Death Message by Kate London

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Death Message by Kate London

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Top class crime writing from an ex-Met detective. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: April 2017
Publisher: Corvus
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1782396161

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In October 1987, on the morning after the great storm, Tania Mills left home to visit a friend and was never seen again. Twenty-seven years later DS Sarah Collins from the Met's Homicide Command has to look into new information which might reveal what happened to the fifteen-year-old girl. It's not all she has to do though - there are still current cases which have to be responded to immediately: somehow she has to fit it all together. Meanwhile DC Lizzie Griffiths has to deal with a case of domestic violence: the husband is vicious and volatile, but outwardly charming and the wife ultimately too frightened to do anything but put up with his outbursts. Collins and Griffiths have history and antagonism between them: will they be able to work together?

I'm always reluctant to join a series that's already established, but Kate London's first novel, Post Mortem received favourable reviews and I was hooked by the information that London is an ex-Metropolitan police detective. Experience tells me that people who've been in the job bring an authenticity to their writing which is rarely found in outsiders. They know that crime detection isn't a story of a maverick cop solving everything which comes his way despite the best efforts of his superiors to shackle him. Real police work relies on a team of detectives all of whom bring complementary skills to the case. There's a constant pressure and the needs to juggle cases as they deal with what's happened in the past and what's happening now.

And so it is with Death Message. Current information about a cold case which necessitates action immediately turns it into a current case and it's difficult, if not impossible, to put it back on the back burner. Sarah Collins is determined though: she wants closure for Tania's parents and she's not going to be hampered by her boss who's nervous about following up a line of enquiry in case it might have to be disclosed to the defence if another man is charged. It's policing by constantly watching your own back and London brings out the frustrations well.

There are some current issues to the forefront in Death Message: child abuse and domestic violence. Some descriptions are graphic but they never cross the line into being gratuitous. There's a sensitivity in dealing with the issues: the wife who makes excuses for the husband who says that he loves her and the child and who believes that he will change, the child unable to stop the abuse which she suffers and who can't tell anyone about it, even years later.

I planned to read the book over several days but finished it within twenty-four hours. The characterisation is compelling - neither Sarah Collins nor Lizzie Griffiths would normally be characters which appeal to me, but I was rooting for them both and supporting characters were a good mix, all of which came off the page well. The plot grabbed me: I was confident that I'd pretty well worked out who we were going to be jeering at, but there was a neat twist there too. It's a great read and highly recommended.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals to you then we think that you're sure to enjoy anything by Elizabeth Haynes and Lisa Cutts both of whom bring on-the-job experience to their crime writing.

Kate London's Metropolitan Police Series in Chronological Order

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