Meet DI Hanlon. A woman with a habit of breaking the rules and a fierce loyalty to the few people she respects.
Her boss, Corrigan. Looks like a street copper promoted above his ability. Underestimate him at your peril.
Enver Demirel. Known in the boxing ring as Iron Hand. Now soft and gone to seed. But he would do anything for Hanlon.
When the kidnap of a 12-year-old boy blows the case of some missing children wide apart, the finger is pointing at the heart of the Met.
Corrigan sends in the only cop in his team who is incorruptible enough to handle it – Hanlon.
And then he sends Demirel to spy on her…
Once you start the DI Hanlon series, you won’t be able to put it down.
This book was previously published as Time To Die by Alex Howard.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I’ve read a couple of this author’s later books featuring this character, and it’s interesting to explore her past career as a Detective Inspector in the Metropolitan Police. DI Hanlon is dedicated, effective and uncontrollable. If you were a crime victim, you would want her as your Senior Investigating officer.
Set in the second decade of the twenty-first century the story’s subject matter is contemporary and disturbing, parts are harrowing to read but integral to moving the story forward and showing Hanlon’s motivations. Hanlon is an advocate of justice rather than an upholder of the law and easy to empathise. Several investigations are running concurrently in this character-driven story. It focuses on Hanlon and how she is affected by the cases and her subsequent involvement.
The ending is fast-paced, gritty and ultimately satisfying.
Extract from The Stolen Child – Alex Coombs
The compact, concrete shape of the World War Two gun emplacement crouched, hunkered down into the shallow, gravelly soil above the beach on the Essex side of the Thames Estuary near Southend. It overlooked the wide, grey shallow waters on whose far side lay the Isle of Grain and Sheerness. Hanlon guessed it was somewhere out there in those cold, steely waters that the proposed island airport for London might one day take shape. She thought, fleetingly, it would be a pity in a way if it happened. The North Sea waters had a chilly quality that she found rather beautiful. She looked around her slowly, the sky above enormous after London’s claustrophobic horizons. A heron stood on a boulder near the beach, shrugging its wings like an old lady arranging a shawl around her shoulders. Cormorants bobbed along on top of the water and she could see guillemots, their wings folded back like dive-bombers, thundering into the water. The calls of the birds floated towards her on the stiff sea breeze.
The tarmac track that led down from the main road above them was old, cracked and weed-grown. The ex-army building’s pitted, grey, artificial stone surface was now camouflaged with yellow, cream and blue-grey lichens and grey-green moss, so that it seemed almost organic, a part of the landscape like a strangely symmetric rock formation. There was a fissured, concrete apron next to the bunker and Hanlon pulled up adjacent to the large, white Mercedes van that she guessed belonged to the forensics team, then got out of her car. She stood for a moment by her Audi and closed her eyes. She felt the cold, fresh sea air against her skin and the breeze tugged at her shoulder-length dark hair. She could smell the metallic warmth of her car engine and the salt tang of the sea. The sound of the small waves breaking on the stony beach a hundred metres or so away were nearly drowned out by the throbbing of the generator next to the Mercedes. She could hear the keening of seagulls, much louder now, wheeling above in the sky. Hanlon stretched the powerful, sinewy muscles in her shoulders and arms and opened her eyes, which were as expressionless as the North Sea in front of her. She looked out over the water, feeling its call. Hanlon loved swimming in the open sea. Earlier that morning, at 6 a.m., she had swum for a steady hour in her local swimming pool, but pool swimming was nothing compared to real salt water. She guessed at this time of year the temperature would be only two or three degrees, colder than a fridge. That wouldn’t deter her.
She could taste its saltiness, carried to her lips by the wind.
A red power cable looped its way from the generator through the heavy, open metal door of the bunker. The door was rusted and pitted by time and the elements, but still substantial. Hanlon stepped over the line of police crime-scene tape that secured the area, blowing like bunting in the sea breeze, and approached the building. Earlier that day, the place would have been bustling with her colleagues from Essex. Now the uniforms had gone and the outside of the bunker, included in the search area, reopened. She didn’t go inside through the forbidding-looking portal designed, she guessed, to be blast-proof, but walked instead along the side wall until she came to one of its long, slit windows that overlooked the beach and the far horizon.
Alex Coombs studied Arabic at Oxford and Edinburgh Universities and went on to work in adult education and then retrained to be a chef. He has written four well reviewed crime novels as Alex Howard.