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Friday, September 9, 2016


5 stars out of 5

My, oh my - what a delight! What's even better is that this is the first book in a series. After finishing this one, it's a sure bet I'll be in the queue for the next installment.

See what I did there? The book, featuring Senior Investigator Joanne Stuart, takes place in merry old England, where they're wont to say things like "queue" instead of "line," get things "sorted" rather than "straightened out" and insist on putting an extra "e" in "judgment."

What happens in the story, though, is anything but merry. Jo has been assigned to the National Crime Agency's Behavioural Sciences Unit in Salford Quay, Manchester, where a body has been unearthed - literally - in a wooded area outside the city. Turns out it's a man who's been missing for 10 years, and (gulp!) he was tied up and buried alive. The investigative team also finds a strange character carved into a nearby tree, adding another dimension to the very cold case.

There are few clues to follow, but Jo is committed to getting to the truth - in part to help justify her new assignment and gain approval of her new team. Together, they chip away at new leads and find a few connections with the past disappearances of other men. Then comes a second, brand-new murder - bringing with it the probability that they're dealing with a serial killer. Finding the real connection to the deaths, however, proves elusive until some of the clues begin coming together. Where they point is not only disturbing, but as Jo inches closer to the truth, puts her very life on the line. 

The plot moves along quickly, and the characters - Jo in particular - are well developed. In that regard, while Jo's life with her female partner plays a role in the emotional turmoil she faces every day, it never becomes a "gay" issue at home or at work. Rather, it's dealt with in the same matter-of-fact manner as any other male-female relationship would be. How refreshing!

Many, many thanks to the author and publisher (via NetGalley) for giving me the opportunity to read this terrific book in exchange for an honest review. Do I hope to be on the list for the next one? Yes, please!

The Pick, The Space and The Crow by Bill Rogers (Amazon Digital Services LLC, September 2016); 364 pp.

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