- Author: Jane Isaac
- Published: June 2015 by Legend Press
- Category: Crime, Suspense, Thriller, Book Review, Reading
I concentrated hard, desperately listening for something familiar, the sound of life. I heard nothing. Just my own breaths and the wind, whistling through branches above… The thought made me shiver. I am buried alive.
Currently involved in a murder investigation, Detective Inspector Will Jackman, a former marine, is reassigned to a missing person’s case. Min Li, a Chinese student at Stratford-upon-Avon College, hasn’t been seen or heard from since the previous evening when she argued with her boyfriend, Tom, and left the pub where they were celebrating Tom’s birthday with friends. Min is popular with lots of friends, she was desperate to study in the UK and broaden her experiences. There didn’t seem to be any reason for her disappearance. When a ransom note is delivered to Min’s parents in China the reason seems clear.
The story is a slow starter, although the sections showing Min’s thoughts and fear as she finds herself in a concrete pit below ground keep up the suspense. These sections are interspersed throughout the narrative and give a good sense of her character, culture and back story in China.
How did I get here? I blinked, tried to recall. A gentle rocking. The hum of a moving vehicle. Limbs paralysed. I wiggled my fingers and toes. The relief at movement was tempered by the reality of my surroundings. My hands and legs weren’t bound together, I was free to move around, but only within the confines of this dark pit.
When another student is abducted and a similar ransom demand is made it leads Will to delve deeper into the Chinese connections and as more time passes the pressure to solve the case increases.
The story is told mostly from Will’s point of view in the third person, with Min’s chapters in the first and a couple from the perspective of the abductor. Will Jackman is an engaging protagonist, trustworthy and ethical, I liked him immediately. He has a daughter who is away at university and a wife, but therein lies a story of heartbreak and guilt. Work is the motivation that keeps him going and this is his first case since returning after the accident which left his wife with locked in syndrome.
The characters are realistic and well drawn. I especially liked DS Annie Davies, she and Will have a great working relationship. There’s always one though, isn’t there, and this time it’s DCI Reilly, overbearing and more concerned with delegation rather than taking an active role.
But Jackman knew the score here. If something was missed later on, something that they needed, that the evidence relied on for a conviction, Reilly would be able to say Jackman didn’t notice it. Some people would go to any lengths to shirk responsibility.
After the slow start the plot developed convincingly and was well paced with enough red herrings to keep me guessing. Min Li’s situation was depicted convincingly and sympathetically. A good introduction to a very likeable and complex protagonist.
About Jane Isaac
Jane Isaac lives with her husband, daughter and dog, Bollo, in rural Northamptonshire, UK. Her debut novel, An Unfamiliar Murder, introduces DCI Helen Lavery and was nominated as best mystery in the ‘eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook awards 2013.’
The Truth Will Out, the second in the DCI Helen Lavery series, was nominated as ‘Thriller of the Month – April 2014’ by E-thriller.com and winner of ‘Noveltunity book club selection – May 2014’.
In 2015 Jane embarked on a new series, featuring DI Will Jackman and set in Stratford upon Avon, with Before It’s Too Late. The second in the series, Beneath The Ashes, will be published by Legend Press on 1st November 2016 with the 3rd, The Lies Within, to follow on 2nd May 2017.