Thursday, 20 October 2016

Book Review: DARK WATER by Robert Bryndza

Dark Water (DCI Erika Foster #3)

Title: Dark Water
Author: Robert Bryndza
Publisher: Bookouture
Read: October 2016
Expected publication: 20 October 2016

Synopsis (Goodreads):

Beneath the water the body sank rapidly. She would lie still and undisturbed for many years but above her on dry land, the nightmare was just beginning.

When Detective Erika Foster receives a tip-off that key evidence for a major narcotics case was stashed in a disused quarry on the outskirts of London, she orders for it to be searched. From the thick sludge the drugs are recovered, but so is the skeleton of a young child.

The remains are quickly identified as seven-year-old Jessica Collins. The missing girl who made headline news twenty-six years ago.

As Erika tries to piece together new evidence with the old, she must dig deeper and find out more about the fractured Collins family and the original detective, Amanda Baker. A woman plagued by her failure to find Jessica. Erika soon realises this is going to be one of the most complex and demanding cases she has ever taken on.

Is the suspect someone close to home? Someone is keeping secrets. Someone who doesn’t want this case solved. And they’ll do anything to stop Erika from finding the truth.

From the million-copy bestselling author of The Girl in the Ice and The Night Stalker, comes the third heart-stopping book in the Detective Erika Foster series.

My thoughts:

After her last murder case, DCI Erica Foster has been transferred to Organised Crime to salvage her career and keep her out of harm’s way. During a drug bust at a local quarry, Foster’s team retrieve a mysterious package from the water’s depths, which unveils the skeleton of a local child who has been missing for 26 years. A lengthy investigation into the girl’s disappearance at the time yielded no results, and due to its high profile in the press, it killed the careers of the detectives involved in the case at the time. With no new leads to go on, Erica knows she is taking a huge risk by insisting that she be allowed to lead the investigation, but she is determined to solve the mystery and find justice for the young victim.

Thank you, Robert Bryndza, for giving us DCI Erica Foster, and especially for concluding this latest book in the series with the statement that there are “many more books yet to come”. It soothes the pain on turning the last page just a little bit. For me, the Erica Foster series is one of the most exciting discoveries in crime fiction this year. In an oversaturated market, Bryndza has managed to create an interesting, gutsy and complex lead character with a unique voice. Some of Foster’s attributes may seem like the common stereotype – yes, Erica is a troubled soul and a detective who likes to forge her own path rather than follow the rules. Yes, she gets into a lot of trouble because of it. But somehow Erica Foster manages to stand out from the fray of fellow fictional detectives. Perhaps this is due to her different cultural background, or her direct and sometimes borderline abrasive manner. This detective will spend very little time in rumination and self-doubt, because Foster likes to get things done, even at the cost of her personal life and safety. Once DCI Foster has sunk her teeth into a case, she won’t let go until she has solved it. Even if this cold case from 26 years ago presents more of a challenge even to DCI Foster’s skills than any other case in her career so far. As the readers, we are privileged to ride the roller-coaster ride with her, the twist and turns, highs and lows, and the stunning finale coming like a plunge into the icy waters of truth. I certainly did not see it coming!

Bryndza does not waste words on unnecessary fillers, which sets the pace of the story and holds the reader in its grip at all times. It had me hooked from the opening sentence to the end, and I was loath to put the book down. I really like this no-nonsense approach, which at times appears almost abrupt, like Erica Foster herself, leaving cliff-hangers at the end of chapters which make it impossible to resist the temptation to read “just a little bit longer”, even when it is 2 a.m. and you have to go to work in the morning.  I fully blame Bryndza for my sleep-deprivation over the last 2 days! But it was so worth it ....

At this stage in the series, I feel like I have come to know Erica quite well, and Bryndza has done an excellent job in developing her character, like unveiling different layers of her personality in every book. This is even more evident in Dark Water, as we get to see a more personal, vulnerable side to Erica with the visit of her sister and her nieces and nephew. There is also the small supporting cast of regulars, such as Moss, Peterson, and Erica’s boss, Commander Marsh, who complement the book by providing side stories and fleshing out the narrative. Dark Water was my favourite of the series so far, and I am already looking forward to the next instalment. A great read, very much recommended to all lovers of crime fiction.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

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