On November, the 3rd the latest book in one of the best Police Procedural Series.
Angela Marsons has based her fictional detective in the very real Police Station of Halesowen, in the West Midlands. This is a perfect setting, giving her the opportunity to explore crimes in the urban deprivation of some parts of the industrial Black Country, whilst also having access to some of the wealthier areas of the borders with Staffordshire and Worcester.
The crimes and the people that Angela writes about are realistic and believable. Broken Bones is book 7 in the series but can easily be read as a stand-alone novel, but I guarantee that you’ll read the other 6 if you read this one first.
One of the most outstanding things about Marson’s writing is the way she makes the reader invest in her characters. With each book the story of Stone and her team is developed. Along with some recurring peripheral characters, the team become embedded in the mind of the reader. I find myself looking forward to the next instalment to see what is happening in their professional and person lives, almost as much as I look forward to seeing what crime they are going to be faced with next, and how they are going to solve it.
Marsons also deals with crimes prevalent in the modern day; forced labour, the slave trade, drugs and prostitution; and the effect the crimes have on the criminals, their victims, and the families of those involved.
All-in-all Angela Marsons writes the books I want to read.
Realistic, believable, fast paced, criminal physiological thrillers with no promise of a happy ending.
Below is my review of Broken Bones and a preview of the prologue of the book.
It’s here, the 7th book in the DI Kim Stone series. I tweeted, as soon as it became available, that Angela Marsons was the only author that I put other books down for, to read hers, when they come out.
Did it live up to my expectations?
Detective Inspector Kim Stone and her team are back. The story starts with a young girl sitting on the roof of a Black Country Tower Block on Christmas Day. She gets pushed off.
Over the next few weeks as the midlands is covered in snow, a baby is abandoned outside Kim’s Police Station, a prostitute is murdered on her patch, and as the team become involved in solving these crimes they become start to uncover a link to illegal Romanian workers.
The books takes the reader into the underworld of prostitution, drugs, and modern slavery.
With two main line of inquiry and Kim has to split her small team into pairs.
With the team are recovering from the events of a few months earlier, Kim pairs up her young Detective Sergeant Kevin Dawson, with her young Detective Constable Stacey Wood. This partnership is the Yin and Yang of policing. Full-on-Kevin is a typically out-going personality that likes to push the limits, and is full of self-confidence. Black Country girl Stacey, is quiet, methodical, and deep thinking. They both have a positive effect on each other, and bring the best out of each other as people, and as Police Officers. As they investigate the abandoned baby case they are thrust into the world of illegal immigrants and forced labour.
Meanwhile Kim uses her trusted crusty-old Sergeant, Bryant, to keep her on the right side of the line that divides pushing Police Procedures to the limit, and breaking the law.
Kim and Bryant look into the death of the prostitute and the investigation takes them to the seedier side of two “titutions” that go hand in hand. Destitution and Prostitution.
Bully boy pimps, gangs, drugs, the horror of street-walking-sex-trade workers, physical abuse, and grooming are day to day occurrences for the prostitutes of the Black Country.
Now, just to make matters worse, somebody has killed one of their own. As Kim and Bryant start their investigation they come across some familiar faces and the reader gets to see the other side of their lives. The vulnerable women and the desperation that leads them into the life they live.
The story covers the investigations into these crimes, and others that get committed, compelling end.
When I first started blogging I said I was dubious about prolific authors who publish more than 1 book a year. My thoughts, and experiences, were that a good book takes time to write, and that anybody who managed 2, or more, each year was just churning out words and hoping their fans would keep buying.
Angela Marsons has proved the exception to that. 7 books, in this series, in a little over 2 years; and over 2 million copies sold. Each book raises the bar, each book is better than the last.
The only other author that has kept me hooked on a series, of Police procedural books, for this long is Tess Gerritsen with her Rizzoli and Isles series; and that is not bad company to be in.
She remains my favourite author, and there are a lot of good authors out there at the moment.
Black Country: Christmas Day
Lauren Goddard sat on the roof of the thirteen-storey block of flats. The winter sun shone a grid onto her bare feet dangling over the edge. The cold breeze nipped at her wiggling toes.
The protective grate had been erected some years ago after a father of seven had thrown himself over. By the time she was eleven she had stolen a pair of wire cutters from the pound shop and fashioned herself an access point to the narrow ledge that was her place of reflection. From this vantage point she could look to the beauty of the Clent Hills in the distance, block out the dank, grubby reality of below.
Hollytree was the place you were sent if Hell was having a spring clean. Problem families from the entire West Midlands were evicted from other estates and housed in Hollytree. It was displacement capital. Communities around the borough breathed sighs of relief as families were evicted. No one cared where they went. It was enough that they were gone and one more ingredient was added to the melting pot.
There was a clear perimeter around the estate over which the police rarely crossed. It was a place where the rapists, child molesters, thieves and ASBO families were put together in one major arena. And then guarded by police from the outside.
But today a peace settled around the estate, giving the illusion that the normal activities of robbing, raping and molesting were on pause because it was Christmas Day. That was bollocks. It was all still going on but to the backdrop of the Queen’s Speech.
Her mother was still slurring her way around the cheerless flat with a glass of gin in her hand. Her one concession to the event was the line of tinsel wrapped haphazardly around her neck as she stumbled from the living room to the kitchen for a refill.
Lauren didn’t expect a present or a card any more. She had once mentioned the excitement of her friends. How they had enjoyed presents, laughter, a roast dinner, a chocolate-filled stocking.
Her mother had laughed and asked if that was the kind of Christmas she wanted.
Lauren had innocently nodded yes.
The woman had clicked the television to the Hallmark Channel and told her to ‘fill her boots’.
Christmas meant nothing to Lauren. But at least she had this. Her one piece of Heaven. Always her safe place. Her escape.
She had disappeared unnoticed up here when she was seven years old and her mother had been falling all over the flat pissed as a fart.
How lucky was she to have been the only one of the four kids her mother had been allowed to keep?
She had escaped up here when her mother’s drinking partner, Roddy, had started pawing at her groin and slobbering into her hair. Her mother had pulled him off, angrily, shouting something about ruining her retirement plan.
She hadn’t understood it when she was nine years old but she had come to understand it now.
She had cried up here on her sixteenth birthday when her mother had introduced her to the family business and to their pimp, Kai Lord.
She’d been up here two months earlier when he had finally found her.
And she’d been up here when she’d told him to fuck right off.
She didn’t want to be saved. It was too late.
Sixteen years of age and already it was too damn late.
Many times she had fantasised about how it would feel to lurch forward onto the wind. She had envisioned herself floating to and fro, gently making the journey like a stray pigeon feather all the way to the ground. Had imagined the feeling of weightlessness of both her body and her mind.
Lauren took a deep breath and exhaled. In just a few minutes it would be time to go to work. Heavy rain, sleet, snow, Christmas – nothing kept the punters away. Trade might be slow but it would still be there. It always was.
She didn’t hear the roof door open or the footsteps that slowly strode towards her.
She didn’t see the hand that pushed her forward.
She only saw the ground as it hurtled towards her
Broken Bones by Angela Marsons, out on 3rd November 2017
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