Blog Tour: The Dentist, Tim Sullivan

Book Review: The Dentist, DS Cross Series Book 1, Tim Sullivan

the dentist

Mystery: The DentistDS Cross Series Book 1, Tim Sullivan

Blog Tour September 4, 2020


In what feels like a previous life I worked regularly with children. Occasionally I had reason to interact with children on the autism spectrum. I was not situated to spend a great deal of time with any of them, and frankly I would have been poorly equipped educationally to offer them anything of value. What I could offer was a smile and some patience and hopefully a friendly and non-judgmental face. I have since learned more about the challenges faced by even those on the “mild” side of the spectrum, often referred to as “Asperger’s Syndrome.”


The Dentist is a police procedural with a protagonist on the autism spectrum. DS George Cross is a brilliant investigator. He is also socially inept and often unaware of the emotional temperature in the room. His peculiarities make him extremely difficult to work with closely. Few people last more than a couple of cases as his partner. DS Ottey is no exception. She has lasted longer than most, but she has had enough and finally gets their boss to commit to letting her get free after just one more case.


This one should be open and shut. A homeless man is murdered. He was recently seen arguing with another homeless man. Soon, a suspect is identified and an arrest is made. Everything should be wrapped up.


Except there are some loose ends that bother Cross. He hates loose ends. Most detectives can live with a few unanswered questions. Most people can live with some disorder and uncertainty in their lives. Not George Cross. His autism is his superpower. He may struggle with the nuances of social and interpersonal interactions. But he can also hyperfocus and see things that others miss. Things like the full backpack of alcohol held by the dead man. On the streets, alcohol is better than money. Were this a crime committed by another homeless man, the alcohol would almost certainly have been taken. The victim also had a pair of corrective contacts for a rare eye disorder. Those were much too expensive for your typical rough sleeper. This was no typical homeless man. This was someone who once had means but had fallen far. Discovering who he was could possibly reveal why he was dead, and Cross was determined to find the answers.


Sullivan writes like a screenwriter, which is not surprising because he made a successful career in Hollywood prior to beginning his novel. The dialog is crisp, the descriptions are vivid, the plot moves along quickly. Those are all things that can make a novel easy to read but if not handled effectively can also make a novel shallow. 


This is not a shallow novel. DS Cross is an amazing character, described with a great deal of affection and understanding by someone whom I suspect has had the opportunity to spend time with people on the spectrum. I don’t know this, but despite the presence of a bibliography at the back of the book, this feels like it was written by someone who knows Asperger’s intimately. Sullivan has done his research into the syndrome and the writing is very understanding and warmly sympathetic to the perspective of DS Cross. George Cross sees the world differently than most of us do. That makes him a difficult partner. It helps to make him an amazing detective.


This book has immediately put the DS Cross series onto my “must drop everything to read this” radar. Sullivan’s next book is being published September 2, 2020, and I have pre-ordered it. Since our participation in this blog tour was scheduled for September 4th, you could buy the sequel, The Cyclist, today.


In fact, you should. Go ahead, do it now. This blog will still be here when you get back.


author dentist banner dentist

Our thanks to Emma Welton of Damp Pebbles Blog Tours for our copy of The Dentist, provided solely in exchange for our participation in this blog tour. For other opinions on this book check out the amazing bloggers participating on this tour. The opinions here are solely those of Scintilla.


the dentist

Book Review: The DentistDS Cross Series Book 1, Tim Sullivan

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