I read and loved David Jackson’s fantastic and terrifying novel ‘The Resident’ so much that last year I gave it a 5 star review. So when invited to read an early release of his next novel ‘The Rule’ via the Pigeonhole book club I was absolutely delighted to do so.

As The Rule opens we are introduced to Daniel, a 23 year old man with some sort of undefined condition that that means he has the innocent mind of a child – he can’t tell lies, he loves Colin the Caterpillar cakes (topical!) and Adam-9 (surely a pun on Ben-10?). The Rule in question is actually really sad; despite his mental limitations and his childlike outlook on life, Daniel is a giant of a man and has no concept of his own strength – something that has resulted in close shaves in the past, including a tragic incident with a dog that nobody wants to see repeated. So Daniel isn’t allowed to touch anyone. He doesn’t understand why he’s teased and singled out by the nasty lads that hang around the dark and dingy areas at the bottom of his high-rise flats, but he understands that he mustn’t retaliate when they start menacing him. This makes Daniel (and the reader) sad.

Daniel’s parents never thought it would be like this. They live a life of struggle, just keeping their heads above water and the safety of their boy is a constant worry for them. After a frightening incident in the lift on the way to their flat where his Dad is threatened by a strange man with a gun and bag full of money, a terrible situation unravels and very quickly goes from bad, to worse, to even worse again.

Another voice we hear is Hannah’s. Hannah is a police officer who has experience of being thrown under the bus by her superiors when a previous case she was working on went wrong and ended in the death of a suspect.  She’s brought onto this unpalatable case because she makes them look inclusive and they can throw her back under the bus when it inevitably fails and ruin what’s left of her career. She has her own demons though, and her back story is impossibly sad and hard to deal with.

David’s characterisation is always really good and this book is no exception – the characters are believable – although their actions are often implausible – and their struggles resonate – somehow you find yourself rooting for people who have done terrible things because you can understand why they’ve done what they have. Sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures and there aren’t many more desperate than this.

David Jackson has once again managed to write a book that’s got some really troubling, wince-inducing violent scenes, and temper them with such dark humour that you find yourself giggling at inappropriate moments. Throw in some poignant moments, a heartbreaking back story and he’s got himself another winner!

About the Author: David Jackson

David Jackson is the acclaimed author of the crime thriller series featuring New York detective Callum Doyle. Pariah, his debut novel, was Highly Commended in the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Awards. It is published in the UK by Pan Macmillan, and various audio and foreign rights have been sold. Follow-up novels in the series are: The Helper, Marked, and Cry Baby. The Guardian newspaper said of David’s writing: ‘Recalls Harlan Coben – though for my money Jackson is the better writer.’ Originally from Liverpool, David now lives on the Wirral with his wife, two daughters and a British Shorthair cat called Mr Tumnus. More information about David and his novels can be found on his website at http://www.davidjacksonbooks.com, where he can also be contacted. He goes under the name @Author_Dave on Twitter.