Devil’s Way (Kate Marshall #4), by Robert Bryndza

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Robert Bryndza, and Raven Street Publishing for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Always eager to get my hands on novels by Robert Bryndza, I reached for this ARC in the Kate Marshall series. Pushing the limits of private investigation, Kate and her associate delve into some of the seedier cases across the UK, only to discover how past secrets can emerge and haunt those who hoped they would stay buried. Bryndza spins quite the tale here, pulling the reader into the middle of it all with an impactful novel.

After a freak swimming accident leaves Kate Marshall hospitalised, she has a great deal of time on her hands. Some of that time is spent speaking to her roommate, who recounts the horror of her missing grandson. Charlie Julings disappeared during a family camping trip eleven years earlier. Kate, in a moment of medicated curiosity, agrees to take the case, working with her associate, Tristan. How could a little boy disappear into thin air?

After trolling the area and determining that Charlie did not fall into the raging river close by, at least by police investigative notes, Kate and Tristan must look elsewhere for more information. When Kate learns that a social worker who had been looking into Charlie’s well-being was brutally murdered two weeks after the disappearance, the case takes on a new level of interest.

Could Charlie still be alive? Is someone harbouring a deep secret that cannot get out? With the help of a few others, Kate and Tristan begin piecing things together, in hopes of bringing some peace to a family that has been on the edge for over a decade. Bryndza does a masterful job spinning this tale, keeping the reader wondering until the very end.

I have come to expect great things from Robert Bryndza when reading his novels, as he has impressed me so much in the past. Crime procedurals that pack a punch and leave things slightly off-kilter, these novels never fail to leave a lasting impression. Great narrative approaches help shape the story and propel it along, with a few twits to keep the reader from feeling too comfortable along the way.

Both of Bryndza’s crime thriller series had the advantage of a strong narrative foundation, keeping though moving and forcing the reader to pay close attention. Bryndza weaves his story through the narrative, which encapsulates the intensity of the moment, while adding characters who flavour things for the reader’s enjoyment. Plot twists abound, as does the necessary character development, leaving readers feeling a sense of comfort and discomfort in the same breath. I have long enjoyed the work of Robert Bryndza and this was no exception. I only hope that there is more to come, as Kate Marshall is one character who remains somewhat of a mystery to me.

Kudos, Mr. Bryndza, for another winner!

Darkness Falls (Kate Marshall #3), by Robert Bryndza

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Robert Bryndza, and Thomas & Mercer for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Robert Bryndza is back with another intense crime thriller with Kate Marshall at the helm. With a sordid past as a police detective, Kate has opened up her own investigative agency and is ready to take on the world. She’s given a cold case, where a journalist disappeared twelve years before. While there are some possible avenues to explore, the police have given up. All that being said, Kate and her partner begin finding a new and interesting connection with some other cold cases in the area, which could be the momentum they need to acquire answers.

Kate Marshall had high hopes when she worked for the Metropolitan Police, but addiction and other skeletons in her closet kept her from being able to stay on the right path. She’s taken her skills and turned it into something great, opening a private investigative agency, supplementing her time as a lecturer at the local university. Working with her partner, Tristan Harper, Kate is hoping to make a name for herself and earn a decent living.

When she’s given a cold case, Kate has high hopes that she and Tristan will be able to solve it. A journalist went missing twelve years before, one who was gritty and determined like few others. She’d brought down a sitting Member of Parliament for potential indiscretions, but he had a solid alibi for the time of the disappearance. Working through the police files given over by the family, Kate and Tristan come across some names that do not seem to fit.

Deeper digging reveals that these were young men who went missing in the years before the journalist’s disappearance. They frequented gay bars and some had a connection of a commune in the area. The more Kate and Tristan push, the stronger the potential connection of the disappearances. Could someone have been trying to write a story, connecting the missing men to someone around the bars?

All the while, a killer lurks just out of sight. Their target is one of the seedy bars on the outskirts of town. When a young man is found raped and murdered, Kate cannot help but wonder if there is a connection to the cold cases she has on her radar. Forensics makes some connections, but there is nothing to tie these disappearances to any particular killer. Still, things may be slowly coming together, but at what cost? Another great novel by Robert Bryndza that will keep readers flipping pages into the night.

