Those That Remain by Rob Ashman

A review of the detective crime thriller novel Those That Remain by Rob Ashman.

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Those That Remain is the first book in a trilogy but can be read as a stand-alone story. A serial killer crime novel, the narrative centres around Lieutenant Lucas, a life-weary detective on his way to retirement. He is ably assisted by Detective Bassano, a stereotypical Latin lothario, who also happens to be an amazing policeman. Lucas is sent to a run-of-the-mill burglary and, in the course of the investigation, comes across evidence that a long-dead serial killer—the Mechanic—might not be dead after all. Enter Jo Sells, a member of the FBI’s Behaviour Analysis Unit and Harper, an ex-policeman, who both worked on the original Mechanic case. The story follows their hunt for the serial killer.

The book is well-written and really easy to read, with very little bad language or gratuitous violence. The fact that it’s partly written from the perspective of the Mechanic helps break up what would otherwise be a standard police procedural story.

The character of Lucas is fairly well-developed and, for once, he isn’t a detective hiding a secret life. Lucas and his team rely on good old investigating. Mr Ashman has created characters that are incredibly believable and easily relatable. Even Detective Bassano, who is a bit of a formulaic ladies-man, is still engaging. Sells is the least-likeable character, but this fits nicely with the uptight FBI agent she is portrayed to be. Ashman cultivates the persona of the Mechanic splendidly, especially as it is quite tricky to make serial killers believable. Harper, the ex-policeman, was again a believable character. The changes to his character are plausible, and he makes a convincing sounding board for Lucas, albeit a little contrived at times.

The story itself is okay. It veered away from the normal crime thriller clichés for the most part. The plot twists were, for me, so telegraphed I ended up telling the book (quite vehemently) who the killer was. However, it is possible that they were meant to be obvious to show how clever one of the characters is at misdirection. Only the author can truly answer that question. The final reveal was well-handled and believable and the killer’s motive actually made sense.

All-in-all, a good read and worth the time if you enjoy detective fiction. I will certainly look out for the other books in this trilogy.

Cassidy grew up in Thanet and lives here with her family.

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