ARC Review: The Forgotten Gun (A DCI Steve Burt Mystery)


Thirty-nine year old Steve Burt is a detective inspector in London's Metropolitan Police force. At least he was, until he punched a superior officer at a holiday party (well, you know how those office parties can get).

As John Reid's debut London detective story starts, we find DI Burt blurry eyed in early April, facing a disciplinary hearing at which it's a sure thing that his police career will come to a crashing end. In the three months since his suspension from the force he's sunk pretty low. Drinking his dinner most nights, he's given up caring about much of anything.

But on the day of his disciplinary hearing something surprising happens. He's given another chance. His boss, Commander Malcolm Clark, takes pity on Steve and offers him a promotion to Detective Chief Inspector (DCI), and his own department. Of course, there's a catch. The department is actually just a sleight-of-hand budgeting ruse. It's a way to ease Steve and a couple of other "misfits" out the door. The whole department will be downsized in six months, but at least Steve and the misfits will get to keep their pensions. In the meantime, the department will be tasked with solving "impossible crimes" passed on by other departments, who surely won't judge any of their own cases "impossible" which means Steve and the misfits are set to be spending a lot of time twiddling their thumbs.

Just as surprising as his boss's offer is the fact that Steve finds that he cares at least enough to say yes to it.

From there The Forgotten Gun takes off. An impossible murder case does get directed to Steve and his misfits. And then another one with the same MO. Steve and his two misfits dig in, discovering a raft of wrongdoing as they solve their way to the surprising conclusion to this baffling case.

In a debut novel you always wonder what you're going to get. Here you get a well thought out story with an excellent plot. There are just the right amount of twists and turns as the clues are slowly revealed and the story builds. Throw in the impossible murder weapon which puts holes in the bodies of the victims with no evidence of a bullet, financial crimes (the rich just keep getting richer bilking money off the rest of us), machinations within the police department, and an alternating storyline between the killer and the detectives, and you've got yourself a good story.

The characters on the other hand are a mixed bag. DCI Burt does just enough by the end of the book for you to believe he's not the drunken fool he was as the story started. But along the way he manages to be more than a bit annoyingly misogynistic. He repeatedly asks the female investigator in his faux department to fetch coffee, assigns her the bulk of the work, and makes belittling remarks about her weight even as she's the one doing the most to unravel the case. Nicknamed "Twiggy", she manages to rise above the stock character role to which her co-misfit "Cap" and most of the characters other than the DCI are relegated.

Honestly though, in a crime story like this one, at just over 200 pages, you're not going to get back stories and loads of character development. The flip side is that the story is written well enough that I had no trouble picturing the limited TV series it could become in my minds eye as I read. 

The Forgotten Gun is an entertaining mystery story and the first of the DCI Steve Burt series of books. Two additional books are also available. If you're a fan of mysteries or crime thrillers I think you'll enjoy this quick read. I give John Reid's debut Three Stars ⭐⭐⭐.

NOTE: This blog post is my stop on Love Books Tours online tour for John Reid's The Forgotten Gun. I received a review copy from the author and Love Books Tours in exchange for participating in the tour and providing a fair and unbiased review.

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