Robert Bryndza is the writer of the Erika Foster series of crime fiction novels. With 'Nine Elms', he launches a new series, stepping away from police procedure and into psychopathy with a dark and twisted serial killer thriller.
Protagonist Kate Marshall is a former detective now working as a university lecturer but on the cusp of a new career as a private detective. Along with her assistant, Tristan, they decide to help an elderly couple search for their daughter, missing for more than twenty years, who, they believe it linked to a serial killer who ended Kate's career.
The crime is disturbingly dark and Bryndza touches on some shocking themes including child grooming, rape and mutilation. There is always a risk in writing about sensitive issues and using them as a puerile form of entertainment for the sake of storytelling. However, Bryndza escapes that with a touching narrative, and creating well-devised characters who fit the story rather than going for the shock factor.
Kate Marshall is a likeable character. Still suffering the aftermath of a violet attack fifteen years later, she's a shadow of her former self as she battles alcoholism and struggles with missing out on bringing up her son. It's these battles that we witness as she investigates, and almost falling off the wagon and the tear-jerking Skype calls with her son, that make her human, interesting, and who, as the reader, we hope will succeed. Her assistant, Tristan, is a wonderful sidekick and there are many layers to him that I am sure will be revealed in future books. Together, they make a formidable team.
It's rare to find a modern crime thriller about a private detective, and when done correctly, it can be a joy to read. I think Robert Bryndza has done a sterling job and will relaunch the private detective genre. 'Nine Elms' is dark, gripping and the very essence of a page turner.