Sadie Nicholls has been found dead, brutally and strangely murdered, in her South East London flat. Her little boy is missing.
DI Alex Finn and DC Mattie Paulsen know that, in the case of a missing child, it’s the first 24 hours that count. They don’t have many left to find out where Sadie’s son might be and the identity of her killer. Why would anyone want a struggling single mother, loved by many, dead?
But when they realise a similar crime was committed at the same house nearly 20 years ago, a question is on everyone’s lips: is this more than just a coincidence?
This is third in Will Shindler’s Finn and Paulsen series – a British detective series that ranks with Mark Billingham, M.J. Arlidge and Stuart MacBride.
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Format: Ebook, Audio, Hardback (3 February 2022)
Source: Copy received for review
My thanks to Jenny of Hodder & Stoughton for the tour invite and for the copy to review. This is the third book in the series, reviews for the two previous books The Burning Men (2020) and The Killing Choice (2021) are featured on this blog. If you’ve read those reviews, it’s no secret that this is one of my favourite new series and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to take part in the tour for book number #3.
Will Shindler doesn’t hang about before getting into the action. Before too many chapters have passed, we have the brutal murder of a mother on her doorstep, the disappearance of her 3 year old son and no witnesses to any of it. There is something else, decades before, the very same house was the scene of an almost identical attack for which a man was imprisoned. Coincidence or something more sinister? Finn and his team have more than one case to consider. The community here is quite a closed one and although many neighbours have lived on the street for decades trying to get information is no easy task, some of the residents have their own reasons for keeping their secrets.
What struck me was unlike many other authors who completely ignore current events and set their books prior to 2020, this isn’t the case here. The pandemic and its associated impact are referred to however it is not a main feature of the story.
It is two years on from the death of his wife Karin and Alex Finn is still grieving. He has been able to put on a front at work and to an extent hide his emotions but mentally he is in a very bad place. His DC Mattie Paulsen is finding that parallels between this case and her own father suffering from Alzheimers is at times overwhelming and she too is struggling.
What I especially enjoy about this series is the writing. Authentic characters, a dark, well paced, suspenseful and complex but not overly convoluted plot that has many layers and several suspects – obviously there is murder which is often brutal and graphically described but the characters have their own background which is relevant to the storyline – as here where the story includes racism, sexual assault and dementia.
The Hunting Ground had me wondering and second guessing all the way through. When I was convinced I’d worked it out a curveball was thrown. As far as crime series go, this is one of the best and I highly recommend it if you haven’t yet dived in. You could read this without having read the others, there is enough explanation for a new reader not to feel lost although you’d be missing out on some brilliant character development. This is another great addition to the series and a hugely enjoyable read. I see book 4 will be published next year. Definitely one to look forward to.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Will Shindler has been a broadcast journalist for the BBC for over twenty-five years, spending a decade working in television drama as a scriptwriter on Born and Bred, The Bill and Doctors. His time on these leading prime time dramas has given him a rich grounding in authentic police procedure, powerful character development and gripping narratives. He currently combines reading the news on BBC Radio London with writing crime novels and has previously worked as a television presenter for HTV, a sports reporter for BBC Radio Five Live, and one of the stadium presenters at the London Olympics.
He is the writer of The Burning Men, The Killing Choice and The Hunting Ground. The fourth book in the DI Alex Finn series – The Blood Line – will publish in 2023