reviews by genre, thrillers & suspense
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book review: Dark Game by Rachel Lynch

the blurb:

Kelly’s gut turned over as she realised the danger she was in. She heard no sirens. She knew that she was simply collateral. To these men who made a lot of money from the suffering of others, they’d have no problem snuffing her out.

After a scandal forces DI Kelly Porter out of the Met, she returns to her home turf in the Lake District. Crimes in the Cumbrian constabulary tend to be of the minor sort, but Kelly begins work on a cold case that shocked the local community – the abduction and brutal murder of ten-year-old Lottie Davies.

Meanwhile, Kelly is also investigating two seemingly straightforward crimes: a case involving an illegal immigrant, and a robbery following the death of local businessman Colin Day. But evidence comes to light that reveals a web of criminal activity beyond anything Kelly imagined. Behind the veneer of sleepy, touristy towns lies a dark and dangerous underworld. As Kelly threatens to expose those with much to lose, she risks paying the ultimate price to get to the truth…

Please note: there are instances of strong language in this book. There are also graphic descriptions of sex and of physical violence. This novel’s theme is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

the review:

DI Kelly Porter returns to the Lake District, to her family home. Behind she leaves London and the Met, a disastrous love affair, and a bit of a scandal and disciplinary problem. Her father has died recently; and, in her opinion, her widowed mother needs to start living again. She’s not looking forward to sharing her life with, or giving any satisfaction of her actions to, her mother,  and least of all to her sister, as if she had suddenly gone back to being sixteen again. Besides, relationships are tricky in the household, especially due to her opinionated and bellicose sister, who does not waste any opportunity to put Kelly down, or making her look bad in front of her mother. But Kelly does want to have a role in her mother’s life, and is determined to hold her ground, whether her sister likes it or not.

Kelly loves her police work, and couldn’t imagine her life without her career. She is looking forward to taking over from the retiring DI, and to run her own team on her own terms. She starts familiarizing herself with her team, which she seems to like instantly, and with all the current processes and files, including a hard, unsolved case from years before. And it’s at this point that things start going very, very awry in that supposedly quiet and safe part of the world.

Bit by bit, Kelly introduces us to the well hidden, seedy and dangerous underbelly of those seemingly idyllic villages, with their hotels and B&Bs and their staff of young female migrant workers, and their secret nocturnal trade of organised prostitution.

Sensing a connection between her cold case of child abduction and murder, and some of the developments she starts investigating in the aftermath of a local prominent figure being found dead in a room of one of his hotels, what Kelly uncovers is a web of corruption, prostitution and human trafficking, where lives only have a value equal to the profit they can generate.

Along the way, Kelly acquires a new love interest, who might or might not be the real thing and have some sort of future. She meets her teenage love interest again, and discovers that he is not so desirable after all, or as good a catch as she had thought when she was young — and neither is his family, whose haulage company is implicated in the smuggling and trafficking of migrant workers.

She successfully networks and establishes solid work relationships with her own team and those of other stations, paving the way for future cooperation and collaboration. Following her gut feeling, Kelly pursues clues and links to exhaustion, which allows her to solve both the cold case and all the present day crimes and to identify the whole criminal network and its workings. She eventually arrests the crime boss (but not without disregarding procedure once again and putting her life on the line).

As she collects all her bits and pieces of information, Kelly meets a very strong and determined young woman who finds a place, through her integrity and honesty, in Kelly’s and everyone else’s affection. We grow to love this young woman too, and can but make a mental comparison between her and our DI Kelly Porter: stubborn, determined, intelligent and impulsive, incorruptible women who know what they want and what they think is right, and go after it… and damn the consequences.

Last but by no means least, Kelly mends her relationship with her ageing mother, and embarks on a bit of a journey of self-discovery.

the verdict:

Dark Game has been touted by the publishers as Rachel Lynch’s debut novel in the genre. It is satisfyingly well plotted and very well written, so much so that you’d be hard pushed to tell this title was but a writer’s very first effort in the genre. Her authorial voice is strong and clear, mirroring to perfection the personality, values and voice of her main character. All the characters have depth and demarcation, and the action is so well paced that it keeps you hooked on, suspended, at the edge of your seat and with your heart in your hand, right until the very end: you cannot contemplate putting the book down, lest whatever it is that is going to happen next suddenly happens while you’re not there to witness it.

We know from its cover that it is Book One of DI Kelly Porter, and in fact, just before this story ends, suddenly there is the thread you know will be pulling the story forward and into its second instalment; however, the book stands perfectly well on its own — as the saying goes, it is in fact quite perfectly formed and very, very well rounded.

As we read on, we are pleasantly surprised at the depth of knowledge and the astounding amount of research Rachel Lynch has put towards this first title, and arguably the other two books in her trilogy.

As you turn that last page, after all the threads but one have been pulled together and successfully tied up, you do know that you do want more of DI Kelly Porter, her policial adventures — and, why not, her romantic ones as well — and of all the nice Lakes people  she meets and the landscapes she runs and drives through, and which she so naturally introduced us to.

It is a good thriller. And if thrillers are your cup of tea, you’d better catch this one. I can guarantee you will not regret giving Rachel Lynch — and DI Kelly Porter — a chance, and a little bit of your leisurely time.

Genre pegging: thriller
Verdict: recommended
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥
mystery & thrillers; 

This title was rather kindly sent to me by the publishers, Canelo, through NetGalley. This review has also been published to NetGalley, GoodReads, LinkedIn, and my social media accounts. Publishing to the Amazon’s title page will be attempted at a later date. In the meantime, I apologise for the lack of links to Amazon, and the lack of information on price, edition and number of pages.



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