This is a gutsy, unique, very realistic crime novel. A wonderful lead character, DI Manon Bradshaw, coping with the pressure of trying to run 2 major police investigations and a personal life with many pressures, and unwanted devastating news. She is a lady we can all identify with, the work life balance, enjoying a successful career without destroying a young marriage. This is not a normal police procedural in which the unravelling of the facts leads to the identification of the perpetrator….it is so much more than that. Susie Steiner has been able to showcase and bring to our attention issues that influence our daily lives, not only in the UK but throughout the world: Racism, modern day slavery, people kidnapping/trafficking, neo-Nazi groups, immigration, exploitation, ill equipped police force, prejudice. It expertly highlights internal and external pressures a career police man/woman has to accommodate in order to survive in a world where we are led to believe we can have it all.
A body is discovered hanging from a tree in the Cambridgeshire woods with the words, “The dead cannot speak”, attached as a note to the body. What a fabulous way to start a novel, what numerous possibilities enter the mind of the reader. Did he jump or was he pushed? Like the opening of Pandora’s box what on first blush appears a relatively simple investigation unfolds in a web of hate, racism, and political intrigue. Manon is not a woman to accept defeat, as she struggles with her personal life caring for partner Mark, and her two children. She is determined to be successful in a career where cynicism and politics rule supreme.
“They barely touch each other these days, her and Mark. The bed is an icy canyon they cannot cross”……
“Why does this mental load descend with such force? Is it late middle age? The anxiety has smothered her libido once as bouncy as a Labrador pup”….
“It’s flexing in and out of a relationship that’s difficult. It’s the same after intense jobs- twenty hours at work, then domesticity, the supermarket”….
“There are phases of life that are depressing, when it feels as if things are ending-vigour, fertility, excitement, pleasure- and nothing now seems to be coming over the horizon”….
This is not just a story it is a literary achievement. It is captivating in its ability to get under the skin of what it is like to live, of what it is like to survive in a world obsessed by social media, a world where achievement and perfect home life is the true value when in reality it is not worth a damn. An outstanding book in both its content and execution. Many thanks to the good people at netgalley for a gratis copy in return for a honest review and that is what I have written. Highly, highly recommended.