Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Review of Hunting Shadows by Sheila Bugler

Lee, southeast London. A young girl has disappeared. There are no witnesses, no leads, no clues. The police are tracking a shadow, and time is running out … DI Ellen Kelly is at the top of her game – at least she was, until she took the law into her own hands and confronted her husband’s killer. Now she’s back at work, leading the investigation into the missing child. Her superiors are watching her; the distraught family is depending on her. Ellen has a lot to prove. And she knows it. A tense thriller that stalks the urban streets of southeast London and the bleak wilderness of the North Kent coast, Hunting Shadows introduces the forceful, compromised police detective, DI Ellen Kelly.

A wonderful book by a talented author. I love crime fiction and have read hundreds of crime novels in my life. I can honestly say I find it hard to believe this novel is a debut - as it's written with a confidence and maturity that belies years of practise and experience - or a God-given gift.

It opens with a child's abduction, sensitively handled, and cleverly seen from the viewpoint of both the abductor and abductee. Handling a variety of characters, POVs and voices is no mean feat for a writer, but soon I found I hardly noticed the writing - and that is meant as a compliment. When the change in style from six-year-old girl to a mentally disturbed young man passes without a single question about the authenticity of voice or believability of character - then you know you're in safe hands.

The victim's family, in particular the grieving step-father, are described in such detailed accuracy, that we can not help but feel their pain and sympathise with the injustice meted out by an unsympathetic Met police whose priority has to be the missing child. I loved how the complex themes of loss, revenge and forgiveness were woven expertly into the narrative and added real depth to the story.

Hunting Shadows is the first book in a series, and here we are introduced to DI Ellen Kelly, recently back in the force following the death of her husband and a painful history of recrimination. Ellen is a complex, well-rounded and instantly likeable character whom the author handles with skill. Ellen's Irish roots shine through (no doubt aided by the author's own Irish background) and it's not long into the book before her whole family and history feel as at home to us as our own.

The plot and pace is handled superbly, clever twists and turns lead us one way and then the next, resulting in a terrifying page-turning conclusion that left me gripped.

We're proud to have Sheila Bugler as a friend of Triskele Books and we very much look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Hunting Shadows is available in paperback and e-book from major suppliers and can be found at Amazon here.

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