A shallow grave – a woman murdered. Once star reporter Rachel has succumbed to alcoholism but now she is desperate to investigate Gemma’s disappearance.
What would you do if you’re living a lie? What if you’ve got so much potential but the booze gets in the way? Why jeopardise everything you have – everyone you love – for the thrill of pleasure or lust? How do a few seemingly harmless events end up with death and deception? This is in a nutshell what Louise Mullins’ psychological thriller is about. The book starts with a nocturnal scene that promises no good – a grave is being dug, a body to be disposed of. There is talk of “something ethereal” in the night, but there is nothing heavenly in the dead body’s “nauseating smell”. Whose body? We don’t know. But we are bound to find out. Soon.
Rachel used to be a promising crime journalist before the alcohol took over. The crack reporter from before, with notebooks full of interesting scribbles for yet another fascinating articles, a shadow from the woman she used to be. Nowadays, her only hope (often in vain) is to wake up knowing she has not made a mess of herself the day before. Rachel can still be brilliant as long as she is able to focus and persist her investigations. Her latest assignment: writing a feature article on missing persons. During her research, she comes across the disappearance of eighteen-year-old Gemma late on a Friday night after leaving Bristol University. It triggers a reaction with Rachel and she wonders whether it is Gemma’s body lying in the grave in the woods. Gemma’s life before she went missing was complicated: her mother died after whose death stepfather Kevin started to drink heavily and there was a rejected (married) boyfriend.
Then there is handsome Lee with his captivating green eyes who preys on women. We learn to know Lee’s inner thoughts and how he is involved in the lives of several women. One of Lee’s thoughts keeps haunting us “.. the fact that he had seen only recently just how quickly human life can end.” Rachel knows Lee for quite some time, back when she started the slippery slope downwards to alcoholism. As the Boston Police have no clue as to the murderer in the case of the woman in the woods, Detective Inspector Mike Blake is happy to cooperate with Rachel about Gemma’s disappearance. Rachel is driven to find out what happened, even if she blacks out from time to time, even when she suspects someone is following her. Gemma was also followed the days before she disappeared, could this be the same person and if so, is Rachel in mortal danger? Time for Rachel to lose that alcoholic daze, get herself together and investigate!
Louise Mullins has written a fascinating and gripping thriller, set in Bristol, the city where she lives. She paints a picture of the lives of those involved but deliberately leaves out several details. Some we get familiar with in later chapters, some we can only guess at. Each chapter has the names of the main characters in the title along with the date. That helps putting in perspective the events in the book. It is a well-written enjoyable read, despite the darkness sometimes poetic “the moonlight casts a shadow over the shallow grave.”
About the Author
Louise Mullins is the author of five psychological crime thrillers and two historical crime novels, among which Beautiful Liar (Jan.3rd, 2017, my review) and What I Never Told You (Feb. 14 2017, my review). Next to her husband and children, reading and writing are important. Louise Mullins herself says about writing: “If I couldn’t write, I’d be an irritable stress-head. Writing frees the mind, allows you to express yourself, releases your thoughts.”
|Publisher||CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (18 July 2016)|