Sara Bain

The Sleeping Warrior

"I never imagined that crime and fantasy could be combined in one book, but here Sara Bain does just that."


The life of London solicitor Libby Butler is in a mess. She lives with her partner Tony, she's having an affair with her boss Carl, and her job, for all her ambitiousness, is going nowhere. She gets a phone call in the middle of the night from East Dulwich police station. Could she come to the station right away, as they have 'a foreign man' in custody who needs a solicitor? The man turns out to be the mysterious, leather-clad, Gabriel Radley, who had already escaped, six days before, from another police station. He says he is in search of a stone which will bring an evil man to justice.

When Libby agrees to help him, her life is changed forever. She becomes embroiled in a murder enquiry led by DCI Prendergast, into a serial killer who is stalking South London (and she nearly becomes a victim herself), as well as Red Rose, a Russian assassin, a mysterious cult called 'The Awakened', and a ruthless gangland boss. The question is - are they connected? Who is this 'evil man' that Gabriel talks about? Why was Libby targeted by the serial killer? The action moves between London, the island of Arran in the Firth of Clyde, and the Western Highlands.

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I never imagined that crime and fantasy could be combined in one book, but here Sara Bain does just that. However, the fantasy element, enjoyable though it is, never impinges on the criminal investigation side of the plot. We have two mysteries here. We have a whodunit - who is the serial killer and what motivates him? - and a fantasy element surrounding Gabriel Radley and his quest for the fabulous stone. Who is Gabriel? Where does he come from? What exactly is this stone and what power does it have? The two elements are intertwined, though the problems with the criminal investigation side of things are not resolved by 'magic'. The uncovering of the identity of the serial killer is particularly satisfying, and it's all down to Libby herself. There is a 'closing of the circle' (I will say no more than that) in her uncovering of the killer. The clues are all there, yet I was taken by surprise when all was revealed. Dig deep into the plot, and you'll see that the author deals with the concepts of identity, what motivates us, and (the title of the book is a clue here) the sleeping warrior that lies within us all. And maybe she's discovered a new fiction genre - fantasy and crime in the one book. It certainly works for me. It's a great read, with a satisfying ending that deliberately leaves one thing unresolved - maybe for a further book?

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