Tom Mondrian is the last person you want on your case. And the only one who can solve it, in this quirky psychological thriller.Tom Mondrian’s perfectly happy as a PCSO directing traffic, until a bullet to the brain changes everything. With a new unusual perspective, including an inability to recognise faces and absolutely no filter between his brain and his mouth, Tom’s cTom Mondrian is the last person you want on your case. And the only one who can solve it, in this quirky psychological thriller.Tom Mondrian’s perfectly happy as a PCSO directing traffic, until a bullet to the brain changes everything. With a new unusual perspective, including an inability to recognise faces and absolutely no filter between his brain and his mouth, Tom’s convinced his career should be over.Until his new condition also helps him start noticing details that others police officers are missing, and gives him a determination to save three missing girls, before more start to disappear....
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Head Case Reviews
I enjoyed Ross Armstrong’s previous novel, “The Watcher,” and was interested to read this. Our main character is Tom Mondrian, a community support officer in London. When we meet him, Tom’s life is not really going to plan. A man who has spent his whole life in the same house, in the same community, he is suddenly going to see some huge changes in what has been, frankly, a fairly uneventful existence. First of all, his girlfriend is about to leave him. Secondly, he is about to be shot in the head, while directing traffic…The bullet in Tom’s brain causes him to experience some odd changes. He finds himself unable to recognise faces. He associates smells with colours. Unable to read without effort, he turns to audible books to fill his sudden longing for learning. Oh, and he unable to read social cues. Being a community support officer was not meant to be dangerous – shoplifting, petty crimes and community relations. However, Tom is keen to get back to work and is teamed up with a new partner, the long suffering Emre Bartu. Girls are going missing and Tom has a sudden urge to investigate and new skills, which enable him to make sense of clues that others may miss. Dragging Emre along with him, Tom is suddenly breaking all kinds of rules in his attempt to discover what is going on in the neighbourhood he loves.This is a funny and interesting mystery. Tom is a wonderful character and his quirky behaviour allows him to push all kinds of boundaries. Of course, some of Tom and Emre’s scrapes are a little unbelievable, but I was fairly happy to go along for the ride. I really hope that these characters appear in further books, as I think this could turn into a good series.
Really thoroughly enjoyed this story of Tom who after a brain injury finds he works on another level – a slightly convoluted, like the character himself, story but genuinely compelling and highly amusing.Tom is shot, after which his perspectives on life quite literally change – an inability to recognise faces, a highly analytical mind and a tendency to say exactly what he thinks the minute he thinks it makes for some truly hilarious moments and ultimately for a few edge of the seat ones as he see’s a pattern that nobody else is seeing.One of the huge strengths of this novel is the personal relationships – Tom has to build and rebuild these, I was especially fond of Emre who as Tom’s long suffering work partner has a beautifully calm yet ironic edge to him. The mystery element is intelligent and quirky, as we see things unfold through Tom’s eyes. This makes it a little disjointed in places with his tendency for no filter, but endlessly intriguing and often unexpected.I believe this is the first of a series from Ross Armstrong, whose previous novel, The Watcher, I thoroughly enjoyed. Head Case is a completely different but for me personally even better piece of storytelling – I like the books that bring a different edge and a new context to the crime genre and for me Head Case certainly did that. I can’t wait to find out what is next for Tom.Recommended.
I would like to thank Netgalley and HQ For an advance copy of Head Case, a sort of police procedural set in Tottenham.PCSO Tom Mondrian is in the first week of his job when he is shot in the head. The bullet doesn't kill him but the fragments embedded in his brain give him a whole new take on life and some serious -sias which impede his daily life. Nevertheless the police welcome him back, seeing his employment as part of their diversity efforts, but with limits and partner him with Emre Bartu who is tasked with keeping Tom on the straight and narrow. That doesn't work too well when Tom decides to investigate the disappearance of three local schoolgirls.I thoroughly enjoyed Head Case which, despite the synopsis is a fun read, mostly due to Tom's cynical view of and idiosyncratic approach to life. His willingness to exploit his disability and his superior officers' political correctness to get out of trouble and carry on his investigation is priceless as it says so much about our modern society. There are also elements of slapstick in the novel because Tom can't remember faces (including his own). Still, he makes the most of his new unusual skills and is able to laugh at his shortcomings. As an aside the novel is extremely interesting on the subject of mental health.In many ways the disappearance of the girls and its eventual resolution are secondary to Tom's attempts at investigation. As the novel is told in the first person with occasional flashbacks to Tom's past and the insertion of his dreams it can be difficult to follow at times. His logic is not mine nor probably yours so it sometimes takes some mental energy to follow his thinking. I tend to see this as a good thing as it pulls the reader out of their comfort zone and makes them think, not just about the investigation but about Tom's difficulties in thinking straight.Head Case is an unusual novel which I think will divide reviewers. Personally I think it is great and have no hesitation in recommending it as a good read.
