Source: Review copy
Publication: E-book 23April 2021 from One More Chapter (P/back July 22nd 2021)
My thanks to the publisher for an advance copy for review
Psychopaths can take root in the unlikeliest soil…
DC Maggie Jamieson crosses paths once again with Probation Officer Lucy Sherwood when a domestic violence survivor stumbles into her new refuge, unable to speak, desperate for help.
Then another case hits Maggie’s desk. A young man has been murdered, and a curious constellation of black dots has been inked onto his cheek.
That’s when DCI Hastings goes missing and Maggie uncovers a shocking connection that turns the case on its head.
Every family may hide secrets, but not every family buries them…
Maggie Jamieson and her cohorts are starting to feel like old friends now that we have got to book 4, though Noelle Holten does provide enough background to enable new readers to jump in and enjoy the book straight away. Part of the reason this series work is the way that the different agencies interact with each other, allowing Holten to direct a story from the perspective of social services, refuge workers, probation officers or the police. This does mean that you sometimes have to deal with more acronyms than a night with AC-12, but Holten always makes it clear who people are and which agency they are working for, so it’s never an issue.
This time Maggie has two cases on her hands and it’s proving very difficult. Staffing is really stretched. DCI Hastings (Mother of God!) has been off, presumed sick but now seems to have gone missing and closer inspection has revealed a nasty can of worms wriggling under the most respectable of facades.
Not only that, but a young man has been found dead on a patch of waste ground, his face inked with four dots, a pattern that stirs a remembrance in the back of Maggie’s mind.
Meanwhile, Lucy Sherwood is preparing to open her refuge; her way of dealing with the abuse she suffered at the hands of her ex, and when a distraught young woman turns up at the door, she can’t turn her away. But this woman is so distraught she won’t speak about or report her abuse and Lucy is left to try and deal with it as best she can.
I do enjoy these different story lines running alongside each other and Holten does a great job of making them really interesting by weaving in threads from her characters personal lives, making you more even invested in her protagonists. Maggie especially is going to have to decide what (and who) she wants from her life, but for now she’s juggling a potential new romance with a longing for an old friend and a love for her job that seems all consuming. These choices are never easy…but for now there’s intense pressure to get to the bottom of this case as another dead body turns up…
Verdict: Strong female characters filled with determination are a hallmark of this series, whether it’s the fierce journalist, Julie Noble, Maggie herself or the determined Lucy Sherwood. Of course they have flaws and vulnerabilities, but this is a series that is hallmarked with the character and determination of the women that populate the pages. Good storylines, excellent pace and a nice series of twisty moments with lots of deflection keep this in the ‘must buy’ category.
Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of risk cases as well as working in a multi agency setting. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, attending as many book festivals as she can afford and sharing the booklove via her blog. Dead Inside – her debut novel with One More Chapter/Harper Collins UK is an international kindle bestseller and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.