Scarlett Rainsford has been missing since that morning ten years ago when her family woke up on the last day of their holiday in Greece to find her missing. DCI Louisa Smith was a DC at the time and worked on the case, it was one of those she never forgot, after all Scarlett was a vulnerable fifteen year old girl! When she receives the call to tell her not only is Scarlett alive but she is back in Briarstone, having been found by Lou’s colleagues during a raid on a local brothel, Louisa is keen to find out what has happened in the intervening ten years. But Scarlett is only a part of the investigation into local gangs but the police suspect some factions to be involved in people trafficking, if so are they linked to the reappearance of Scarlett?
This harrowing story which delves into the murky world of people trafficking is neatly told from two viewpoints, in the present day from Lou’s point of view detailing the investigation into what happened to Scarlett in order to take some of those involved in her disappearance off the streets, and then in the past from Scarlett’s point of view working from 2003 forward. I liked the format, with the questions raised by the police, who to be frank aren’t getting much cooperation from Scarlett despite their best officers, and best efforts, are answered in Scarlett’s story. Scarlett’s part is simply told, and all the more shocking for that, as she details how she was spirited away and how she made it back to Briarstone, the place where her family live. But lots of questions are raised early on, such as why she is refusing contact with her parents?
Elizabeth Haynes worked as a police analyst and the procedural part of this tale, as that in Under a Silent Moon, has intelligence forms inserted into the text, which gives the reader a feeling that they are in on the investigation, although at times I found it hard to work out the links between the names given in this documentation and the crimes being investigated, as that was all they were – pieces of information which is a far cry from actual characters.
Scarlett’s tale is horrifying, I’m not a squeamish reader and although there are minimal descriptions of gruesome violence, and the story is never ‘over-egged’, this is a difficult one to read, all the more powerful because it has such a feeling of reality.
The structure of the book alone begs the reader to do the ‘just one more chapter’ bit, but Elizabeth Haynes also manages to make us care about the characters. DCI Louisa Smith portrayal is everything that we hope are in charge of an investigation like this; tenacious, caring and thorough and as a plus she gets on really well with her team. OK, she may be a bit of a commitment-phobe in her personal life but she’s well-rounded and likeable. Conversely, although she has the role of the victim and we are able to empathise with Scarlett, we are also able to admire her too.
A well-told tale and I like author’s who deliver something different each time. Despite this being the second in the series, it had a unique feel with less emphasis on the roles of the police which dominated Under a Silent Moon. Although I would recommend starting at the beginning of the series, this story works perfectly well as a stand-alone read.
I’d like to thank the publishers Little, Brown Book Group UK who let me read a copy of this book ahead of the publication of the paperback on 8 October 2015.
Other books by Elizabeth Haynes
This book leaps straight in with a transcript from a court case in May 2005. After this most of the book is written in two alternate stories, one starting in 2003, the other in 2007. The story of Cathy is about a young woman struggling to cope with OCD which causes her to spend much of her life checking and counting.
This is amazingly well written which gives the reader an insight into how OCD rules the lives of those that live with it. Tension is built and each time Cathy seems to be getting a grip on things something else happens to disturb her both in the past and the present. This is one of those stories which stay with you long after you have read it.
Her second Revenge of the Tide was not my cup of tea at all
Genevieve is former pole dancer had a good job and was pole dancing for exercise and money to buy the boat. Her former life in London was full of shallow people (except her fellow pole dancer friend) and the boat people are the most generous she’d ever met, Genevieve then finds herself in the most predictable of situations given that she was hiding something on the boat…..
However her third Human Remains was another outstanding read. Please click on the book cover to see my review.
The fourth, Under a Silent Moon was our introduction to DI Louisa Smith and a far more traditional police procedural than any of her other novels. Please click on the book cover to read my review.