A gritty and disturbing, character-driven, police procedural!
“From the cradle” is my first novel by this duo of authors and I was very impressed. I am always amazed at how two people can write one story and make it seem so ‘seamless’. It shouldn’t have been surprising though, as the Goodreads rating is very high with over four thousand people having a say. Also, it is a British police procedural, which is a favourite sub-genre of mine.
This is the first novel in a series which features Detective Inspector Patrick Lennon who works in the South West London/Richmond-Upon-Thames area. The book starts strong (the prologue actually made me gasp while simultaneously giving me shivers) and doesn’t let up in quality the whole way through.
Patrick Lennon is not your usual police DI. Now in his mid-thirties, in his earlier days he was a ‘goth’ musician. He still bears the tattoos and piercings that went with that persona. Also, he suffers from tinnitus from his years listening to overly loud music. Now, he is living with his parents due to the fact that he needs childcare for his two year-old daughter, Bonnie. He is working long and irregular hours for there has been a spate of child abductions in the area. Three toddlers have been snatched and their parents are desperate to be re-united with them. It is assumed that the three children have been taken by the same person(s), as the abductions have occurred in such a tight time span.
The latest abduction was that of Frankie Philips. Her parents, Helen and Sean Philips, had left Frankie in the care of her teenage stepsister, Alice, while they walked to a nearby restaurant for a meal out. When they returned, Alice was asleep on the living-room couch and little Frankie was missing from her cot.
Patrick Lennon and his partner DS Carmella Masiello are tasked with the case of finding all three children. The case is frustrating and disturbing. Although all three children were taken from affluent neighbourhoods, there has been no ransom demands. The media have coined the kidnapper “The Child Catcher“.
The case escalates when one of the little girls is found…
Leaving no stone unturned, Patrick and his team investigate with little success. Another DI on the team, jealous of Patrick who is a favourite of their boss, thwarts every effort they make in the attempt to make Patrick look bad so he can take over as lead investigating officer.
Feeling stressed about this difficult case and worrying about his elderly mother who is getting tired from chasing his rambunctious two-year old daughter all day, Patrick is nearing the end of his rope.
I would term this a high-octane police procedural. It combines rich characterization with a fast pace. The plot holds surprises and several unexpected twists and turns. The desperation and panic of the parents is described in such a way that the reader feels their desolation.
Patrick’s unique and troubled character was one that I would like to read more of. I enjoyed his rapport/working relationship with his lesbian partner, Carmella. The Philips’ family’s anxiety and anguish were palpable. Their family dynamic was well described: the mixed race wife, the racist mother-in-law, the teenage stepdaughter… The teenage characters were well wrought with the contrast between the affluent homes and the impoverished housing estates jarring – and, at times, shocking. The ending of the novel was adrenaline-filled and contained a moral dilemma.
This novel is the first in the DI Patrick Lennon series. You can be sure that I will read the rest of the novels in this series. “From the cradle” started strong and kept the pace throughout. Though a crime novel, it was also a novel about parents and parenting. About good people who find themselves in dire and desperate situations. About how one mistake can impact a whole life. Highly recommended!
I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Thomas & Mercer via NetGalley. I provided this review voluntarily to share my thoughts about the book.
Louise Voss and Mark Edwards are the authors of From the Cradle, The Blissfully Dead, Killing Cupid, Catch Your Death, Forward Slash and more. They have written nine solo novels, including Mark’s The Magpies and Louise’s The Venus Trap.
They have topped the UK Kindle chart three times, together and solo, sold over one million books.