reviewed by Pam Guynn
Matt Brolly brings plenty of suspense and some action, as well as an edginess, to the fourth book in the Detective Inspector (DI) Louise Blackwell series set in and near the seaside town of Weston-super-Mare in England.
While the tale occasionally switches points of view, it is primarily that of Louise with a few sections from a criminal. A man is found unconscious on the beach with a strange symbol branded on his arm and he can’t recall who attacked him or how he got there. As other victims show up, Louise and her team are relentlessly pursuing the criminals. What is the symbol and how are the criminals targeting people? As usual, Louise’s nemesis, DCI Finch, puts in an appearance.
Louise is a hard-working, resilient, and fascinating individual who has trouble delegating. However, she is respected by many, and her fighting for what is right inspires loyalty in her co-workers. Despite this, networking is an aspect of her career that she has never been great at. Her flaws make her feel more realistic as does her struggle for work/life balance. The other characters are a mix of new and familiar faces and are well-drawn.
A strong, intriguing, and memorable opening scene immediately will pull most readers into the story. That scene is vivid and horrifying. The narrative is suspenseful, and readers will wonder what the criminals’ motivations are. A creative, absorbing, complex, and well-paced plot with some twists will keep a reader guessing. High stakes kept me engaged throughout the story. As Louise and her team working to find connections and working through the clues, there are also shocking actions scenes, and disturbing insights into the criminal’s mind. The people in the story came to life, and I was cheering on the police as they searched desperately for the criminals. Themes include work relationships, the drive to succeed, loyalty, family, alcoholism, self-harm, assault, bullying, and much more.
Overall, this was a gripping and chilling story with complex characters. It’s intense and dramatic and kept this reader turning the pages. While there is some background given in this book, the series is best read in order. Louise’s full background is shared in book one and helps shed light on her situation and mind-frame in the following books. I would recommend it to those who enjoy police procedurals and British crime dramas. I hope there will be another book in this series and want to check out this author’s DCI Michael Lambert series.
Thanks to Amazon Publishing UK and Matt Brolly for a digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley and the opportunity to provide an honest review. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way. Publication date is currently set for November 23, 2021.