MEL SHERRATT is a bit of a publishing phenomenon just now and her latest police procedural Hush Hush has received acclaim from many of her peers, including genre big-hitters Ian Rankin and Rachel Abbott.
Since 2012 she has sold over one million books. All 11 of her crime novels have been bestsellers, each one climbing into the Kindle UK top 10, and there have been several Number Ones.
This latest project involves a new detective, DS Grace Allendale, who is trying to cope with a recent bereavement and has returned to her home town of Stoke-on-Trent.
Having based some of my latest novel, Dying Seconds, in Stoke I was interested to see how Mel would portray the area and the people.
Life certainly isn’t going to be easy going for DS Allendale. Not only does she have memories of being brought up by a brutal father, but she becomes embroiled in a murder investigation with a twist.
The killer on the loose seems to be targeting local crime family the Steeles, to whom Grace is related through her vicious father, who himself was murdered.
After she and her mother escaped the violent George he took up with another local woman, with whom he had two brothers and a sister.
Neither her criminal relatives or her new police colleagues are prepared to make life easy for her and she finds herself walking a tightrope as she tries to decide who she can trust.
I must admit I felt slightly uneasy about the scenario. Though it made for a good story I was questioning how realistic it was that Grace would be allowed to lead a murder investigation when she was so closely linked to the witnesses and suspects. I was also questioning how her superiors might view the fact that she has become very close to the local newspaper’s chief crime reporter, particularly when information leaks into the press likely to compromise the investigation.
If Grace is as shrewd and driven as Mel indicates, I’m not sure she would risk everything to spend intimate evenings with the local hack.
That aside, at least it makes for a good story and a satisfying twist and Mel lays the groundwork excellently with a series of flashbacks which provide just enough clues if you are clever enough to spot them. I wasn’t, and was led down the garden path.
Nice work if you can get it and I’m sure Mel’s new DS will go from strength to strength.
Star rating: 4