Saturday, October 14, 2017

Book Review: 'A Dark and Twisted Tide' by Sharon Bolton

Sharon Bolton's latest Lacey Flint novel, "A Dark and Twisted Tide," has a multifaceted plot that keeps us rapidly turning pages to find out what will happen next. Since her last near-fatal adventure, Lacey is back in uniform and has spent two months as a constable in the Metropolitan Police's Marine Unit. She lives on a houseboat on the Thames River, and takes illegal "wild" swims in its treacherous and filthy waters.

Lacey cannot stay out of trouble for long. While swimming, she finds a linen-shrouded corpse that was weighed down and left fastened to a landing stage. Why did the killer wrap and tie up the victim in such a bizarre manner? DI Dana Tulloch reluctantly allows Flint to take an active role in what will prove to be a dangerous and unpredictable investigation.

Bolton's considerable research pays off in her detailed and vivid description of London's fabled river, the buildings that border it, and the people who live on or near its banks. The Thames is portrayed as a force of nature, with its changeable moods, shifting tides that surge and retreat, tunnels, slithering marine creature, and terrible secrets that it conceals from prying eyes. On the other hand, rowing on the Thames can be an ethereal experience, especially when Lacey is lucky enough to behold the following glorious sight: "The river was pink, shrouded in mist, the early sun behind her coasting its light over London, turning it into a city of coral and smoke."

"A Dark and Twisted Tide" is a well-crafted thriller in which Lacey is happier and more confident than she has been in quite a while. Bolton touches on such themes as how greed impels men to commit immoral acts; the exploitation of helpless and desperate women; and how traumatic experiences can unhinge people's minds. The author's fluid style, lively dialogue, evocative use of setting, and colorful figurative language all contribute to the novel's impact. There are a few predictable elements and far-fetched twists, but they are offset by Bolton's skill at keeping her engrossing story moving along swiftly and entertainingly. The love of Lacey's life, DI Mark Joesbury, plays a minor role in this installment, since he is working undercover. Fortunately, Lacey is such a strong and vibrant presence that she carries this four-hundred page book on her slender but strong shoulders, with a little help from her fellow cops and several fascinating villains.

Editor's note: This review was written by Eleanor Bukowsky and has been reposted with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right

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