This book is at times gruesome and at times hilarious

Two men, like chalk and cheese, and the only thing in common is the body parts that keep turning up around London. Because one of these men is a serial killer and the other is the police officer on his trail.

Clifford Gentle is a quiet man who lives alone and works in a mundane job. Little do his workmates know that he is the serial killer or ‘Cereal Killer’ as he becomes known (the book will explain), responsible for almost twenty murders and dismemberments.

Larger than life police officer DCI Dave Hicks is determined to catch ‘the nutter’ as he calls him. A huge man with a large beard, Hicks lives across the road from his mum, who still does all his cooking and cleaning. He loves his mum, almost as much as she loves him. She dotes on him and feeds him massive, unhealthy meals every day, which no doubt partly account for him being larger than life. Hicks also has a way with words, or probably doesn’t: ‘Everything fits in with my previous proboscis,’ he tells the press upon discovery of yet another body.

This book is at times gruesome and at times hilarious. It has all the makings of a great detective novel, plus Dave’s ridiculous spoonerisms, his ineptitude, very-un-PC banter from his co-workers and a philosophical killer. Because Clifford Gentle struggles with his life, his sexuality and frequently his motives. What he really needs is a hobby – other than chopping up his hapless victims.

You need to be prepared to be offended, disgusted and broad-minded in equal measures to enjoy this book (the humour made me wince at times), but this was written in the eighties about life in the eighties at the end of Thatcher’s government. And the ending is worth waiting for as the initial horror has smatterings of a farce, but you’ll have to wait till you get there to find out. – Veronika Jordan – Bookchatter 2021

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