Thursday, 8 May 2014

A Dark and Twisted Tide by Sharon Bolton

These past three-and-a-half weeks have been a crazy haze of essay writing, editing, reading and revision. I have pretty much lost all sense of dates and days of the week, but there remains a ticking countdown in my head checking off the days and hours until my degree is finally over. I'm handing in four essays totalling 15,000 words in four days, my first exam starts in five days and the last exam of my academic career is in twelve. As much as I can't wait for the freedom, I also wouldn't mind if another couple of weeks materialised somewhere so I can revise some more!

Anyway, that's the reason why the blog has been dead for a month. A Dark and Twisted Tide was one of my most anticipated books for 2014 and is published today (8 May) and so here's my review. Now, back to the edits and revision ...

A Dark and Twisted Tide (2014) (Bantam Press)
Sharon Bolton
Grade: A-
Genre: gothic thriller crime
Sex scenes: MORE sexual tension
Source: NetGalley
Lacey Flint: (1) Now You See Me, (1.5) If Snow Hadn't Fallen, (2) Dead Scared, (3) Like This, For Ever, (4) A Dark and Twisted Tide
Fiction Reading Bingo Challenge 2014: A book by a female author 

Crime keeps coming to find former detective Lacey Flint. After her last big case, Lacey took the difficult decision of going back into uniform and taking life easy – or so she’d hoped. She’s now part of the Thames Marine Unit, getting used to living on a houseboat and her new peaceful lifestyle, but murder has other ideas. Swimming in the Thames one morning, Lacey comes across a body laboriously wrapped and preserved in some sort of burial ritual that the police are unable to identify. Lacey can’t help but get involved and her former team are more than willing to have her back.

As the bodies of more young girls surface from the depths of the river, all killed and wrapped in the same way, there’s no question that these deaths are linked to a much bigger ring of criminal activity. As if Lacey didn’t have enough to worry about, small innocuous gifts start appearing on her boat and the man she loves, undercover detective Mark Joesbury has landed himself in a sticky situation in his latest case. It doesn’t take Lacey long to realise that someone intended for her to find the first body; it’s up to her to discover the connection between all the dead women and whether her secret admirer is a friend or foe …

It’s no secret that I have a rampant love affair going on with Sharon Bolton’s work, especially her Lacey Flint series. Ms Bolton is one of a tiny handful of authors whose books I need to read as a matter of life-or-death as soon as (or in cases such as this, before) they’re released. I devoured ADaTT in about two days despite promising myself that I wouldn’t, and I’m already hungering for more. One year is much too long a wait between Lacey Flint books and I have no idea whether there will be any more. I’m desperate for more Lacey and Joesbury, Dana and Helen and Lacey’s secrets and messed up life, but there’s a part of me that read the end of ADaTT as closure. I really really hope not.

I always find myself inadvertently trusting Lacey, forgetting that she’s an unreliable narrator, only for that fact to come back and bite me in the butt by the end of the book. For some reason, it was a little different in ADaTT. I don’t know whether it’s because Lacey is now a more familiar character after four-and-a-half books, or because we’ve learnt all the secrets that she’s willing to tell us for now. Either way, she’s become one of my favourite fictional heroines, regardless of her tendency to spring surprises that make my heart stop beating. She’s definitely a magnet for trouble despite her hardest attempts to make herself blend into the wallpaper, but whatever life throws at her, she manages to takes it into her stride. The underlying knowledge that her secrets could be revealed at any moment keeps me on the edge of my seat throughout the whole book.

I was (surprisingly) not as scared by ADaTT as I was by previous books. The nature and circumstances of the killings was similarly sickening, twisted and clever, but I personally think not quite as shocking as previous plots. That said, I would need to re-read all the books consecutively to make a proper assessment. The lower scare-factor is probably a good thing – on top of all the drama Lacey goes through in her personal life, I don’t think my heart could take any more. This is a personal assessment; I’m looking forward to reading other reviews to see what other readers thought.

The ONE thing I wanted to happen in this book, just one TINY thing that I’ve been rooting for since NYSM, and Ms Bolton still hasn’t given it to us, her loyal, sex-starved readers. With this much sexual tension built up, the series is not allowed to end without a full-on sex scene between Lacey and Joesbury, for the mental well-being of all of the fanbase. Ms Bolton has been quite open on her Facebook page in the run-up to today’s release that there is not a sex scene, but of course I didn’t know this while I was reading the book. I don’t think I’ve ever rooted for a couple more.

I am a complete glutton for Ms Bolton’s beautiful prose, scarred characters and twisted plots – it’s like a drug I can’t get enough of. You definitely, definitely must read this series from the beginning to get the whole picture; you’ll hate yourself if you don’t. Another wonderful addition to the series from a very talented author. My only quibble:what am I going to do till the next book?

Image courtesy of NetGalley.

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