This is the third book in Robert Bryndza’s Kate Marshall series. Last time round I praised what I saw developing into a high-quality crime series. This standard has been maintained.
I do feel, however, that there is a distinct change of tone in this book. First in the series, “Nine Elms” was (too?) grisly and I felt the author’s reining in on this a little for “Shadow Sands” made it stronger than the debut. Third book in and we have a fairly standard mainstream crime work with little of what made the first two so unsettling. Perhaps the author feels he has put Kate Marshall through the wringer enough and here places the focus on a well-structured highly readable whodunnit.
At the end of “Shadow Sands” Kate and colleague Tristan were contemplating starting a private detective agency. This has come to pass but with jobs few and far between they are also running a camp site in their Devon location, assisted by Kate’s teenage son Jake. A missing female journalist cold case could be their saviour and help her distraught mother get some closure. It soon becomes clear that the journalist was working on a story which might have caused her demise and this may be linked to a serial killer preying on young gay men.
As in the previous novels the relationship between Kate and Tristan is very strong and the author is right to bring the young gay male research assistant into clearer focus in this. There were a couple of questionable motives here which grated just slightly but the pace builds nicely for an exciting last third.
I liked the change of tone in this book, it makes both the author and the series unpredictable – we soon tire of series which become formulaic. Maybe some who found the first novel too dark to get through might like to revisit this series at this point. I don’t mind whether the author goes back along the darker routes of the predecessors for the 4th novel. I just know I will be wanting to read it.
Darkness Falls was published in December 2021 by Sphere and will be published in paperback on 29th December 2022. The next in the series “Devils Way” is due to be published in hardback/ebook editions on 12th January 2023.