Rennick, Robert - The Fallen
Hopefully the first in a series, THE FALLEN introduces middle-aged reporter Iain Hogan. Saved from unemployment by his old mentor, Hogan, as he prefers to be known, has accepted the job of chief reporter for the newest paper on the Isle of Wight, the Wight Evening Star. Hogan moves there alone having separated from his wife after she had an affair.
Even before his job starts for real, he stumbles on his first story and what a story it ultimately turns out to be. Following the sirens of a police car he arrives at the scene of a young woman who has fallen from the cliffs above. To the onlookers' surprise, she turns out to be alive, but barely. Carrying no identification, the police are stumped as to who she is and without a relative's permissive, they cannot publish her photo in the paper. PC Emma Thomas is assigned the case and befriends Hogan and it's not long before they are lovers. A witness comes forward claiming to have seen the young woman arguing with a local autistic man on the cliff path. The police are swift to make an arrest but Hogan isn't convinced they have the right person.
A subsequent reporting assignment provides Hogan with a new lead in the cliff-fall case, which takes him to Romania and the snowy streets of Bucharest. Whilst he's away, another young woman plunges off a cliff, this time to her death. The answers Hogan finds in Bucharest point to a perpetrator much nearer home and it's not long before his own life is threatened several times.
THE FALLEN is an engrossing read where nothing can be taken at face value. The story twists and turns and what's gone before can be constantly reinterpreted after new information comes to light. It's well written and the unusual setting is used to good effect. Any downsides are that the investigation is advanced by a number of coincidences and that nearly all the characters are unlikeable. Nonetheless, this is a psychological thriller that's well worth a look.
Karen Meek, England