Walter Blunt, an ex-cop and high-priced private detective in Adelaide finishes off on a case of a husband’s infidelity. His next clients are not what he is used to. The Burrowes are desperate to find their missing daughter Lucy, whose three-month disappearance has baffled police.
Walter is reluctant to take on the case; however, against his better judgment, he begins to investigate what at first seems to be a missing girl that is likeable, smart and conservative. Interviewing the best friend only causes more questions to creep up. Using his contacts with the police and his friend and detective on the case Henry, he begins to form a bigger picture.
Then things start to get seedy as Walter stumbles on a person connected to his past case, and that of the missing girl. A witness comes forward claiming that he saw Lucy with a busted lip, believing she might be in a relationship with a man that might have hurt her, Walter is hot on the trail of this mystery man.
The more Walter digs, the dirtier and twisted the trail gets. From drug dealers, to drugged encounters and beatings. To uncover what happened to Lucy he has to practice what he does best, leading him to discover some disturbing evidence that points to the psychopathy of the potential killer.
He may have found his guy, but now he needs to prove it. The odds are stacked against him, and he has only a short time to uncover the truth before a killer might be sent free.
The cover art and the way the pages are set up are usually not something that grabs me; however, in this case it shows the creativity of how each page is set up like a case file. With the chapters containing relevant titles giving you clues what to expect.
It is a solid mystery where Walter goes from person to person gathering information about the missing girl, and building a bigger picture of why she might have disappeared. Conflicting accounts from the parents, best friend and police make it difficult for Walter to pinpoint motive.
Walter’s character is a mix of ‘typical brash Aussie’ to a man that tries to pretend he doesn’t care, yet still has a bit of a heart. A hard-nosed ex-cop that has little time for fluffing about, his attitude at times puts people’s nose out of joint. It’s difficult to actually say his character is likeable, yet I was rooting for him anyway. These types of characters are interesting, their personality skirts the lines, filled with many shades of grey. It was difficult to connect with him at times; however, it didn’t feel like it mattered, or took anything away from the story.
It was easy to picture this hard-nosed PI cracking the whip and just getting the job done without caring about whose toes he stepped on.
The plot takes you on a ride of diverse and sinister characters, the menacing world of drugs and drug dealers, and what happens when someone gets in their way. The characters are enriched with unique personalities, created with varied dialogue and mannerisms.
Throughout the story I got to know more about Walter, why he left the police, and perhaps why he ended up as such a pessimistic person. Then there is his faithful secretary Gina, whom stands by him regardless of his rather obnoxious behaviour at times. Even with that, there’s a surprising endearing quality about this gruff man.
This story isn’t just about finding who did it, it is about finding the evidence to prove who did. It’s reality. Not as simple as forcing a confession, or tripping them up. It involves hard police work.
Part of the suspense is definitely after they caught someone, and having to dwell into this person’s psyche, then another twist in the plot drives it in another direction. The first part of the story was a bit slow with a lot of questioning and character development; however, it found its footing and turned out to be a really good suspenseful mystery.
And then… the story jumps to surprising narratives that left me thinking, damn that was a good twist. Taking the story from one direction to another.
Oh yes. The ending was fantastic. Surprising. Suspenseful. Satisfying. Exactly what I enjoy reading in a thriller/mystery. You think you have all the pieces, you think you’ve been told it all, then bang, you get hit with a bunch of twists and turns.
Anyone that enjoys a suspense mystery with a hard-nosed PI, will love this read. If you like Sherlock Holmes, well, get ready for Walter.
Thank you to Reedsy and Philip Urmson for gifting me a copy of this book for review.