Published by Faber & Faber
Ebook: 30 August 2016 | Hardback: 1 September 2016 | Paperback: 2 February 2017
In Bampton, Derbyshire, Lena Fisher is arrested for suffocating her husband, Andrew.
A year after Lena’s release from prison, Andrew is found dead in a disused mortuary.
Who was the man Lena killed twelve years ago, and who committed the second murder? When Lena disappears, her sister, Kat, sets out to follow a trail of clues delivered by a mysterious teenage boy. Kat must uncover the truth – before there’s another death . . .
This is one of my favourite crime series and I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for the paperback release of A Deadly Thaw, published yesterday.
This is the second book in the series to feature DI Francis Sadler and is again set in Derbyshire. I read the first, In Bitter Chill (reviewed here) and was very much looking forward to A Deadly Thaw – it definitely lived up to expectations.
Lena Fisher served 10 years in prison for the murder of her husband Andrew. After her release, a body, later identified as being Andrew Fisher, is found in a disused mortuary. Questions are then asked as to the identity of the man Lena was found guilty of killing. What follows is a story of mistaken identity and a catalogue of police errors going back decades which Sadler and his team must try to untangle.
Lena’s sister Kat, a therapist, who lives with Lena in the decrepit and crumbling family home, also gets involved in her own investigations as to the whereabouts of Lena and has to place her trust in a stranger. Someone is passing ‘gifts’ to her, supposedly from Lena, the meaning of which Kat is apparently meant to work out.
In this story, DC Connie Fisher has a larger part to play. As a police officer, she really is an excellent character – whilst extremely competent and principled, she also has a reckless and impulsive side to her – this comes across in both her professional and personal life. She is now a much valued and trusted member of Sadler’s team – even more so it seems than colleague DS Damian Palmer, who despite now being married, still appears to be a bit of a pratt!
The plotting here is superb and as with the first novel, there is a great sense of place. It’s not a fast action packed read, but more of a quiet and considered one and very much character based. There are various strands to follow – murder, suicide, and historic sexual crimes and I kept changing my mind over to trust and who to suspect. With so many threads and characters, it could have become confusing but the deft hands of the author ensured that all the threads eventually come together to a form a suspenseful and dramatic conclusion. A particular aspect that Sarah Ward explores in A Deadly Thaw is the way in which police investigated certain crimes reported by women. There has been a misguided and frankly appalling approach over decades and Sadler is disgusted by what he sees as a cover up. It is clear that some information is being held back at senior level – information which could affect his current case and Sadler is not happy.
I really enjoy this series and look forward to the third, which I believe will be titled A Patient Fury, and released in September 2017. The combination of crime thriller and police procedural is very well done without one overshadowing the other. Sarah Ward is definitely a crime author to follow. Don’t be put off if you haven’t read the first book, in my opinion this one works very well as a standalone.
Source: My own purchased copy.
My thanks to Sarah for inviting me to take part in the blog tour for the paperback release. I bought my hardback copy at the London book launch last year and my signed copy now has a home on my keepers shelf.
About the author:
Sarah Ward is the author of In Bitter Chill, which was published in 2015 to critical acclaim. On her blog, Crimepieces (www.crimepieces.com), she reviews the best of current crime fiction published around the world, and she has also reviewed for Euro Crime and CrimeSquad. She is a judge for the Petrona Award for Scandinavian translated crime novels. She lives in Derbyshire.