Babel by Barry Maitland

Babel was the last Brock and Kolla novel I had in my TBR stash. I was quite sad about this, as Maitland writes fantastic British crime novels from the perspective of detectives David Brock and Kathy Kolla. I’ve read the majority now (completely out of order) and I can confidently say that they are the best British police crime series I’ve read. The characters are believable, the crimes interesting (yet plausible) and I haven’t been able to guess the killer 100 pages in.

In summary, this book takes place shortly after Silvermeadow (but you don’t need to have read this for the novel to make sense). Kathy has been attacked personally and is thinking of leaving the police. Brock has just been put on a new case- the murder of a university lecturer on his way to a lecture. The initial evidence points to a fundamentalist religious group, yet not is all it seems at the university.

Written pre-September 11, 2001, I felt this book dealt sensitively with the Muslim faith. There are no stereotypes or messages pressed on the reader and I felt I learned more about the faith.

Babel is slightly different to the other Maitlands I’ve read in which a lot of time is spent trying to figure out the motive for murder after the murderer has been discovered. This is unusual but no less gripping. The plot twists and turns and just as you think it’s finished, there’s a twist which is plausible given the previous events.

I’m not usually a big crime fan but I highly recommend the Brock/Kolla series. They’re a bit like The Bill before it got entangled in the character’s lives (and the shaky camerawork). You do hear a bit about Brock and Kolla’s personal lives, but I think this would be less than a chapter in the whole book. The focus is on the crime and the police’s role.

8 out of 10, recommended to crime fans and those that like to dip in and out of the genre.

(P.S. I have seen another of the series, No Trace on sale at Dymocks for $10 recently. This book is also highly recommended.)

6 thoughts on “Babel by Barry Maitland

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  1. I would definitely recommend the series- I’m not a big crime fan (not into Kathy Reichs, Patricia Cornwell etc). Brock and Kolla are very realistic, as are the crimes they investigate. No weird and wonderful coincidences or sudden confessions.

  2. I’ve read a couple of Barry Maitland and enjoyed them. I must read this one.
    I also like Kathy Reichs but agree with you the Barry Maitland books are quite different.

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