Andrew returns home to find his partner Katy missing. The last text he had received was to let him know that she was visiting their neighbour. When he goes to find her there is nobody there but blood has been spilt. When DI Michael Gardner and DS Nicola Freeman talk to him they are inclined to think he is panicking unnecessarily despite the fact that the once confident Katy has recently been made redundant and seemingly doesn’t go anywhere. To find Katy they have to find her friends but that’s easier said than done when a person’s life has contracted to be contained within four walls.
The pair soon realise that one half of the neighbouring couple is also a police officer Dawn Lawson and she called in sick and no-one, including her boyfriend knows where she is either.
This is an incredibly claustrophobic novel and one where DI Gardner is so fired up by Dawn’s disappearance he often almost forgets that Katy is also missing. With the subject matter focussing on domestic abuse it is also a book that makes the reader think. Yes, we are in 2018 and domestic abuse is no longer the hidden subject it once was but this book shows us the different forms that it can take and of course, the effects it can have on the victim. It is also a sad reflection of the way that even though violent rows are overheard by others living nearby few take any action at all.
So the book has a big ‘issue’ but it is also a police procedural, albeit one where DI Gardner stretches the bounds of the law to the nth degree to ensure that he gets to the bottom of the women’s disappearance. As the investigation intensifies we see that both women had secrets and their lives from the outside were not at all like the reality.
There is plenty of action but overall this is a thoughtful book. The key drivers are the personalities, of Gardner and Freeman whose relationship is easily familiar although with a hint of irritation about their differences. But it is the supporting cast, the ones off page whose personalities intrigue us just as much. What did the shy Katy share with Dawn, or was it the other way around? Surely it can’t be a coincidence that they both have vanished at the same time? Their partners are also in the spotlight although neither can be placed at anything like the scene of the (almost) non-existent crime. Our pair of detectives have to work hard to sort this puzzle out.
I have enjoyed the two previous books I read in this series and have vowed to get around to the missing third episode. Fortunately they do work as standalones because like a lot of my favourite these contemporary writers, Rebecca Muddiman manages to give a different ‘feel’ to all her books despite keeping the key characters in place. This is definitely a police procedural that is as much about the why as the who.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to the author who provided me with a copy of Murder in Slow Motion – sorry it took me so long to get around to reading the book and writing this unbiased review.
Books in the Gardner & Freeman Series