Source: Review copy
Publication: 24 April 2019 from Hera Books
Three lives cut short. Two decades of silence. One evil secret.
By day, the park rings with the sound of children’s excited laughter. But in the early hours of the morning, the isolated playground is cloaked in shadows – the perfect hiding place to conceal a brutal murder.
When London journalist, Mark Roberts, is found battered to death, the police quickly arrest petty thief, Nick Connor. Criminal defence lawyer, Dan Grant, along with investigator Jayne Brett, are called to represent him – but with bloody footprints and a stolen wallet linking him to the scene, this is one case they’re unlikely to win.
Until help comes from an unlikely source…when the murder victim’s mother says that Connor is innocent, begging Dan and Jayne to find the real perpetrator.
Unravelling the complex case means finding the connection between Mark’s death and a series of child murders in Yorkshire over twenty years ago. Father of two, Rodney Walker, has spent years in prison after being convicted of killing of 6-year-old William and 7-year-old Ruby back in 1997.
But when Mark Roberts gets on the trail of the story, convinced that Walker is innocent, he exposed secrets that have long been buried. Secrets so dark, someone will kill to keep them hidden.
Dan and Jayne are in a race against time to uncover the truth – before a killer silences them forever.
I requested this book to review because I had seen a few people remarking on how much they were enjoying it. It’s certainly a very good read. I hadn’t realised that it is the third novel in a trilogy, but that didn’t at all dent my enthusiasm as it reads perfectly well as a stand-alone.
Our protagonists are lawyer Dan Grant and investigator Jayne Brett. When Mark Roberts, a journalist, is brutally murdered in Highford, petty criminal Nick Connor is arrested pretty quickly. There’s a ton of evidence against him and though he protests his innocence, Dan is having a hard time finding a convincing defence.
But when a surprise visitor to his office casts doubt on Connor’s guilt, Dan is intrigued enough to look into Mark Roberts in more detail and to try and find out what he was working on.
In The Innocent Ones, two plot strands dance around each other until they finally intersect and begin to show a more complete picture. Over two time periods, 1977 and the present day, Dan must make the connection between two child murders, for which a man is serving a jail sentence and the bludgeoning to death of our investigative journalist.
Detective Inspector Andrew Porter, now retired, was the policeman who conducted the original investigation into the child killings and he’s doing all he can to make sure everyone understands that they caught the right man.
There is plenty of action and a lot to admire in this tense legal thriller that beautifully deploys a host of writerly tricks to mislead, deceive and misdirect the reader along a serious of seriously twisty paths.
The Innocent Ones is a book that kept catching me by surprise and held my attention well throughout. Dan and Jayne make for well-drawn, believable characters, and their relationship is another nicely played aspect which adds to the authenticity of the book.
Pacy and with well described locations offering a distinct sense of place, this dark and twisty legal thriller has fairly ramps up the tension to give you all you need for a compelling murder mystery.
Verdict: Twisty, dark and surprising, this is a tense legal thriller to keep you guessing. Currently 99p. What on earth are you waiting for?
Neil White was born and brought up around West Yorkshire. He left school at sixteen but studied for a law degree in his twenties, then started writing in 1994. He is now a lawyer by day, crime fiction writer by night. He lives with his wife and three children in Preston.