4 stars out of 5
This is the fourth book in the author's series featuring Detective Sergeant Jessica Daniel, who has lived in Manchester for about 10 years and works at the Longsight Police Station. I had no problem following the story as a standalone, but at the same time, hints here and there made me think I'd have enjoyed it more had I started at the beginning (something that's true of most series, IMHO, so I'm not picking on this one in particular). It's fast-paced with an attention-getting plot, and I thank the publisher for the opportunity to read it in exchange for an honest review.
On her way to work one day not long before Christmas, Jessica witnesses an horrific car crash in which the driver is killed. In the boot (trunk), she finds the dead body of a young boy wrapped in plastic. Neither is readily identifiable (and the driver ain't talking), so she follows rather sketchy clues that lead to child's clothing buried in a remote spot. It turns out the boy has been reported missing and gets a name; but then other clues lead to a shed in a plot of rentable sheds where a list of children's names is found with the trunk occupant's at the top.
Problem is, there's no apparent connection among any of the children's names. So when another one on the list goes missing, Jessica and her police cohorts find themselves scurrying to get to the bottom of things before yet another one disappears. Learning the car driver's identity helps a little, but even then, progress seems to be moving at a snail's pace - especially since whoever's been taking children may have started well over a decade ago.
Meantime, Jessica must grapple with personal issues like a former boyfriend (one instance, I suppose, where reading previous books might have provided a bit more insight) and an intense dislike of Christmas - the only more objectionable holiday, it seems, is New Year's. But this time, the new year may bring a bit of much-needed closure to everyone involved. All in all, a satisfying read - and another solid series to add to my ever-growing list. Bring 'em on!
Think of the Children by Kerry Wilkinson (Bookouture, January 2017); 274 pp.