A teenage girl wanders out of the woods.
She’s striking, with flame-red hair and a pale complexion.
She’s also covered in blood.
Detective Jonah Sheens quickly discovers that Keely and her sister, Nina, disappeared from a children’s home a week ago. Now, Keely is here – but Nina’s still missing.
Keely knows where her sister is – but before she tells, she wants Jonah’s full attention . . .
Is she killer, witness, or victim?
And will Jonah find out what Keely’s hiding, in time to save Nina?
I can’t be the only reader who jumps in part way through a series. I have purchased some of the previous Jonah Sheens but instead of starting at the beginning, I decided to jump in at book 4. For no other reason than I fancied reading this one first. And I can say that it didn’t spoil my enjoyment at all. Sure, I missed out on some character backstory but there is enough information given about past history to get the gist.
DCI Jonah Sheens is enjoying a rare afternoon at the local pub garden with his baby daughter when a young girl suddenly appears, bloodied and seemingly disorientated. She is quickly identified as Keely Lennox, the elder of two teenage sisters missing from a care home for several days. Initial relief at her reappearance turns to deep concern. What has happened and where is her fourteen year old sister Nina? For her own reasons this sister is keeping her secrets.
Sixteen year old Keely is unwilling to cooperate fully and instead wants to do things her way. She has a story to tell and wants to make sure that Sheens and his team take notice. With concern mounting for Nina’s welfare, the team face a battle against the clock to look into historic events whilst feeling the pressure to keep Keely on side.
Little Sister was an excellent introduction to this series for me. It was an uncomfortable read at times because of the story that Keely had to tell. Orphaned, both girls were placed into care and it was not a pretty story. Gytha Lodge has written a compelling story of crime fiction which not only twists and turns but also includes darker themes at its core.
I quickly engaged with the dynamics of the investigating team, the humour of DS Domnall O’Malley lightened the tone. The younger officers, DC Juliette Hanson and DS Ben Lightman each had their own personal issues and Sheens in particular had a major conflict going in his life.
Lodge’s writing drew me in straight away – powerful dialogue, a tense and often disturbing plot which was certainly unpredictable and took me by surprise. As for characters, they were superbly drawn. Was Keely a manipulative sociopath or just a very troubled teenager? I wasn’t always sure. There were times however when the reader knew things the police didn’t, and I was waiting for them to join the dots and catch up.
Highly recommended and I shall be catching up with the previous books. The next in the series, A Killer in the Family is due to be published April 2023. I’m definitely there for that one.
Gytha Lodge is a Sunday Times bestselling writer and multi-award-winning playwright. She Lies in Wait, her debut novel, was a Richard & Judy Book Club pick and international bestseller. Set in the New Forest and the surrounding area, Lodge’s highly-acclaimed DCI Jonah Sheens series also includes Watching From the Dark, Lie Beside Me and Little Sister. A Killer in the Family is the fifth instalment in the series. Lodge lives in Cambridge with her son.