Top positive review
Warning - may cause palpitations
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 12 May 2022
I am just going to say it - Angela Marsons is a very mean writer. She clearly gives no consideration to the mental well being of her audience at all. That is the only possible reason for the opening scene of this latest Kim Stone novel, because it is emotional, jaw dropping and fluffing hell, did it make me hungry to devour the rest of the book. I tore through this in one evening - not an unusual occurrence for me with Kim Stone books, granted - but this had everything I needed and more. Mystery, tension, threat, fast pacing and that perfect amount of intrigue to make me almost tempted to skip to the final chapters just to reassure myself everything would be okay. Almost ...
If you can get past the prologue without fainting or having a cardiac episode, then you will, like Kim and co, find yourself faced with a tragic and somewhat perplexing case of what, initially at least, seems like murder suicide. Almost an entire family lost under very devastating circumstances, with all clues pointing towards the mother as the potential aggressor. But this would be a very short novel if it were all that simple and you know from the minute Kim Stone's special spidey senses start a tingling that something is not quite right with this almost perfectly closed scene. And what faces us and the team is a case that is far more complex and twisted than anyone could have foreseen, with Angela Marsons keeping the revelations and surprises coming at regular intervals, the clues, and the shocks, dropped at just the right moment to keep us all on our toes, especially if you think you've even half a chance of guessing the what, why and wherefores of this particular case.
As if that's not enough, and to be honest, it's a fair old twisting and turning case in its own right, a face from Kim's past makes a very unexpected reappearance turning Kim's whole life upside down. And no - it's probably not who you are thinking. The least said the better in this particular case but it sees the threat and menace levels burst right off the top of the scale and, as foes go, this is possibly one of the worst and most heinous of people Kim has ever had the misfortune to meet. Its an unwelcome distraction to the team, but a very welcome one for readers who, if you're like me, love the kind of dastardly darkness that Angela Marsons excels at drawing into her stories. There are some very uncomfortable moments, scenes that will have you on the edge of the seat, largely thankful that, this far at least, the author never quite goes that dark, but she goes dark enough to make those emotional and nerve-wracking moments really hit home.
It's not all darkness and tension though - don't panic. The book is loaded with the usual banter and humour you might expect, and some of the early scenes in the book, where Kim and co try a little out of the office teamwork, really do make you smile. All of our favourite characters are here where they belong, the camaraderie between Penn and Stacey and the back and forth between Bryant and Kim causing many a smile. Plus there is an unexpected fifth wheel as it were, someone who gives Kim as good as they get and whose very dry and unphased attitude towards Kim's barbs made me laugh on more than one occasion. It's not often Kim Stone gets out manoeuvred and it's fun to see shen she is.
And then there's that ending. The one where we get to understand the full meaning of that fateful, jaw dropping prologue. Gah. I hate, hate, hate the way in which Angela Marsons can so easily manipulate our emotions. There is one particular scene, when we are forced to think of misdemeanours past (the author's that is) where is it nigh on impossible for anyone with a soul, or anyone who loves these characters, to keep their tear ducts in check. I could feel myself welling up. Not helping my reputation as a cold and emotionless reader at all 🤨😉
But it's a perfect way to wrap up what has definitely got to be one of my favourite reads in the series. Those final lines though ... You get that sense of a step change in tone, and maybe even character perhaps, and I'm really intrigued now to see where the author takes the series after this, perhaps Kim's toughest case to date. Most definitely recommended