Title: All the Pretty Ones (Detective Jackie Cooke #1)
Author: Marnie Riches
Published on: 7 June 2022
Genre: Mystery and Thrillers | Police Procedural
All the Pretty Ones is the first book in Marnie Riches’ Detective Jackie Cooke series.
The story begins with the serial killer preying on his next victim. They do not suspect him. They smile and wave at him. They do not know that soon they will have a chord tightened around their neck and their smile would be wiped off their face forever.
Detective Jackson Cooke is six-and-a-half-months pregnant and the only breadwinner of the house. Her husband Gus is a musician and struggles to make money. Jackie’s mother Beryl helps out a bit with babysitting the nine-year-old twin boys.
Jackie stepped down from her post and took a smaller role while her rival Tina Venables got her job. Jackie had no other option but to opt for a demotion when she discovered she was pregnant – it was an unplanned one, you see. Jackie’s partner Dave Tang is looking forward to spending a fortnight in Hong Kong with his mother when they receive a call about a crime scene at the back alley of a restaurant.
Teenager Chloe Smedley is sitting on a bench, staring into a distance. But there is no life in her blank stare. And her limbs are sawed off. What’s worse is, Chloe had Down’s syndrome. When Jackie tells Chloe’s mother about the murder, the mother’s cries cut through her. Decades ago, Jackie’s younger brother Lucian vanished from the park – he too had Down’s syndrome.
Jackie takes Chloe’s murder as a challenge and wants to bring the killer to justice. Then, another body is found. This one has the limbs but is missing a torso. The limbs are attached to a mannequin. Meanwhile, the killer has his eyes set on Jackie. When she was first assigned to the murder case (his victim), she was a junior officer. Tina and Jackie had caught the killer and the court proceedings made it to the news. But Jackie had her doubts – did they convict the wrong guy?
Jackie has her hands full – a murder case, possible a serial killer on prowl, her emotionally absent mother and husband, her twin sons wanting some TLC and a baby on the way. If this wasn’t enough, her boss is being a pain-in-the-backside. She wants Chloe’s murder solved ASAP.
Dave has taken off to Hong Kong and Jackie is partnered with a young out-of-academy uniform. He’s too quick judge the victim’s parent and makes remarks about the living situation – Jackie does not like it one bit. She’s then paired with a young officer named Shazia Malik. Dave is forced to come back from his vacation when another body is found. The trio dig deeper into the case, trying to find a possible connection between the victims – if any, that is.
Jackie was going through a lot and I felt really bad for her situation. When she wants her family by her side, they fail to receive her calls. But when they want her, she’s always there. Her husband has been dodging household duties and blames her for his decision to remain a stay-at-home dad. Her mother too isn’t being helpful. Throughout the story, Beryl remains emotionally distant with her daughter and is the first to point fingers at Jackie when things go sideways.
The killings are quite gory. Severed limbs and body parts, some of which are attached to a mannequin while some thrown away as if they were trash. There’s also a personal link to the murders – all the victims were going through a tough patch in life (some were mentally challenged) and this makes Jackie even more determined to find the killer. After all, her younger brother had Down’s syndrome and went missing from the park – for which Jackie blames herself.
Though a first in the series, equal importance is given to character introduction, setting the series-plot, and serial killings. The serial killer stalks Jackie – and one cannot ignore the fact that there might be a sinister motive behind the stalking.
Absolutely fantastic storytelling and excellent character portrayal. The twist at the end was totally mind-blowing. It is too late when Dave and Jackie learn of the killer’s identity and someone is in danger. Speaking of killer’s identity, this was totally unexpected and shocking. As the story ends, Beryl mellows a bit – just a teeny-tiny bit – but I hope she would support her daughter in the near future. Something to look out for in the next book.
All the Pretty Ones by Marnie Riches is a gripping, riveting and spine-chilling murder mystery. If you are looking for an engrossing police procedural with a dash of family drama, I highly recommend you to give this book a try.