Today I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for the latest release from author Mary-Jane Riley, Dark Waters and thanks to the author and publishers, Killer Reads, for inviting me to join the tour. I have a fab guest post to share on a day in the life of the series protagonist, Alex Devlin, along with my thoughts on the book. But first, let’s take a look at what it is all about.
About the Book
DARK WATERS is the third crime thriller in the series featuring journalist Alex Devlin. It begins with a macabre discovery on board a pleasure cruiser on the beautiful Norfolk Broads – the decomposing bodies of two elderly men. It appears the dead men did not know each other and police suspect an internet suicide pact.
Alex’s search for the truth reveals a darker story. She finds a connection between the two men and possible links to other unexplained deaths.
As she investigates further, the stakes rise and her own family becomes embroiled in the mystery. Her inquiries lead her to the University of Cambridge. Could the roots of the puzzle lie there with a tragedy that unfolded amongst a group of carefree students many years before?
Long-buried secrets come to the surface and Alex’s life and the lives of her family are on the line. As the past and the present collide, Alex questions everything she thinks she knows about those she loves.
A Day in the life of Alex Devlin
I’m a journalist, so I should wake up to the hectoring sound of Radio Four’s Today programme or the jingle-ridden Five Live and eagerly listen to the news. But I don’t. I tend to pull the duvet further over my head and have five more minutes. That’s the trouble with being freelance – setting your own hours.
When I do surface, I like to drink coffee, and plenty of it, often to help ease a slight hangover. I know, I know, I do drink too much and every evening I try not to. My aim is to have two alcohol-free days a week. That’s my aim. Maybe I can employ someone to do it for me?
Over coffee and maybe some yoghurt I look at the BBC News website and see what’s going on with nationally and in my beautiful home county of Suffolk. I try and listen to a bit of local radio as well. That’s where I can find stories to sell to the paper I work for the most, The Post, which is based in London. I’m always looking for interesting people to interview, too. But you know, lately I’ve been feeling a bit dissatisfied, out-of-sorts. I want something exciting to happen.
When I get to my desk – my commute is upstairs – I try not to stare out of the window. If I do I will only want to go down to the beach, which is a stone’s throw away from my house here in Sole Bay. I love this town. I love Suffolk. I love the never-ending sky, the wild spaces, that briny air.
I go through my e mails. I have to confess I’m always hoping to find one from Malone. Who is Malone? That’s a question I’ve been asking myself ever since I’ve known him. Apart from being sexy, good-looking and good – no, I’ll spare your blushes – he is also an undercover police officer who sold his gangster wife down the river. Quite legitimately, of course. But I haven’t heard from him since he left me without a word after we had solved the mystery of the death of my good friend’s daughter, Elena Devonshire. I’m not sure how much longer I can take the emotional ups and downs of the relationship, quite honestly.
The other person I love to hear from is my son, Gus. He’s got a lovely girlfriend now and is coming to stay soon. I don’t know when as he hasn’t given me an exact time. Typical. And if he doesn’t turn up, then I really will be worried.
If don’t get on with a project straight away, then I start to worry about my sister Sasha. She’s in a mental health unit at the moment, She is doing very well though, and a date is soon to be set for her release. I’m hoping she might come and stay with me. I would dearly love to get close to her again, to get rid of some of this guilt I feel about not being a good enough sister for her. You can see how worry and guilt dog my footsteps.
I look at police websites and twitter feeds – stories can quite easily come from these too. But there’s nothing much on them today. A stolen gnome. A few court case results. A tweet about an absconder from Hollesley Bay open prison. That would be a good Freedom of Information inquiry one day – how many absconders does the prison have in a year and how many are recaptured?
There’s a phone call from my mum. She’s worried about dad who is losing his marbles pretty quickly. It’s hard to see a parent go downhill. It’s that time of life when the parent/child roles are reversed.
Am I a good journalist? I don’t know. I’m not the pushy type, I don’t want to get a story no matter what the consequences may be. I’m no Cathy Newman or Kate Adie, but I like to think I empathise with whoever I’m writing about.
Ah. Look. An e mail from the features editor on The Post, wondering if I would be interested in doing a feature on extreme couponing? Probably not, but the money could be good. First, though, I’ll have to do some research and find out what it is! Oh, for some dead bodies on the Broads – a story I could really get my teeth into!
