Author – Howard Linskey
Published – 2015
Genre – Crime fiction
I met Howard in 2011 at the first ‘Crime in the Court’ when he had just finished his debut ‘The Drop’. That was the start of a three book series, before moving to Penguin Random House with No Name Lane – the first in a new series.
No Name Lane is set in a small village in County Durham and revolves around three main characters – there’s struggling DC Ian Bradshaw, newcomer and local reporter Helen Norton, and Tom Carney who Helen replaced when he got a job on a tabloid paper in London but who has now returned home as he’s been suspended.
As well as a mix of characters there are also several threads to the story. The main one is the mystery of a missing teenage girl who is the latest in a string of young girls to be abducted. The bodies of the attacker’s previous victims have all turned up quickly and the race is on to find the latest victim while she’s still alive. When a body is dug up at the site of building work at the local school the assumption is that it’s linked to the serial killer – but it opens up a whole new story for the two reporters and a mystery that dates back more than seventy years.
This started off as a standard police procedural and with the involvement of the reporters it reminded me of Good Girls Don’t Die. One of the first differences that quickly became clear is that as a policemen DC Bradshaw is pretty ineffectual. He is shunned by his colleagues following an incident which injured his partner; sidelined by his bosses he does little to prove that this is a mistake.
Helen and Tom quickly pair up, pooling their resources to investigate the older mystery, although both are keen to get a scoop on the serial killer. There’s a ‘will they, won’t they’ aspect to their storylines and it’s interesting to see Tom give Helen the inside track some of the ins and outs of his old job. He is also pretty cagey about explaining why he’s back in the village, keeping his suspension under wraps.
This is quite a long book, at almost 500 pages, although the complexity of the plots and the number of different threads do mean that there is always something going on. When I started I found it a real page turner and was loathe to put the book down, but in the end I found it quite a struggle to finish. I can’t criticise the plot and I was surprised by some of the turns it took and Linskey’s got a very engaging style but for me there was just too going on for crime fiction. There was some switching between timelines as well as between the characters and the balance of this didn’t work for me. I’m also not a fan of books where I can’t empathise / sympathise with the main characters and that was the case for me here – I found them all to be fairly ineffectual and I’m not sure that in the end any of them actually discovered anything under their own steam, lots of things just happened around them.
I do seem to be in the minority in not enjoying No Name Lane and I know it has received some rave reviews. You can see another review of this title at Random Things Through My Letterbox. Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.