A vulnerable young woman, fresh out of the care system, is trying to discover the truth behind the sudden death of her best friend.
The charred body of a policeman – currently the subject of an internal investigation – is found in the burnt-out-shell of his car on the Southend seafront.
To DS Frank Pearson and DC Catherine Russell of the Essex Police Major Investigation Team, the two events seem unconnected. But as they dig deeper into their colleague’s murder, dark secrets begin to emerge.
Can Pearson and Russell solve both cases, before more lives are destroyed?
At the start of this book, a debut novel from Mark Hardie, the body of D.I. Sean Carragher is found in his burned out car in Southend. The police investigation of his death will throw up a lot of questions about who the policeman was and why he was being investigated. DS Frank Pearson and DC Catherine Russell are the detectives investigating this case. Cat Russell, relatively new to the detective team was Carragher’s police partner. Pearson has troubles of his own – his health is causing him serious concern and his marriage has broken up.
The plot weaves together this storyline with the story of Donna – a young girl whose friend, Alice, has died and she is out to seek revenge on those she deems responsible. Donna is mentally fragile – a young girl from a care home background now living in unsavoury surroundings.
What I really liked about this book was the moral ambiguity that pervaded it. There were a number of quite familiar themes – care home; abuse allegations but what is interesting is the way in which, as the stories come together, the crimes are largely resolved. But not all of the guilty parties are uncovered.
As a police procedural, this feels true to life, if quite bleak, and makes the book all the more interesting. If the duo of Pearson and Russell are to evolve it will be interesting to see how their relationship develops and whether the moral ambiguities lead to more difficult scenarios.
It’s a little early to say whether this will make a compelling series, but it is certainly a strong and interesting start. I will watch Mark Hardie’s writing career with interest.
Burned and Broken is published by Sphere. It will be out in paperback this May and is available now in harback and as an e-book.