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Publication due 11th April 2013
Lacey Flint’s third outing shows Bolton at her best – inventive plotting, great characterisation, plenty of humour, much of it black, and a sense of tension that builds throughout to a thrillingly dramatic climax. (I say third outing, but it’s really the fourth if you count the short novella If Snow Hadn’t Fallen, in which we first met Barney, Lacey’s young neighbour.) The book starts with the discovery of the body of twins under Tower Bridge, the most recent victims of a serial killer who steals young boys and cuts their throats. The MIT squad, still led by Dana Tulloch, is getting nowhere fast – these murders don’t fall into the normal pattern as there’s no sign of a sexual angle. Dana and the squad are already feeling the pressure and it’s going to get worse…
Meantime DC Lacey Flint is in a bad way psychologically after her horrific experiences in the last book, Dead Scared, (I’m not surprised – I’m still pretty shaken up over that one myself!) and hasn’t yet returned to work. Spending more time at home, she’s getting to know young Barney better, and is concerned that Barney seems to be left alone a lot while his dad is working late. But Barney and his friends are more fascinated than frightened by the killings and are following every twist and turn in the investigation on social networking sites.
In this outing, with Lacey being outside the main investigation, we get to know the rest of the team better and the book is much more of an ensemble piece. Lacey is still trying to deny her feelings for DI Joesbury, but he’s not planning on giving up on her just yet. Added to the usual characters are Barney and his friends, and Bolton handles them brilliantly – they’re completely convincing in their interactions with each other and with the various adults, and add a lot to both the humour and the tension. And when I say tension, I mean nail-biting, spine-tingling, up-till-4 a.m.-because–you-need-to-know-how-it-finishes tension!
One of the things I enjoyed most is that there’s an old-fashioned whodunit at the heart of this very contemporary book. Bolton gives us all of the clues and a huge cast of suspects, and then uses her consummate skills in the art of misdirection to keep us guessing. I suspected everyone in turn, many of them twice! But Bolton still managed to keep me on tenterhooks right up to the thrilling end. A great addition to a great series – highly recommended!
NB This book was provided for review by the publisher.
Post Script – Like London buses, you wait for years and then three Queens of Crime turn up at once. Once upon a time, there were Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh and Dorothy L Sayers. Now we have a new triumvirate in SJ Bolton, Jane Casey and Belinda Bauer. This year so far we’ve had Bauer’s wonderfully black and gruesome Rubbernecker, then this tension-filled and immensely well-plotted one from Bolton. And Casey’s much anticipated new Maeve Kerrigan novel, The Stranger You Know, is due out in July…no pressure, Ms Casey!