Orion | 2018 (1 November) | 407p | Review copy and bought copy | Buy the book
When a young woman’s body is found carefully laid out on sleepers next to a Northumberland railway station, the local community reels. This woman is the fourth victim to have been found over recent months and there’s so little to connect them beyond their gender. Fresh detective eyes are needed. When the officer in charge retires with the suggestion of a cloud hanging over him, DCI David Stone and DS Frankie Oliver take over the running of the team. The two of them had such success in their previous case that they have now been promoted to the Murder Investigation Team. The other team members are suspicious, a little hostile, and, when details are leaked to the press, Stone realises they may not all to be trusted. Stone and Oliver must rely on each other to crack a case that has the whole force stumbling around in the dark. And meanwhile the killer watches… biding his time, making his next selection.
The Insider is the second novel by the wonderful Mari Hannah to feature Stone and Oliver and it’s great to see them. In my review of the first novel, The Lost, I said that I expected Stone and Oliver to hit the floor running in their next case and this is most certainly true. I warmed to Frankie Oliver so much in The Lost and now David Stone is doing his best to catch her up in my estimations. David and Frankie hit it off immediately in the earlier book and now that friendship has turned almost into a brother and sister relationship. Frankie is a third-generation cop and her father is almost worshipped by Northumberland’s police. He has welcomed David into their family with open arms. I love the warmth and humour of their relationship, as well as the ways in which Frankie, so independent, needs her family still.
Both Stone and Oliver carry a lot of baggage. Life has not been kind and they’re still reeling from its cost. They need each other more than ever. This does play a central part in The Insider. I hope that in future books some of this might be left behind, that they can move on with their lives. There is a little too much back history for me but otherwise I thought The Lost a thrilling, captivating read.
The plot is fantastic and the tension builds dramatically towards a stunning finale that really did have me gripped. The killer has a voice in the novel and a presence from the very beginning but the identity eluded me – hooray! I loved the way that it all came together. Mari Writer is a fine writer but she is also an excellent plotter.
I really enjoy the Northumberland setting in Mari Hannah’s novels. It sets them apart and the landscape becomes almost a character in its own right. I’ve always enjoyed crime novels set in remote, quiet places. The crimes seem all the more shocking and incongruous outside the city. The shock felt by both the police and the community as a serial killer tears this place to pieces is so well depicted here.
Stone and Oliver have new roles in the Murder Investigation Team. They’re finding their way, making new alliances, seeking out trouble makers, but I have no doubt at all that this is where they belong and I can’t wait to see them again. This has become a series to watch. The paperback includes a preview of The Scandal, the next Stone and Oliver novel. It’s published in March 2019 so we don’t have long to wait at all!