‘A Tapping At My Door’ – DS Nathan Cody #1 by David Jackson

A woman at home in Liverpool is disturbed by a persistent tapping at her back door. She’s disturbed to discover the culprit is a raven and tries to shoo it away. Which is when the killer strikes. 

DS Nathan Cody, still bearing the scars of an undercover mission that went horrifyingly wrong, is put on the case. But the police have no leads except the body of the bird – and the victim’s missing eyes. 

As flashbacks from his past begin to intrude, Cody realises he is battling not just a murderer but his own inner demons, too. And then the killer strikes again, and Cody realises the threat isn’t to the people of Liverpool after all – it’s to the police.

So, I got to the end of ‘A Tapping At My Door’, the first book in the DS Nathan Cody series and my gut reaction was: I don’t want to continue with this series.

Then I argued with myself.

I reminded myself that this was a well-written book. The dialogue is spot-on for Liverpool. The characters were believable and easy to empathise with. There was a strong sense of place and of local culture. There were diverse attitudes towards the police that were conveyed with passion. Moments of high tension were balanced with moments of introspection. The ending was tense and spectacular. So waddaya mean you don’t wanna read the rest of the series?

I responded with “Well, just because it’s well-written and realistic and has a credible main character doesn’t mean that I enjoyed it”. DS Cody is a broken man – mentally unstable and lying to himself, his boss and his colleagues about it and thereby putting himself and his colleagues at risk. It makes for a strong story but it makes him a hard man to cheer for. The scene where I found out exactly how he was broken and by whom was one of vivid violence that was necessary in terms of understanding Cody and his problems but one that I’d rather not have had splashed across my imagination.

I also struggled with the motivation of the off-the-wall character who was killing police officers and leaving birds with their corpses. It felt far-fetched and over-elaborate. It’s extremely rare for a Police Officer to be murdered in the UK. The idea of multiple murders accompanied by exotic clues felt exploitative to me, especially when the setting for the crimes was so realistic. Later, when I learned that the motivation of the murderer was linked to a single, at that point unrevealed, word I know what the word would be. Most people who grew up on Merseyside would be able to guess. I won’t say why here because it would spoil the plot but I found the link distasteful. Even though the distress linked to the word was described with some dignity, the motivation for this crime left a bad taste in my mouth.

Which is why, even though I think ‘A Tapping At My Door’ was a four-star read, I don’t want to read any more of this series.

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