Broken Promises by Mel Sherratt

Today I’m delighted to share my thoughts on Broken Promises, the brand new Allie Shenton novel from Mel Sherratt. I’ve been a fan of the authors for while now and while I’ve not read any of the Allie Shenton series before, I’ve ‘met’ her before in another series and really looked forward to getting to know her better. My thanks to Mel Sherratt for the advance copy of the book for review. Here’s what it’s all about:

Source: Advance Review Copy
Publication Date: 25 February 2022
Publisher: Blood Red Books

About the Book

Family is everything. Loyalty should be…

The Limekiln Estate has witnessed many a dark crime over the years. When DI Allie Shenton is called out to a suspicious death, she isn’t surprised to see it’s a local she knows only too well.

While the slaying of Billy Whitmore is on everyone’s lips, a woman is stabbed in her home. A day later and a third victim turns up.

Three known associates brutally murdered – the bodies are piling up quicker than the forensic evidence is coming back. Yet Allie senses there’s something more disturbing going on. She’s sure Fiona Abbott, Billy’s partner, is involved too.

With enemies from her past rearing their ugly heads, and the press and public up in arms, Allie has her work cut out to get to the shocking truth. Can she and her loyal team stop the killer who has a close-knit community living in fear?

And by raking up secrets from the past, has she made the Abbott family the next target, especially fourteen-year-old Kelsey?

Set within the gritty streets of Stoke-on-Trent, this fast-paced British detective novel is a dark murder mystery with an emotional pull.

My Thoughts

If, like me, you haven’t read the first books in the Allie Shenton series, and you are wondering if it’s possible to drop into the mix now at book four, let me reassure you. You can. Mel Sherratt has done a great job in not only introducing the major characters into the mix without overloading readers who are already in the know, but she has also managed to lay the foundations of back story without really dropping any major spoilers for what has come before. Inevitably there are some moments which relate back to Allie’s earlier life so if you are a purist, you may want to go back to book one and start there. I, however, am a contrary sort of reader, happy to drop into a series part way through and then travelling back to fill in all the moments I have missed before. With Broken Promises, I didn’t feel at a disadvantage, got into step with the team really quickly and this standalone story really did flow, keeping me gripped to the very last page.

The book opens in quite dramatic fashion with the murder of a local drug user and pusher. He’s only a very minor player in the scene, probably not even meant to be a part of it at all, but he’s well known enough amongst the assembled police officers to raise a few eyebrows. Is this the start of a turf war, a new player trying to move in on Stoke’s drug business, or something far more sinister? That is what Allie and her Major Investigations Team have to try and determine in a case that brings her face to face with some people from her past.

I really like the way in which Mel Sherratt has used the characters pasts to muddy the waters of this investigation and keep the mystery going right to the last page. When you are dealing with people whose very existence puts them in the middle of the crime world, you expect a kind of inherent danger. And with more victims stacking up, all liking back to drugs in some way, it really does make you wonder if this is someone within, or outside of, their contacts who is trying to send a message. There are a number of suspects, a whole host of possible motives, but no evidence that the team can tie down. The reveal, when it comes, is unexpected and yet fitting and really does tie in with the other underlying themes of the novel.

I enjoyed getting to know Allie and the team much better through the course of the book. I’ve been aware of her as a character, met her a few times in other series and investigations, but this is the first time I’ve learned more about. her and her backstory. It’s a challenging case for her, not least because it comes at a time when she is at somewhat of a crossroads on a personal level. She’s a great character, tenacious, motivated and a great leader, with a clear compassion for her team and the people she comes into contact with during case. Beneath her the team of Sam, Perry and Frankie, are equally as engaging, a good mix of banter, focus and determination that makes them a great team to spend time with. There does seem to be an unhealthy obsession with oatcakes, even if they are a Stoke delicacy, but hey. Diet is the least of their concerns when dealing with a merciless killers 😉

There is a great deal of emotion ties up into the story, alongside a pacy and twisting investigation. Touching on themes of abuse, neglect, domestic violence and drugs, all topics are handled in a sensitive way, used to support and inform the story rather than as a gratuitous plot device. There are quiet moments in which you can feel the emotions that build up in Allie in response to one of the characters she comes into contact with, a tug that serves as motivation to solve the case, assuming three bodies aren’t enough. The pacing is spot on, reflecting the ebb and flow of an investigation, the why and wherefore kept to the last moment. And the author’s love of her home town really shows through, Stoke acting almost as an additional character in its prominence in the story. Some of the locations may be fictional, but the essence of the place is all there.

If you love the Allie Shenton series, this will be a welcome return. If you’ve read and loved any of the Eden Berrisford or Grace Allendale books then I think you’ll love this too. Another cracking police investigation in a case packed with suspects and misdirection.

About the Author

Mel Sherratt’s novels take you to the heart of the crime. She writes police procedurals, psychological suspense and crime dramas – fiction with a punch. Shortlisted for the prestigious CWA (Crime Writer’s Association) Dagger in Library Award, my inspiration comes from authors such as Martina Cole, Lisa Jewell, Mandasue Heller and Clare Mackintosh.

To date, Mel Sherratt has sold 1.8 million books. All sixteen of her crime novels have been bestsellers, each one climbing into the Kindle UK top 10 and she’s had several number ones. She has also had numerous Kindle All-star awards, for best read author and best titles.

She lives in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, with her husband and terrier, Dexter (named after the TV serial killer) and makes liberal use of her hometown as a backdrop for some of her books.

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