Carnal Acts – Sam Alexander


Carnal Acts was published by Arcadia Books on 6 July 2016 and is available to purchase here

A stunning crime fiction novel featuring a pair of detectives in the northern English borderlands. DI Joni Pax, a London homicide detective wounded in a disastrous raid, has been transferred to the newly formed Police Force of North East England. Her boss, DCI Hector Heck Rutherford, is recently back at work after cancer treatment. Between them they are responsible for major crime in rural Northumberland and County Durham. Joni, the daughter of a black American and a white hippy, is a loner struggling to regain her self confidence. Heck is happily married, but his illness has left him fearful.

Based in Corham, a town with Roman, medieval and industrial heritage, Paz and Rutherford investigate a murder at a brothel run by the Albanian mafia. In a series of breathtaking plot twists, the author demonstrates the corruption that underpins the beautiful northern English countryside as well as hinting at a mysterious world beyond the horizon. 

Carnal Acts explores abuse of many kinds sexual, psychological, economic taking the police procedural to places it has never been before.

My thoughts

Joni Pax is a black London police officer who has moved to Northumberland to escape her past. Together with her boss, Heck Rutherford, they look into the disappearance of a young Albanian woman from a brothel. Suzana appears to be a sex slave, who has taken the opportunity to run to obtain freedom. She has assaulted some of her captors in the process and has both the police and the Albanian gang after her. A teenage boy, Nick, is a witness to this. What exactly has Nick witnessed? And who will get to Suzana first?

This is a beautifully written dark crime novel, that was a joy to read. It has a lovely fascinating well drawn characters, that I hope we get to meet again. I think that Joni and Heck make a great team.

Carnal Acts has a brutal disturbing start, with a young man being kidnapped and raped by a woman. We do not learn much what this means, until much later in the book. This act sets the tone for the whole novel. Alexander creates a dark world highlighting how inhumane people can be to each other. There is an underlying theme of slavery, with historical connections to the slave trade, to the trafficking and subjugation of young foreign women today. The darkness of the story seems very appropriate and was moving. I was particularly drawn to Suzana, the young woman who was using her wits to survive and was determined not to be beaten. I found the historical references to slavery fascinating, as captivating as the portrayal of modern day slavery. It seems to indicate that we have not really moved on very much in terms of how we treat other disadvantaged people.

I have to mention Joni. I didn’t know what to make of her at the start of the novel. I wasn’t that interested in her mother, the hippy with the silly name either. It is the sign of a good book, that you get drawn into the drama and you grow to love a character by the end.


 I am DYING to know who the author is. Who is Sam Alexander?

Whoever you are, you write a gripping, intelligent read!!! I want to read all your other books, assuming I haven’t already. Very clever of you to keep us guessing.








About Northern Crime

Reviewer with a mind of her own. This is a collection of book reviews, which started in 2014. Mostly crime and odd other genres thrown in. Some I loved. Some I loathed. You get the picture.
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