‘Ritual’ is the 3rd Jack Caffery novel by Mo Hayder and our first introduction to both the Walking Man and Flea (Phoebe) Marley. This is the first Mo Hayder novel I’ve read that didn’t completely grab me from the first page.
At the end of the previous book – ‘The Treatment’ Caffery’s reasons for remaining in London went away. He has moved to Bristol in search of a wanderer called ‘The Walking Man’ who he thinks can help him in his quest (finding out what happened to his brother Ewan).
Caffery’s first case in Bristol begins with the discovery of a severed hand at the bottom of Bristol harbour by police diver Flea Marley. Pretty soon the second hand is also discovered and closer examination reveals that the hands were removed while the victim was still alive.
What follows is an examination is the world of drug addicts and what they will do in their desperation to get their next fix, and the trade in human blood and body parts used in African rituals for good luck and protection.
Behind the main crime we find out about Flea’s life. She lost her parents in a diving accident several years ago and has struggled to come to terms with this as their bodies were never found. Her brother Thom nearly perished in the same accident and has had even more trouble than Flea in getting on with his life. With the loss surrounding both their lives, Flea and Caffery seem to form an instant bond.
The problems I had with this book were mostly with Flea. She comes across as pretty stupid most of the time. I’ve read some of the later books and wasn’t left with that impression.
The walking man seemed very gregarious compared with the taciturn man portrayed in later books.
We get no new insights into Caffery’s life and I think that I missed that most of all.
The full repercussions of Thom borrowing Flea’s car are vaguely hinted at in this book. I can’t wait to read the next in the series – ‘Skin’ where I’m assuming that this part of the story will move on. I’m hoping that ‘Skin’ will have Mo Hayder back at her very best.
Book Published 2008