Thanks Alex! (and Mary-Jane). 😉
Anyone who knows me, knows that for my day job I travel all over the country. Not everyday, but enough to make things interesting, Before I had the National gig I was a regional Manager for over five years and my patch, ‘The Midlands’ stretched from Exeter to Norwich – don’t ask! Now I always find myself drawn to books which are set in areas I know and while I don’t have a great knowledge of the Broads, I do know Norfolk and the premise of the book really intrigued me so I was delighted to join the tour.
Well, I must say, what a book. On her way to visit her parents, journalist Alex Devlin happens upon a newly discovered crime scene and her natural investigative instincts are immediately ignited. Even more so when she discovers the identity of one of the two victims. Now the police are quick to write the whole thing off as a suicide, the circumstances, including notes to family members making the case seemingly open and shut. But Alex is not so easily convinced and refuses to let things lie. Her investigations lead her to places well beyond her expectations and put her directly in the sights of a killer.
Exciting stuff indeed. Now I love when a book looks at a crime from a slightly different angle and who better to do that than a journalist? They can get in places the police perhaps can’t due to process and procedure, ask the awkward questions and visit the sites that are prohibited without the presence of a warrant. And Alex does all of this and more, always just that half a step ahead of the investigating officers, Berry and Logan. Yes. You read that right.
I really liked Alex. She is pretty grounded person and yet she is not without her family issues. Her father suffers early onset dementia and hardly recognises her half of the time, her son is miles away spending time getting to know his biological father and her sister … Well I won’t give any spoilers but let’s mark their relationship as ‘complicated’, her sister’s story both harrowing and worrying at the same time. And yet, in spite of the concerns she has for her family, Alex is determined, tenacious and committed to getting to the truth of the story, no matter the consequences, and believe me when I say they could be pretty dire.
Mary-Jane Riley has done a great job of setting the scene for the reader. There can’t be that many of us overly familiar with the Broads and the boats and barges that traverse them, and yet she has created enough of a sense of place to be able to picture them and place yourself in the heart of the action. There are also scenes set in 1970’s Cambridge University which inform the main story. Recreating that time, of the characters who inhabited that world and the sense of entitlement that they eschewed, certainly from one or two of the less likeable characters, has been done really well and you can feel the authenticity of devil-may-care attitude and the madness of their actions.
While this is not the most fast paced read, it is after all centred around the apparent joint suicide of two seemingly unconnected people who met on an internet forum, it still captured my imagination as a reader. The quality of the writing made me want to read on and Alex is a character I became invested in very early on. I should advise that this is the third book in the series and while it may give some element of spoilers to the previous books (I am only guessing there) I don’t think it would be enough to stop you reading this as a stand alone. There were moments towards the end that had me on the edge of my seat, the tension slowly building throughout until a final showdown with a very dangerous man. There were also intriguing threads littered throughout which kept the reader guessing until the end, such as whose was the mysterious voice recounting the days at Cambridge?
And if there is one other thing which drew me into the book it is Heath Maitland, Alex’s colleague on the paper she was freelancing for. He is a brillaint character, plays perfectly off Alex, and there is that spark there between them which is irresistible. Gven the way in which this book ends, I can’t wait to see where this relationship is taken next.
My thanks to publishers Killer Reads for providing an Netgalley ARC of Dark Waters for review. The ebook is available now from the following retailers and in paperback from May.
About the Author
Mary-Jane wrote her first story on her newly acquired blue Petite typewriter. She was eight. It was about a gang of children who had adventures on mysterious islands, but she soon realised Enid Blyton had cornered that particular market. So she wrote about the Wild West instead. When she grew up she had to earn a living, and became a BBC radio talk show presenter and journalist. She has covered many life-affirming stories, but also some of the darkest events of the past two decades. Mary-Jane has three grown-up children and lives in Suffolk with her husband and two golden retrievers.
DARK WATERS is her third crime thriller featuring investigative journalist, Alex Devlin.
You can follow Mary-Jane Riley on social media here:
Do make sure to check out some of the other fabulous blogs taking part in the tour for more reviews and features.