Blog tour: 26 to 30 October 2021
You can cover up the truth, but every murder leaves a trail …
The rain was relentless. It stung Ruth Prendergast’s face as she dashed towards her house, desperate to escape the cold and settle down for an early night. But upon entering her bedroom, she finds a man, lying on her bed – a knife buried in his chest.
When Detective Isabel Blood and her sergeant arrive on the scene, Ruth claims she’s never laid eyes on the victim before. But with no sign of a break-in, how did the killer gain access to the house?
Then Ruth disappears, leaving Isabel and her team to fear the worst. Has their lead suspect escaped, or is Ruth in danger herself?
Forensic evidence at the crime scene is sparse, and it’s proving impossible for Isabel to make a breakthrough. With Ruth still missing, time is running out.
But how can you catch a killer that doesn’t leave a trace?
I read the author’s debut, In Cold Blood, for the blog tour last year and really enjoyed it so was keen to read this book when I heard about it!
Without a Trace is set in the fictional Derbyshire town of Bainbridge and the novel’s main protagonist is Detective Inspector (DI) Isabel Blood (56), wife of Nathan and mum to Kate, who lives in nearby Wirksworth, Ellie (14) and son, Bailey (who’s not mentioned in this novel).
Ruth Prendergast has only recently moved to the area after a divorce and getting a new job as an HR manager at a telecommunications company and one January evening, after a hard day at work, she’s shocked to discover the dead body of an unknown man in her bed. She’s got no idea who he is and the police are confused about how he got into the house as there is no sign of forced entry.
The timing of the murder investigation is particularly difficult for DI Isabel Blood who is on her way to the airport – and due to start two-weeks’ leave – when she’s phoned by her colleague, Detective Sergeant (DS) Dan Fairfax. She’s back in touch with her father, Donald Corrington, who she hasn’t seen for over forty years, after he left when she was 14 years old, and he’s visiting from France for a couple of weeks.
The case gets off to a slow start as the murder took place in a quiet cul-de-sac of only five houses called Hollybrook Close in the north side of Bainbridge and there are few witnesses to question. The victim, who was stabbed with a kitchen knife, is eventually identified as a 47-year-old local car mechanic who has a criminal record and is an alcoholic with a difficult past but doesn’t appear to have any particular enemies who would want him dead.
DI Blood delegates all the various tasks of the case well to her colleagues but she struggles to give the investigation her full attention with her dad and half-brother, Fabien, visiting. They’re staying at a local hotel and she’s desperate to spend time together to get to know them both but can’t with a murder to solve. When Ruth Prendergast goes missing, the police are even more confused and desperately try to put all the pieces of the jigsaw together, but struggle with a complete lack of evidence all round.
This was another gripping and well-paced police procedural from the author and I really enjoyed the way the cleverly plotted investigation slowly unfolded, with its frustrations and dead ends, before things eventually came together and the case was solved. It’s a satisfying, engaging read and I raced through it in a few hours.
The story was very entertaining, with some intriguing and surprising revelations. I had several theories about the identity of the killer as we met various suspects and learnt more about their connections to others but didn’t predict how it would all turn out.
I really like Isabel Blood – she’s dedicated to her job, methodical and thorough, and seems quite normal for a police detective with a lovely husband and children but has an interesting past, which adds another dimension to her character’s story.
Overall, I’m really enjoying this series with its good old-fashioned police work and I hope it won’t be too long before there’s another case in Bainbridge to solve! I’m looking forward to seeing how Isabel’s relationships with her father and half-brother develop and it would be good to get to know her colleagues, DS Fairfax and DC Piper, better too.
Buy the book
About the author
Jane Bettany is the author of In Cold Blood, a crime novel featuring DI Isabel Blood and set in the fictional Derbyshire town of Bainbridge. The book won the 2019 Gransnet and HQ writing competition, which was for women writers over the age of 40 who had written a novel with a protagonist in the same age range.
In Cold Blood was her first novel, but she has been writing short stories and non-fiction articles for over 20 years, many of which have appeared in women’s magazines, literary magazines, newspapers and online.
She lives in Derby and has an MA in Creative Writing.
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