A former Customs and Police Officer, Andrew Hill is just putting the finishing touches to the first book in a crime series set in the New Forest, where he lived for 30 years. An avid reader across the crime genre and regular at Crimefest, he now lives in West Sussex and works in property.
Tony Black is well named. So if you like your coffee Americano, your night moonless and your chocolate dark, he’s an author you need to check out. This is the third in the DI Bob Valentine series, and this time we find him returning to front line duties, after recovering from a near fatal stabbing.
When the bodies of two young boys are found bound and buried in a barrel on a remote farm, he’s drawn into an investigation that threatens his job and marriage. The complication is that Valentine starts to experience visions of one of the murdered boys, it appears that he has some sort of connection that may help the investigation. His visions point to a cold case from over 30 years ago, and involving a now closed school for boys, child abuse and links to a long dead politician.
Aided by DS Sylvia McCormack, Valentine is relentless in his pursuit of the truth and the perpetrators. Along the way he upsets a local businessman, who’d recently purchased the land that the barrel was found upon, his superiors who want the case kept quiet, and an MP who may have an insight on the cold case.
With a dual timeline leaving you in no doubt about the grim existence pupils in the now closed boy’s school endured. The author doesn’t shy away from the subject matter, and handles with a compassionate eye avoiding voyeurism or titillation.
Whilst the narrative contains shocks and horror, it’s also essential to the story and Tony Black is sensitive in how he manages the darkness producing a gripping, horrifying and well-paced tale of crime fiction.