by Robert Bryndza
Erika Foster’s first day as a detective chief inspector for the London Met is a day from hell: a blizzard sweeping London delayed her plane; she didn’t have time to change; and she’s thrown immediately into her first case involving the murder of a high profile, young socialite.
The victim, Andrea Douglas-Brown, 23, is the daughter of Lord Simon Douglas-Brown, a wealthy high tech entrepreneur, and his wife, Lady Diana, a society florist. She had been missing for several days before being discovered under ice in a boat house.
Erika’s superior, Chief Superintendent (CS) Marsh, has become more politician and less cop with every promotion. He’s especially prickly given that this case involves the Douglas-Browns. Erika is feeling the heat from several directions. Erika’s new team includes a rival, DCI Sparks, who expected to be running this case. Her last investigation went sour, resulting in the death of her husband. Her new colleagues are uncertain about her abilities, and betting she’ll fail again.
The touchy Douglas-Browns and their surviving children — David, a university student, and Linda, a dowdy, cat-obsessed young woman — are strangely resistant to answering questions and helping with Erika’s investigation. Marsh keeps urging her to use kid gloves in handling the family. He interferes with her asking questions and gaining access to Andrea’s past — all of which would have been standard in a lower profile case.
Erika earns herself a suspension when she highjacks a media conference to ask for the public’s help in identifying a dark, handsome man that Andrea was seen talking to in a low-life pub near where her body was discovered. Marsh hands the case over to Sparks. Her team, watching how she has hit the ground running, doesn’t write her off. The senior forensic pathologist shares with her that he’s worked on two other cases with similar characteristics.
This is a complex case that remains suspenseful to the end. DCI Erika Foster is an interesting character that a reader can care about. CS Marsh is a tad two-dimensional. It’s not entirely credible that he would have impeded Erika’s work, given his respect for her work and the need to resolve the case quickly. This, however, is not a fatal flaw. There are hints that a serial killer is stalking Erika, which may provide fuel for the books that follow.
So far, there are six novels in the DCI Erika Foster series. The others are:
- THE NIGHT STALKER. In the midst of a heat wave, Detective Erica Foster and her team are called out to first one and then a second identical murder. Both victims are male and found in bed with their wrists bound and their heads enclosed in plastic bags. Erika finds herself up against a careful calculating serial killer, who may now have her in his sight.
- DARK WATER. In the course of searching a quarry on the edge of London for a drug stash, the police find the skeleton of a young child. Erika soon learns the bones are those of Jessica Collins, 11, who disappeared 26 years earlier.
- LAST BREATH. When the tortured body of a young woman is found in a dumpster, Erika is one of the first at the scene — but it’s not her case. She fights for a spot on the investigation team and soon is able to link the case to a similar, still unsolved murder four months earlier. The killer appears to stalk his victims online, luring them to a sadistic death. Erika finds herself in a race against time when yet another girl goes missing after setting up a blind date online.
- COLD BLOOD. Just as Erika is making headway in two cases involving victims who are dismembered, put into suitcases and thrown into the Thames, she is brutally attacked herself. Then the twin daughters of her colleague Commander Marsh are abducted and the stakes skyrocket.
- DEADLY SECRETS. Fresh off her harrowing last case, Erika is called to investigate the death of a beautiful young woman in the road outside her home. The blood-soaked body is found frozen to the road by her mother. The case forces Erika to face painful memories of her own past.
The Author: Robert Bryndza
An actor before he became a writer, Bryndza lived in South London for nearly 10 years. He used it as the setting for The Girl in the Ice. One of his first acting jobs was working at The London Dungeon scaring tourists.
In addition to the DCI Erika Foster series, Bryndza has written the romantic comedy series featuring Coco Pinchard, and the stand-alone romantic comedy Miss Wrong and Mr. Right.