Here is the third in my catch up of the Jessica Daniel series by Kerry Wilkinson, book three, ‘The Woman In Black‘.
The Official Book Blurb
A severed hand is discovered in the centre of Manchester and the only clue Detective Sergeant Jessica Daniel has to go on is CCTV footage of a woman in a long black robe placing it carefully on the ground.
With a growing missing persons list and frantic families wondering if the body part could belong to their absent loved ones, Jessica must solve the case fast.
When a second hand is found and a local politician’s wife goes missing, Jessica is left struggling to find out who the appendages belong to. The mother of missing Lewis Barnes, is convinced his girlfriend, twenty-six year-old January Forrester is responsible, but something doesn’t add up. Who is the mysterious woman in black and how is she connected to the abandoned body parts?
Then, unnervingly, a detached finger arrives in the post for Jessica – and it’s clear that someone knows exactly who she is.
From the very start of this book I knew I was reading something different. Someone is leaving disembodied hands around Manchester, all missing one digit, and then, quite literally, giving the police the finger. Now there could be something very symbolic in that or the killer could just be trying to gain their attention. Either way, this is a very twisted individual who takes pleasure in taunting the police, targeting Jessica in particular for their most gruesome of gifts.
Once again Kerry Wilkinson throws in much misdirection and mystery around the killer; a mysterious figure; a woman in a long black cloak. From the minute they publish some grainy CCTV pictures of the suspect they are visited by a woman who claims she knows not only the woman in the pictures but also the identity of the victim. With little forensic evidence to go on, it is a waiting game to see if the woman is correct in her assertions. When a second hand is found, matters become more confusing for Jessica and the team.
Jessica’s personal life is still in a mess although she has at least managed to reconcile a little with her best friend whose wedding she is due to attend as Bridesmaid. Her work life is all change too with Cole promoted to DCI and her former colleague Reynolds now her DI. This leaves gaps for some new faces. While her DC, Izzy Diamond, is down to earth and immediately likeable, the new DS is less so. And Cole is still aloof and somewhat distant. I really don’t know what to make of him.
This is a complex story, with many victims, A chance discovery makes the link between some of the victims quite clear but for others it is less obvious. Even less obvious is the motive, and when a potential motive is uncovered it is quite hard to take. While not covered in detail it is still a story which will make you grimace, and leads to an understandably angry Daniel and Diamond who perhaps feel more empathy for the potential suspect than their actual victims. As the investigations put one of the team’s life in jeopardy, can they uncover the truth in time or do they stand to lose another of their friends?
I liked the new characters and I liked the pacing of this story. It seemed a little quicker than previous books, perhaps because Jessica is a much better established character. She is learning as she goes, trying to be a more level headed and less reactive person. She doesn’t always manage this but then where would the fun be in that. What did make me smile was the reappearance of laid back mystery magician Hugo. He is the absolute opposite of Jessica and to see him as her wedding date … Well you need to read the book to understand just how funny the idea of this really is.
A gruesome and mysterious 4.5 stars.
My thanks to Net Galley and Bookouture for the copy of ‘The Woman in Black‘ which is available to purchase from Amazon.com at the following link:
‘Think of the Children‘ the fourth Jessica Daniel book is being published in the US by Bookouture and is released on 26th January.
The Official Book Blurb
One boy is dead. A killer is free. Who is next?
Detective Sergeant Jessica Daniel is first on the scene as a stolen car crashes on a misty, wet Manchester morning. The driver is dead, but the biggest shock awaits her when she discovers the body of a child wrapped in plastic in the boot of the car.
As Jessica struggles to discover the identity of the driver, a thin trail leads her first to a set of clothes buried in the woods and then to a list of children’s names abandoned in an allotment shed.
With the winter chill setting in and parents looking for answers, Jessica must find out who has been watching local children, and how this connects to a case that has been unsolved for 14 years.