A Dark and Twisted Tide (Lacey Flint 4) by Sharon Bolton

a dark and twisted tide“Till human voices wake us, and we drown…”

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

After her recent experiences, Lacey has stepped back from her role as a detective and joined the Met’s Marine Unit, patrolling the Thames. She’s also moved to live on a houseboat moored in Deptford Creek and taken up the highly dangerous sport of river-swimming. And it’s when she’s out swimming alone one early morning that she finds the first body…

This is another excellent entry in the Lacey Flint series, with all the regulars back in fine form. Mark Joesbury (sigh!) is off on an undercover mission but we know he won’t be able to stay away from Lacey for long. Dana’s long-distance relationship with Helen is still continuing, and Dana is becoming desperate to have a child. And Lacey, although still suffering the after-effects of her last couple of cases, is continuing to move towards a more normal existence – she’s just about ready to finally accept that there may be a life for her with Mark.

SJ Bolton (source: sjbolton.com)
Sharon Bolton
(source: sjbolton.com)

I’d suggest that, although at a push this book could work as a standalone, it would be much better to read the series in order starting with Now You See Me. The crime story works fine on its own, but the characters develop and grow so much throughout these books that a new reader coming in in the middle might be left a bit puzzled as to the dynamics amongst the members of the team.

Normally Bolton’s plotting is one of her major strengths but, to be honest, I didn’t think the plot of this one was quite up to her usual standard. It relied a bit too much on coincidence and stretched credulity a little too often; and, more than that, I felt the main points of the solution were too easy to work out fairly early on. I also found myself questioning how often we can believe that a killer will specifically target Lacey. However, one of Bolton’s slightly less good plots is still about twenty times better than most people’s best, and what it perhaps lacked in tension was made up for by the brilliant descriptions of the Thames and the people who live and work on it. There are some of Bolton’s trademark creepy moments that set my spine nicely a-tingle – I was never a huge fan of crabs but oooh! Well! They may figure in my nightmares for a while now… 😯


The story is hard-hitting but as always Bolton manages to tell it without gratuitously-described violence or excessive foul language; and, though the murder victims are young women, Bolton is far too talented and original to rely on tedious scenes of sexual humiliation and torture to harrow her reader’s soul. Lacey is a bit of a maverick, but thankfully not a drunken one, and more and more we see her trying to conform to rules and procedures. One of the most enjoyable aspects of this series has been watching Lacey’s gradual transformation from weird loner to valued team-member – she’s not completely there yet, but she’s getting close. And the fact that she’s changed so much and yet remained completely credible is a testament to Bolton’s skill in characterisation.

By a tiny margin, not the best in the series perhaps, but still one of the best books I’ve read or expect to read this year – highly recommended.

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Random House Transworld.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

36 thoughts on “A Dark and Twisted Tide (Lacey Flint 4) by Sharon Bolton

  1. FictionFan – You know, I’d been hearing such wonderful things about this one. And your reco is making it even more worth my time to search this one out. Thanks.


    • I love this series, Margot. Her writing and research is brilliant and Lacey’s character becomes more enjoyable with each installment – and Dana’s – the series is really as much about her as Lacey, I think.


    • Thanks, C-W-W! Yes, Bolton’s always got some original twist up her sleeve, and nicely scary without the need for too much gore and stuff…

      Haha! Most perceptive, sir! It is in fact a Chinese Mitten Crab which apparently have taken over the River Thames and are scuttling all over the riverbed and banks. Eughhhhhh! Arggggggh! And Yucketh! I’m so glad I didn’t know about them when I lived down there – and I so hope they’re not in the river opposite my house…suddenly the slugs look quite pretty…


  2. The furry crabs look rather sweet, in fact, as the prof says, mittenish, or like (this will really make you squeal – EAR-MUFFS! Next time you put your headphones on………(plants a cruel image) the unfurry one rather like a long-forgotten burger.

    So, having put you off supper, AND listening to music with headphones on…..clickety clack, clickety clack


    • Yes, Lacey thought they were quite sweet too, until………….. 😯

      And there I was, all worried about you having to fight off hordes of these monsters as they gradually move outwards from the river and start appearing nippily in the most unexpected places…and all you can do is be jolly mean. Huh! Don’t come crying to me when…no, I can’t bring myself to say it…best wishes!


  3. Thanks for linking this to British Isles Friday!

    I put Now You See Me on my TBR. I really enjoy mystery series where the characters develop over the longer arc of several books. This one sounds perfect for the year I expect to make my first trip to London.


    • One of the things I love about the series is Bolton’s knowledge of London – she always includes some aspect that’s a bit off the beaten track. Hope you enjoy!


  4. I liked your review, and I don’t even read these types of books,
    but when I do, I’ll rely on your recommendations. I slithered my
    mouse RIGHT BY those crabs. Don’t need ’em. Tell me, what’s
    the difference between a “crime” novel and a mystery? I like
    mysteries . . .


    • D’you know, that’s a good question, and I’m not sure I’ve got a very good answer. I think mystery books are also crime books, but not all crime books are mysteries. Mysteries have a cast of suspects and the reader is trying to beat the detective to work out whodunnit. But crime can also include books where you start out knowing whodunit, or where the who isn’t that important. So crime covers any kind of criminal activity, including gangs, drugs, thrillers etc – but mysteries are specifically about solving a puzzle. That’s my view, anyway, but I don’t know if there’s a proper definition out there…

      This one is a police procedural, but it’s also a mystery novel, in that there are clues and suspects, but it’s not a ‘cozy’. Haha! Does that help? 😉


  5. I’ve always thought that the best books work on the reader in subtle ways. This sounds like one of those. Am I right? But I’m wondering about the crabs. I will say, though, that after spending the week at farm school with 40 10-11 year olds, nothing can scare me anymore.


    • Certainly the thing that lifts her books above the average for me is the way she builds suspense and fear – and she does do that pretty subtly. It’s always something not quite tangible or a bit unusual that brings in the terror – f’r’instance, who’d have thought the idea of crabs could bring on nightmares… 😯 But her characterisation of the team is also beautifully understated (perhaps with the exception of Lacey) meaning that they seem much more real than most fictional detectives.

      Haha! I don’t envy you that! There must be a blog post in there – or a therapist visit, at least!


  6. I have to read this post later because I’m about to start reading this one: the staggered UK and US publication dates mean I get through my blog reading quickly sometimes… Glad to see you liked it!


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