White, Neil - 'Lost Souls'
This is the second novel by criminal prosecutor Neil White, and the second one to feature his crime-fighting duo, Jarrett and McGanity. Journalist Jack Jarrett and PC Laura McGanity are back to solve another string of murders and things are not any easier for them. This book is as every bit as excellent as White's previous offering, FALLEN IDOLS, with plenty of excitement, character development and tension that builds as the plot progresses.
Laura and Jack have moved out of London and up to Lancashire, near Turner's Fold - Jack's hometown - to build a life for themselves and provide a home for Bobby, Laura's son. Laura has transferred to a police station in Blackley and finds the pace very different to the one she has left behind. Jack is finding life as a freelance reporter in a small town rather challenging and is struggling to come up with another big story. Neither of them has to wait for long before getting caught up in the action again, although it is different to before, as their boundaries have changed, and Laura is no longer as willing to share things with her man.
Children have been going missing all summer. They are returned to their parents several days later, completely unharmed but with no recollection of what had happened to them. Panic spreads in the Blackley community but nobody is charged and the kidnappings continue. Strange as it seems, though, all the kidnappings are of young boys from dysfunctional families. What is the motive of the kidnapper? No-one can work it out and, as the incidents continue, children are no longer let out after dark.
Then, a mutilated body is found on a housing estate. A young woman has been murdered and horrendously disfigured in her own home. She is discovered by Eric Randle, her elderly friend. Eric says that he dreamed of what had happened and went to check on her, only to find her already dead. He then approaches one of the town's solicitors, Sam Nixon. He says he has dreams and paints the future and that he is worried about Sam. But Sam is troubled by dreams of his own and already has enough on his plate with domestic issues and work pressures. He has no time for Eric and passes him over to Jack, thinking that, as it is the reporter's job to listen, Eric will leave him alone.
Laura and Jack's separate investigations eventually reveal that the murder and the kidnappings are linked. Eric, Sam, Sam's boss, Sam's wife and Sam's sons are all caught up in the mess and their lives could be in danger. Just what is the connection between the two crimes? Why does Sam wake up every night in a cold sweat, dreaming of running down a dark corridor searching for someone? Is Eric a fraud or could there be some truth to his outlandish claims? Is he the killer? There is plenty of evidence to suggest he is guilty.
If you've ever had a dream that you think has come true this book will make you squirm. As with White's last book, just when you think you've got it worked out you discover that you haven't. Again similar to the last book, it is fairly easy to identify the killer before you are told who it is, but this doesn't spoil things and there are still plenty of surprises along the way. There is also the added bonus of a completely unexpected twist at the end that makes you really keen to read the next instalment of life with Jack and Laura.
Neil White's next book is due in May 2009 and from the taster at the back of LOST SOULS, it promises to be another fantastic read!
Amanda C M Gillies, Scotland