Death of the Courier, Raymond Bailey

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When lecturer Steven Evans drove back to England from his post in Barcelona he wasn’t to know that a drug-smuggling syndicate had packed cocaine into the upholstery and door panels of his car, nor that throughout his journey he was being tracked by two Spanish couriers in a separate vehicle.

After stealing Evans’ car, along with the drugs, from outside his parents’ home in Salisbury, the couriers pass the drugs onto their UK distributors. Unfortunately for them, in the course of the transfer one of the couriers is murdered, his body and the gutted car abandoned in the New Forest.

First to hear of the murder is a secret, anti-drug special police unit, but it is up to Hampshire police, headed by Detective Inspector Sally Winslow, to investigate the crime. Ex-partner D.I. Joel James hampers Winslow’s investigation as he conceals vital information regarding the identity of the surviving courier. Who is he and what happened to him? Is he the key to solving the murder?

Meanwhile, Steve discovers that he is not the first victim from the university to lose his car to the drug trade. Along with Paul Collins, an undercover agent, he discovers that both the victims, and the crime organisers, are colleagues in the university.

Sally Winslow and Joel James manage to renew their fraught relationship and their bosses seem finally to be working together, but can their complex international ‘sting’ operation bring down the drug syndicate and put the principals away for good?

Publisher: Matador, Sept 2014

Reviewer: Briony

Smuggling, murder, love and loss this book has got it all. The story starts when a university lecturer, Steve Evans, based in Barcelona travels back home to England completely unaware his car has been stuffed full of drugs or that he is being followed by two couriers who are responsible for overseeing the drug handoff in the UK.

In the process of transferring the drugs from Steve’s car to the UK wing of the drug smuggling ring one of the couriers that had been following Steve is murdered and his body is found alongside the car. Unfortunately for the crime syndicate responsible for the drug smuggling Steve’s mum is a Detective Inspector, a close family friend & police colleague from the area in which his car was found, Sally Winslow, is also on the hunt for m, as well as undercover agents from both the Spanish and English police who have been trying to put an end to their crime spree.

This book is easy to read, gripping from the start and full of twists and turns. I like the fact that I have visited many of the areas that serve as a backdrop to the story, both in England and Spain. So I could picture them in Barcelona, Zaragoza, Portsmouth and the New Forest.  Even if you have never visited these places the story will pull you in and not loosen its grip until the very last page.

The characters are engaging and well written, their back stories are well thought out and relationships whether old or newly formed feel real. Whilst there are a lot of characters and it can get a little muddling at times, it is necessary for the story and because each and every character you come across has been so well thought out you would be forgiven for thinking that you are reading a book that is 6 or 7 into a series. In fact if this doesn’t become a new crime series I will be disappointed, it would be a waste of such good characters that clearly have more stories to tell. You get a real sense of each person’s strengths and weaknesses, their place within the story and their lives outside of the main plot.

I strongly feel that Raymond Bailey, should he chose to write more in this genre whether he keeps the characters or not would be added into my mix of favourites.

Death of the Courier has something for everyone, a base of crime thriller, with a good dose of murder and mystery and a liberal sprinkling of romance. I enjoyed it from the first page to the last and would happily recommend it to anyone.

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