Book review: Shadow Sands by Robert Bryndza

Tuesday, November 10, 2020 Permalink

Nine Elms by Robert Bryndza, released a year ago, introduced Kate Marshall. I was a little wary in my review as it opens with Kate, a police officer, on the verge of breaking a major case involving a serial killer. But then it’s quickly over – she catches the baddie… who happens to be her boss and lover.

The book then flicked forward fifteen years and we again meet Kate, now lecturing in Criminology at a University. We get some backstory and learn she didn’t become a hero: rather her affair became public; she left the police force in disgrace; became an alcoholic; lost custody of her son (to the aforementioned serial killer); before regaining control over her life. In Nine Elms she gets pulled into investigating a copycat case however along with her assistant Tristan.

And here, Kate’s again playing detective after discovering the body of a college student.

Book review: Shadow Sands by Robert BryndzaShadow Sands (Kate Marshall, #2)
by Robert Bryndza
Series: Kate Marshall #2
Published by Sphere
on 10/11/2020
Source: Hachette Australia
Genres: Crime Fiction
ISBN: 9780751572742
Pages: 365

When Kate Marshall finds the bloated body of a young man floating in the Shadow Sands reservoir, the authorities label it a tragic accident.

But the details don't add up: why was the victim there, in the middle of the night? If he was such a strong swimmer, how did he drown?

Kate is certain there is more to this case than meets the eye. As she and her research assistant Tristan Harper dig deeper, they discover a bloody trail that points towards an active serial killer hiding in plain sight. People have been silently disappearing for years, and when another woman is taken, Kate and Tristan have a matter of days to save her from meeting the same fate.

Ostensibly Kate’s employed to find out what happened to college student (and elite swimmer) Simon, who the police suggest drowned. Amidst evidence of a cover-up and evidence ignored, Kate and Tristan discover a number of people have gone missing in the area and rumours suggesting something mythical may be at play.

I really like Kate and would like to see Bryndza dig a little deeper so we get to know her better as I’m not sure I care about her fate as much as I should. We get a lot more insight into her offsider Tristan here which I very much enjoyed.

In Nine Elms I commented that it wasn’t really a whodunnit we could solve as we weren’t introduced to the killer or provided the information we need. It’s not entirely the case here, as we’re given some suspects but again, there’s something slightly missing in the ‘reveal’. I felt no sense of surprise or relief when the killer is identified.

Interestingly however I can imagine these books playing out on screen really well. I suspect it’s because more can be done with drama on-screen and you don’t necessarily need the detailed psychological introspection around the killer’s motivation. On the page the tension is less visceral and more cerebral (or something) and this doesn’t quite pull me in as it could or should.

Having said that I’m keen to get to know Kate better and interested in where Bryndza is going to take the storyline involving her son and his serial-killing father. I’m hoping he doesn’t go down the ‘son goes bad’ or ‘starts hero-worshipping his father’ route, but given Kate is still building a relationship with 16yr old Jake and remains a tad fragile herself, there are some great opportunities on offer.

Shadow Sands by Robert Bryndza was published in Australia by Hachette and is now available.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.


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