Source: Review copy
Publication: 28 May 2021 in ebook; 2 September p/back from Orenda Books
My thanks to Orenda Books for an advance copy for review purposes
When a young woman vanishes from an exclusive oceanfront community in the middle of the night, Detective Casey Wray’s takes on a case that leads her in chilling, unexpected directions … A twisty, breath-taking police procedural. First in a heart-pounding new series.
Rod Reynolds is a marvellous writer. He isn’t flash, or showy, but what he writes is immaculately crafted, beautifully plotted and so well thought through that his characters blaze with authenticity. It is a remarkable talent and all the better for being understated.
So what you have in Black Reed Bay is a superb American Noir Police procedural with a great protagonist in Detective Casey Wray; pitch perfect, stylish and beautifully rendered.
Black Reed Bay is an affluent neighbourhood – you know the ones that you see in the movies, all glass aspects to the beachfront with lithe, tanned and most importantly, rich owners lording it over all they survey. Tina Grace is neither rich nor entitled but she has been out to Black Reed Bay to visit Jon Parker. It is, he tells the police after she has gone missing, waking up half the neighbourhood in the process, just a casual relationship.
It was Tina Grace’s 911 call that brought the police to Black Reed Bay, but there the trail goes cold. Casey Wray’s antennae are prickling, though. There’s something off about the too smooth Jon Parker and his explanation of what happened does not ring true.
Though Tina made a lot of noise as she called the police, not one of the neighbours whose beautifully embellished doors she knocked on would answer. This is a neighbourhood that looks after its own, putting themselves first and allowing nothing to upset their tranquillity.
Casey Wray is angered and frustrated by the solid wall of unhelpfulness in Black Reed Bay but that just makes her more determined to get to the bottom of what at first appears to be no more than a domestic disturbance.
Reynolds beautifully contrasts the luxury lifestyle of Black Reed Bay with the lives of Tina Grace’s family. Her mother is a drunk; her brother has previous. If ever a family came with the label ‘wrong side of the tracks’ the Grace family is it. So what was Tina Grace doing in Black Reed Bay and why will no-one tell the truth about what they saw?
Casey gets close to Tina’s mother, trying to understand more about her daughter. The more she learns, the more she finds herself angered by the closed mouthed community in Black Reed Bay. Not only that but, back at base, Casey’s boss is under pressure and the department wants this case closed as soon as possible. She and her partner, Dave Cullen have their work cut out to solve this case.
Reynold’s setting is superb. The discreet rich community with its affluence and influence plays beautifully against the ‘down on their luck’ Grace family and that contrast highlights the dark secrets that play into this novel.
As Casey refuses to bow to pressure she will find herself in a dark situation that is both chilling and macabre and which will test both her mettle and her loyalties to the limit.
Verdict: A brilliant introduction to Detective Casey Wray – about whom we still have much to learn. This compelling mystery thrums with intrigue, dark doings and dirty politics in the most American way. Black Reed Bay simmers and crackles with tension and ultimately, shocks and surprises. This initial outing of a new protagonist has immediately turned into a top ‘must read’ series.
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Rod Reynolds is the author of four novels, including the Charlie Yates series. His 2015 debut, The Dark Inside, was longlisted for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood Dagger), and was followed by Black Night Falling (2016) and Cold Desert Sky (2018); The Guardian have called the books ‘Pitch-perfect American noir.’ A lifelong Londoner, his critically acclaimed standalone thriller, Blood Red City, is the first book set in his hometown, but he’s crossing the ocean again, with his explosive new thriller, Black Reed Bay. Rod previously worked in advertising as a media buyer, and holds an MA in novel writing from City University London. Rod lives with his wife and family and spends most of his time trying to keep up with his two young daughters. Chat to Rod on Twitter @Rod_WR.