Published: 01/03/2013
ISBN: 9781780884745
eISBN: 9781780886589
Format: Paperback/eBook

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L.S.Caton is a forensic psychiatrist. She was born in Scotland, but now lives in England with her husband and two teenage children. She has a lifelong love of crime fiction. She writes: "I have... read more

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The Cull
by L.S. Caton

In 25 years there will be two people of working age for every pensioner. Biomedical advances, especially in stem cell research, will lead to a dramatic increase in life expectancy. The social consequences of these demographic changes are momentous, with the potential for major conflict between the generations.

On the night of Friday, April 22nd 2005 three residents were murdered at the Elmview Nursing Home in the Cambridgeshire village of Kellingham. Iris Crawford, aged 88, Wally Green, aged 73, and Margaret Kelso-Brown, aged 82, died in their beds, their throats cut. I was expecting death in Kellingham, but not for another two weeks. And one death, not three.

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The Operation and The Cull are the first two books in a series of crime novels set in the years 1997-2009, the era of “New Labour”, the new Millennium, nine-eleven. the Iraq War, years of boom and bust, hope and disenchantment, deception, and some frank criminality. L.S. Caton studied anthropology, criminology, psychology and psychiatry, and is uniquely placed to observe the era.

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The Cull opens with three dead bodies, always a good start. The gloomy O’Brien is sent to investigate two very different worlds – that of the very rich and that of the Institute For Ageing Research, where some rising boffins are dying young. It’s a mix of high science, complex love lives, controversial animal experiments, Big Pharma, warped minds, something for everyone. I loved the chapter where O’Brien goes to Miami to visit the ultimate senior citizens’ retreat and meet the laconic DS Chavez, great description of Florida and aspects of American life. One quibble for me was the technical stuff on science of ageing and pharmacology. Tecky readers might enjoy it, but I skipped some, then worried I might be missing clues. Because, above all, this is a good, old-fashioned whodunit, a closed-room mystery with a twist, all the clues there, very fair, although I was totally surprised by the ending. Beautifully written, in the same dry prose as “The Operation”, maybe more polished. Already looking forward to her next one.

by Mike Young

I really enjoyed this book which has the unusual setting of a lab for ageing research, also an old peoples’ home with some rather lurid goings-on. As well as a being an exciting crime novel, there is a lot on the science of ageing, treatment of dementia, nutritional supplements, cosmetic surgery and so on. I have worked in the area and found it to be accurate and telling. It does slow the pace a little, but it’s definitely worth waiting for the exciting and ingenious – and scary - conclusion. There are some good psychological observations of character, and the issues raised are profound and very alarming. I would strongly recommend “The Cull” to anyone who enjoys crime novels or is interested in the issues it raises.

by Dr Miriam Hassan


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