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Remain Silent by Susie Steiner

Working part time in the cold cases department of the Cambridgeshire police force, DI Manon Bradshaw wasn’t expecting to find herself caught up in another murder case. While out for a walk with her two-year-old son, she finds the body of a Lithuanian immigrant, Lukas Balsys, hanging from a tree. Faced with a conspiracy of silence among the rest of the Lithuanian community, Manon finds herself involved in one of the most complex cases of her career.

Remain Silent is a hard-hitting story of the poor treatment and exploitation of immigrant workers and how they are viewed by certain sectors of society. It was hard not to feel anything other than anger at how these people, leaving their country hoping for a better life, were immediately herded into unsanitary housing, working at the beck and call of cruel gangmasters. While it was understandable that the local residents did not want these people living amongst them due to the filthy conditions of their house, Susie Steiner’s backstories of these immigrants paints most of them in a favourable light, leaving you with nothing but sympathy for their plight.

As in previous books, Manon is an excellent character and is written so well that she could be real. Great at her job but struggling to manage it alongside her family life, her world threatens to collapse when she is given some bad news about a loved one. Again, I loved the realism of this part of the plot as we see the two sides of Manon, struggling internally with the news yet trying to remain pragmatic at the same time. In some books of this genre, the family life of the detective can detract from the plot, but not here. Her adopted son, Fly, who we first met in Missing, Presumed, is a delight of a character and I enjoyed seeing how he is growing up to be a fine young man.

Remain Silent has a gritty plot which, at times, is not for the faint of heart. If you haven’t read any of Susie Steiner’s work before, then I can highly recommend starting with Missing Presumed as once you’ve read that one, you will definitely want to read the rest of the series.

As a footnote, I would just like to say that it’s not often that the acknowledgments of a book move me as much as the ones did in Remain Silent. I would like to wish Susie Steiner all the best for her fight and hope that we see more Manon books for many years to come.

With thanks to Harper Fiction and Net Galley for my ARC. You can pre-order Remain Silent here.

 

 

Where the Innocent Die by M J Lee

When the death of a woman in an Immigrant Removal Centre is adjudged to be a case of suicide, it is only when the coroner’s office gets involved that a more thorough investigation begins to take place. Just how could a woman locked in a high-security building get hold of the knife that killed her when she had been searched on arrival? With only five days until the inquest, will DI Ridpath have enough time to find out the truth about what happened to Wendy Tang and will he be able to prevent even more deaths?

In the fourth installment of the DI Ridpath series, the author has painted a bleak picture of life inside the Immigrant Removal Centre. Operated by an outside agency, the establishment is clearly under-resourced and, quite frankly, not the sort of place you would want to spend any time in. Despite this, there are strict regulations in place which should have prevented the death of the woman, something which Ridpath realises quite early on. Although working as the coroner’s officer, his detective skills really came to the fore as he investigated what really happened, reaching the conclusion that this was no suicide. It was good to see Ridpath back working alongside MIT, leaving us wondering if he will return full time or whether he will continue his work alongside the coroner. Personally, I hope it will be the latter as  I enjoy the deviation from the average police procedural.

With only five days to investigate, and with more bodies turning up, Ridpath really had his work cut out to reach a conclusion before the inquest took place.  I find that many courtroom scenes can be quite long-winded, but I really enjoyed the coroner’s inquest, feeling that this provided a natural conclusion to the detective’s investigation. This also provided us with some great action and, although I had worked out who the killer was, there was so much more to this book than just finding out ‘whodunnit’.

Ridpath is a great character and I am thoroughly enjoying this series. After his good news at the end of this book, I can’t wait to see what happens next!

With thanks to Canelo and Net Galley for my copy.

Take a look at my reviews of the rest of the series:

Where the Truth Lies

Where the Dead Fall

Where the Silence Calls

 

Salt Lane by William Shaw

DS Alexandra Cupidi can’t get the image of a dead woman out of her head so when the body of a man is discovered, drowned in a slurry pit, she fears that there could be a connection. The man, it is determined, was a fruit picker from North Africa and soon the detective is investigating immigrants in the local area and the lives they are living. With a killer out there, and the local people not too keen on answering her questions, Alex faces an uphill and dangerous battle to find out what is going on by the Kent coastline.

I had heard great things about William Shaw but had never got round to reading any of his books. As I was due to attend an ‘Evening with…’ event where he was sharing the billing with the wonderful Elly Griffiths, I decided to bump Salt Lane up my TBR list and I am so glad I did!

Alexandra Cupidi is a fascinating character and I can see why William Shaw decided to write a series around her. (She appears in another book, The Birdwatcher, but it is not essential to have read this prior to Salt Lane). After leaving her previous post under a bit of a cloud, she has found herself in Dungeness, its bleakness a direct contrast to what she was used to in the Met. In Alex, we see a woman at odds with her mother whilst experiencing a less than perfect relationship with her daughter. Alex’s daughter, Zoe, is one of the many strengths in this book. Not exactly your typical teenager, it was refreshing to see a young character written in such a positive way.

Salt Lane deals with the very topical issue of immigration, in particular those arriving into the country illegally and the conditions in which they have to live their lives. In a climate where this is such a divisive issue, the author paints a very sympathetic picture of their plight, highlighting the dangers faced by these people who are just trying to have the chance of a better life. The story is, at times, incredibly emotive, as we read about these ‘hidden’ people, unable to work legally and so are reliant upon jobs that are tantamount to modern day slavery. The fate of one of these characters, in particular, had a huge impact on me and really brought home how vulnerable they were.

This is a fantastic start to a new series, and I am already looking forward to reading its follow-up, Deadland. Incidentally, William Shaw’s event with Elly Griffiths was superb and if you get the chance to attend something similar, I highly recommend it!

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