A young woman is abducted from a dark London street, her body later found trapped beneath the ice in an old boat house, her eyes wide, her frozen face forever capturing the horror of her untimely death. This is no ordinary young woman. This is Andrea Douglas-Brown, socialite and daughter of Lord Simon Douglas-Brown, a man who is using all of his connections within government and the Met to put his daughter’s disappearance at the top of the Police’s priorities.
DI Erika Foster has just returned to work following a period of extended absence. It is her first day in a new job at the Met, hired by an old colleague, Chief Superintendant Marsh, keen to give her a chance following a very public incident at her old force in Manchester. He is also keen to use her tenuous connections to Andrea’s mother, the two woman are both from Slovakia, to gain some trust from the family and to allow them to investigate the murder with less hindrance than had been shown them so far. What he had not counted on was the prejudice inherent in the Slovak society, or Foster’s ability to alienate the family with her short temper as the family refuse to answer questions, apparently putting reputation over the desire to find Andrea’s killer.
With pressure being placed upon the investigation from the top, and Foster following her own line of enquiry regardless of the directives of her superior officers, she soon finds herself back on the outside of the investigation. After her actions appear to lead to the death of a potential witness, she is forced out into the cold, put on suspension and unable to investigate and unsure as to her future in the force. Not only that, but her refusal to give up her particular theory about Andrea’s killer has ut her in the sights of the killer, someone who determines that Foster is too dangerous and is becoming a problem that must be eradicated – permanently.
With Foster, Bryndza has created an interesting character. She is flawed as so many good detectives are, scarred and tortured by her past and the loss of her husband. She is argumentative, lacks any kind of political savvy and unafraid to say what she is thinking, no matter who to. She is happy to ruffle feathers and ultimately straight talking and I quite like her. There is an essence of no holds barred about her and she is unimpressed by the power Lord Douglas-Brown has, stripping everything back to the most essential aspect of the case – the need to find Andrea’s killer. Supported by a strong variety of characters, the team she works with add texture to the story. The way in which Andrea’s family are written puts you as a reader in a fairly unique position of almost being unable to feel sorry for their loss as they are obstructive and fairly unsympathetic characters. Maybe it is partially a class issue, or maybe the family are just a bunch of arses. That’s up to the reader to decide I suppose.
The way in which this novel was structured and written meant that it moved along at a fairly fast pace. It was one of the few books I have read in a while where I didn’t have an inkling about half way through as to where this was probably heading, the identity of the killer cleverly hidden behind some misdirection and the reticence of Andrea’s own family to reveal the truth about her nature. And yet, by the end, the identification of the killer was believable, the reasons for the murders perhaps more shocking in its simplicity.
I really enjoyed this book giving it a highly recommended 5 stars. It is a fantastic start to a crime series and Bryndza has created a great protagonist in DI Foster. I have ‘The Night Stalker’ in my tbr pile and can’t wait to get started on it to see what she’s been up to now. I’m fairly serious about books in the crime genre and this has gone right into the must read zone.