- Author: Helen Fields
- Published: January 2017 by Avon
- Category: Thriller, Crime, Books, Book Review, Reading, Police Procedural
On a remote Highland mountain, the body of Elaine Buxton is burning. All that will be left to identify the respected lawyer are her teeth and a fragment of clothing.
In the concealed back room of a house in Edinburgh, the real Elaine Buxton screams into the darkness.
Detective Inspector Luc Callanach, Scottish born and raised in France, left Interpol under a cloud and transferred to Edinburgh’s Major Investigations Team where he is beginning his second day. Callanach has a mixed reception from his colleagues, from curiosity and distrust to welcome and offered support from DI Eva Turner. Eva sympathises because she’s not totally accepted herself, having been educated in England and consequently lost her Scottish accent.
The report of remains found in burned out bothy in the Cairngorms turns a missing person’s case into a murder investigation. What little evidence is found points to Elaine Buxton, a lawyer who’s been missing for a couple of weeks. When another person goes missing under similar circumstances, and again with misleading clues, Callanach will need to rely on his natural abilities and experience to track down the villain.
The bothy, more refuge than accommodation, was a stone hut left unlocked for hikers caught in storms or mid trek, consisting of a single room, its rear wall set into the rock face. Callanach guessed the original building dated back a couple of hundred years. Now the roof was completely gone, fallen in once the fire had taken hold, making the forensic investigation painstaking. Even the huge stones of the wall base had shifted in the intense heat. Callanach surveyed the horizon. This wasn’t a place you could stumble across. Whoever had brought the woman here had chosen carefully, made sure it was nowhere near regular trekking routes, and had been inside before.
Unusually, the perpetrator is known from the start, beginning with a chilling account of how he manages to leave evidence to confuse the police. If you have a phobia about going to the dentist…beware! The story follows the police investigation, while the reader is in possession of the facts. Some chapters come from the perpetrator’s perspective, so there’s an immediate awareness of his dark and twisted personality, witnessing his psychopathic activity at the same time as living his normal daily life. The contrast highlights the irrational, egotistical and violent personality.
Callanach makes a great protagonist, engaging but complex, with a good mix of French and Scots characteristics. His reasons for leaving Interpol are revealed gradually. They have left physical and emotional problems which Callanach is trying to deal with, but when his past resurfaces the horror of it is brought back in full force. In contrast, Ava Turner is well-adjusted and down to earth, a likeable woman in control of her life.
There are several threads running through relating to other investigations, adding a realistic aspect, dealing with underage sex and the resulting pregnancies, abuse and the connections to the church. Incorporating several surprising twists, this is a fast paced and well written plot, with great dialogue and well defined characters. Looking forward to book two, I’m interested to see where Helen Fields takes those characters.
About Helen Fields
Helen can be found on Twitter @Helen_Fields for up to date news and information. A former barrister, Helen now writes Scottish set crime. Her next book ‘Perfect Prey’ is due out on 27 July 2017. She lives in Hampshire with her husband, three children and two dogs.