forward to reading more from him in the future. Highly recommended.

No Ordinary Killing is published by Canelo and can be purchased from the following sites;
Amazon UK
Kobo UK
Google Books UK
Apple Books UK

Don't forget to check out some of the previous stops on the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author
Jeff Dawson is a journalist and author. He has been a long-standing contributor to The Sunday Times Culture section, writing regular A-list interview-led arts features (interviewees including the likes of Robert De Niro, George Clooney, Dustin Hoffman, Hugh Grant, Angelina Jolie, Jerry Seinfeld and Nicole Kidman). He is also a former US Editor of Empire magazine.
Jeff is the author of three non-fiction books — Tarantino/Quentin Tarantino: The Cinema of Cool, Back Home: England And The 1970 World Cup, which The Times rated “truly outstanding”, and Dead Reckoning: The Dunedin Star Disaster, the latter nominated for the Mountbatten Maritime Prize.
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