Bookouture | 2019 (11 July) | 397p Review copy | Buy the book
Late one summer evening, Belinda Evans is found horribly murdered, tied by barbed wire to a playground swing, an ‘X’ carved into the back of her neck. And soon there are more murders, each following the same pattern – childhood games, barbed wire, an ‘X’ on the back of the neck. DI Kim Stone is convinced that the answer lies in the identity of the victims, each of whom is linked in some way to prodigy children. The more that Stone gets to know the nearest and dearest of the victims, the more fascinated she becomes by this world of ambitious, pushy parents and their genius offspring. Meanwhile, one of Stone’s team, Penn, is spending time with his old force as his last major case finally gets to court. Penn is in for a shock.
Child’s Play is the eleventh DI Kim Stone novel and yet again it demonstrates that Angela Marsons is an utter genius! I do not know where she gets all of these twisty riveting tales come from but they seem endless and they are fantastic. As usual, you can read Child’s Play as a stand alone crime thriller and there’s a lot of pleasure to be had from that but I do recommend that you read more of the series to understand what the team has gone through. No wonder they’re tight.
Kim Stone is a fascinating character and not at all easy for most people to get along with. But we know what she’s endured in her past and we like her very much indeed. The last novel, Dead Memories, was very personal for Stone as her past came back to haunt her. I must admit that I was pleased that in Child’s Play Stone can put this pain behind her and we can focus on a new and thoroughly engrossing mystery. I’m particularly fond of Stone’s team, especially Stacey. There’s some added amusement in the novel due to the order from on high that Stone is not to overwork her team – they must finish at 5 like normal people. Unfortunately, these are not normal people at all. They live to work and to catch bad guys.
The plot is as brilliant as ever, utterly gripping, grimacingly gory and deliciously twisty. It also presents more characters for us, and Stone, to become interested in. Belinda Evan’s relationship with her sister is particularly intriguing and very carefully and effectively drawn by Angela Marsons. Penn is absent from the team in this novel and has his own case to engross him. This secondary storyline doesn’t add much to the novel but it does demonstrate yet again that Angela Marsons’ supply of twisty tales is never ending. It also keeps Penn in the novel, which is no bad thing at all.
It’s difficult to recall another crime fiction series that consistently excels as much as Angela Marsons’ Kim Stone series. This eleventh novel is, in my opinion, one of the best of the series. Kim Stone and her team hold our attention throughout as normal and I hung onto every single word. If you don’t know this series, I urge you not to let it pass you by.