Beneath the water the body sank rapidly. She would lie still and undisturbed for many years but above her on dry land, the nightmare was just beginning.
When Detective Erika Foster receives a tip-off that key evidence for a major narcotics case was stashed in a disused quarry on the outskirts of London, she orders for it to be searched. From the thick sludge the drugs are recovered, but so is the skeleton of a young child.
The remains are quickly identified as seven-year-old Jessica Collins. The missing girl who made headline news twenty-six years ago.
As Erika tries to piece together new evidence with the old, she must dig deeper and find out more about the fractured Collins family and the original detective, Amanda Baker. A woman plagued by her failure to find Jessica. Erika soon realises this is going to be one of the most complex and demanding cases she has ever taken on.
Is the suspect someone close to home? Someone is keeping secrets. Someone who doesn’t want this case solved. And they’ll do anything to stop Erika from finding the truth.
Transferred to Bromley police station at the end of the last book (The Night Stalker) because she couldn’t quite follow the rules, Dark Water opens with Erika Foster working to catch drug dealers not murderers, not something that makes her happy. When the body of a young girl is found after being missing over 20 years as part of another investigation, Erika wants the case, convincing her former boss to pull some strings so she could be put in charge and bringing her old team back together.
Opening any cold case would be hard enough but this one is more difficult still because, first time round, it was handled badly by the police who were convinced they had found their man but couldn’t prove it. Wracked with guilt about not being able to get a conviction the former detective in charge – Amanda Baker – has left the force and fallen apart. Knowing that Jessica Collins has now been found breathes new life into Amanda, who is determined this time round she will figure out who took her.
Whether it’s Amanda or Erika investigating, there are plenty of secrets and lies to unravelling, meaning lots of twists, turns and red herrings for the reader – something I love. I really didn’t know what was coming next and still hadn’t completely figured it out by the final chapters. The truth, when it does come though, feels right. There is nothing tagged on about the ending, which can sometimes be the case with this genre.
I was rooting for Erika and her team the whole way. Erika is a bit of a live wire and a dog with a bone but she also has a vulnerable side, one that makes you warm to her. I was glad to see that, with this case, she wasn’t taken off it. That has happened in the last two and could have easily become a habit. Instead, she seemed able to reign herself in a little. Her two main detectives, Moss and Peterson, are well rounded and characters in their own right, not just there as a foil for their boss. I want to get to know them more and hope they make more of an appearance in future books.
The story itself was tightly plotted and had a great pace. It was well written and kept me turning the pages (and up late to finish it). There are some really good descriptive passages in the book, which set the scene, making it feel more real – I could imagine the dark, cold, quarry and Erika’s tiny flat over-run by family. It all means that Robert Bryndza is fast becoming one of my favourite authors and Erika Foster fast becoming one of my favourite fictional detectives. I loved this book and can’t recommend it enough.
note: I received this book from netgalley in return for a fair and honest review. All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own.