Shoeless Child opens with the horrific murder of a woman and the escape of young Charlie Sparkes from the murderer following his mother’s order to run.
Meanwhile Homicide Detective Kerri Blas has returned to work after a stint on desk duty following a previous murder investigation that required her to see occupational health along with a period out of the field to recover. She is keen to be back on the team and working with her partner Sergeant Alex Brand although the partnership is under wraps from the boss, being strictly against the rules.
With Charlie eventually found and able to guide the detectives to the scene of the crime his mother is found wounded, but alive and both are taken to hospital. The resulting trauma has caused Charlie to shut down and he is unwilling and unable to talk to anyone at all and the police need him to identify the murderer.
This is an exceptionally fast-paced thriller that starts with a horrendous act made especially raw by the use of Charlie’s viewpoint for the escape scenes. It is no word of a lie that my heart was in my mouth during this part. Fortunately the whole of the book isn’t quite as traumatic and eases its way into a police procedural with Kerri at the helm. She might not be the boss but her ability to read a crime scene and people has obviously impressed the rest of the homicide team and more often than not she is given a chance to act on her intuition. When even her the Chief bowed to these skills I must admit I took a bit of deep breath as I am cautious about detectives that ‘just know’ something in my crime fiction but I’m pleased to say that although the police procedures seemed a little looser than certainly the standards their UK counterparts have to meet, there were clues that led to the final unveiling of the perpetrator.
With Charlie in a state of shock it is left to Kerri to make a bond with the previously bright and happy five-year-old which she does incrementally and with a great deal of affection. The book really should be called the Kerri and Charlie show because despite a wide array of characters, including a whole host of subjects that could have wanted Charlie’s pretty mother Rachel dead, these two really do steal the show.
Not only do we have a wide range of suspects, each creepier than the last, (personally I’d have been tempted to lock them all up for being despicable human beings) but there are red-herrings a plenty along with a few more dead bodies, just in case the break-neck speed that is maintained throughout the book allows the reader to breath once in a while, there is a surprise around every corner. This meant that I was on high alert for clues during the entire read and even the good guys, yes there are some, were treated to my contempt as was sure they were only being nice to hide some character flaw.
For those crime fiction lovers that love fast-moving plots which are underpinned with a solid plotline you can’t go far wrong in reading Shoeless Child, which is full of thrills from beginning to end.
Shoeless Child is actually the fourth in the Detective Kerri Blasco series and as I haven’t read any of the others, I can confirm that this works perfectly as a standalone thriller.
I’d like to say a big thank you to the author Joyce Schneider who provided me with an advance copy of Shoeless Child. This unbiased review is my thank you to her for such a thrilling read.