Source: Review copy
Publication: 25 May 2023 from Zertex Crime
My thanks to Muckle Media and Zertex Crime for an advance copy for review
What if your worst enemy was your only hope?
When a fifteen-year-old girl fails to make it home after school, DI Heather Filson believes she’s dealing with just another teenage runaway.
The girl’s grandfather, a notorious Glasgow gangster, disagrees. Convinced one of his underworld enemies has grabbed her, he’s prepared to bathe the city in blood in order to bring his princess home.
But, as the days pass and the evidence mounts, Heather starts to fear that they’re both wrong, and that a brutal killer from the past has returned.
A killer who once stalked the streets of her hometown, preying on vulnerable young victims.
A killer that DI Heather Filson is uniquely familiar with…
J.D. Kirk is an extraordinary success. A self-published author, he is a best seller with a legion of devoted fans. So many readers eagerly devour his books as soon as they come out. He is immensely prolific with 16 D.C.I. Logan books under his belt, as well as 4 thrillers featuring the disgraced former Police Scotland Detective, Superintendent Bob Hoon.
His most recent novel, The One That Got Away is set in the world of DCI Logan, but features Detective Inspector Heather Filson as the protagonist. Heather comes with her own set of tropes – she drinks, has a habit of picking up randoms and taking them home, and she carries her own set of demons from her dark past as well as worrying constantly about her father. Heather can be a touch impetuous, underlined by her recent demotion from DCI to DI, after lamping a villain (not undeservedly, to be fair).
Paula Harrison has gone missing on her way home from school in Kilmarnock. Heather’s best instincts tell her the girl has probably run away, maybe to be with her older boyfriend, Conn. But Paula is no ordinary runaway; her grandfather is a notorious Glasgow gangster and he’s pretty sure that Paula’s been taken by one of his enemies.
J.D.Kirk understands well that the combining fast-paced, high intensity drama with down to earth humour and unforgettable characters is a pretty unbeatable formula. Add to that a kick-ass protagonist forced to work with a low life criminal she loathes and you are off to a great start.
Heather’s adversarial relationship with her boss, DCI Samuel ‘Snecky’ Grant and his snooty sidekick D.C. Simon Wolfe provides much light relief and the addition of an anonymous sender of flowers that curdle Heather’s stomach adds another layer of mystery to this down to earth, potty mouthed Detective.
Then there’s a complete curve ball in the person of ‘Ace’ Wurzel who adds another layer of interest and helps to increase the tension, too. Ace is a great character. A 15 year old schoolgirl with a fierce intelligence, though something of a misfit among her classmates, she has her own podcast, Crime De La Crime.
The missing girl is a classmate of Ace’s and she has been sleuthing away seeking to solve Paula’s disappearance, which may fit into a larger unsolved series of heinous child murders that she is investigating. She wants to interview Filson and though Heather originally bats her away, she comes to realise that Ace may know more than she realises, but Ace also understands more about Heather than she ever wants anyone to know.
Child murder and abduction are difficult themes, but throughout Kirk offers humour, great characters and a lot of deflection and misinformation which just adds to our appetite to understand what’s really going on in this psychological thriller come police procedural.
It is that special combination of warmth, humour and great characters that enables the darker side of these investigations to come through and JD Kirk handles these elements with aplomb.
Verdict: Heather Filson is a fantastic new protagonist. I can well see her unofficial sidekick becoming a staple of these books because the unfiltered Ace is a wonderful foil to Heather’s sarcastic, ‘bah humbug’ attitude and I’d love to see that relationship develop. There’s a good reason why so many people love J.D. Kirk’s books and it’s exemplified in The One That Got Away. Put simply, it’s a great read.
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JD Kirk is the pen name of multi-award-winning author, screenwriter, and writer of comics, Barry Hutchison. Born and raised in Fort William in the Highlands of Scotland, Barry/JD wanted to be a writer from the age of nine, when a kindly librarian wrote his name on the spine of a notebook in which he’d written a terrible short story, and put it on the shelf. Since then, he has written over 140 books for children as Barry Hutchison, over 15 books for adults as Barry J. Hutchison, and is now thoroughly enjoying murdering people as JD Kirk. Barry still lives in Fort William with his wife and two children. He has no idea what the JD stands for.
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I’ve added this title to my TBR on your recommendation. Thanks for a wonderful review.