Book Review: Nine Elms by Robert Bryndza
Nine Elms is the first in a brand new series from Robert Bryndza featuring a former police detective who solved a career-defining case only to have it drastically alter her life.
Kate Marshall was a promising young police detective when she caught the notorious Nine Elms serial killer. But her greatest victory suddenly became a nightmare.
Fifteen years after those catastrophic, career-ending events, a copycat killer has taken up the Nine Elms mantle, continuing the ghastly work of his idol.
Enlisting her brilliant research assistant, Tristan Harper, Kate draws on her prodigious and long-neglected skills as an investigator to catch a new monster. But there’s much more than her reputation on the line: Kate was the original killer’s intended fifth victim . . . and his successor means to finish the job.
Robert Bryndza cleverly chooses to open Nine Elms by first going back fifteen years and showing us how the end game to that altogether life-changing case played out. In visiting the crime scene of the killer’s most recent victim and the scenes which follow, we not only get a sense of the brutal crimes committed but we also see Kate Marshall as she then was, how she uncovers who the killer is and the way she interacts with him in those critical moments immediately after making her discovery. These are key to helping us understand just how much she has had to give up and how greatly the case impacted upon her life and career.
I was intrigued as to how Kate was going to investigate the copycat killings since she’s no longer in the police force but a request for a second opinion from a guest lecturer on her course and a plea for help in a cold case from the parents of a missing girl provide Kate and her research assistant Tristan with a seemingly innocuous and credible way in to begin their investigations.
I would have liked to have known a little bit more about Tristan in this first book but hope to discover more about him as the series continues. The relationship between him and Kate could be interesting, too. Kate clearly trusts and values him enough to open up to him and involve him so closely in the investigations and, while I think she asks a lot of him, she does check in with him periodically to make sure he’s okay with what they’re doing and wants to continue. Crucially, she also has his back when his research position looks like being compromised.
Together with some characters which we’re likely to see in subsequent books, Bryndza also opens up the world of Nine Elms’ serial killer to us. Again, having met the killer in his earlier incarnation, it was interesting to see how different his life is now in comparison. We also learn more about his background and family, even if that is both troubling and disturbing. I enjoyed having these stories run in parallel, together with the growing presence of the copycat killer and hints of his motivation and identity.
These three threads coming together ensure that Nine Elms only gathers pace as the victim count rises. And while there are scenes where the copycat killer’s victims are still alive, they’re not too graphic and cut away before the worst happens. It is hard to stomach reading about such violence against women, especially when they’re young women as in this case, yet despite this, I found the insight we’re given into the Nine Elms serial killer and his copycat’s intent and motivation made for strangely compelling reading.
Nine Elms is an assured start to this new series by Robert Bryndza and makes an extremely persuasive case for switching up your daily routine. I’ll be very interested to see where he goes next with it.
Nine Elms by Robert Bryndza is published by Sphere, a Little, Brown imprint. It is available as an audiobook, ebook and in hardback with the paperback out in June this year. You can find it at Amazon UK or buy it from Hive instead, where every purchase you make helps support your local independent bookshop. And you can read the first chapter here: Nine Elms sample.
Robert Bryndza is the author of the Erika Foster series of books beginning with The Girl in the Ice. For more on him and his books, check out his Author Website or Facebook Page, or you can find him on Instagram or on Twitter.
My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy and the ebook via NetGalley.
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