I really enjoyed Robert Bryndza’s fairly grisly “Nine Elms” earlier this year and so was really looking forward to the second in his series featuring ex DC Kate Marshall, now working as a university lecturer and her assistant, Tristan.
At the end of the last novel it looked like a career change may have been in the offing with the duo moving on to private investigations but here two years later both are still at the university.
A new case is triggered when Kate, out diving with her teenage son in a reservoir near her home in Devon, encounters the corpse of a young man. Initial post-mortem reports seem implausible and the youth’s mother gets in contact to get Kate to carry out her own investigations. Alongside this we get more insight into the two lead characters who Bryndza is fleshing out nicely, especially the very appealing Tristan in this novel and their working relationship shows much potential for the future.
This is a strong crime novel. Last time round I felt Bryndza was hovering too closely towards the horror of torture and abduction and said of it; “That’s quite a lot of evil for one book and it might be a little full on for the times we are living now.” I do think here the author has reined it in a bit. It’s still admittedly a dark tale with some difficult scenes to read but it feels less over the top and this lighter touch has made for a second in the series novel which is even stronger than the debut.
At the novel’s satisfactory conclusion Kate announces her intention to give up academia for private detective work. Whether this happens remains to be seen but I am certainly looking forward to more cases for her and Tristan. This is a strong partnership in what is developing into a high-quality crime series.
Shadow Sands will be published by Sphere on 3rd November. Many thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for the advance review copy.