Just a quick general recap…
Detective Inspector Rowan Jackman leads the team. He’s a private person from an affluent background, well respected and liked, and is good at motivating his team. His passion is horses. Detective Sergeant Marie Evans is a widow who lost her husband in a motorbike accident. She’s able to assess situations and people with accuracy and is nicknamed Super Mario by her colleagues. Marie’s passion is motorbikes.
The Stolen Boys
DI Rowan Jackman and DS Marie Evans had been injured on duty several months earlier and, although they were grateful they had survived relatively intact, the fact the killer had escaped was never far from their thoughts. Just as they were about to launch another initiative to try and track him down a couple of new crime waves hit Saltern-le-Fen.
There is suspicious activity on the marshes and illegal steroids are flooding the streets. There’s a huge market for the drugs and it was quickly becoming very big business.
Alongside the drugs case are a spate of burglaries and muggings. A sinister figure called Darke and his team of spotters and muggers are targeting young men who own a much sought after brand of street wear called Hybird X. The high end range of clothing costs a small fortune and sells for huge amounts. Darke’s team have it down to a fine art, whether it’s mugging on the street or house burglary, until a teenager is found fatally injured, minus his trainers and the possibility of much more sinister happenings begin to emerge.
Added in to the mix are Mossy and Tommy, two neglected kids with disintegrating home lives who allow themselves to get caught up in Darke’s network for different reasons. Two boys who can’t see another way out.
Mossy had no idea what love was. There had certainly been no love in his life so far. His parents showed no evidence of it.
The narrative comes from several third person perspectives so the reader, or listener, has a rounded view of events, which works very well as there’s quite a lot going on. Well plotted, with several storylines running concurrently, The Stolen Boys is an engaging listen. I’m not sure if a CID division would get on so well and care about each other to this extent in the real world but nevertheless it’s a nice change to have such camaraderie and compassion between the characters with no issues or deep, dark secrets. One of the story threads is still unresolved and carries through into the next book.
The Patient Man
While DI Rowan Jackman and the team are dealing with an indiscriminate sniper, they are also on the alert for sight or sound of their old adversary, Alistair Ashcroft who begins his lethal game of cat and mouse with a very unwelcome and sinister text to Marie. Along with these serious cases are an odd rash of thefts, including half a dozen pigs, a thoroughbred stallion and some guns from the home of gun club owner, Kenneth Harcourt. When one of the guns is used by the sniper, matters become more complicated and the thefts lead Jackman’s team to the Lorimer family, who are known to Marie. The sniper seemed to choose his victims randomly but he’s working to an agenda and all the while taunting the police.
This is a steadily paced story and honestly, I thought Jackman was a bit slow on the uptake in this episode. It was pretty obvious from the start how Ashcroft would fit into the plot so this aspect fell flat for me, although another twist was quite unexpected.
While I enjoyed Richard Armitage’s narration, which was as excellent as expected, this story wasn’t as strong as previous ones. It lacked some depth and the main thread was too predictable. Having said that, the sub plots, especially that of the Lorimer family, were woven into the storyline well.
The contrast between the strength and kindness in Jackman’s team and the perspective of the perpetrator is marked and, if there was any doubt previously, it now shows him for the villain he is, determined on revenge. Character devlopment is apparent and the setting is as atmospheric as always. The dramatic conclusion was fitting, with someone getting exactly what they deserved, which is a satisfying end to any story.
About the author
Joy Ellis is not your ordinary newcomer to crime fiction. She started work in the 1960s as an apprentice florist in Covent Garden before opening her own flower shop in Lincolnshire. Later in life, she began to consider a career change towards crime writing and attended a workshop in Greece led by Sue Townsend, author of Adrian Mole. Ellis has now left the flowers behind and dedicates her life to writing gritty crime thrillers set in the Fens, where she lives with her police officer partner.
About the narrator
Richard Armitage is a British actor known for his vast array of film, television and theatre work, including The Hobbit, Spooks and The Crucible. His trademark baritone voice has earned him recognition, too, through his performance on many notable audiobooks as well as in TV and radio show narration. His audiobook credits include The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde featured in The Monster Collection, David Copperfield, and Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, and this experience shines through in Armitage’s gripping performance of Their Lost Daughters.