The Insider by Mari Hannah - book review: Classy crime for dark nights…

The Insider by Mari Hannah
The Insider by Mari Hannah
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With a clever serial killer on the loose, a jaded, disillusioned police team to galvanise, and an insider leaking information to the press, lead detectives DCI David Stone and DS Frankie Oliver face a baptism fire.

Award-winning Northumbrian author Mari Hannah – fast becoming one of the best crime writers currently on the scene – is on cracking form in the second outing for her thrilling new police duo who are again putting murder, mystery, and the wild and wonderful North East landscape firmly on the map.

Hannah is a former probation officer with an in-depth knowledge of detective work and her gripping, action-packed thrillers, including the DCI Kate Daniels books now in development as a TV series, have become legendary for their authentic police and forensic detail, masterful plotting and superb characterisation.

Stars of the show are two detectives with a troubled past – Frankie Oliver is a feisty third generation Geordie cop, and her charismatic boss, David Stone, is a super smooth operator back on home territory after 15 years with the Met – and this complex new case sees the pair gelling nicely into a dynamic partnership.

After success in their last investigation, DCI Stone has been promoted and moved to the prestigious Murder Investigation Team, taking his trusty and reliable sidekick DS Oliver with him.

But their first case has the potential to be a poisoned chalice… a woman has been found dead and it’s just the latest in a series of undetected murders. The stakes are high because the team’s former chief has abandoned not just the case but also the police force, and Stone has been warned that he has only one chance to find the killer.

In the incident room, the murder wall makes grim reading. Three women, all middle class and professional with high-end jobs, have been found dead within the past year but otherwise nothing links the crimes… no day of the week, geographical area and, most importantly, no forensic evidence.

The latest victim is Joanna Cosgrove whose body was discovered fully clothed close to a railway line on the south side of the river in the Tyne Valley. This is a clever, forensically aware murderer with no obvious motive and Stone knows they have to find the perpetrator because ‘serial killers rarely stop of their own accord.’

And there are other factors making this case problematic. Stone is constantly battling a secret that is ‘eating him up,’ someone in the team is leaking confidential information, and the manner in which the women are killed is proving far too close to home for Frankie who also has a shadow over her past...

Hannah certainly knows how to ratchet up the tension to boiling point as the police investigation plays out against the unnerving voice of the mysterious murderer plotting kills with chilling calm and forethought.

Meanwhile, the spark that was ignited between the two detectives in The Lost, Hannah’s first book in the series, is now starting to burn brightly and promises to be the captivating highlight of a classic crime team in the making.

Frankie, a tough, competent and often impulsive cop with ‘a heart the size of a house,’ is the perfect foil for the acutely observant, intelligent and conscientious DCI Stone whose secret vulnerability makes him an engaging and intriguing personality.

As always, Hannah’s forensic detail and police procedural are so palpably real that you could be tagging along with the MIT team as they claw their way through a maze of subtle clues and breathtaking twists and turns set against a Northumbrian backdrop rendered deliciously dark and menacing.

Classy crime for dark nights…

(Orion, paperback, £7.99)