Author – Isabelle Grey
Published – October 2014
Genre – Crime fiction
After a bit of a dip over the summer, when it seemed I wasn’t particularly enjoying the books I was reading, there have been a few recently which have been much more engrossing, and this is one of them. Another writer with a background in journalism and TV this is Isabelle Grey’s third novel and her first police procedural.
The story centres around the disappearance of a female university student who has been reported as missing by her parents. Taking the lead on the investigation is Detective Sergeant Grace Fisher on her first day at work in a new team, having moved to Essex from Maidstone in Kent. The reasons behind the move are initially held back from the reader but Grace is obviously keen to impress her new colleagues. What becomes clear as the plot develops is that there was a serious and very personal incident which prompted her move. The background is important as it has implications for Grace’s confidence and how she chooses whether to act or not.
Part of the way through the story a second point of view is introduced – that of Ivo Sweatman, London-based chief crime correspondent for the Daily Courier – a newspaper that epitomises everything that is reviled in tabloid journalism. Sweatman himself is something of a contradiction. He is out to get the ‘story’ whatever it may be and regardless of the cost to those involved but he does have a conscience. There is something about Grace which prompts Sweatman to, occasionally, act on her behalf, not that she would thank him!
As suspicion falls on a number of men who have links to the missing girl and subsequent victims, the impact plays out in a way that you might anticipate by picking up any tabloid paper. This hinders rather than helps the investigation, which is also at risk because of the actions Sweatman takes to try to get the story with the perpetrator before the police get their man. Adding the journalistic element to the story in parallel with the police investigation feels like an unusual approach in crime fiction. although it’s an inevitable one in real life.
This is a really contemporary police procedural that is bang up-to-date with its use of social media, as well as reflecting the modern drinking culture. Grace is a very likeable lead character and the writer makes her easy to empathise with. Her backstory is an unusual approach to the traditional ‘damaged’ detective with the benefit of not feeling contrived.
I wasn’t particularly taken by surprise by the final denouement, but I don’t think that this is a weakness in the story, it felt more credible than plots where dozens of suspects and red herrings pepper the story. An enjoyable modern take on a police procedural with a an engaging lead character, I hope that this will be the first in a series.
Many thanks to the publisher for the netgalley. You can see another point of view on Book Addict Shaun’s blog.