DI Louise Blackwell – 39 years old, unmarried, and lonely. She recently had a severe career setback at her previous posting in Bristol due to a betrayal from a co-worker. Now, she lives in the seaside town of Weston-super-Mare and is trying to find a place for herself there. She has few friends and lives in a dated terraced house formerly owned by an elderly lady. Louise’s brother Paul is the widowed father of a five year old girl, Emily. Louise adores Emily and visits her whenever she can because her brother is not coping well without his wife. He is an alcoholic, who frequently neglects his parental duties – leaving his parents and his sister Louise to pick up the slack. In this book, Paul has gotten himself into real trouble and has absconded with his tiny daughter in tow.
DI Louise Blackwell is tasked with the investigation of two apparent suicides who have disturbing commonalities. Both young women were isolated and had little to no social contact or family support. The case escalates as more cases pile up. All the bodies of the recently deceased have traces of a drug called DMT in their system.
A charming and manipulative man, Jay Chappell, has created an on-line chat group which he populates with lonely and depressed young women. The group meets in person periodically and he serves them Ayahuasca tea – a tea that contains the drug DMT.
One member of Jay’s ‘group’ is a young woman named Amy Carlisle. Lonely, grieving, and riddled with guilt, she is the perfect target for Jay’s manipulations. She is completely enthralled by Jay, yet a tiny part of her begins to have doubts about Jay’s methods.
Louise Blackwell makes for an engaging protagonist, and the beautiful and atmospheric setting is an added bonus. In this book we learn more about what makes Louise tick. Conflicted and intriguing in equal measure, Detective Louise Blackwell of the Avon & Somerset Police is fast becoming a favourite series character of mine in this her second outing. Louise is fighting herself in this novel, trying to be there 100% for her work as well as for her family. As one would expect, she fails and mistakes are made. It is distressing to realize that Louise does not trust her own judgement.
This plot featured social outcasts and a charismatic man who preyed upon their vulnerabilities. It was so disturbing to be reminded that there are many people we see every day who are ‘invisible’, people who have no one to really miss them if they were to disappear…. How lonely and desperate they must be.
The setting – Weston-super-Mare, a seaside tourist town in Somerset, England and the backstory of the protagonist added much to the narrative.
In case you haven’t yet guessed, I loved “The Descent” just as much as its predecessor “The Crossing“, and can’t wait to read the next novel in the Louise Blackwell series which is called “The Gorge”. Highly recommended!
This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Thomas & Mercer via NetGalley.
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (an imprint of Amazon Publishing UK)
ISBN: 9781542017008 ASIN: B0838ZYNWB 368 pages
Following his law degree where he developed an interest in criminal law, Matt Brolly completed his Masters in Creative Writing at Glasgow University. He reads widely across all genres. He is the bestselling author of the DCI Lambert crime novels Dead Water, Dead Eyed, Dead Lucky, Dead Embers and Dead Time; the acclaimed near-future crime novel Zero; and the US-based thriller The Controller. Matt also writes children’s books as M. J. Brolly. Matt lives in London with his wife and their two young children. You can find more out about Matt at his website MattBrolly.co.uk or by following him on Twitter: @MattBrollyUK