Primus by John T Leonard – Book Review

  • Genre: Thriller
  • Pages: 345
  • Publisher: Pegasus Elliott  Mackenzie Publishers Ltd
  • Release Date: 26 October 2017
  • My Star Rating: ✰✰✰✰/✰

I received a free copy of this book

About the Book 

As Detective Tom Draven investigates a series of apparently unrelated murders he starts to find a single commonality; evidence found at each scene appears to implicate him as the killer. He then finds himself arrested and on trial, and despite the ever-mounting evidence against him he continues to plead his innocence. Is Draven the focus of an elaborate set-up, or is the truth much more sinister?”

‘Primus’ is a tense, and at times brutal psychological crime thriller that pits a brilliant detective against an equally brilliant, yet ruthless killer. Both are single-minded in the pursuit of achieving their goal. The story culminates in a showdown where only one can truly claim victory over the other. ‘Primus’ represents the second novel from this author, whose previous work has been described as ‘very visually descriptive’ and ‘immersive, gritty and compelling.’


‘Primus’ is a psychological thriller from a British-based author who uses the pseudonym, John T Leonard. We join the story as our lead character, Tom Draven, a forty-something detective sergeant, is called upon to investigate a suspicious death. Tom is a committed and diligent police officer who seems popular and well respected among his colleagues.

Initially we are drip-fed snippets of information to suggest Tom’s life might not be all it seems. There are absences for which he cannot account and when evidence is found connecting him to several crime scenes, he starts to believe he is being framed.

The tale then takes an unexpected turn and I appreciated the innovative twist. I was anticipating the usual run-of-the-mill ‘innocent cop being falsely accused’ scenario but was completely thrown by the way in which the plot developed.

A small observation might be that there is an awful of procedural and protocol information, particularly in the first part of the book. I know the author is a serving police officer and I am therefore confident in the validity of what I’m being told but I wonder if it is improving readers’ enjoyment of an evolving situation or if it’s interfering with the momentum and pace of the story?

There are some nice touches of ironic humour to lighten the mood in what is otherwise a tense plot.  In the early chapters, the author has shown us enough of Tom’s character for us to care what happens to him. Later, we share his thoughts on fewer occasions so I lost some of my empathy. Therefore it was with a degree of detachment that I followed the story as it evolved from a whodunit into something far deeper and more disturbing. It soon became clear that events were building up to a climax with only one possible outcome. What I wasn’t expecting, was for the resolution to be incredibly clever as well as shocking and I thoroughly admire the author for his ingenuity.

I found this book fascinating and read it in three days; there are a few rough edges but overall if you are a fan of this genre, you will doubtless find ‘Primus’ compelling. This author is one to watch for the future.

The Author

John T Leonard has worked for the emergency services for over twenty years. His first writing project began in 2005, but was interrupted when fatherhood beckoned and was never finished. Unfortunately, given certain events since then, it may now be lost forever.

Since then, when discussing this lost project, it was suggested that he begin afresh. This led to a semi-autobiographical first release. Since then, Leonard has written continuously and has completed five projects to date. His first release by Pegasus, A Life’s Work, is in fact his third title.

Leonard primarily writes crime thrillers which, in part, draw on his true-life experiences. But, as he is an avid science-fiction and superhero fan, a recent project was targeted at a younger audience, specifically his own children, depicting his own take on a super-hero origin story.

About Julie Haiselden

Between 1999-2019, I worked in the NHS and am now a Church of England verger and National Trust room guide. I've written three published novels and am an amateur blogger. As well as being a school alumna, I occasionally tread the boards. I enjoy rambling and taking photos. Since 2016, I've been part of the reviewing team at Whispering Stories.
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