Today is my stop on the blog tour for ‘The Dentist’ by Tim Sullivan organised by Damppebbles Blog Tours. I hope that you will check out both the author and the book, as well as the rest of the blogs involved in the tour.
*Disclaimer: ‘I was given a copy this book in exchange for an honest review.’*
A homeless man. Violently strangled. No leads. Except his past.
An outsider himself, DS George Cross is drawn to this case. The discovery of the dead man’s connection to an old cold case then pulls Cross in further. Convinced this is where the answer to the murder lies, he sets about solving another that someone has spent the past fifteen years thinking they’ve got away with.
Cross’ relentless obsession with logic, detail and patterns is what makes him so irritatingly brilliant. It doesn’t exactly make him popular with colleagues or his superiors, though. He has numerous enemies in the force wanting to see him fail.
Red flags are soon raised as suspicious inconsistencies and errors in the original detective’s investigation come to light. Now retired, this ex-cop has powerful friends in the force and a long-standing dislike of Cross.
Set in picturesque Bristol in the Southwest of England, it’s not long before the city reveals its dark underbelly, in a case of intriguing twists and turns whose result astonishes even those involved.
Difficult and awkward, maybe. But Cross has the best conviction rate in Avon & Somerset Police. By far. Will this case put an end to that?
I have somewhat mixed feelings about this book. Firstly, I have to say that while I like the cover – I love black and white covers with a dash of colour, and the premise of the book, the title is somewhat off-putting and I think if I hadn’t seen it online, but in a bookshop, it’s one I might have avoided as a result. That would have been to my detriment, because it turned out to be an entertaining read, and I thoroughly enjoyed the main character DS Cross once I had got into the swing of his characterisation.
I would say that the characters are absolutely the strongest part of The Dentist. As I said above, DS George Cross stood head and shoulders above the rest and was my favourite character – and the main reason that I will be continuing with this series. I felt that he was very well written, especially the aspect of his Asperger’s Syndrome, and how that influenced both his work and general life. There were certain points where it did feel a little too detailed, though. While I appreciated the depth, I feel that it might have been more impactful if that had been explored at a later point, even into the next books, particularly if there is to be a standalone aspect to any of the later books, as this is an aspect that will need to be revisited. That said, he has to be one of my favourite detectives that I’ve read about this year, due to the excellent characterisation. I also very much enjoyed his work partner Ottery, who is both foil and bridge to Cross’ social challenges, but who stands up brilliantly as an individual in her own right and I look forward to seeing more of their partnership in future books.
The writing style threw me off for a little while, and there are places where you can see the author’s experience as a screenwriter shining through. This is certainly a book that would work well for that kind of adaption, but it took a little while to get used to the writing. That, and somewhat uneven pacing in places, where the details, particularly about Cross become a bit too detailed and counterweigh the action and progress happening elsewhere.
However, once I got used to it, I found that the narrative, for the most part, flowed well, and I was drawn into the story, and more often than not caught by the twists and turns of the plot. There is an excellent level of complexity throughout the book, and I enjoyed the police procedural element, especially where it was combined with Cross’ attention to detail and routine. It felt very immersive, as though we were discovering the clues and making the connections alongside him.
Overall, this was an excellent read with a good blend of tension, action and mystery, and with a standout detective and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to fans of crime fiction. I will definitely be reading The Cyclist, the next book in this series which is out now, and keeping my eye out for future books in the series.
About the Author:
TIM SULLIVAN made his first short film before graduating from Cambridge University. His ambition to become a screenwriter was formed not so much by this experience but as an attempt to foil his father’s determination to turn him into a lawyer.
Within weeks of leaving university armed with a law degree he had met the film maker Derek Jarman and persuaded him to commission an original screenplay from him entitled BOB UPADOWN and so a career was born.
A few months later he joined Granada Television as a researcher. Here he was commissioned to write the first of many television scripts for the company. Two sitcoms entitled THE TRAIN NOW LEAVING and THE GREASY SPOON followed by the crime dramas MYSTERIOUS WAYS and MAIGRET.
While at Granada he was selected for the prestigious Directors’ Training scheme when only 26. Previous encumbents had included Mike Newell, Roland Joffe, and Michael Apted, more recently Julian Farino. Among other credits he directed CORONATION STREET, MADE IN HEAVEN, THATCHER THE FINAL DAYS and THE CASEBOOK OF SHERLOCK HOLMES with Jeremy Brett.
During this time he also co wrote the screenplays for the movies A HANDFUL OF DUST starring Kristen Scott Thomas, Judi Dench and Alec Guinness and WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD starring Helen Mirren and Helena Bonham Carter, both with producer the legendary TV producer Derek Granger (BRIDESHEAD REVISITED).
Upon leaving the bosom of Granada and venturing into the wild wide world of the freelance film maker he wrote and directed the movie JACK AND SARAH starring Richard E Grant, Samantha Mathis, Ian Mckellen, Judi Dench and Eileen Atkins. This led to a commission from New Line Pictures to write the screenplay WALKING PAPERS based on the Jay Cronley novel of the same name.
This screenplay came to the attention of execs at Universal and Imagine who then asked Tim to do a page one rewrite of a western for Ron Howard entitled THE PRETENDERS. Tim enjoyed working with Ron for over a year on this.
He then wrote an original screenplay, PERSONAL SHOPPING, which was promptly snapped up by Paramount for producer Scott Rudin.
He spent four months working for and with Jeffrey Katzenberg at Dreamworks animation as a production writer on the movie FLUSHED AWAY. Impressed by his work Katzenberg commissioned him to write a script for SHREK 4 which wasn’t used as a different storyline was decided upon as a director came on board.
During this time he was actively involved in British television directing the last ever ninety minute episode of the BAFTA award winning series COLD FEET. As well as a TV movie for ITV called CATWALK DOGS written by Simon Nye.
He was commissioned by the BBC to write a pilot for a TV series he invented called BACKSTORY as well as another pilot for the ITV network entitled OFFSPRING.
He also wrote HIS MASTER’S VOICE for the BBC as a radio play starring Rob Brydon which was broadcast in 2015.
He recently wrote the screenplay for LETTERS TO JULIET starring Amanda Seyfried and Vanessa Redgrave.
Oscar winning producers of The King’s Speech, Iain Canning and Emile Sherman then commissioned an original screenplay from him entitled THE WEDDING DRESS.
Tim is writing and co-producing and co-writing an animated feature screenplay for Hasbro and Paramount which is in production and scheduled for release in 2021.
He has now embarked on a series of crime novels featuring the eccentric and socially-awkward, but brilliantly persistent DS George Cross. Set in Bristol in the south west of England, Cross’ methods often infuriate his colleagues and superiors “not so much a thorn in my side as a pain in my arse,” according to his boss DCI Carson. But his conviction rate, thanks to his dogged persistence and attention to detail, is the best in the force. The DENTIST is in the first of a series.
Tim lives in North London with his wife Rachel, the Emmy award-winning producer of THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA and PIONEER WOMAN.
He is currently the UK chair of the Writers’ Guild of America (West).
The Dentist (The DS Cross Mysteries) – Tim Sullivan (Published in paperback and digital formats on 15th June 2020) – **** (3.5/5 – rounded up to four, because I enjoyed Cross so much as a character).
If you’ve read it or read in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.