Killing the Beasts was a disturbing psychological thriller that dealt with ideas that also appeared in Chris Simms’s first two novels — compulsion and mental instability. And Cut Adrift was quite as powerful and unsettling as Outside the White Lines and Pecking Order, with the customary Simms quota of quirkily drawn characters.

Death Games demonstrates a further refinement of the author’s’ craft, with Spicer once again a durable and multifaceted protagonist. In Manchester, the survivor of a motorway crash escapes from the scene, but leaves behind an indication that a terrorist outrage is being planned. Spicer, newly a member of the Manchester Counter Terrorism Unit, is in bad odour with his bosses and has lost his previous job. Now demoted to the rank of Detective Constable, he finds himself working with the intuitive Iona Khan, who has her own problems – such as struggling to be taken seriously in the antiterrorism unit. And readers will not be surprised to hear that the duo find themselves obliged to work together, as a very high-profile target is in the sights of the terrorist group. This is Simms on customarily authoritative form and shows that he has not lost an iota of his narrative grip.

Death Games by Chris Simms is available 1 February


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