Today Mandie is sharing her thoughts on What Falls Between The Cracks, book one in the Porter & Styles series by Robert Scragg. The author was on one of the panels we attended at Newcastle Noir and Mandie was drawn to the premise of the series. Here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
Did she slip through the cracks, or was she pushed?
When a severed hand is found in an abandoned flat, Detective Jake Porter and his partner Nick Styles are able to DNA match the limb to the owner, Natasha Barclay, who has not been seen in decades. But why has no one been looking for her? It seems that Natasha’s family are the people who can least be trusted.
Delving into the details behind her disappearance and discovering links to another investigation, a tragic family history begins to take on a darker twist. Hampered by a widespread fear of a local heavy, as well as internal politics and possible corruption within the force, Porter and Styles are digging for answers, but will what they find ever see the light of day?
This year has definitely been the year for reading new authors… for that I mean they are authors I have never read before not necessarily that they are just publishing their first books. I have come across Robert Scragg a few times but for whatever reason it was not until I heard him talk about his books at Newcastle Noir inn 2021 that I bought What Falls Between the Cracks, the first in the Porter and Styles series.
Detectives Jake Porter and Nick Styles are called to a flat after the severed hand is found in the freezer of what appears to be an abandoned flat. All evidence points to the owner Natasha Barclay not having been either in residence or even seen since the early 80’s. When DNA proves the hand to belong to Natasha, it leaves Porter and Styles to wonder why no one had ever reported her missing, that is until investigations show that her only surviving relatives are a stepmother and half brother who never really got on with her and didn’t seem to want to talk about her at all. The further they dig the more off everything seems making Porter determined to get to the bottom of what happened even if it does mean causing trouble with his superiors.
Jake Porter is still struggling with the death of his wife which at times does make him a little shut off but his rapport with his partner Nick Styles shows that they are friends as well as work colleagues. At all times they have each other’s back and are not above ribbing each other to lighten the mood. Porter did at times seem to come across as a little bit of a loose cannon in the pursuit of the truth, just about staying within the lines his superiors had set for him, but he always managed to stay within the law. With the exception of his partner, you could sense that he tolerated some of his colleagues more from professional courtesy more than respect but as the book progressed I have to admit I could fully understand why.
This book was so much more than an investigation into what happened to Natasha Berkley and just as you think you know who actually was responsible for her disappearance, the actual perpetrator behind her death will surprise you… it certainly did me and the ending was not entirely as I expected it to go. This is a great start to the series and I can honestly see me buying the next 3 that are out there just to see how the relationship between Porter and Styles continues.
About the Author
Robert Scragg had a random mix of jobs before taking the dive into crime writing; he’s been a bookseller, pizza deliverer, Karate instructor and Football coach. He lives in Tyne & Wear and is a member of the Northern Crime Syndicate crime writers group.