I enjoyed Head Case. It had an outstandingly good beginning which wasn't quite maintained throughout the book, but it's a decent crime novel with an interesting premise.Tom Mondrian has just begun work as a PCSO when he is shot in the head, apparently by a stray bullet. This disrupts his mental processes, of course: he cannot recognise or recall faces and his ability to behave normally in social interactions is limited, among other effects, but his senses work unusually acutely and he experiences synesthesia – all of which gives him an unusual and sometimes very acute insight into what is going on.The book is narrated by Tom himself, and the description of the shooting and his subsequent struggle to recover is quite brilliant, I think. I found this section fascinating and absolutely riveting. Then, as he returns to work, he begins to involve himself in the investigation of missing girls. Despite the unusual angle of Tom's account, I found this plot a little conventional, as well as having the implausibilities so often found in Maverick Investigator books: the failure to go to the proper authorities when it's the obvious thing to do, the deliberately putting himself in danger for the sake of a Tense Climax rather than make sure he has the obvious backup needed and so on. Tom's unusual perspective kept my interest throughout, but only just, to be honest. The book, especially in the middle, could have done with a good deal of tightening up and rather more attention to believability. However, I still enjoyed it and if there's another Tom Mondrian book in the offing I'll definitely give it a try. So, recommended with some reservations.(I received an ARC via NetGalley.)
I enjoyed this author's previous book, The Watcher, as it was a little bit different from the norm, so I was very interested in seeing what he would serve up next. From The Watcher, I knew that I was probably in for an interesting ride as I spent the majority of that book a wee bit on the confused side but, he came through for me in the end in that book so I was able to trust that he'd probably do likewise here. I am glad I had this foresight for this book as, to be honest, it was also a bit unique!So, Tom Mondrian is a Police Community Support Officer in London. He has only just finished his training and has been on the job barely a week before he is shot in the head. Instead of killing him outright, the bullet fragments and lodges in various parts of his brain causing damage to areas responsible for certain personality traits. The two most obvious and indeed important ones being that he now can't recognise faces, nor does he have that filter between brain and mouth. Basically bypassing the "What you think and what you say" filter. He has other quirks too but I will leave you to discover them in your own time. He is shocked and surprised when, instead of being cut from the force, pensioned off in the line of duty, his employment is continued. Something about disability quota and good publicity, being some of the reasons bandied about. He is partnered with fellow PCSO Emre Bartu and the two of them are sent to do the mundane work usually carried out by those in their position. On one such call, they dip their toes into the ongoing investigation of missing schoolgirls. Tom's interested is piqued and he uses his new found skills, born from his condition, to inveigle himself into the case; off the books of course, with Emre a reluctant but mostly willing participant. One of the things that made this book for me was the wonderful character of Tom Mondrian. In him, the author has created someone really rather special. Not just with his new skillset as there were glimpses to be found before the accident. I am not sure exactly what it is about him but I took to him from the off. Post-accident, with all his quirks established, he just blossomed into someone really quite unique. Told from his own perspective, it is at times challenging to follow but, as already mentioned, I have been here with this author before so I knew to stick with it. It's refreshingly good to be challenged as a reader, there's not too much of this about these days. We also go around the houses a fair bit to get to where we end up but again, this is within keeping of his condition. He's the one telling the story so we have to follow it from his perspective. I am not sure exactly how plausible / credible the story really is but, to be honest, I like Mondrian enough to really rather not care too much about this nitpicky stuff. It's a wild ride and one I am glad I took, holding on tight of course! Best thing is, it's a series opener which means that I get to do it all again in the future. I'm ready when you are!My thanks go to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book.
