I jotted something down in my note book really early into reading this book.
“Refreshing, an author who knows current police procedures and terminology”
That little note reflects why this crime thriller stands out from many of the others on the shelves today.
That and the fact that there is a full cast of excellent characters surrounding DI Lucy Harwin, work colleagues, family, and even the victims and their families, all add to the eclectic mix of people she encounters on a daily basis.
The opening to the book is going to be familiar to some readers. There have been a few books partially set in the care homes and institutes of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s recently.
And why not, every year there seems to be another case of historic abuse associated with these establishments.
This book stands out though. Helen Phifer has written a thriller in more ways than one.
The main protagonist, DI Lucy Harwin, is a little bit out there. Dyed Red hair, tattoo’s, and an attitude. Divorced from her husband, estranged from her teenage daughter, and living alone. On forced gardening leave following her involvement in a tragic serious incident, we meet Lucy at her counselling on the day she is supposed to start back to work.
Unfortunately for her a gruesome murder is waiting for her on her return to the usually quiet seaside town of Brooklyn Bay. What a setting for a book, once a prosperous seaside resort, now struggling with the recession and lack of holiday makers.
Lucy has a good team, some of which we get to meet in detail, but others who play interesting little bit parts, hopefully they will start to build in future books.
Lucy’s mainstay, and probably her best friend is DS Mattie Jackson. They have one of those relationships where they both know a little bit too much about each other, care a little bit too much for each other, and act like an old married couple without actually ever being in a relationship.
As the murders start to stack up, the once happy seaside town starts to look like a dangerous place to live.
Lucy and Mattie, and their team, start to link the crimes. At about the same time the reader will start to link two or three characters with being the murder.
Helen has written this book teasingly well. Yes, I knew who the killer was early, well I thought I did. It was always one of the three people but gentle little shifts in the story had me moving from one to the another regularly. If I’m honest I didn’t actually positively identify who was responsible for the crimes until the last couple of chapters.
I recently wrote a blog about Angela Marsons DI Kim Stone books.
In that I said you don’t always need a cliff-hanger finish to make you eagerly await the next book in the series. The best series are those which have a cast of characters that make you want to read about them again. To look forward to seeing how they have fared since the last book.
That’s exactly how I felt at the end of this book. I loved the story. I loved the characters. I loved the setting. I loved the fact that it was written by somebody who works in the police, see the letter from Helen at the End of the Book, so all of the phrases and techniques are current and accurate. Most of all I’m looking forward to meeting Lucy, Mattie, Col and the rest of the Major Investigation team; Jack and Amanda the CSI team, and most of all the glamorous Pathologist Dr Catherine Maxwell again in future books. There is so much potential for these characters that each could take a turn at being the main protagonist, and the series would still move forward nicely.
I have a list, on my computer, that I call UK Lady Killer Writers. I look forward to each of their books coming out.
Robert Galbraith (I know but we know who she is)
There is now a new name on the list. Helen Phifer.
What a night that would be. Sat around a table with that little cohort drinking Red Wine or Jack Daniels, and nothing to do but talk about crime thriller plots.