“Beyond the Limit”, the final book in the Detective Shaw Trilogy

When a week ago I wrote the last sentence in the first draft of “Beyond the Limit”, after an uninterrupted writing session lasted eight hours, I could not believe it. I’d started writing the book on 1 November and 75 days later, approx. 116 thousand words later, it was over. With it I found myself completing my twelfth book and closing a trilogy that had begun as a standalone book, “The Mentor” written almost by chance in November 2012 to try my hand with the NaNoWriMo and then published in 2014 (in Italy), and it ended up becoming one of my longer series, because it has in fact passed the word count of the Red Desert series (which includes four books).

The writing of “Beyond the Limit” was a seesaw of emotions, starting from the anxiety of the first days, in which I was set to follow the pace of NaNoWriMo (an average of 1667 words a day, even on weekends), while having written down only a partial outline. As I faced the challenge I was aware of not being quite ready, because I’d had little time to prepare. Fortunately there is NaNoWriMo (which I also won again this year), that prompted me to start anyway, to push me to create although I didn’t fancy to and then give rise to one of the most intricate stories in which I have ventured so far. Thanks to it, I had already written over 50,000 words by 30 November, even if, for the first time, I felt the need to re-read all the work done so far to realise how good it was and find the necessary motivation to continue. What I did not know was that I was not even half done!

As always, when in the beginning there are only a few ideas, but they require space to develop in a logical fashion, to go hand in hand with the evolution of the characters (in this case dictated by the need to give a conclusion to the trilogy), and to do all this while respecting the rhythm imposed by the competition (I cannot write more than one scene per session, so during the month of November, the scenes were almost all over 1667 words and I ended up keeping this rate even in December and in the first two weeks of January), these ideas have resulted in a text rich in details, introspection, events, many of which came unexpected but incredibly capable of fit perfectly in the plot, which made it very long, although the main story takes place in just three days.
Despite its length, I am convinced that it is a quick read, which I hope will keep you turning the pages and perhaps a bit anxious about the fate of the protagonists.
Although I had control over it, I was!

But, if you’re reading this post, maybe you want to know something about the plot, don’t you?
I’ll please you right away.
As I was saying, “Beyond the Limit” closes the story arc that began with “The Mentor” in 2014 and continued with “Syndrome” in 2015, which ties Detective Eric Shaw and his pupil (I cannot mention her name to avoid spoilers for those who hadn’t read the first book yet).
The novel refers to an old case, which Eric’s team had worked in January 2014 (before the events in “The Mentor”) and had been solved with the arrest of the culprit, Dr. Robert Graham, a post-graduate medicine doctor specialising in plastic-reconstructive surgery: a serial killer called ‘plastic surgeon’, who was later convicted for killing three women and kidnapping another one, Megan Rogers. The rescue of the latter, found in the killer’s house of the horror by Detective Miriam Leroux in January 2014, is the scene which opens “Beyond the Limit”, then the story goes forward in time until Sunday, 21 May 2017 (which is also the release date of the novel in Italy), when a woman is found dead in the famous Madame Tussauds wax museum. This is just one of many popular locations in London where the events of “Beyond the Limit” take place.
Eric, who arrived with his team at the crime scene, will be the first to notice an eerie resemblance to the crimes of the ‘plastic surgeon’, which will arise in him a serious doubt for the first time. What if more than three years ago he’d made a mistake and sent the wrong person to jail?
The story unfolds in just three days, 21 to 23 May (which occupy the first 7 of the 8 chapters of the book), during which, with a succession of twists and murders, the complex plot leading to the resolution of the case will be revealed to the reader.

However, the investigations of this case aren’t the only problem that our Eric has to face. Before him is now the opportunity of a promotion to the role of head of the whole forensic department of the Metropolitan Police Service, London (he is currently only a team chief; unfortunately there’s a translation mistake about this in “The Mentor”, which depended on the US publisher, not on me!), with a concomitant shift from the ranking of chief inspector to that of superintendent.
But he is not the only one to aspire to that role. There is someone else competing for it, Detective Chief Inspector George Jankowski, another forensic team chief the Italian readers have already met in “Syndrome”. We find the latter engaged in trying to cast shadows on the work of Eric to help his own promotion and to do so, he begins to dig into the working past of his colleague, who, as we know, is not without issues.

Beside all this are some personal problems that Eric must face. Those with Adele Pennington, his young partner who has returned to play an important role in his life at the end of “Syndrome”, and those with Miriam Leroux, his god-daughter, with whom he has had a tough argument in the epilogue of the previous book, which was followed by a long period of distance between the two of them. The return of the ‘plastic surgeon’ will be an opportunity that forces Eric and Miriam to work together again and possibly recover their relationship, so that they can close a chapter of their past forever.
While the case of the serial killer will be resolved within the first seven chapters of the novel, the last one will act, instead, as an epilogue of the trilogy, leading to the resolution of Eric’s problems with Miriam, Jankowski, and Adele.

The dramatic ending will be, as always, open (I’ll leave to you the task to imagine what will happen next), but certainly decisive. Despite the drama, it will be a positive ending for Eric, a kind of dark happy ending, where our main character will have to answer the question that serves as a tagline for “Beyond the Limit”: how far are you willing to go, to protect a secret?
You’ll find the final answer of Eric in the last sentence of the novel.

I know that, unless you speak Italian, you could have read only “The Mentor”, but I promise you that “Syndrome” and “Beyond the Limit” will be translated into English at some point.
In order to make that possible soon, please, show your interest in these books by leaving a comment and subscribing to one of my mailing lists (regular mailing list or Thoughts by Anakina).
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