When the body of a premature baby is found in a carrier bag, thrown away with the rubbish, DC Charlie Stafford and her team commence an investigation that will lead them to some of the most vulnerable and exploited women in society. After the body of a young prostitute is found with horrific injuries, the team soon find themselves stretched, dealing with prostitution, crack dens, trafficking and now murder. Are the cases linked or is there more than one killer on their patch? Meeting with obstructions at every turn, the police know that time is running out before more lives are damaged forever.
Broken Dolls is the fourth of Sarah Flint’s Charlie Stafford series and, having read the rest, I think I can safely say that this has definitely been my favourite. Charlie is a great character, a no-nonsense copper, devoted to her job and determined to bring the guilty to justice. Like most lead characters in police procedurals, Charlie has a less-than-perfect past, but I like how this only plays a background role in the story, the author preferring to concentrate on the case instead.
The case itself is a pretty emotional one, dealing with the trafficking of women from Europe and forcing them to work as prostitutes in brothels. It is easy to imagine how these women, desperate to provide for their families, fall into the trap of believing the promises of work and accommodation in a foreign country. I particularly liked how the author gave us the backstories of the women involved in the sex trade, showing how society had failed them and making me feel incredibly angry at how this was allowed to happen.
There are several unlikable characters in Broken Dolls, namely ‘Razor’, ‘Dimitri’ and ‘The Punter’. Each of these men use and abuse women and I was desperate for each of them to get their comeuppance. I found the conclusion of each of these story lines very satisfying and was quite surprised by what I read! The ending was very clever and left the possibility of the story being picked up in a later book.
This is a great series and I look forward to the next installment!
With thanks to Aria and Net Galley for my ARC.