Mari Hannah

Without a Trace

""...a rollercoaster of a ride..." "


Flight 0113 from Heathrow to JFK has disappeared from the radar screens over the Atlantic Ocean. Jo Soulsby, ex-girlfriend of Detective Chief Inspector Kate Daniels of the Northumbria Police had been booked on that flight. But had she actually boarded? Kate has no authority to investigate the incident, but she decides she will, and inveigles herself onto a British/American team that is doing just that. Kate goes undercover as a baggage handler at Heathrow to find out more, but for all her work there, questions still remain. How did an explosive device get onto the plane? Was it a terrorist attack? Did Jo actually board the flight? The plot weaves in and out as the story progresses, and red herrings abound.

Meanwhile, back in Northumbria a notorious gangster and drug baron has been murdered. Bright, Kate's boss, orders her back to investigate, but she convinces him that she must remain in London. She gets a mysterious message from someone from her past who wants to meet her. He is a former gangster, a ruthless, bloodthirsty man, and Kate warily agrees. He mysteriously tells her she is looking in the wrong place for answers—she should go back to Northumbria.

Through all of this, Kate is distraught about Jo, for the evidence is mounting that she did indeed board the plane. She returns to Northumbria, only to discover that events there are just as bloody and convoluted as they are in London. Another murder takes place, the body being dumped on the steps of Police HQ in Newcastle. Gradually a picture emerges—one which is far removed from the investigations taking place in London and the US. Drugs are involved, as is revenge and gang warfare. When the solution to the disappearance of the aircraft is revealed, it is shown to be simple and straightforward act, with no thought given to the 301 passengers killed.

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This is the seventh book in Mari Hannah's Kate Daniels series, and it is a rollercoaster of a ride, with the tension unrelenting as the story progresses. Kate is an intelligent, driven woman, married to her job. But she has an unfeeling, self-centred streak about her which may turn some readers off. She seems more concerned about Jo than she does about the fate of the 301 passengers on board the plane, for instance. She uses her underlings in an offhand way, even though they are trying to comfort her about Jo. But no doubt Ms Hannah would say that this is how Kate's mind works, and it adds to the tension and —yes—enjoyable thrills of a complicated, bloodthirsty, yet understandable plot. The book is eminently readable, though perhaps some passages are a little over-written. But this is something I'm prepared to forgive, as it is a good, satisfying, solid read, one that I recommend.

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