Review: Simon Conway – Rock Creek Park

rock-creek-park-27389-pThe tag ‘bio-thriller’ on the front of this book nearly put me off. It’s not that I don’t like them, I just usually find them too complicated for my unscientific mind. What got me reading the book was the setting – the political world of Washington DC. However, as it turned out Rock Creek Park as an excellent and disturbing read.

Harriet ‘Harry’ Armstrong is a former police Metropolitan police officer who jogging one night in Rock Creek Park discovers the body of a young woman. The park adjoins the property of a Republican Senator who gathers the great and the good around him to protect his reputation while the investigation takes place. Detective Michael Freeman is a former Special Forces soldier now working for Washington MPD. Convinced he is being set up by those who want to keep the Senator out of the investigation, he discovers Harry is now working for a genetic engineering company headed by a Russian scientist who may have been involved in the killing.

This was a pacy read written from the point of view of both policeman Freeman and Harry, who is desperate not to get involved in the case. Both characters are equally interesting – Freeman because knows that he is in the middle of a conspiracy involving multiple intelligence agencies, whereas Harry’s sense of dislocation as a stranger in a new city gives her a naïvety which is a nice counterbalance to Freeman. They are both given interesting back stories and the people who are close to them, Freeman’s political aide wife and Harry’s journalist husband, are also well drawn.

The political side of Washington is excellently portrayed, full ambitious aides and other hangers-on. I also enjoyed the bio-thriller part of the narrative, despite my reservations, mainly because the central premise is so interesting. There is a very creepy feel to the experiments that are taking place and a shocking event towards the latter part of the book which made difficult reading.

Towards the end, when the action moved from Washington to Georgia in the Caucasus, the book changed style slightly although the pace quickened to an extent that it didn’t spoil my enjoyment. I’d be interested to read a review from a scientist about the experiments that take place. I read the book with the view that it depicted an interesting if slightly improbable sequence of events. I’d be horrified to think that this stuff actually goes on.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher. The book has also been reviewed at Eurocrime. The author’s website is here.

12 thoughts on “Review: Simon Conway – Rock Creek Park

  1. Margot Kinberg

    Sarah – Isn’t it nice when a book turns out to be better than you thought it was going to be? The premise seems interesting too, and the characters. What’s interesting to me personally is the setting. I did some of my doctoral research at a school very near Rock Creek Park.


    1. Interesting Margot. I like it when you have a personal connection to the setting. I found this when I read Sergio Gakas’s ‘Ashes’ and my local patisserie in Athens made an appearance.


  2. Your review reminded me of the horrible death of an intern in DC a few years back – unsolved to the best of my knowledge, but it was a disturbing case. Presumably unrelated!


  3. To be honest, I had no idea it was a bio-thriller and would have picked up the book only because of the title, I spent a couple of summers working in DC and would go for a jog in Rock Creek Park. Luckily, I never found a dead body there! I’m pleased the book turned out better than you expected.


  4. This sounds like a very interesting book and I especially like getting the two points of view. I don’t need another new book / new author, but this definitely sounds like one to add to the list. I am curious about his earlier novels, but this seems a better place to start for me, more my type of book.


  5. George

    Jogging at night in Rock Creek park–off the roads anyway–calls for night-vision equipment. Anyone without it could spot a body only if it were immediately adjacent to a road or path. I speak as one who used to run through it all the time at night.

    @Moira. A man was convicted of the murder of Chandra Levy a couple of years ago.


    1. George – thanks for stopping by and commenting. In the book Harry senses/sees something suspicious and her survival instinct kicks in and she hides behind a tree. When the attacker has gone she goes to investigate and finds the body. I’m glad that there were no referenced to night vision equipment. There is something very sinister and eerie about them that make them ideal for a crime novel.

      Thanks for the information about Chandra Levy. I’d forgotten the name of the poor intern who was killed.


  6. Pingback: The Best of February’s Reading | crimepieces

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