Set in and around Salisbury in Wiltshire, England, this novel introduces the Detective Inspector Henry Ford police procedural series.
D.I. Henry Ford – newly promoted to the rank of Detective Inspector, Ford is keen to prove that he has earned his promotion. His team seem supportive for the most part, and Ford works long hours. Ford has a teenage son named Sam, who he tries to spend time with as much as he can, but he suffers from the single parent dilemma of work/life balance woes. It has been six years since the death of his wife and he and his son mourn her still. During his infrequent time off, he plays the guitar in a band playing local pubs.D.I Ford works out of the new Salisbury Police Station at Bourne Hill with the following team members:
D.S. Jan Derwent – a fifteen year veteran of the force and the team’s POLSA (police search advisor).
D.S. Mick Tanner – an ‘old-school’ copper who spends a lot of his free time at the gym.
Julie (Jools) Harper – ex-Army MP, her elfin physique masks her strength.
Olly Cable – a young copper who has been ‘fast-tracked’ with his degree in criminology.
Ford’s first big case as D.I. turns out to be more than he bargained for. A young nurse and her toddler son have been murdered. It seems that a trocar was used to let her blood… When several other deaths prove to be done in a similar way, Ford knows that he has a serial killer on his hands.
The ‘powers that be’ call the investigation “Operation Shoreline”.
His ‘gut’ tells him that his main suspect is a prominent medical man. His superiors shut him down. Several other suspects come to light when Ford and his team find connections to both the hospital and the local food bank…
This was an interesting and compelling beginning for a new police procedural series. The characters were engaging, and the story told with skill.
I appreciated the interpersonal dynamics of the police team. I liked the father son relationship between Ford and his son Sam. The addition of a new police CSI officer named Hannah Fellowes, who has Aspergers, added greatly to the narrative and would seem a logical love interest for Ford in further novels. Her candor and forthrightness, along with her brilliant brain was a joy to read.
If I had to find any negatives about the book, I’d have to say that Henry’s extreme feelings of survivor’s guilt over his beloved wife’s death was a tad repetitive. Yes, he had made an impossible choice, but he had NO choice really. It was have her die, or have them both die. The blurb emphasized his feelings of guilt and his ‘dark’ secrets. I thought the blurb was a tad misleading.
Also, I cannot for the life of me figure out why the novel was entitled “Shallow Ground“. I could not connect the title with this story in any way. What am I missing?
As the reader, I was privy to the serial killer’s motivations (though not his identity), so while reading I was waiting for D.I. Ford and his team to find and apprehend him. The red-herring suspect was well rendered and skillfully misguided the reader as planned.
Some readers might find the narrative a bit gruesome in places, but those who read a lot of police procedural and serial killer thrillers will not mind a bit.
All in all, an enjoyable and compelling start to a new series. 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.
Publication date: Nov. 10, 2020 Publisher: Thomas & Mercer / Amazon Publishing UK
Andy Maslen was born in Nottingham, in the UK, home of legendary bowman Robin Hood.
Andy once won a medal for archery, although he has never been locked up by the sheriff. He has worked in a record shop, as a barman, as a door-to-door DIY products salesman and a cook in an Italian restaurant.
He lives in Wiltshire with his wife, two sons and a whippet named Merlin.
Follow Andy Maslen on Twitter @Andy_Maslen