By Robert Bryndza
If characters who try to eat their victims make you nauseous, don’t read this book.
Protagonist Kate Marshall, a detective constable in London in 1995, has the incredibly bad luck of having an affair with her boss, Metropolitan Police Detective Chief Inspector Peter Conway, who turns out to be a serial killer who bites his victims.
As Conway attempts to kill her, she calls the police. She survives, only to discover she is pregnant — with Conway’s child.
Conway is tried and Kate’s reputation and career are fried. Fifteen years later, she’s a lecturer in criminology at Ashdean University, living quietly, missing being a detective, fearing that somehow, some way, Conway will contact their son.
Everything changes course when the parents of Caitlyn Murray ask Kate to investigate the case of their missing daughter. They believe that Caitlyn may have been one of Conway’s early victims. Then, a pathologist who knows Kate from her police work, also reaches out when he’s called in to work on a murder victim who has bite marks. There’s a copycat killer on the loose.
Technically, this book works. It’s well-written. It’s dramatic. It’s suspenseful. The events it describes are a bit excessive, but it’s still readable.
But it has so many things I hate in thrillers: an impersonal, psycho serial killer with great wealth and access to technology to carry off key action in the story. The two Prince Charles Cavalier Spaniel cadaver dogs don’t help credibility much either — not that this breed might not make good cadaver dogs, just that it’s the wrong tone for the story.
My first exposure to Robert Bryndza’s novels was THE GIRL IN THE ICE, an interesting police procedural that launched his Detective Chief Inspector Erika Foster series. It’s clear that Bryndza is setting up a new a series featuring Kate as a private investigator.
The sequel to NINE ELMS (2019) is SHADOW SANDS (2020), which takes Kate and her son on a scuba jaunt where they discover the body of a teenage boy entangled below the surface of the Shadow Sands reservoir. The local detective chief inspector’s speculation that this is a tragic drowning doesn’t add up for Kate. As she follows the evidence, she discovers this victim is only the latest of several mysterious deaths and disappearances.
About the Author: Robert Bryndza
Author Robert Bryndza is known for his crime and thriller novels.
Born on the east coast of England, Bryndza studied to be an actor and worked in theater for several years. He eventually switched to writing. He self-published a series of romantic comedy novels before switching to crime writing. He lives with his husband in Slovakia.