I don’t usually read crime novels so this is a bit of a change of gear for me. I should also note that this is the sixth book in a series and, not having read any of the previous five, it took me quite a while to get up to speed with the various characters and to fully appreciate the significance of events recalled from previous books.
Cast Iron, and the series of which it is a part, centres on Enzo Macleod, a Scottish-Italian forensic scientist who has spent the previous five books solving cold-case murders. In this case, the story starts all the way back in 1989 when a killer dumped the body of Lucie Martin into a lake in the West of France. In 2003 the body was discovered but no-one was ever convicted. We then jump forward to 2011 when Enzo becomes involved, opening a whole can of worms as he does so.
It’s this can of worms that Author, Peter May is primarily interested in exploring and this often results in the investigation on which the novel hangs taking a back seat to the milieu of events swirling around the main character. This is no bad thing, though especially given that identifying Lucie Martin’s murderer was remarkably straightforward.
As such, it’s the pulling together of various threads from the previous novels in the series that really provides the meat of this novel. For me, though, this created something of a problem in that the fact that I hadn’t read the previous books often left me struggling a little to keep up with some of the motivations and events.
That said, by about two thirds of the way in I did have a reasonable handle on how the ever-expanding cast of characters related to each other and pretty much understood what was going on. In many ways reading this felt a lot like reading a soap opera in that I was stepping into an ongoing narrative having no idea of who was who or what was going on, but things do become both clearer and more engrossing as the story progresses.
Cast Iron is a very readable and occasionally gripping novel and one that leaves me with a dilemma: I’m tempted to read the previous five books in this series, but I fear that doing so will feel more than a little spoilery given that I already know how things are going to pan out.