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.
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
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 been an avid reader since childhood. My favourite author in this genre, by a long mile, is Raymond Chandler. I have always thought that the opening two paragraphs of “The Big Sleep” rank alongside the finest writing in the English Language. I don’t even dream of trying to emulate him, but I wanted to write about what I have seen. My writing aims to entertain but I also want to deal with issues that make me angry - injustice, incompetence, the exploitation of vulnerable individuals. And to confront some of the failures of my profession of psychiatry."