Remain Silent by Susie Steiner

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Remain Silent by Susie Steiner

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Book three in a series that's improving all the time. This time the dreadful subject of slave labour is at the heart of the story.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 368 Date: May 2020
Publisher: The Borough Press
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0008273798

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Longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2021

When we first meet Matis and Dimitri, Matis is in a bad way, vomiting and obviously traumatised. When he's able to speak he tells Dimitri that Lukas is dead. Lukas was in his late teens and he and Matis had come to Cambridgeshire from Klaipeda in Lithuania. They'd answered an advert offering good money and accommodation in return for their labour: they could have a decent life and send money home to their families. Sadly, it doesn't work out like that. When they arrive in the UK - on an old, uncomfortable bus, - they're dropped at a filthy house where several men have to share rooms and sleep on dirty mattresses on the floor. It's modern slavery, which isn't uncommon amongst agricultural workers.

DI Manon Bradshaw is 46, worried about her weight, frustrated by the state of her house and concerned about the state of health of her partner, Mark Talbot. Her toddler son, Teddy, calls her 'Defective Mummy' and she can't make up her mind whether he knows what he's saying or not. Probably the best thing about the family at the moment is her adopted son, Fly, who's about to do his GCSEs. He's marvellous with Teddy and a real treasure to have around.

Work should be simple: she's on cold cases and working part-time. She wanted Tuesday to Thursday but got Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Then the Lukas Balsys murder is dropped on her toes by Detective Chief Superintendent Glenda McBain, who talks a good tale but doesn't always know what she's doing. Manon's working with DS Davy Walker: they get on well and make a good team. Davy's about to get married to Juliet, who doesn't really seem to understand the demands of his job: she'd like him to have regular hours. Somehow they both have to find out what happened to Lukas.

If you look at your chicken dinner and assume that the chicken had a good life, you might be upset by this story, but it's not just chickens. Slavery is rife in some areas of the agricultural industry and there's even a Fenland Exploitation Team (in real life - and not just in this story) and it's called Operation Pheasant. The people who work on the team are there to track down slavery. Susie Steiner does an excellent job of bringing across the horrors these people (it's not just men) have to endure.

I've met some of the Major Crimes Unit before, but Steiner handles a substantial cast of characters nimbly. I was particularly impressed by the people whose lives were impacted by the presence of the immigrants and those who campaigned against their presence. It's neatly done and you catch a glimpse of all shades of opinion.

The plot is good, if not excellent. I had an inkling about what had happened, mainly because I couldn't see what happened having happened any other way, but it didn't spoil my enjoyment of the book. This is the third book in the series and it does seem to be getting better with each book. I'll definitely want to read the next in the series. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

For another mystery about slave labour, this time in Yorkshire, we can recommend Broken Silence (DS Nikki Parekh 2) by Liz Mistry

Susie Steiner's DI Manon Bradshaw Novels in Chronological Order

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