Source: Review copy
Publication: 16th July 2020 from Harvill and Secker
THREE MISTAKES. TWO MURDERS. ONE MORE VICTIM TO GO . . .
Annabelle has come to the Scottish Highlands to escape. But as she speeds along a deserted mountain road, she is suddenly forced to swerve. The next thing she remembers is waking up in a dark, damp room. A voice from the corner of the room says ‘The Doctor will be here soon’.
Scott is camping alone in the Scottish woodlands when he hears a scream. He starts to run in fear of his life. Scott is never seen again.
Meanwhile DI Monica Kennedy has been called to her first Serious Crimes case in six months – a dismembered body has been discovered, abandoned in a dam. Days later, when another victim surfaces, Monica knows she is on the hunt for a ruthless killer.
But as she begins to close in on the murderer, her own dark past isn’t far behind …
When I reviewed From the Shadows, the first book in this intriguing series, a couple of weeks ago, I said that it had elements of Scandi Noir about it. Now that I have read Dark Waters, that feeling is, if anything, stronger with this storyline being akin to something as dark as Lars Kepler might have come up with.
Halliday really does have a black as pitch mind and I must say I am really rather liking that. Again, his sense of place in using the Highlands to set his novels is really effective and important. The wildness and the bleakness of the landscape; the quiet and moody forests are full of significance and lend a dark feeling to this book from the outset.
Neatly straddling the crime/horror genre, Halliday also introduces, with the lightest of touches, a slight mystical element into his plotting.
D.I. Monica Kennedy has been trying to recalibrate her family life. She’s taken time away from Serious Crimes and has been spending quality time with her daughter, Lucy. All that is rudely interrupted when a dismembered body turns up in the River Beauly.
Annabelle has driven from London to the Highlands when, taking a detour so that she can let off steam by being a bit of a girl racer, she sees a figure in front of her and crashes her car to avoid it. When she wakes up, she finds that she is being held captive and that’s only the start of an increasingly creepy and chilling nightmare.
Kennedy returns to MIT and puts her team back together, but they’re all still impacted by the events of the last case and this one is really going to test their nerve. DC Crawford has thankfully recovered from his physical injuries, but the trauma that he and DC Fisher experienced alongside Monica goes deeper than just physical manifestations. They are joined by a new addition to the team, DC Khan, who is adept at media handling, a skill that is much required in this case.
The team are in the process of narrowing down identification of the body when they are faced with another macabre body find that is so chilling they fear for anyone who comes into this killer’s orbit. Told from Annabelle’s perspective and from that of D.I. Kennedy, the reader both follows the killer’s modus operandi through Annabelle’s increasingly frightened and frantic eyes, and the case developments through Monica Kennedy’s dedicated, relentless drive.
We learn a little more about Monica in this book and understand better what drives her and why her backstory is so important to her role as a police detective. Her daughter Lucy is showing signs of being sensitive, and her mother Angie has lost none of her fervent interest in true crime stories.
As the team uncover the grisliest of crimes in the most unhelpful of places, Halliday gives us a dark and tense horror drenched tale to chill the spine of any reader, however dark you like you crime novels. The intense nature of the book is well served by the oppressive, claustrophobic nature of the setting and it is both tense and nerve-wracking and as we follow the dual journeys of Monica and Annabelle in a race against time to capture a twisted and depraved killer.
Verdict: Creepy as anything, this is one for lovers of dark, visceral writing. I’m enjoying getting to know Monica and the team a little more and finding that I’m eager to read another of their adventures and to understand them all a bit better. There’s no higher praise than that from me.
G.R. Halliday was born in Edinburgh and grew up near Stirling in Scotland. He spent his childhood obsessing over the unexplained mysteries his father investigated, which has proved excellent inspiration for From the Shadows. The book was shortlisted for the McIlvanney Debut Prize 2019. G.R. Halliday now lives in the rural Highlands outside of Inverness, where he is able to pursue his favourite pastimes of mountain climbing and swimming in the sea, before returning home to his band of semi-feral cats. Dark Waters is his second novel.