Adrian Magson is the author of 20 crime and spy thrillers, including the Harry Tate series, the Lucas Rocco series and the Marc Portman series. His latest books are ‘The Locker’ (Midnight Ink - Feb 2016) the first in a new thriller series, and ‘Hard Cover’ (Severn House - March 2016), the third of his Marc Portman novels.
Rachel is a police DI when her young son, Joe, goes missing. That, for her, is bad enough. But when the outcome reveals that he is dead, allegedly murdered by her cousin, Michael, her world falls apart, along with her job and marriage.
Four years later, back in her old job but still carrying the burden of anger, guilt, loss and a feeling of her failure to protect Joe, she learns that Michael is being moved from a secure to a step-down unit and eventual release.
Sadly for Rachel, it’s not merely thoughts of Joe which haunt her (she senses his presence and the very smell of him following her around), but long-held feelings of disquiet surrounding her relationship with her mother, Margaret. Stiff, domineering, unsmiling and unloving, dressed and perfumed in lavender, she has never been able to show Rachel any love, even in her most desperate hours.
Rachel’s one supporter is Jonathan, a reporter and admirer, who is intrigued by the background to the murder, and reveals the apparent dysfunction enveloping the family may have links to events leading up to the murder.
Powered by an uncontrollable desire for revenge, Rachel works on a plan. This includes studying the history of women who have befriended prisoners on America’s Death Row, taking voice coaching lessons to learn an American accent; even having plastic surgery in Poland to lose all traces of Rachel and take on the persona of Amanda, instead.
Along the way, she encounters one person who seems to understand, an enigmatic landlady, Mrs Xu who, without knowing Rachel’s background, warns with stunning perception, ‘I know grief… hatred… desolation. No matter what you do, the problem is always there.’
This is a story of a family with superficial closeness, with fault lines concealed for the sake of appearance, where even close friends have conspired to cheat, where nothing is as it should be.
More than anything, it’s a gripping and haunting portrayal of the claustrophobia surrounding a mother's grief, loss, betrayal... and her desire for vengeance and justice.