'Shadow Sands' is the second title in the Kate Marshall series. The first, 'Nine Elms', set the scene perfectly and introduced us to a dedicated career woman who suffered mentally, physically and emotionally at the hands of a serial killer. Years later, she is still suffering, and the fallout has changed her entire world. The scenes with Kate and the serial killer, Peter Conway are beautifully written. They're cold and the chills ooze out of the page. A detective meeting a serial killer is always going to be compared to 'Silence of the Lambs', and there are elements of that here, but Bryndza has obviously kept an eye on not descending into what is expected of him. Conway is pure evil and Kate is pure class.
The personal lives of Kate and her assistant, Tristan, are wonderfully weaved into the plot and never distract from the main focus. However, Bryndza has created two very likeable characters. That is when you know you're onto a winner, when you wish you could spend time with the characters. There's a chapter where recovering alcoholic Kate almost falls off the wagon; I defy anyone not to scream at the page telling her to put the glass down. If this is a long running series, and there is no doubt in my mind that it won't be, we're going to love Kate and Tristan as much as we love McDermid's Tony Hill and Griffiths' Ruth Galloway.
The plot of 'Shadow Sands', a serial killer claiming victims going back years and the police having no idea, is not an original one, but it's no less gripping thanks to the deftly written prose and the unique characterisation Bryndza gives to his supporting players. Some of the victims are only briefly mentioned, yet we know enough to care about them and for justice to be served.
Kate Marshall is a reluctant private detective, but by the end of the novel, she knows where her future lies and the third book is beautifully set up. In 'Shadow Sands', my favourite aspect is Tristan coming to terms with his sexuality and the very real conversations with his sister. It was heartfelt, and in the midst of a dark storyline, it was touching. If you've yet to read 'Nine Elms', make it a priority, then move straight on to 'Shadow Sands'. You won't regret it. Bryndza is a born storyteller.