No Name Lane
Penguin Books AUS
Copy courtesy of the publisher
In the north east of England, young girls on the cusp of puberty are being kidnapped and murdered. The police have no leads and they’re getting desperate. They know they need to find out who this killer is and stop him fast.
Tom Carney is a journalist and what could’ve been the biggest story of his career just might result in its unraveling. Suspended from his London newspaper pending a legal action, he returns to his home town in County Durham where someone is kidnapping and murdering local girls. His replacement is reporter Helen Norton and Tom suggests they work together, rather than go around separately, trying to interview all of the same people. A fourth girl has gone missing although her body is yet to be found.
Detective Constable Ian Bradshaw is struggling. Ever since something terrible happened on the job that he blames himself for, he’s been doubting his ability to continue and it seems he isn’t the only one. His superiors doubt him too and Bradsaw fears that this case might just be the end of him.
This book was good.
Author Howard Linskey employs not one but two common crime novel characters here in the traumatised cop undergoing counselling and the disillusioned hack/journalist who needs to break a big story to resurrect a flagging career. They could’ve butted heads and fought with each other for top billing in the reader’s mind but the characters of the detective Bradshaw and the journalist Carney work well together as each narrative provides a very different aspect of the investigation.
Both Bradshaw and Carney should be at the top of their respective games. Bradshaw was the local high school golden boy and went into the police force and had a rapid rise to detective. Since a terrible incident however, he has been doubting his ability and is currently undergoing therapy to help him deal with issues and basically ensure he’s still fit to do his job. The sessions for Bradshaw aren’t at all easy and he’s at times belligerent and deliberately obstructive. When the killings begin, it’s all hands on deck and the police force needs everyone they have working on the case – if not for that, Bradshaw probably wouldn’t have gotten a look in, given he’s on the outer with a lot of his colleagues and superiors. For Bradshaw, this is a chance to prove that he can do it, that he does have what it takes, if only he can let go of some of his demons and believe in himself and trust his instincts. At times you can tell that he’s not ready for that yet, but he does grow in confidence as the case progresses and he begins questioning things, putting the pieces together.
I feel as though Carney provided a lighter side to the novel, with his attempts to fit back in with his small home village after leaving for the big smoke. He’s on leave because the paper is being sued because of a story Carney wrote so while that all gets sorted out, he goes home in order to get the scoop on the story of the missing girls that are being murdered. He does a lot of digging and during the course of the investigation regarding the young girls, a body is dug up that has clearly been buried for over fifty years. This gives Tom and Helen something else to investigate as well, pulling them closer personally as well as professionally as they seek to uncover the identity of the body and the story of what happened to them. I really enjoyed this aspect of the story, I think it added a little something extra and also helped provide a balance to the rather depressing story of the little girls being kidnapped and murdered. I liked that I figured out who the killer was at the same time the others did, it was that “oh my God” sort of moment where you realise at a really bad time and just hope that everything works out.
I think that sort of story taps into every parent’s worst nightmare. There’s nothing more frightening than the thought of your child being kidnapped. The police have so little to go on – the girls are usually found dumped, having been strangled a few days after going missing. All except the fourth one, whose body has not been discovered yet. I liked Carney and Bradshaw working together, in a way, exchanging information over the guise of two old school mates having a beer. Bradshaw slowly begins to heal throughout this book, although there are things that he will discover that will be equally hard to let go of I think he has proved to himself that he can still do the job and that there are people who still believe that he’s a good cop and a good man.
A quote on the cover of the book says that this is the first in a must-read series and I’m pretty excited to find out that there’s going to be more. Like I said, I think Bradshaw still has a way to go but I look forward to seeing him take more steps toward getting his career back and I also think that Tom and Helen have a lot left unfinished as well. Both of them look like moving on from County Durham after this book, so I’m not quite sure how we can revisit all of these characters again but I can’t wait to find out.
Book #63 of 2015