Of all the genres I read, the most samey is Crime Fiction. Sometimes it feels that there are only so many ways that you can investigate a murder, but on occasion an author does come at things from a new angle. I have read a few altered narrator novels in my time, the most famous being ‘The Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime’ and often find them a little hard to follow. Balancing the mental gymnastics of the character with a narrative that makes sense is not easy. Ross Armstrong is the latest brave soul to try, but as the title of ‘Head Case’ suggests, this is a crime book that does not take itself too seriously.When Tom Mondiran becomes a PCSO he does not think that he will be in much danger, but within a week he has been shot. The bullet entered the brain and stayed, but rather than killing Tom, it altered the way he perceived things. Faces no longer make sense and smells give off a colour, this is detrimental, but when three school girls go missing it actually gives him an edge over his colleagues. Shame then that he is still just a PCSO and not only that, a token disabled PCSO that no one takes seriously.Without the central premise of Tom’s damaged brain, ‘Head Case’ would be an interesting, but standard slice of crime fiction. The kidnappings and various goings on are usual, but how they are perceived are not. Tom is a great narrator as he has a cold logic and dark sense of humour. The book is split between the actual investigation of a crime and Tom handling his new way of thinking. Some of the best parts of the book are the bluntness that Tom deals with people as he no longer has the ability to read social cues – or when he does, he ignores them.What lifts ‘Head Crime’ from a good book into an excellent one if Armstrong’s ability to create an interesting world around Tom. There is a black sense of fun when Tom returns to work as everyone in the police station knows who he is. They treat him with kid gloves as they see him as broken. Rather than being depressed by this, Tom uses their naivety to his advantage and gets away with far more than he should.Armstrong also does a great job of using limitations to enhance the story. Not only is Tom at a limitation socially, but also on the career ladder. The relationship he has with his PCSO partner is one of the highlights of the book. They are meant to direct traffic and visit schools, but instead Tom is constantly dragging them into danger. Giving them such a lowly role in the force makes the investigation that more interesting as rules need to be bent.For all the kidnapping, murder and being shot in the head, ‘Head Case’ is actually a fun read. Armstrong does not get too worried about the minutia of head trauma and makes sure that Tom is an odd, but coherent narrator. The book rattles along at a fast pace and has a good conclusion. Tom’s social quirks and ability to sniff out the solution means that he is a far more interesting central character than most crime thrillers have. I look forward to future outings.
Head Case was something I wasn't expecting to read in 2018, but when I read the synopsis, I changed my mind immediately. I feel like this is such a unique plot, and could have been so good, but I found the read a bit disappointing. The start of this book was great, it was a gripping opening about a detective, who narrates the story, who was shot, and the beginning covers this and his recovery - which I found a really interesting opening, and keeping the suspense. The story follows Tom investigating a missing persons case, and the introduction of this book, discussing Tom's life, exploring Tom's character and introducing this case had me gripped early on. However, I found that the latter half of the book was much less thrilling, and was a bit predictable. Without exploring the plot too much and giving up spoilers, the basic plot involves Tom getting shot in the head, and then becoming very perceptive to his surroundings, thus becoming a much more useful asset to a police force. However, it also brings negatives with it, in that Tom cannot understand social behaviour anymore and has a difficulty understanding what is fully appropriate anymore. I haven't read Ross Armstrong's previous novel, but I would be open to checking it out now, as I do think that this book brings a unique plot and is interesting and suspenseful, at points. I do think that these characters were interesting, likeable, and kept you entertained - they could make a good detective duo for a book series, even. I would recommend this read, and honestly feel as though it is one to divide its' readers.Full review: https://thereadingruby.blogspot.com/2...
I liked the opening of this book which is about a detective who has been shot in the head who has had his whole outlook and detecting powers altered by his head injury. It is told in the first person and the description of the shooting and his subsequent struggle to recover is very good.His attempt to investigate The disappearance of some teenage girls with his partner starts well but then becomes very laboured. I read up to a third of the book but could read no further as I was not enjoying the style and the plot seemed very disjointed.I think that the book would require some judicious editing before publication in order to make it more compelling.Thanks to NetGalley for my arc in exchange for an honest review.
Written in present tense, which I don't like. Sorry.
3.5 stars Tom Mondrian is a great character.