Two Missing Children. A Community Closing Ranks

“When night falls, fear spreads…

The Lake District : a wild landscape, rife with stories. Detectives Zoe Barnes and Sam Taylor are called in to investigate the disappearance of two children.

The deeper they dig, the more complex and unnerving the case becomes. It seems as though the village is hiding a deadly secret. Even more unsettling is the talk of witches, the like of which hasn’t been heard since the seventeenth century.

Zoe and Sam will have to work fast to save more lives. But in this atmosphere of fear and mistrust, can they even rely on each other?”

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Author, screenwriter and producer Tom Grieves has a background in television work, including work on “Hornblower” and “The Bill”.

His first novel “Sleepwalkers” was published in 2012 and 2014’s “A Cry In The Night” is his second.

The book opens with a prologue set in the small lakeside village of Lullingdale in 1604 and tells of the drowning of a small group of women from the village who were drowned in the lake, accused of being witches.

Tom Grieves
Tom Grieves

We are then transported to modern-day where a little boy, Arthur Downing is running near the lake, convinced that he is being chased by “the lake witches” and fearing for the safety of his sister Lily.

City detective DI Taylor is tasked to look into the subsequent disappearance of the two children by Chief Superintendent Frey, rather than by his immediate boss. Frey also gives Taylor files on other previous cases to look at, hinting at a connection.

Taylor takes DS Barnes with him to Lullingdale to investigate, but keeps the information regarding the other crimes – all of which involve the deaths of children – to himself.

Once in the village they encounter a variety of different characters, few of whom seem to be of much help, and hear rumour and innuendo about villagers – including the children’s mother Sarah Downing – and old rural tales of witches in the lake and trees. To complicate matters both police officers find personal distraction of one kind or another amongst the locals.

The case becomes more difficult for the officers to fathom once they have a suspect in custody and a barrister, Helen Seymour QC, appears to instantly derail proceedings.

Before long both detectives are seeing links and conspiracies everywhere, and find themselves having doubts about each other too.

I found this to be a well written book. The characters are nicely developed and portrayed throughout, the isolated rural locations and characters described really well and the plot and various sub-plots set out clearly.

21a243bd2e00f7750b9ecf72598ca156My one reservation really was the actual resolution of the whole story. From the very beginning there are hints of witchcraft and the supernatural, as well as the aforementioned conspiracies, and I felt that the ending didn’t quite live up to the promise shown previously in the tale. That said, perhaps this simply makes the solved crime more believable by being rooted in the everyday rather than the otherworldly?

Either way this is still a cracking good read and one that I would definitely recommend to lovers of British crime fiction…

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