Endgame by Daniel Cole
My rating: 5 of 5 Stars
The title says it all: Endgame.
This is where it all comes together. Where questions and relationships are resolved. Where things… END????!!!
As usual, Daniel Cole opens with an author’s note. In the previous books this was used more as an amusing intro to his irreverent style, and that’s still the case here, but primarily it’s a warning to readers that this is the finale of a trilogy. There is so much in Endgame that directly references the past, bringing together plot and character arcs, throwing in cheeky Easter eggs, relying heavily on backstory, that without reading the first two books, you’d be missing half the story. At least. I had read both Ragdoll and Hangman before but I STILL did a reread to refresh the details. In any case, both previous books are 5 star reads, genuinely good fun. Just like this, they’re dark and gory, funny and clever. Start with Ragdoll and work your way through, you won’t regret it.
For those that are up-to-date, I’m going to keep this review as free of spoilers as possible. I mean, the blurb lets you know that the entire plot revolves around the death of a certain character so there’s not much I can do about that, but rest easy that there nothing else in here to ruin your read….
A member of the team is dead and it’s been ruled a suicide. It has to be. Fin’s fingerprints on the gun. The room locked from the inside. No evidence that anyone else was there.
Except Fawkes doesn’t believe it. His friend would never have killed himself, no matter what. And he’s willing to bank his freedom on it, maybe even his life.
So now the gang is back together (save the dead one) and it is TENSE. The ripples of past actions and the strain of the investigation into Finlay’s death increases the pressure on the already fraught relationships of the team. Right in the centre of it all is Wolf, finally under arrest, but still fighting to find out what the hell happened to Finlay in that room. Anyone who knows him knows that he’s not about to let it go. And if someone else was involved, no way it’ll go unpunished. Several bad guys could attest to that, if they weren’t already dead.
As for Baxter, well, she’s already got enough shit on her plate, so Wolf stomping his way through both her work and private lives only serves to muck things up beyond all recognition. On a positive note for readers, it certainly brings her acerbic commentary to a whole new level. She had me chuckling out loud to myself all the way though. Note: not a book to read in public if you don’t want to look somewhat unhinged. The attitude and snark both Fawkes and Baxter bring to the book, and the series as a whole, is exquisite, the balance of competence and flawed personality creating characters that are beyond just likeable. They’re the ones to laugh with, to root for. Baxter, especially, is the ultimate example for whatever’s the opposite to winning friends and influencing people…
An important looking man sauntered over and held out his hand to her: ‘May I?’
‘May you….what?’ Baxter frowned, staring at his wrinkled extremity as though it were holding a dead kitten.
The man suddenly looked less confident: ‘Have this dance?’
‘No, you may not. Piss off, perv!’
The plot is just as engaging. Information about the case is tantalisingly revealed, the narrative moving smoothly between the present and significant moments of the team’s past, adding new dimensions to relationships and offering alternative explanations for the kind of ‘truths’ around which characters have built their worlds. After all, this is the Endgame not only of the narrative arc we’ve been following through the last two books, but of threads woven way before that.
There are real surprises on offer, revelations that have the potential to change everything held back until the last minute.
Essential plot details, and not a little humour, are developed by well placed flashbacks to Fin’s early cases. These scenes have him and his partner acting as a kind of Scottish version of The Sweeney. It fits perfectly with the overall aesthetic of the novels since they all feel like they should be made into either a Hollywood film with an explosively huge budget or one of those cooly British tv series in the same vein as Luther or Line of Duty. But with way more laughs. Everyone needs a few jokes to lighten the mood in the midst of death and disaster, right? And, as always with Daniel Cole, there’s no shortage of that. Endgame never lets up on the thrills, keeping the tension high right until the perfection of an ending.
I really hope there’s more to come, I’m not ready to let this lot go just yet…
Books in Series
ARC via Netgalley