Darker than expected, this murder mystery will make you uncomfortable and stick in your mind for a long time.
Having reviewed and read Fiona McIntosh’s books before, I thought this would be a relatively comfortable read, something to curl up with under the blankie & while away some cold, wet hours (see my review of The Chocolate Tin). Possibly because of this expectation, the reality of the novel after just the first chapter was like a smack across the face with a bagful of wet bricks.
A series of murders have occurred throughout southern England and the serial killer has left little evidence. The murders are brutally described and as the story continues, we see the connections with a much earlier case.
A warning for those without a strong stomach or who are triggered by violence, this may not be the book for you. Murder and rape are described in horrific detail and unfortunately, on reflection, it is not unnecessary or over the top but as it may have happened. As we see, heartbreakingly-often violence against women occurs far too often, with Australian police attending on average to one domestic violence matter every two minutes.
To catch the serial killer, Scotland Yard have put together a new team headed by Jack Hawksworth. We are then introduced to Kate, a new detective who has joined the team. Kate is smart and ambitious, determined to catch the killer even at the expense of her relationships and colleagues. Jack’s suits are on point, he is smart and intuitive, has a calm, caring manner which means his team will follow him to the end of the world, plus his hair is always perfect. Much of what we see of Jack is through Kate’s somewhat biased eyes – she swears she does not have a crush on him but as she railroads other colleagues, determined to be praised and noticed by Jack, it becomes uncomfortably clear to her that she has been lying to herself.
I was determined to finish this book as it is written by a South Australian author, even though I wasn’t sure at first if I could get past the initial violence. Once I got into the story however, I couldn’t put it down. I needed to know what would happen at the end and if Jack really is as perfect as he seems.
I did query why there had to be two females in the team who do not get along and are not able to work together. It seemed to be an old stereotype but considering Kate’s character and determination to be noticed, it is in her nature to see another female as a threat (to her shame later on). The characters are well-rounded with room to move in further novels.
This is the first in a new series from McIntosh, I looked forward to reading more!
Reviewed by Michelle Baylis
Distributed by: Penguin Books Australia
Released: January 2019