The Murder Bag – Tony Parsons
As some of you may be aware, I recently came back from a trip from Rome. As a person who, whilst I have no issue with flying per se, gets very bored when stuck in a metal tube for hours on end, I always feel the need to distract myself by sitting down to a good book.
On this occasion, whilst browsing through the airport selection, my eyes were drawn to The Murder Bag and, within seconds of boarding the aircraft, I dived into it.
From the outset the story seemed fairly simple; a ruthless serial killer is stalking London’s streets, cutting the throats of the rich and powerful. Only one man seems to be able to stop him, DC Max Wolfe.
Before the plane had even taxied to the end of the runway, I began to feel a slight pang of disappointment. Within the first two chapters, I already found myself at odds with the lead character who, as with so many stories of this type, was a man who everyone disagreed with but was invariably right all the time. As his character unfurled in the early chapters, he seemed to be rather like the person we all love to dislike – you know the person I mean, the person who takes credit for his own achievements but when things start to go wrong is always eager to blame someone else…
By the time the plane had reached cruising altitude, I was ready to go far as to suggest that the character was too good to be true and, therefore, woefully unbelievable. I had begun to wonder whether I had in fact picked the right novel at all.
But, as you may have guessed, the lack of anything else to do on the flight forced me to stay with it for a few chapters more… and I haven’t looked back since.
After the slightly stuttered start, where everything seems to be so obvious, Parsons takes the reader down a train ride of twists and turns whilst also making some rather apt comments about the world we live in today. If I thought from the outset that the story seemed familiar, I was pleasantly rewarded for my preconceptions when it is revealed half way through that that was precisely the point.
By the time I reached the middle of the book, any issues I had with the DC Wolfe had evaporated as Parson’s slowly peeled back the layers of his characterisation to reveal possibly one of the best detectives to have emerged in crime fiction in recent years. Parsons has elegantly crafted a character that seems so familiar to the reader that you find yourself making presumptions that leave you breathless when he finally blows the smoke away.
And, with a nice nod to one of the most notorious serial killers in British history, this story provides a thorough police procedural story with a good thriller that will leave you guessing right up to the last page.
And with a sequel released not long ago, this is the best time to add The Murder Bag to your wish list. Absorbing, intriguing and thoroughly enjoyable.
For more reviews, news and stories from Nick, subscribe to his newsletter at