Hartmann: Malicious Rules by Helen L Lowe


I was given this book in exchange for a fair, honest review.

This is the first book in a new thriller series. It focuses on Dr. Julian Hartman in the 60’s and his search for his son. Julian only recently learned that he has a son when the boy goes missing, at the same time body parts are turning up in the Thames, mutilated and marked. It becomes clear that the victims are young boys, who are thought to be homosexuals. In his quest to find his son, Julian learns that the boy is a drug addict, who would often fund his habit by offering himself sexually in the same area of London from which the victims were last seen, making it imperative he finds his son.

Julian has some issues of his own, he drinks too much to suppress his own childhood memories, and these begin to resurface causing problems for him. As he travels deeper into the world of illegal porn, illicit drugs and police corruption Julian is in more trouble than he ever could have imagined.

I really enjoyed this, it was  bit of a slow starter and I found the focus on Julian as ‘perfect’ a little grating. But once he started having flashbacks and issues, he became more relatable. I found his drive to find his son admirable, although he could have maybe left Charlotte alone and focused more on finding his son. I felt like he was at times easily distracted, I mean, if there are body parts showing up of young boys and your own young boy is missing, would you go to parties and have BDSM sex with a young woman? I’m inclined to think you wouldn’t, you’d be out day and night hunting for your kid. That’s just my opinion though. But I can’t argue that he doesn’t go to extreme lengths for his son, because he does. Even going as far as helping the police by seducing a man they suspect, which results in his drugging and kidnap.

I didn’t see the twist coming until Lowe gave a huge clue, then my mind was racing as to why and what was happening. It was really good, the way in which she misdirects you and sucks you until you believe you know who it is, only to be proved wrong. My only real niggle besides the vanity of Julian, would be the repetition of crutch throughout, it threw me a little as it seemed a little disjointed and conservative compared to the actual activities in the book. Literally just a small niggle though.

Overall this book was well written, compelling, interesting, complex and kept me second guessing every step of the way, unsure of who to trust. There was drugs, sex and murder. What more could you want? I’d give this a strong 4 stars. The twisted truth in the end was great. Very Criminal Minds like, and I can’t wait to read the next one.



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