Kate Marshall dives into a new case in Shallow Sands, the second book in this exciting new series from Robert Bryndza, when an initial discovery of hers brings something altogether more disturbing to the surface.
When Kate Marshall finds the bloated body of a young man floating in the Shadow Sands reservoir, the authorities label it a tragic accident.
But the details don’t add up: why was he there, in the middle of the night? If he was such a strong swimmer, how did he drown? As Kate and her assistant Tristan Harper follow the evidence, they make a far darker discovery . . .
This is only the latest victim in a series of bloody murders dating back decades. A mythic serial killer is said to hide in the rolling fog, abducting his victims like a phantom. And when another woman is taken, Kate and Tristan have a matter of days to save her from meeting the same fate.
Shadow Sands sees the welcome return of lecturer and former police officer Kate Marshall, together with her research assistant, Tristan. Being reunited with these characters feels very much like picking up again with friends, who you might not see that often but when you do, it’s as if you’ve never been apart. It felt great to get back together again so soon after our first encounter, even if that did mean another serial killer might be at large.
While Shadow Sands is out within eleven months of its predecessor, the action itself starts two years on from that in Nine Elms, which found Kate and Tristan on the trail of a copycat serial killer. Robert Bryndza seamlessly feeds us what we need to know about what’s been happening since then and what we learned during that first case in order to appreciate what plays out here in Shadow Sands. (You don’t need to have read Nine Elms in order to enjoy this latest book but it’s such a great introduction to their pairing, while also providing Kate’s backstory and being an intriguing case in its own right, that I’d highly recommend you start there and then read this.)
Just as he does in Nine Elms, Robert Bryndza is adept at managing Kate’s civilian status and making it credible for her to become involved in the investigation. Or rather, investigations. Her discovery of the first body, while enjoying the last of the summer break with her teenage son, together with Tristan’s no-show of a date, put them within the orbit of both cases—one dead body, one missing person—enough to pique their interest.
I was practically raging about the potential injustices being done in each case and how various people’s apathy, or potential corruption, was responsible for there being more and more victims the longer things continued as they were. Once Kate and Tristan discover how quickly one investigation is being wrapped up or how little anyone else is bothered about the other, it seems only natural that they take them on. At this point, I breathed a sigh of relief on behalf of the victims, past and present, that Kate and Tristan weren’t willing to take things at face value and were prepared to look at the anomalies in each case, and dig deeper to get to the truth.
It’s one of the things I really admire about Kate Marshall: she doesn’t take the path of least resistance in any area of her life. She doesn’t cave or get lazy, and, although she’s tested and comes close to stumbling along the way, she always chases down that lead, questions a potential witness, listens to the other side of the argument and/or faces her demons to achieve the best outcome and be confident that she has given it her all. Shadow Sands will see Kate tested in a number of ways, both professionally and personally, as the investigation forces her to to question the actions of a police force she was once a part of, tests her sobriety, all while dealing with her teenager’s reaction to their find, along with the questions he has about his own identity, which forces an unwelcome reunion upon her.
Tristan will face his own challenges in this book, which gives me the character development that I was craving after having read Nine Elms. I liked how much more of him we saw in this book, and the part he plays in the investigation, including the courage he shows for someone without Kate’s police training or background. I also really like how mutually supportive of each other he and Kate become in this book; they don’t always have to say anything but they do seem to be aware of each other in a way that makes them sensitive to when one or the other has something going on in their lives. From sitting with Tristan and letting him talk, or extending a compliment, to turning up unannounced with a breakfast roll, these two seem to have a sound, albeit intense, working relationship and complement each other well.
Bryndza’s second outing for this fledging team of detectives makes for as compulsive reading as his first and led me on an adrenalin-fuelled hunt to find the missing person, before they added to the body count, and track down whoever was capable of committing such depraved acts, alongside Kate and Tristan. Shadow Sands pulled me in from the opening pages and didn’t let me up for air until I finished it. I don’t think I’ll be rushing to any local reservoirs after lockdown lifts this coming Monday, mind. Possibly not for a while.
Shadow Sands by Robert Bryndza is the second book in the Kate Marshall series and is published by Sphere, a Little, Brown imprint. It is available as an audiobook, ebook and in hardback with the paperback due out next year. You can find it at Amazon UK (affiliate link) or buy it instead from Hive.
My thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy for review.