Thanks to Arcadia Books for sending me a copy of this book, in return for an honest review. Part of the fun was the fact that I had to guess the author #WhoIsSamAlexander. Unfortunately, despite many attempts, I didn't guess correctly. More details of the real Sam Alexander can be found underneath my review.....
DI Joni Pax and DCI Heck Rutherford are part of the newly formed Police Force of North East England. Both recovering from physical traumas, they are still quite raw when they are thrown in the deep end of a new case which has links to the Albanian Mafia. A murder at a brothel, a missing prostitute, a headless corpse and human trafficking are all elements in this intricate case. The links keeps extending until they seem like a long chain of interwoven abuse, mistrust and fear. The Detectives try to come to some sort of understanding of how the Albanian Clan operate and what is their connection to the Northern English countryside? Their one witness to the brothel murder is the missing prostitute, who is running for her life through the moorlands, but may be in more danger there than she is aware of. Can DI Pax lure her out or is she prepared to take her chances in the wild?
Stunning background details and amazing descriptions of the North of England makes this novel stand out from the average crime thriller. The dark and grim realities of todays international communities may seem overplayed at first, but the reader then remembers that this is real life. The trafficking is something we read about on a regular basis, the sex trade, the rival clans as well as the money laundering and corruption. This is by no means a light read, but an honest one. Although the characters are fictional, the premise is not. Suzanna, the missing girl, is running for her life. Literally. She fears not only her original captures, but also the idea of the police. Her memories of Albania are full of corruption, murder and torture. Why should she believe that England is any different?
DI Pax is mixed race and unsure of her heritage. Her mother is a full-on hippy, making spells and potions, while her father was a black American, long gone. Joni is a loner and this is where DCI Rutherford is the perfect co-worker. A family man, with a genuine heart, he gives Joni the balance she needs. It seems like it's them against the rest of the new Police Force as they strive for a result.
This is Crime Noir at it's best. It is raw and intense and it pulls no punches with its language or style. Real life crime in a modern day setting. I read this in two sittings and kept turning those pages, unaware of what may happen next. A good sign.....
Pity I couldn't guess the author, though.