Your Deepest Fear by David Jackson - book review: This is one of the most entertaining thrillers you will read this year

Your Deepest Fear by David Jackson
Your Deepest Fear by David Jackson

He was found tortured, nailed to the floor, and left to die alone in his own home… but why would intruders want to so brutally murder the shy, mild-mannered Matthew Prior?

Troubled Liverpool murder cop DS Nathan Cody sets out on a dark, dangerous – and increasingly personal – mission in the pulsating new thriller from Wirral-born David Jackson whose outstanding police series has propelled him into the upper echelons of British crime writing.

Your Deepest Fear is the fourth book the DS Nathan Cody series which stars a wonderfully complex and dogged detective haunted by events in his past, and delivers grisly, gruesome murder mysteries so chilling, tense and disturbing that reading is best undertaken in daylight hours.

Cody’s new case sees Jackson’s impressive imaginative skills at full-throttle as the restless and flawed detective meets his match in a feisty, fearless widow whose own hunt for her husband’s killers proves to be one of the dynamic driving forces of a gripping cat-and-mouse chase.

‘Sara! Remember! Victoria and Albert. All I can say. They’re here. They’re... Sara, I love you…’

These are the last words former soldier Sara Prior will ever hear from her estranged husband Matthew. Returning home from a visit to her native Copenhagen, the frantic message on her landline phone ends with a blood-curdling scream.

At his shabby terraced rental house in Aintree, Sara finds a scene of horror… Matthew’s belongings have been ransacked, and he has been stripped, spread-eagled, nailed to the floor, and left to die slowly and painfully.

Tax worker Matthew, the quiet, socially awkward, introverted man she taught ‘about life, about living,’ moved out of their cottage four months ago and she doesn’t know why, but he had become increasingly morose and withdrawn.

DS Cody, who is currently undergoing enforced sessions with a police psychologist because of harrowing events through his work, is only allowed limited exposure to this disturbing case on the orders of his boss, DCI Stella Blunt, and is given the job of interviewing Sara.

But as he struggles to make sense of Matthew’s enigmatic message and solve the ruthless murder, it soon becomes clear that Sara – with whom he strikes up an immediate affinity – is no ordinary bereaved wife.

Taking the investigation into her own hands, Sara is drawn into a world of violence that will lead her in a direction she would never have suspected. And for Cody, things are about to get personal in the darkest and most twisted ways imaginable. Torn between his innate sense of duty and a deep-seated desire for retribution, he must tread a dangerous and deadly line…

There is a real sense of menace to Jackson’s immaculately plotted and psychologically powerful new case for Nathan Cody as the mentally damaged detective is wisely – or unwisely – drawn to the plain-speaking Sara Prior, seeing in her a kindred spirit who should be given free rein to make her own investigations.

But it is Cody – a man whose life seems to be perpetually engulfed in trauma – who is the lynchpin of this compelling series. His dangerous vulnerability, his intriguing on-off relationship with sidekick DC Megan Webley, and the threat that continues to destabilise his life and work add a powerful emotional punch to each new investigation.

Jackson’s characters are always perfectly portrayed and Your Deepest Fear plays out in a carefully controlled maelstrom of enthralling suspense, fast-paced action, and some bone-crunching violence before reaching its shocking finale.

Easily read a standalone or as a superb addition to a cracking series, this is one of the most entertaining thrillers you will read this year.

(Zaffre, hardback, £18.99)