The Lost Ones by Marnie Riches

Today I’m thrilled to join the blog tour for The Lost Ones by Marnie Riches, book one in the Jackie Cooke series. My thanks to publisher Bookouture for providing the advance copy for review and for the tour invite. Here’s what the book is all about:

Source: Netgalley
Release Date: 07 June 2022
Publisher: Bookouture

About the Book

The girl is sitting upright, her dark brown hair arranged over her shoulders and her blue, blue eyes staring into the distance. She looks almost peaceful. But her gaze is vacant, and her skin is cold…

When Detective Jackie Cooke is called to the murder scene, she is shocked by what she sees. Missing teenager Chloe Smedley has finally been found – her body left in a cold back yard, carefully posed with her bright blue eyes still open. Jackie lays a protective hand on the baby in her belly, and vows to find the brutal monster who stole Chloe’s future.

When Jackie breaks the news to Chloe’s heartbroken mother, she understands the woman’s cries only too well. Her own brother went missing as a child, the case never solved. Determined to get justice for Chloe and her family, Jackie sets to work, finding footage of the girl waving at someone the day she disappeared. Did Chloe know her killer?

But then a second body is found on the side of a busy motorway, lit up by passing cars. The only link with Chloe is the disturbing way the victim has been posed, and Jackie is convinced she is searching for a dangerous predator. Someone has been hunting missing and vulnerable people for decades, and only Jackie seems to see that they were never lost. They were taken.

Jackie’s boss refuses to believe a serial killer is on the loose and threatens to take her off the case. But then Jackie returns home to find a brightly coloured bracelet on her kitchen counter and her blood turns cold. It’s the same one her brother was wearing when he vanished. Could his disappearance be connected to the murders? Jackie will stop at nothing to catch her killer… unless he finds her first…

An absolutely gripping crime thriller that will keep you racing through the pages. Fans of Kendra Elliott, Rachel McLean and Val McDermid will love The Lost Ones.

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed this book. There, I’ve said it. Perhaps ruined the suspense for the review to come but what can you do? Featuring a lead character who is as far from the normal svelte, twenty-something new career detective as you can get, Jackie Cooke is a character I can really get behind, a good steady copper who works from instinct and knowledge, has the full respect of her team (if not necessarily her boss) and who really has a knack for the job. Mostly, anyway.

This is quite a twisted story – a case of a missing teenager whose body is eventually found in a grotesquely posed manner, one which leads to a most disturbing discovery and brings the whole case a touch too close to home for Jackie. Yes, she is a cop with a past and a very complicated home life, but her history is not necessarily the kind you may be expecting, and nothing else about her character fits the typical nature of fictional detectives. In fact there is one, glaringly obvious reason she doesn’t fit the profile of a ‘brand new to a series’ character, but you need to read the book to find out what that is. She is a dedicated mother, and daughter, and although her life has been beset by trials and tragedy, she has a really sensible head on her shoulders. I liked her a lot and can’t wait to read more of her investigations in the future.

The story is packed with mystery, and a lot of dark twists that certainly keep the attention on the story and the nerves just on edge. Staged crime scenes, chilling messages, and scenes told from the killer’s perspective all add to the tension and keep the pacing of the book just right. We know as readers that there is a very real threat that is always present, we also know what the killer wants, we just don’t know the full extent of why just yet, although I could hazard a very macabre guess. Those scenes really added to the intrigue for me and made me feel compelled to read on to see if what I suspected was true.

There are plenty of clues abound that, given the extra context we have from the killer’s point of view, any if you want to try and get ahead of the investigation, you may well be able to figure out the whys if not all the wherefores of the case. There are plenty of surprises in store, plenty of twists and moments that will have the jaw dropping, as well as times that will send shivers down your spine. There is a real skyrocketing of threat and urgency towards the end of the book too, a moment where all seems lost that will have you moving ever nearer to the edge of the seat. But don’t despair – the book is packed with Marnie Riches trademark humour too, and she lands the perfect blend of light and shade to keep this on the right side of darkness whilst still imparting a very clear message about the seemingly expendable nature of some of the victims.

A great start to the series and I can’t wait to read more. Jackie Cooke is one of those characters who really did just gel for me and given her personal circumstances, complications at home and at work, it only looks as though there is a lot more fun to come.

About the Author

Marnie Riches grew up on a rough estate in north Manchester. Exchanging the spires of nearby Strangeways prison for those of Cambridge University, she gained a Masters in German & Dutch. She has been a punk, a trainee rock star, a pretend artist and professional fundraiser.

Her best-selling, award-winning George McKenzie crime thrillers were inspired by her own time spent in The Netherlands. Dubbed the Martina Cole of the North, she has also authored a series about Manchester’s notorious gangland as well as two books in a mini-series featuring quirky northern PI Bev Saunders.

Detective Jackson Cooke is Marnie’s latest heroine to root for, as she hunts down one of the most brutal killers the north west has ever seen at devastating personal cost.

When she isn’t writing gritty, twisty crime thrillers, Marnie also regularly appears on BBC Radio Manchester, commenting on social media trends and discussing the world of crime fiction. She is a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Salford University’s Doctoral School and a tutor for the Faber Novel Writing Course.

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