DI Rowan Jackman and DS Marie Evans (of ‘The Murderer’s Son’ fame) are starting a murder investigation for one teenage girl when they are asked, by their inappropriately named chief inspector, Ruth Crooke, to renew the cold case of Kenya Black, a child who vanished eight years ago. Ooh, and then they are commanded, by detested Superintendent Cade, to investigate the disappearance of Toni Clarkson, the teenage daughter of one of Cade’s masonic mates. You feel their stress. But luckily for them Toni Clarkson’s case provides helpful leads into the murder of the first girl. The storyline is complex, but unfaltering executed, with twist after twist and pitching the breathless readers into another angle, another set of characters and another facet of the main plot. However, without giving away any spoilers, the conclusion of the plot was a little too neat. In my opinion, Ellis should have stopped three or two chapters before she did.
This story involves a huge number of characters, many with just a walk-on part in one short scene, yet the author expects to remember all of them. At one point, a chapter begins with ‘William Hickey…” and launching into a serious bit of action, leaving me wondering ‘Who he?’ (I catch up after a page or so.) As a result, none of the characters are developed in any depth. I remember (from ‘The Murderer’s Son’) that Marie was into motorbikes and was widowed when her husband had a motorbike accident, but this wasn’t mentioned specifically in this book (and, actually, Dear Reader, that I did remember this is pretty remarkable, because I read a lot of books). But I don’t know anything about Rowan Jackman at all, except that he lives in a nice property, in some comfort, and is looked after by a housekeeper. Other crime writers (like Ruth Rendell) write about their detective’s family life, providing a counter-balance to the, often grim, main story, and, also showing the reader more about him/her as a character. I must say, though, I prefer Jackman and Evans to Nikki Galena (Joy Ellis’s other mc) who does have a backstory and some character, which comes on a bit too strong at times.
Joy Ellis writes illuminatingly of the Lincolnshire Fens, with which she is clearly familiar. The reader readily picks up the bleak landscape, yet I read the whole story wondering what time of year it was. I think I must’ve overlooked this because I was too engrossed in the plot.
Amazon tell me I purchased this book on 21 May 2017. What kept me so long?
This book is available from Amazon.