My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
I absolutely love Robert Bryndza and have been enjoying his DCI Erika Frost series but unfortunately I didn’t love this as much as the previous books in the series.
It’s still a good read and it’s great to be back with some of my favorite characters from the previous books, together with some fantastic additions, but the story didn’t grip me and I’m sorry to say main character Erika seems to have lost her spark.
Note: As this is the third book in the series there may be some mild spoilers for previous books.
Synopsis (from GoodReads)
Beneath the water the body sank rapidly. She would lie still and undisturbed for many years but above her on dry land, the nightmare was just beginning.
When Detective Erika Foster receives a tip-off that key evidence for a major narcotics case was stashed in a disused quarry on the outskirts of London, she orders for it to be searched. From the thick sludge the drugs are recovered, but so is the skeleton of a young child.
The remains are quickly identified as seven-year-old Jessica Collins. The missing girl who made headline news twenty-six years ago.
As Erika tries to piece together new evidence with the old, she must dig deeper and find out more about the fractured Collins family and the original detective, Amanda Baker. A woman plagued by her failure to find Jessica. Erika soon realises this is going to be one of the most complex and demanding cases she has ever taken on.
Is the suspect someone close to home? Someone is keeping secrets. Someone who doesn’t want this case solved. And they’ll do anything to stop Erika from finding the truth.
I read the first two books in this series a couple of months ago and found them very enjoyable so was excited to find the third book available on NetGalley. I was so excited in fact that I started reading almost immediately and it was fantastic to be back with the characters I’ve come to love.
The story picks up a couple of months after The Night Stalker, with Detective Chief Inspector Erika Foster moved to a new team in a new area as a result of the events at the end of the previous book. She’s no longer working in homicide but instead going after drug dealers with her new partner DS John McGorry. The book begins with them dredging a disused quarry in search of these drugs when they come across the skeleton of a young girl.
Despite no longer working in homicide Erika is determined that she wants to work this case and goes around her new boss to make sure she gets on the team. It’s a high profile investigation and while that means she can bring in some help from old colleagues she’s under pressure to solve it before it can destroy her career in the same way it destroyed that of the previous detective on the case.
I have to admit I was a little bit disappointed with how this book started. At the end of the previous book (spoiler alert) Erika was heading off into the sunset having more or less told her boss where to stick his job. Finding her back in the police, having had a bit of a demotion, or at least shove sideways, was a bit of a let down. I’d been kind of hoping she’d solve murders while off on her travels to Eastern Europe.
Anyway, what I did like was the introduction of some new characters. A new team means some new colleagues and DS John McGorry was by far the highlight. He’s new to the team and the job so while he’s keen and actually pretty good at what he does he tends to get a little inappropriately excited about things. I absolutely loved his slight naivety and I thought he brought some much needed lightness to a very dark story.
It was also good to see Moss and Peterson back on the team too. Peterson does seem to be a bit of a hothead but I do love Moss’s humor and she somehow balances him out nicely.
Like all Bryndza books there is something inherently likeable about most of the characters and the writing is very readable but I felt like this book had perhaps been rushed a little. Some of the dialogue felt a little bit forced and false, there were a few inconsistencies and at times it seemed stilted and awkward. I was reading an ARC so I’m hoping a lot of this will be solved in the final published version.
I think what bothered me the most about this book, and why I couldn’t give it a high rating, was the case. For whatever reason, I just didn’t care what happened or who was responsible. It’s maybe the fact that I’m not a parent but while the death of a child is a tragedy I didn’t really get as emotional about a 20 year old case as the characters seemed to. Erika in particular spent most of the book crying because she was so emotionally invested in the case and frankly I found this irritating. She was an absolute basket case most of the time which to me seemed really unprofessional and of no use to anyone in actually getting the case solved.
The fact that it was a historical case they were investigating also meant there was less of the immediacy and tension that I loved in the previous books. That’s not to say there isn’t any action, because there is, but I didn’t really feel any sense of danger.
The story does keep you guessing until the very end, and there are plenty of twists and turns in the story which make it interesting. I just wish I could have been a little more invested in the outcome.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.