In the second book of The Freeman Files Series, Last Orders by Ted Tayler, retired detective Gus Freeman, and his Crime Review Team investigate the murder of barmaid Trudi Villiers. They begin fifteen years after the girl’s body was found with her cell phone, skirt, underwear, and high heel shoes missing. Raped and murdered on her way home after midnight from her job at a local pub Gus and his team of three have to put together the pieces of the puzzle.
While Trudi’s murder is the prime crime featured in the story, there’s more going on in Freeman’s life. A friend is murdered and the retired detective’s interest in the crime puts him in the line of fire. However, Freeman is locked out of that investigation since it is a current crime and he is still retired.
In addition to Freeman, his team of three, DS Alex Hardy who is temporarily wheelchair-bound after an accident during a motorcycle police pursuit, DS Neil Davis whose father was part of the original investigation into Trudi’s murder, and Lydia Logan Barre an attractive young forensic psychology graduate who is learning the ropes under Freeman’s expert tutelage sift through clues and suspects.
Tayler approaches the investigation of Trudi’s murder with detailed and accurate police procedures. This author has done his research. He approaches the investigative techniques with skill and keeps the reader’s attention. He guides his team through the investigation while giving them enough freedom to grow.
From Trudi’s best friend and roommate Krystal to old boyfriends (of which there are many), her parents, and even the pub owners and a cab driver, Freeman leaves no stone unturned as he seeks the truth. Did Trudi know her killer or was she a target of a stranger passing through town? Was this a crime of passion or a crime of opportunity?
The characters, the police, the witnesses, and the criminals, are well developed. I did guess the culprit before the conclusion but I misunderstood some of the clues.
The story almost has a Sherlock Holmes feel with Tayler’s careful laying out of clues. Freeman’s experience and his ability to nurse his team along toward the denouement is reminiscent of Holmes and Watson.
I’ve already purchased the next book in the series and highly recommend starting with Book One and joining me on this journey. Kudos to Ted Tayler for another brilliant series!
“A newly-formed Crime Review Team is investigating cold cases that defied their colleagues.
Austerity cuts mean that Gus Freeman only has a team of three to assist him.
DS Alex Hardy – a police pursuit motorcyclist, currently uses a wheelchair as he recovers from a high-speed accident.
DS Neil Davis – a bright young detective, whose family members have served in the Wiltshire force for generations.
Lydia Logan Barre – at twenty-five, the forensic psychologist graduate is attractive, outspoken and fiercely competitive.
In ‘Fatal Decision’ Gus soon found his feet after three years in retirement. A murderer awaits sentencing, and another cold case file has landed on his desk. Book Two, ‘Last Orders’ follows the case of Trudi Villiers, a 26-year old barmaid murdered as she walked home from the Ring O’Bells pub in October 2003.”
Ted Tayler is the international best-selling author of The Phoenix series:
“The core message in my Phoenix novels is that justice is not being served today. The Phoenix believes criminals should pay for their crimes; the current system fails to deliver the correct punishment. His fellow Olympus agents help redress the balance.”
December 2019 saw the launch of his latest venture, The Freeman Files:
“With Gus Freeman and his cold case investigations there will be bursts of frantic action, of course, but they will be interspersed with romance, humour and country life. Life is all about balance, isn’t it? Good and evil, love and loss, laughter and tears.”
“I think of myself as a storyteller; with each successive book, I hope I get better at it. I’ve been told the reader feels as if we’re sat across the table from one another, and I’m chatting with them. There’s always a rich vein of material for me to include in my books. There are more stories left to tell.”
Ted Tayler lives in West Wiltshire, England where many of his stories are based. Born in 1945, Ted’s been married to Lynne since 1971. They have 3 children and 4 grandchildren.