EXCERPT: They watched as the pumps started up. The plastic pipes jerked like injured snakes as water began to move through them on its short journey to the next pool, hidden from view some four hundred yards away. At first it was difficult to believe anything was happening, other than the discordant sound of the generators. It was ten minutes before Sophie could spot any sign of a drop in the water level. She walked away to make a quick phone call to Matt Silver, her boss at headquarters. He’d been less than pleased about the cost of the operation and was obviously still jittery about it. By the time Sophie returned, the level had dropped a foot. As time slowly wore on, a few scattered bits of junk started to appear, dripping with muddy liquid. Some were unrecognisable, thickly coated in an orange-brown layer of muck. Bits of piping, tin buckets and an old set of bed springs. Sophie looked at Greg and shrugged.
By mid-morning the pool had shrunk to half its original volume and more objects were beginning to appear, all coated in slime. It looked like something from a ghastly horror movie or art tableau. The macabre scene wasn’t helped by the stink of decay. Several suspiciously lumpy shapes appeared, impossible to identify from the bank. All were coated in a brown slimy ooze.
‘I don’t like the look of them,’ Sophie said to Barry and Rae, both of whom had just arrived from the incident room.
The onlookers ranged around the rim of the pit watched in silence as the water level fell to a few inches and more grotesque shapes appeared in the sticky ooze. Greg Buller gave a thumbs up and several of his team, clad in chest high waders, moved into the remaining puddles, each roped for safety to a colleague on the bank above. They carried hoses and sprayed water over the lumpy shapes as they advanced, revealing their original form. An ancient bicycle. Several half-rotted tree stumps. A couple of sheets of corrugated iron. An old mattress near to another set of bedsprings. A hose was played onto a lumpy shape that could have been another tree trunk. It wasn’t.
ABOUT ‘BRUTAL CRIMES’: Ten-year-old Amy Birkbeck is checking her bat boxes late one cold January evening in the woods by her house.
She witnesses something no child should ever see — a group of men rolling a body into the deep pool of the disused old clay pit.
Meanwhile, DCI Sophie Allen’s team is falling apart.
Local officer — and suspected bent copper — DS Stu Blackman is missing.
And new recruit, DC Tommy Carter, is knocked off his bike in a serious hit and run.
Then a second body is found in the disused clay pit. And it seems the dead man is connected to a suspected arms dealer . . .
There are dangerous goings-on in Detective Allen’s quiet patch of Dorset, and she doesn’t know who to trust.
MY THOUGHTS: Although I didn’t enjoy Brutal Crimes as much as I did other books in this series, it is still a good read.
I loved the character of Amy Birbeck – she is an incredibly resilient and resourceful child – and she was definitely the shining star of this story.
There’s a lot going on to keep Sophie and her team occupied – a missing child, and two missing policemen to start with – and the situation just gets worse from there. But for some reason, this read just didn’t flow as easily for me as previous books in this series have.
One reason I enjoy Sophie’s character is that she is strong female lead detective who isn’t carrying loads of baggage and who lives a relatively normal life. A female Alan Banks. DCI Sophie Allen is happily married to the father of her two adult daughters. She has a great relationship with both her daughters and with her mother, who’s quite a colorful character. She works well with her team. A nice woman who gets the job done. A breath of fresh air!
One of the downfalls of Brutal Crimes is I missed the insights into Sophie’s personal life. She has a delightful family and we see nothing of them in Brutal Crimes.
A good solid addition to, but definitely not the best book in this series.
#contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #policeprocedural
THE AUTHOR: The mystery writer Michael Hambling is a novelist very much one of his background, hailing from Dorset in the United Kingdom. Writing with a definite British set of sensibilities, he manages to convey a different style of writing through his books, which is why so many have taken to his work. Using his British surroundings as the backdrop for most of his works, he creates mysteries that really keep his readers guessing constantly throughout.
Michael Hambling is not a social media user.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Joffe Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Brutal Crimes by Michael Hambling for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
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