Reviewed by Mike Stafford

Sometimes it’s fun to say ‘I told you so.’ Back in April 2012, we at Bookgeeks (as we were then) told readers to “expect great things from the Carrigan and Miller series.” With ‘Eleven Days,’ the sequel to ‘A Dark Redemption,’ author Stav Sherez has proven us wise.

‘Eleven Days,’ sees DI Jack Carrigan and his partner DS Geneva Miller investigate a fire at a convent in Bayswater. Ten nuns are dead, having apparently made no attempt to escape, and there is one more victim, found separately, and unidentified. As Carrigan and Miller investigate, the case touches upon the rise of Liberation Theology in South America, sees them wrestle with the demands of the brass, and confronts them with a terrifying new model of criminal.

Were he still alive, and were he taking an interest in commercial fiction, Dr. Johnson would be delighted by Stav Sherez’s books. After providing the setting for centuries’ worth of literature, you’d think the possibilities of London would have been exhausted by now – not so for Sherez. He who is tired of Sherez’s London is truly tired of life. By studying immigrant communities, and examining the capital’s role as a hub in an increasingly globalised world, he finds something new within somewhere ancient. Indeed, in ‘Eleven Days,’ London hardly seems part of Britain at all. It is the world in microcosm; dark, diverse and dangerous. Sherez is a humane, compassionate writer, but still his multi-ethnic vision is no Benetton advert. His is a world struggling with its own increasing complexity. As Sherez observes of Carrigan –

“Even twenty years as a policeman hadn't exposed him to the full horror running through London's veins.”

For him, policing isn’t about clapping the cuffs on easily defined bad guys (though such men do exist); in ‘Eleven Days,’ it’s so much more. Carrigan is a dogged crusader for justice, but unfortunately for him the very concept is evolving and evasive.

Sherez has setting nailed then, but what of his protagonists? Well, Carrigan and Miller are a superb pairing. In any detective partnership, there is ever the chance of one character slipping into the straight-man role, or becoming a foil for the other. Not so in ‘Eleven Days.’ Carrigan and Miller spend ample time apart, with Sherez examining them as individuals. Throughout the book, at various times each appears to be in the ascendancy, at risk of stealing the show, but in the final analysis, Carrigan and Miller are simply complementary. Carrigan is tougher, more brooding, but Miller has a particular strength of her own. She tests Carrigan, challenging his assumptions throughout, the bond between them ensuring that her theories and hunches bear a greater weight for Carrigan than those of their peers. Like Wagenbach and Wyms from TV’s ‘The Shield,’ they make each other better detectives. Professionally, their relationship is a formidable one. On a personal level, Sherez drops only the subtlest of hints about a possible future direction for Carrigan and Miller. In this case, less is definitely more, with the reader left to draw their own conclusions.

‘Eleven Days’ is certainly ambitious, but it is also firmly grounded in procedure. Carrigan and Miller do all the things typical cops do; they interrogate suspects, they consult the pathologist, they collect evidence, they get browbeaten by their superiors and they tread on other coppers’ toes. As with the best of its ilk, the detail in ‘Eleven Days’ is authentic but unobtrusive.

Overall, ‘Eleven Days’ is another triumph from a writer who – whisper it – just might be marked for greatness. His presence on the TOP Crime Novel of the Year shortlist alongside Billingham, May and Mina was well deserved, and here he uses linguistic flair, passionate engagement with the subject matter, and psychological acuity, to great effect. It’s a blend that makes the Carrigan and Miller series strike a distinctive note in a crowded genre.

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Mike Stafford

Mike is an acerbic Utility Analyst with a healthy love of literature. His bookshelves groan under the weight of all the crime fiction he has amassed over the years.  To him, the conventions of crime allow authors to explore psychology, history, sociology and politics without ever risking navel gazing. His collection also includes philosophy, 20th century classics, and a copy of The Complete Works of Shakespeare - a book he maintains no home should be without. The most prized volume on his shelf is a signed copy of Kofi Annan's Interventions.

As craftsmen, he admires Sallis and Bruen. As storytellers, he admires Ellory and CJ Box. He doesn't trust anyone who doesn't like Stephen King.

He is also a novelist battling against the forces of procrastination, and a food and theatre reviewer for the West Midlands's Edge Magazine. He lives in Worcestershire with his wife and young family.

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