Robert Bryndza - Nine Elms
"...dark, gripping and the very essence of a page turner. "
Sixteen years ago, Kate Marshall was a rising star in the London Metropolitan police force. Young, ambitious and driven, with a talent for getting into the minds of criminals, she solved several high-profile murder cases.
But when Kate was tasked with tracking down a vicious serial killer, even her instinct and ability to immerse herself in violent worlds couldn't help her find him – until he found her.
Now, years after her narrow escape, Kate lives a quiet life on the English coast, though her years with the police are still with her. And when one day she receives a letter from someone in her past, she is pulled back into the twisted mind of a murderer she knows only too well – and into a case only she can solve.
Robert Bryndza is the writer of the Erika Foster series of crime fiction novels. With 'Nine Elms', he launches a new series, stepping away from police procedure and into psychopathy with a dark and twisted serial killer thriller.
Protagonist Kate Marshall is a former detective now working as a university lecturer but on the cusp of a new career as a private detective. Along with her assistant, Tristan, they decide to help an elderly couple search for their daughter, missing for more than twenty years, who, they believe it linked to a serial killer who ended Kate's career.
The crime is disturbingly dark and Bryndza touches on some shocking themes including child grooming, rape and mutilation. There is always a risk in writing about sensitive issues and using them as a puerile form of entertainment for the sake of storytelling. However, Bryndza escapes that with a touching narrative, and creating well-devised characters who fit the story rather than going for the shock factor.
Kate Marshall is a likeable character. Still suffering the aftermath of a violet attack fifteen years later, she's a shadow of her former self as she battles alcoholism and struggles with missing out on bringing up her son. It's these battles that we witness as she investigates, and almost falling off the wagon and the tear-jerking Skype calls with her son, that make her human, interesting, and who, as the reader, we hope will succeed. Her assistant, Tristan, is a wonderful sidekick and there are many layers to him that I am sure will be revealed in future books. Together, they make a formidable team.
It's rare to find a modern crime thriller about a private detective, and when done correctly, it can be a joy to read. I think Robert Bryndza has done a sterling job and will relaunch the private detective genre. 'Nine Elms' is dark, gripping and the very essence of a page turner.
Reviewed by: M.W.