Avon | 2019 (16 May) | 456p | Review copy | Buy the book
Homeless people have begun to disappear from the streets of Manchester, the kinds of people that society doesn’t seem to miss, despite repeated reports from Sister Cassie, an ex-nun who now wanders the streets. And then other people start to vanish – an elderly man out walking his dog after dark, a fit young woman out for a jog. Now the police have to take notice. Meanwhile sinister rumours are circulating around Manchester of a black van that patrols the streets. People are afraid. DC Lucy Clayburn is soon part of the investigation. She’s been looking at the theft of dogs in the area and the activities of a dog fighting ring. She suspects that everything might be connected and her bosses are inclined to give her a chance to prove it.
Unfortunately, there is a complication. Lucy’s father Franck McCracken, one of Manchester’s top gangsters, is interfering. Lucy’s been keeping him a secret. The time for secrets might be over.
Stolen is the third Lucy Clayburn novel by Paul Finch and it is an absolute corker! In fact, I think it’s my favourite of the three. It’s nigh on impossible to put down as the plot rattles along and it all begins with the creepiest of opening chapters. This sent shivers down my spine and may well keep me indoors as the moon rises. This fantastic chapter sets the tone for the rest of the novel and it’s maintained throughout.
Paul Finch is such a fine crime thriller writer. Like many people, I adore his Heck series but it may well be that the Clayburn books have now exceeded them, which is quite a feat. Lucy is a wonderful character. She has so much against her. It’s difficult to see how she could ever rise above the rank of DC, although she goes far and beyond what you would expect from that rank normally, in crime fiction at least. Lucy is a very likeable person and she lives in the shadow of a father, only recently discovered, she must deny. I’m no fan of gangster books at all but I do enjoy the relationship between Lucy and her father Frank. It’s tense and uneasy. It’s also dangerous and this adds such a frisson to the novels – and it reaches new heights here.
Aside from the business of Frank McCracken and his villains we have the story of the stolen people and this is a thoroughly engrossing mystery. The baddies are completely evil and rank high in my list of fictional baddies. There’s something a little pantomime about them but that doesn’t detract from their evil at all. This is frightening. It’s also very entertaining. The highlight, though, has to be Sister Cassie.
Stolen races along from start to finish. I read it late into the night, not wanting to put it down unfinished. I love Paul Finch’s books, you always know they’re going to be excellent, but Stolen is, I believe, the very best. I loved everything about it! Story, characters, creepiness, menace, scares, heart, baddies, setting, writing, the lot. The Lucy Clayburn series is now well established as one of the finest out there in the crowded world of crime fiction. It is not to be missed!
I’m so pleased to post my review as part of the Blog Tour to celebrate the publication of Stolen on 16 May. For other stops on the tour, please do take a look at the poster below.