This book opens with a murder. It’s one of a series by a killer known as the Nine Elms Cannibal. We meet Kate Marshall, a detective on the case, some of her colleagues including her boss Detective Chief Inspector Peter Conway. As I hadn’t really read the backcover blurb properly it came as a surprise then that the usual crisis / climax (ie. Kate’s life threatened by the baddie) happens just after the book kicks off. And the killer is found. Huh?
Of course we then leap forward 15 years to meet Kate in the (not quite) present day. I’ve not read any of Bryndza’s books before so did wonder briefly if Kate had been referenced in another series as the information we receive about the preceding decade and a half is pretty scant, though more is eventually shared.
by Robert Bryndza
Series: Kate Marshall #1
Published by Thomas & Mercer
Genres: Crime Fiction, Thriller / Suspense
Kate Marshall was a promising young police detective when she caught the notorious Nine Elms serial killer. But her greatest victory suddenly turned into a nightmare.
Traumatized, betrayed, and publicly vilified for the shocking circumstances surrounding the cannibal murder case, Kate could only watch as her career ended in scandal.
Fifteen years after those catastrophic events, Kate is still haunted by the unquiet ghosts of her troubled past. Now a lecturer at a small coastal English university, she finally has a chance to face them. A copycat killer has taken up the Nine Elms mantle, continuing the ghastly work of his idol.
Enlisting her brilliant research assistant, Tristan Harper, Kate draws on her prodigious and long-neglected skills as an investigator to catch a new monster. Success promises redemption, but there’s much more on the line: Kate was the original killer’s intended fifth victim…and his successor means to finish the job.
So, now that we’re all caught up, Kate’s in the middle of teaching her popular university class (her fame / notoriety being a big drawcard) when a body is found which mimics the murders she’d investigated years before.
At the same time she’s contacted by parents of a girl who went missing twenty years earlier. Who they believe could have been an early victim of the Nine Elms killer. She finds herself drawn into the cold case and the series of copycat kills – realising she (and Tristan, her teaching assistant) should be able to predict what the killer willl do next.
I liked that this didn’t go down the old ‘maybe the original killer is innocent’ route. Though I guess he’d plead guilty and shown no remorse over the years, so the copycat thing is obvious.
There’s an interesting ‘are killers born or made’ theme in the novel, which will obviously continue through the series… for reasons I won’t go into. 🙂
Interestingly I made an assumption that the baddie would be a certain character in the book, but was wrong. On one hand I was happy to be wrong as it would have been too predictable; but on the other I didn’t feel we really got enough information to (ultimately) make any educated guesses.
That aside, I liked Kate. She’s battling her demons – a recovering alcoholic and concerned about her son – and am keen to see where Bryndza takes the characters we’ve met here.
Nine Elms by Robert Bryndza was published by Thomas & Mercer (Amazon Publishing) and is now available.
I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.