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The Path of the Bullet is winding and improbable, but well written
December 17, 2015
The Path of the Bullet
By MC Jacques
Mystery & Thrillers
Pub Date: December 3, 2015
A ruthless assassin at large in the UK and heading for a target in Cambridge… an office steaming with jealousy and passion… a hero’s body found in a war museum and a disconsolate man – gnawed at by ghosts from his distant and recent past – charged with finding the murderer.
With a steadily increasing fusion of murder, intrigue and suspense, the floundering Mark McKay finds himself thrown onto a hotbed of deception, fraud, incest and even a neo-Nazi’s murderous intent.
Set in Cambridge at around the turn of the millennium, The Path of the Bullet, the first of the new Cambridge Mysteries series, explains how McKay forsakes his hermitic existence on the Lincolnshire coast and becomes attracted to the beautiful city of Cambridge in both mind and body.
M. C. Jacques is an author with promise. He is a skilled writer, but that isn't quite enough to redeem The Path of the Bullet. Although an entertaining read, the novel is a mish-mash of the improbable and the highly unlikely. As in cooking, there are three central components to a good novel - technique, quality ingredients, and overall recipe. Jacques has technique down, but adds too many ingredients to a recipe that hasn't been thought through fully.
Someone has been sabotaging equipment at the Royal War Museum, Tuxford. In most instances the sabotage has been detected before anyone has been injured. But one particularly complex setup has resulted in the death of a retired soldier, a frequent visitor to the RWM.
When Mark McKay is contacted by one of his father's friends, he is intrigued by the Wing Commander's unusual request. He wants Mark to investigate the happenings at the museum, both the sabotage and the murder. The police have not gotten far in their inquiries, and it is likely the culprit is a museum employee. The police are also interested in the case Mark discovers ties to a sleeper terrorist cell located in Cambridge.
What starts as a seemingly straightforward case becomes more and more complex as McKay delves into the background of the central players.
The novel moves forward at a slow but steady pace. There is a lot of information and it is important to pay attention if you want to keep up. In some ways, Jacques makes the plot too complex. He is trying too hard. The sabotage makes no sense, particularly if the culprit is part of a terrorist group. Definitely blows the concept of low profile since the culprit is obvious. Another aspect I don't care for is that McKay gets all relevant information from a friend. McKay learns little on his own. The murder is solved when the killer hangs himself and leaves a recorded confession. Pretty much everything is handed to McKay, apart from the traps he walks into. I'm also uncertain as to whether a neo-nazi would work with Islamic militants.
Jacques is a decent writer. McKay is well developed, but many of the other characters are broad sketches based on popular stereotypes. Would I give Jacques a second chance? Yes, his writing skill warrants trying another of his books.
I received a copy of The Path of the Bullet from the publisher and Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.