Because, what would a Read a Bookouture a Day feature be without talking about the award winning Erika Foster series? I mean. Really?
It seems very hard to believe but twelve months ago, I’d never heard of Robert Bryndza. It was the tail-end of January that, having read some of Bookouture’s other titles, I decided to take the plunge and pre-order ‘The Girl In The Ice.’ It wasn’t a particularly hard decision. There are some publishers you just trust, you know? February 12th and it duly downloaded to my kindle where (and I feel awful now for admitting this) it sat waiting to be read eventually. Now I’ve been doing an awful lot of travelling this year and finally got into audiobooks to ease the miles away so, determined to make a dent in my TBR list, and having heard lots of good things about the book, I bought the audio version too. And I listened. And I listened. And I listened (and I was a bit late heading into work on occasion because I kept listening), and since that first jaw dropping book, I haven’t looked back.
The Official Book Blurb
Her eyes are wide open. Her lips parted as if to speak. Her dead body frozen in the ice…She is not the only one.
When a young boy discovers the body of a woman beneath a thick sheet of ice in a South London park, Detective Erika Foster is called in to lead the murder investigation.
The victim, a beautiful young socialite, appeared to have the perfect life. Yet when Erika begins to dig deeper, she starts to connect the dots between the murder and the killings of three prostitutes, all found strangled, hands bound and dumped in water around London.
What dark secrets is the girl in the ice hiding?
As Erika inches closer to uncovering the truth, the killer is closing in on Erika.
The last investigation Erika led went badly wrong… resulting in the death of her husband. With her career hanging by a thread, Erika must now battle her own personal demons as well as a killer more deadly than any she’s faced before. But will she get to him before he strikes again?
Well. What can I say? There is a very good reason that this book was awarded ‘The Papercut Award for Best Page Turner‘ in the Dead Good Reader Awards at Harrogate earlier this year. Because it’s a bloody good book. ‘Page turner’ and ‘I’ll just listen to the end of this chapter-er’, this book had it all for me. It challenges and considers the impact that power and privilege have on the police investigation, because the victim in the ice is no ordinary party girl, and this is no ordinary crime.
And Erika Foster? Well she’s no ordinary detective. She’s flawed (who isn’t), she carries a dark past with her, a heavy burden of guilt which affects her mindset at times, but ultimately she has a high level of intuition which serves her well. Her methods on occasion are not entirely in line with protocol, and she is not afraid to upset people, including her bosses. She’s just a lot of unpolitical to savvy fun and a really easy character to get to like. The dynamic Robert Bryndza has created with the team she works with, Moss and Petersen, is superb and the story is original and unnervingly twisty. When the killer sets his sights on Erika, the tension is balanced perfectly and the feeling of jeopardy draws you in whether you want or have time to read/listen on or not. Forget sleep. You’ve time to catch up on that later.
I can honestly say that with this book I didn’t see the ending coming. There is misdirection galore, from all sides, and lies by omission end up costing someone involved in the investigation dearly. My full review can be found here but by the time this audiobook wrapped up, I was hooked and book 2, ‘The Night Stalker‘ had pushed its way right to the top of my MBR (must be read) list. It is available to purchase here for UK Readers and here for US Readers.
The Official Book Blurb
If the Night Stalker is watching, you’re already dead…
In the dead of a swelteringly hot summer’s night, Detective Erika Foster is called to a murder scene. The victim, a doctor, is found suffocated in bed. His wrists are bound and his eyes bulging through a clear plastic bag tied tight over his head.
A few days later, another victim is found dead, in exactly the same circumstances. As Erika and her team start digging deeper, they discover a calculated serial killer – stalking their victims before choosing the right moment to strike.
The victims are all single men, with very private lives. Why are their pasts shrouded in secrecy? And what links them to the killer?
As a heat wave descends upon London, Erika will do everything to stop the Night Stalker before the body count rises, even if it means risking her job. But the victims might not be the only ones being watched… Erika’s own life could be on the line.
