- Author: Robert Bryndza
- Published: October 2016 by Bookouture
- Category: Crime, Thriller, Police Procedural
Beneath the water the body sank rapidly. She would lie still and undisturbed for many years but above her on dry land, the nightmare was just beginning.
When Detective Erika Foster receives a tip-off that key evidence for a major narcotics case was stashed in a disused quarry on the outskirts of London, she orders for it to be searched. From the thick sludge the drugs are recovered, but so is the skeleton of a young child.
Detective Erika Foster is trying to settle into her new role as part of the Projects Team, dealing with organised crime and drug related offences as opposed to her previous job with the Murder Investigation team in Lewisham. Erika’s maverick tendencies necessitated a move to Bromley Police Station which included a change of address. She misses working at Lewisham with her old team and when the skeleton of a child is discovered during the recovery of a drugs haul from a disused quarry, Erika desperately wants to head the investigation. Given her track record, and with the help of her friend and boss, Commander Paul Marsh, she manages to secure the assignment and is teamed up once again with Moss and Peterson.
Twenty six years ago, seven year old Jessica Collins disappeared while walking to a friend’s birthday party a few doors away. The cold case from so long ago, with no apparent evidence or leads, proves very challenging and tests Erika and her team to their limits. They have to start from scratch and build up the case, working with old case files and help from the original investigating officer. It was considered an unsolvable case but Erika was determined to find the perpetrator. Someone was equally as determined to stop her – at all costs.
‘Back then, in the late eighties, it was a given that if you were a female officer you’d be given the rape cases to deal with. Amanda would take evidence at the scene, and support these women through the whole awful process. The only problem was that she didn’t know how to let go, how to separate herself from work…..It took an emotional toll, and no one was looking out for her. Amanda was about to be signed off sick when she got the call to say she was going to be SIO on the Jessica Collins case. The case got bigger and bigger as the leads and evidence shrank to nothing. It was as if Jessica Collins vanished into thin air. Eventually, she cracked under the pressure…’
The mix of old and new characters works well and I like the change with the team working on a cold case. More of Erika’s personality and personal life is revealed as the story progresses, although there’ll be many more layers to sift through, I’m sure. Robert Bryndza has done a great job fleshing out the characters so far. I hope to learn more about Moss and Peterson too, in upcoming books.
There are several trails to follow in the complex plot, compounded by the unwillingness of the family to fully cooperate, leaving the team at a loss on more than one occasion. Given that the case all but destroyed the former DCI Amanda Baker, plus the lack of clues, doubts arise about the feasibility of solving such an old crime.
There’s a strong emotional slant to the story given the subject matter and the fact there was no resolution for the family. It also showcases how secrets, deceit and lies can reverberate down through the years and ruin lives, even those that were already shattered. Focussed more on the procedural aspect, there’s a gradual build up with several suspects in the frame, and culminating in a very unexpected and sad ending.
On the negative side there are a couple of inconsistency issues and one or two unnecessary dialogue tags, not enough to put me off, though. I enjoyed the book very much and look forward to the next one.
About Robert Bryndza
Robert’s books have sold over a million copies and have been translated into 18 languages.
In addition to writing Crime Fiction, Robert has published a bestselling series of romantic comedy novels. He is British and lives in Slovakia with his Slovak husband Ján.