Nine Elms: a good start, that suffers from way too must first book-itis

What is this about?: Kate caught a prolific serial killer when she was on the force, but that case also saw her have to leave the force. Years later, Kate is a lecturer and recovering alcoholic when that case resurfaces.

What else is this about?: An introduction to Kate and her issues, some of which I can’t mention in the book review, because spoilers. There’s a lot of potential here, but the first book doesn’t go nearly enough into the good bits.

Blurb

Robert Bryndza is ready to take the world by bestselling storm again with the introduction of Kate Marshall, a woman with a dark secret and a powerful sense of justice.

Sixteen years ago, Kate Marshall was a rising star in the London Metropolitan police force. Young, ambitious and driven, with a talent for getting into the minds of criminals, she solved several high-profile murder cases.

But when Kate was tasked with tracking down a vicious serial killer, even her instinct and ability to immerse herself in violent worlds couldn’t help her find him – until he found her.

Now, years after her narrow escape, Kate lives a quiet life on the English coast, though her years with the police are still with her. And when one day she receives a letter from someone in her past, she is pulled back into the twisted mind of a murderer she knows only too well – and into a case only she can solve.

Nine Elms follows Kate, now a lecturer (teaching crime) years after she caught Peter Conway, a serial killer she was tracking as part of the police force. Her world unravelled after that, to the point that she is now a recovering alcoholic and lost custody of her son to her parents.

Together with her assistant Tristan she begins to investigate a missing girl, who her parents are convinced was one of Conways’ victims. At the same time, murders (just like Conway’s) begin to happen again, revealing that Conway is hardly out of the game, and he and his mother, Enid, are far more dangerous than Kate knows.

Mothers and their sons

Running through the book is a question of what makes a son: are they born evil? Or does nurture play a part? Kate’s relationship with her son is on its ways to being better, I think is the best word. Their past plays an important part in this book.

By the same token, her relationship with Tristan is something like  a mother-son relationship as well. They’re bound by the same interest in investigating crimes, while Jake (her son) is much younger and is very much a kid. Tristan will always share more of Kate’s world than Jake ever will.

However, given that it’s the first in a series, this is arguably just laying the foundations for something far more indepth later on, but the relationships with Kate and Tristan and Kate and Jake were not as fully formed as I would have hoped. It meant for much of the book, I felt shortchanged in terms of character, though I liked the plot well enough to keep going.

Peter and Enid on the other hand have a seriously twisted relationship, in contrast to Kate and her relationships. Their chapters genuinely make me feel slimy — which I suppose is a sign of a successful bad guy?

The case itself follows Kate and Tristan as they investigate the murders, and revealing bit by bit just what is happening, and how Peter Conway has to do it with it all. It’s a solid crime and investigation, just a wee bit let down by not as fully developed characters as I would have liked.

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