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Book review: In Deep Water by Sam Blake

In Deep Water by Sam Blake
In Deep Water by Sam Blake

Safely delivered from death’s door and now back on the beat, maverick Irish Garda detective Cat Connolly almost finds herself out of her depth when her next case gets deep, dark and personal.

Sam Blake – aka Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, founder of The Inkwell Group publishing consultancy and Ireland’s leading literary scout – has assisted many award-winning and bestselling authors to publication, but now she has her own writing success story firmly tucked under her belt.

The Detective Cat Connolly series, which burst on to the scene last year with the explosive thriller Little Bones, won critical acclaim and rave reviews with its masterful, labyrinthine plotting, rich cast of characters, and starring a tough-nut, kickboxing cop who is attracted to danger like a bee to a honeypot.

We last saw the fast-track sleuth on life support after being caught in a devastating explosion but now the intrepid Cat is back at work in Dublin. She is more mentally fragile than she was a year ago, but ever-ready to throw caution to the wind and rush in where angels fear to tread.

Still struggling to adjust to the physical and mental scars that are the legacy of her brush with death, Cat’s post-traumatic stress disorder has left her seesawing between extreme anger and deepest despair, and she knows she will never be quite the same person again.

But once again her work takes her too close to home when her best friend and kickboxing buddy Sarah Jane Hansen, daughter of Pulitzer Prize-winning American war correspondent Ted Hansen, goes missing. Sarah Jane is a journalism student who was allegedly working on a story that even her father thought was too dangerous.

With Ted Hansen now uncontactable on a job in Syria, Cat tries to find a connection between Sarah Jane’s disappearance, her journalism projects and her part-time job as a waitress at The Rookery, one of Dublin’s swankiest restaurants.

Her investigation brings Cat and her boss, DI Dawson O’Rourke, into contact with some of the city’s wealthiest and most influential business people but Sarah Jane is not the only one in deep water when Cat comes face to face with a professional killer.

In the world of missing persons every second counts and, with the clock ticking, can Cat find Sarah Jane before it’s too late?

In Deep Water is another cracking thriller, delivering a fast-moving, tense and shadowy plot full of unexpected twists and turns, and the palpable sense of danger that is becoming a hallmark of the Cat Connolly books.

Blake takes her readers on a menacing journey through Dublin’s dark underbelly where organised crime brings violence, misery and heartbreaking cruelty to its defenceless and unsuspecting victims.

Still leading the charge in a case that gets uncomfortably personal and emotional is the headstrong Cat who hides her new-found vulnerabilities under a veneer of bravado and embarks on what sometimes feels like an almost solo, no-holds-barred mission to track down her friend Sarah Jane.

Her intriguing relationship with her handsome boss and protector, Detective Inspector Dawson O’Rourke, continues to develop and this exciting new chapter of Cat’s career feeds us tantalising insights into her complex character.

With plenty more to explore in the life, loves and caseloads of the irrepressible Cat, this is turning into a cracking series which has the legs to run and run.

(Zaffre, paperback, £7.99)