Welcome to my stop on the Blog Tour for Burned and Broken
- Author: Mark Hardie
- Published: January 2017 by Sphere
- Category: Police Procedural, Crime
An enigmatic policeman – currently the subject of an internal investigation – is found burned to death in his car on the Southend sea front.
A vulnerable young woman, fresh out of the care system, is trying to discover the truth behind the sudden death of her best friend.
Set in a drearily portrayed Southend-on-Sea, the story begins with a shocking scene of someone burned alive in their car. The narrative then takes us back, covering events of the few days prior to the discovery of the body in the burnt out vehicle, who the police have identified as one of their own. DS Frank Pearson and DC Catherine (Cat) Russell from the Essex Police Major Investigation Team are leading the investigation.
Cat’s partner, DI Sean Carragher, is unreachable and absent from work. Cat is in the uncomfortable position of being interviewed by Professional Standards – there are questions about Carragher’s conduct and an internal investigation is underway.
Donna Freeman, a vulnerable teen just out of the care system, is grieving and troubled by the unexplained death of her best friend. Donna is certain Alicia was murdered but despite her efforts, she can’t make the police take her seriously. Even though there seems to have been instances of abuse at the care home where Donna and Alicia lived.
She started leafing through the paper again. There was nothing. Not a single mention of Alicia. She scanned every single article, even the tiny ones with only a few sentences. Nothing. Malcolm looked over as she refolded the newspaper and pushed it across the table to him. ‘It’s like everyone’s just forgotten her,’ she said.
The blurb was interesting and sounded like something I’d enjoy. And I did enjoy parts of the book, very much. It’s split into three sections, which in itself would be okay, but in this instance it allows a repetition of events, albeit from the angle of different characters, which does drag the narrative out a little. And I found the choppiness of the narrative, changing viewpoints and plot lines with no forewarning, disconcerting and difficult to follow.
This is a police procedural, moving at a rather slow and steady pace and with much delving into the characters’ psyches. The two main protagonists seem slightly demoralized, each having their own personal problems. Frank Pearson suspects he may have cancer and is undergoing tests. Cat Russell is desperate to fit in and be accepted by her male colleagues. The realisation her partner, who she relied on and counted as a friend, has fallen far short of her expectations leaves her feeling disillusioned.
I like the dramatic way the layers and connections between cases link up and the twist in the sad and unexpected ending. In Mark Hardie’s debut novel there’s a lot to like, the plot and writing are good, showing the weaknesses in the child care system, police force and the well portrayed characters. On the negative side, there’s a lot of meandering details which, together with the narrative issues, interrupted the flow and dragged me out of the story.
I chose to read and review Burned and Broken based on an advanced reader copy of the book supplied by the author/publisher.
My thanks to Clara Diaz from Little, Brown Book Group.
Mark Hardie was born in 1960 in Bow, East London. He began writing fulltime after completely losing his eyesight in 2002. He has completed a creative writing course and an advanced creative writing course at the Open University, both with distinction.
Mark lives with his wife Debbie in Southend-on-Sea.