I enjoyed JM Peace’s first novel, A Time to Run and also had the opportunity to interview the elusive still-serving police officer after its release. We engage on social media from time to time so I did follow (from afar) the progress of her newest release and jumped at the opportunity to read it and catch up with Constable Sammi Willis who (#spoileraler)t survived the serial killer in the first book of the series.The Twisted Knot
by J.M. Peace
Series: Constable Sammi Willis #2
Published by Macmillan Australia
on June 28th 2016
Genres: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
After her abduction and near death at the hands of a sadistic killer, Constable Samantha Willis is back in the uniform. Despite being on desk duty, rumours reach Sammi that someone in Angel's Crossing has been hurting little girls, and before long a mob is gathering to make sure justice is served.
So when a man is found hanging in his shed, the locals assume the pedophile has finally given into his guilt. That is, until Sammi delves further into the death and uncovers a dark family secret, an unsolved crime and a town desperate for vengeance.
Peace’s first-hand experience in policing was (again) obvious in this outing. Possibly even more so, as her second novel leant slightly towards the police procedural sub-genre (if that’s what it is). It’s something I read a lot of and I love the variations from country to country. Sammi’s work and workplace felt very real. I’m not very visual but could practically imagine the police station and its inhabitants. It certainly reflects small town policing at its best.
This novel also delves much deeper and forces us to consider the ethical dilemma of vengeance vs justice. I know, annoying right? Events in the book don’t quite go far as as vigilantism but we’re faced with the quandary of when (if ever) doing something ‘wrong’ can be justified.
And it’s interesting to see how this plays out for Sammi. On one hand she’s a straight arrow. Or shooter or whatever it is. When her boyfriend Gavin talks about joining the police, for example, she’s concerned he’s not taking the profession seriously and his questions about the case at hand annoy her. She can’t and won’t talk about her work.
And yet she – and her colleagues – are suddenly faced with a possible paedophile who’s gone unpunished and a legal system that’s failed them in the past.
So, although they’re committed to the formal processes of law and justice, the Angel’s Crossing police can understand why people want to take the law into their own hand.
Even if – of course – it’s wrong.
I enjoyed the time I spent with Sammi’s mentor and supervisor, the quintessential small town cop Bob, and I loved the small town politics which were very visible this time around.
There’s no black and white and it’s sometimes impossible not to take sides when your work and private lives are so closely intertwined.
I also enjoyed the way Peace wrote Sammi’s return to active duty. Even though 18 months have passed, Sammi’s still a bit gun-shy. Metaphorically and literally. It was interesting to be part of her thought processes – her battle against her own fear and her concern about letting her colleagues down.
This is another great outing by Peace and it ends with some revelations which means we’re left wondering where she might head next. I actually interviewed Peace (for a ‘piece’… hee hee, for a regional newspaper) and asked her how far ahead she planned. Not far she said, but I really liked another comment she made about Sammi’s future journeys…
I’m quite conscious of that fact that I want Sammi to seem like a real person, so I can’t constantly have her life in danger.
And this made me very happy because – as a regular reader of mysteries and thrillers – I partake in many mental eye-rolls as our protagonists end up as the baddies’ final (almost) victims again and again.
The Twisted Knot by JM Peace was published in Australia by Pan Macmillan and available now.
I received a copy of this book for review purposes.