Oh. My. God. This was creepy, vicious, dark and, on occasion, mildly disturbing. I loved it. My full review can be found here. Less who-dunnit than how-dunnit, the killer is beautifully unpredictable and yet completely focused and determined. And a bit unhinged. Like, rapidly devolving psyche unhinged. The victims seem random, almost too much so, and yet their murders are identical. You watch over the perpetrators shoulder as they commit their crimes and as you come to understand their motivations, is it possible, in spite of everything, you can feel a little compassion for them too? The pacing is fast, the chapters short, the writing on-point and compelling.
You learn more of Erika’s past in this book, of the incident which cost her everything. You also see a little of her more tender side, and learn more of Petersen, whose past is as sad as Erika’s in its own way. She is as intolerant of office politics as ever and as willing to bend the rules to get to the root cause of an investigation as you would expect. Yes, she’s every bit as much fun as in book one. ‘The Night Stalker‘ is available to purchase here for UK Readers and here for US Customers.
If you would like to read an extract from ‘Dark Water’, the latest Erika Foster novel, it can be found here.
The Official Book Blurb
Beneath the water the body sank rapidly. She would lie still and undisturbed for many years but above her on dry land, the nightmare was just beginning.
When Detective Erika Foster receives a tip-off that key evidence for a major narcotics case was stashed in a disused quarry on the outskirts of London, she orders for it to be searched. From the thick sludge the drugs are recovered, but so is the skeleton of a young child.
The remains are quickly identified as seven-year-old Jessica Collins. The missing girl who made headline news twenty-six years ago.
As Erika tries to piece together new evidence with the old, she must dig deeper and find out more about the fractured Collins family and the original detective, Amanda Baker. A woman plagued by her failure to find Jessica. Erika soon realises this is going to be one of the most complex and demanding cases she has ever taken on.
Is the suspect someone close to home? Someone is keeping secrets. Someone who doesn’t want this case solved. And they’ll do anything to stop Erika from finding the truth.
I look back at my review here and I can’t believe that it was only six months, yes six months earlier that I had first listened to book one in the series. Erika Foster seems to have been around for ever (and I truly hope that she is). From the moment it was available on NetGalley, I had to have this book. From the moment I downloaded it, I was itching to read it. And once I started, I couldn’t stop.
Now for me, Dark Water showed a marked change in pace to the previous two novels. After events at the end of ‘The Night Stalker‘ and a personal disappointment, Erika is now working in a different station, her responsibilities significantly changed. Whilst searching for a load of drugs, suspected to have been dumped in an old quarry, the search team make a very grim discovery. The body of a young child. Despite not being in her remit, Erika begs to have this case, determined to get some kind of justice for the child and closure for the family. But this is a poisoned chalice of a case which has affected the life and career of every person who has touched it. Will Erika be its next victim?
This story was moving and threatening in equal measure. This is a cold case, the necessity and the urgency of the investigation nowhere near as obvious as in the previous two ‘live’ murder cases Erika worked on. And yet, there is an inherent threat to Erika from a man who knows more of the truth about this case than anyone. I kind of felt early on in the book that I knew what had happened, but I completely mistook quite why. And it was the why, rather than the how, which really got me emotionally. So many secrets and so many lies and, ultimately, more than one victim. But don’t think for one minute that this is all slow and maudlin, although the death of any child is hard to take. There are some real moments of tension and shock here, perhaps the shock never more apparent than when the former DCI who worked on the case took to some extra-curricular, not quite routine ‘investigations’ with one of the other detectives. A ‘yes – well. Moving on. Can’t shake that image from my head now’ moment if ever there was one.
Despite initial appearances, the old team are on hand to help out with the investigation and things get a little spicy along the way for Erika too. Whether it leads anywhere … Well I guess we’ll find out in book 4, won’t we? ‘Dark Water’ is available to purchase here for UK Readers and here for US Readers.
So. Romance or thrills. Comedy or tragedy. Robert Bryndza really does cater for all, so if you can’t find something to read here … Well. I’m sorry. There really is no hope for you.