Book review: The Lost by Mari Hannah
Northumberland crime queen Mari Hannah is back on the beat'¦ and she has a new top team to thrill her army of fans.
Meet DS Frankie Oliver, a feisty third generation Geordie cop, and her charismatic boss, DI David Stone, a super smooth operator finding his feet back in the North East after 15 years with the Met.
Award-winning author Hannah is a former probation officer with insider knowledge of detective work and her clever, action-packed thrillers - which include the Kate Daniels books now in development as a TV series - have become legendary for their authentic police and forensic detail, masterful plotting and superb characterisation.
And this exciting new crime series, once again rooted in Hannah’s familiar, rugged Northumbrian patch, has murder, mystery and drama in spadefuls, but with the seductive added extra of a powerful emotional punch.
In a pulsating storyline that explores every parent’s worst nightmare, Oliver and Stone are on the hunt for a missing 10-year-old boy as tensions mount to boiling point, suspicions spill over into angst and accusations, and a family’s seemingly perfect life is torn apart.
‘He was her child. The only one she’d ever have. It would kill her to learn that he was missing.’
Alex Parker arrives home from a holiday with her sister in Majorca to find that her precious 10-year-old son Daniel has disappeared after attending a football training session earlier that day.
Her husband and Daniel’s stepfather, Tim Parker, was supposed to pick him up after a business meeting but claims there was a mix-up with Daniel’s French nanny, Justine Segal, over the arrangements.
Alex, who had never really wanted to take the holiday but was persuaded to go by her husband, is inconsolable, angry and distraught.
It's a difficult, sensitive situation and the first case together for Northumbria CID officers David Stone and Frankie Oliver.
Stone, thoughtful, intelligent and conscientious, has recently returned to his roots leaving a promising career in the Met and a mystery event that is ‘like a heavy weight on his shoulders.’
Meanwhile, Frankie Oliver has a lot to prove. Keen, competent but a bit of a maverick, she also has a secret, an ‘ever-present threat,’ that is holding her back.
As a team, Stone and Oliver have a definite spark and as their investigation unfolds, they realise that this troubled family's problems are far deeper and darker than anyone suspected.
And when a road traffic accident involving someone close to the case turns out to be murder, Stone and Oliver’s missing person case takes a deadly turn…
The Lost may be just the opener for Oliver and Stone but Hannah already has her dynamic detective duo nailed, and teasing out their intriguing back stories promises to be one of the ongoing delights of this cracking new series.
Hannah is a classy storyteller and this gritty, suspense-packed debut comes with some spectacular twists and turns, an intriguing list of suspects and a liberal sprinkling of dark Geordie humour.
But this is more than just a crime thriller with a fascinating police procedural. Hannah is also an acutely observant and intelligent writer, and there is raw human emotion here on both sides of the police divide.
Unsettling, gritty and beautifully written, The Lost looks set to win Hannah more fans… and more well-deserved accolades.
(Orion, paperback, £7.99)