I always enjoy a great thriller and Robert Bryndza has never failed to deliver. His attention to detail is like no other and he finds intriguing ways to keep the reader engaged throughout. The stories are not outlandish, but neither are they plain and easily deduced. This is the second of Bryndza’s series that I have tried, which is equally as intense and has me wanting more.

Kate Marshall has a major backstory that continues to reveal itself here. While series fans will know some of her past, Kate is still trying to come to terms with them, as things emerge to remind her of where she was all those years before. Bryndza allows for some wonderful character development here, both professional and personal, which offers Kate Marshall a new perspective as she is getting her life in order. I am eager to see where things will take her in the coming novels, as I am ready for more as soon as possible.

Robert Bryndza is an amazing writer with strong capabilities. He writes well and keeps the story moving along. The narrative builds from the opening chapter and there is no time at which I felt things dragged. The story evolved well, using short chapters to tease the reader into pushing forward just a little more. Tackling social and societal issues amongst the murder investigation, Bryndza does not shy away from topics and keeps the reader educated throughout the experience. I can only hope for more, as he has a knack when it comes to crimes thrillers!

Kudos, Mr. Bryndza, for another winner. Don’t keep us wondering for too long, as your fans surely love what you have to offer.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:

Shadow Sands (Kate Marshall #2), by Robert Bryndza

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Robert Bryndza, and Thomas & Mercer for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Adding to his successful new thriller series, Robert Bryndza delivers another Kate Marshall novel that will keep readers turning pages well into the night. Not only is the plot one that has great potential, but the characters come to life in a mystery that spans many years. Recommended to those who know and love Bryndza’s past work, as well as the reader looking for high quality police procedurals.

Kate Marshall is a former cop with the Met who’s been trying to reinvent herself. A full time lecturer who went out on a limb as a private investigator, Marshall keeps herself busy and away from some of the vices that cost her custody of her son years ago. 

When Kate and her son, Jake, go diving in the Shadow Sands reservoir, they find more than they bargained for. The body of Simon Kendal is drifting deep in the water, covered in various scratch markings. After calling the authorities and being interviewed by DCI Henry Ko, Marshall and her son continue on with their lives, unable to do much else.

When Marshall’s approached weeks later by the boy’s mother, she listens to the impassioned plea of a woman who needs her help. While the death was ruled an accidental drowning, something does not add up for Marshall, who pulls some strings and has a medical examiner review the notes. The oddity is there in black and white, leading the police to reopen the investigation. A quick arrest of the boy’s camping companion all but puts the case to rest.

While Kate and her university colleague (and sometimes investigative assistant), Tristan Harper, discuss the case, they wonder if Shadow Sands could be as dangerous as past media accounts suggest, where a number of people have drowned over the years. Tristan meets a new professor as part of his daily work and learns that she has an interest in Shadow Sands as well, based on some of the urban legends. Magdalena Rossi and Tristan seem to hit it off and he begins to wonder if there might be a link to the aforementioned drownings.

While Magdalena is out furthering her research, she is attacked and taken captive by a man who seeks to drug her and let her “touch the stars”. The disappearance is noted by others and Tristan is concerned that something might have happened. Working with Kate, they try to retrace her steps, only to learn that there have been other disappearances around Shadow Sands, as well as a few bodies that emerged decades ago. When one victim speaks of getting away from an attacker, Kate and Tristan take her word for it. No one else is keen to listen, including DCI Ko, who had her locked away in a psychiatric facility for months.

As Kate wonders about a killer around Shadow Sands, she also has to worry about crooked cops, yet again, who may be trying to sweep this all under the rug. It will take all her skills to find Magdalena and get to the root of these past disappearances, all while dodging those with the power of the force behind them. What’s out there and how can the cops turn a blind eye?

Robert Bryndza has kept his fans enthralled with a previous series that took crime investigation to a new level. Now, with this series, Kate Marshall is trying to fill some large shoes and doing well. Only two books into this series and Bryndza has already done a masterful job of things.

Kate Marshall is a great protagonist, balancing a busy work life with a personal history she would rather forget. Her life at the Met was going so well, until an affair with a superior (while learning he was a serial killer) turned all that on its head. She battles the bottle and lost her son because of it. However, even as she has put police work behind her, Kate has it in her blood and helps as she can. Her off the cuff investigative work keeps her busy and the reader can see her passion blossoming in this second novel, with more to come.

A great set of secondary characters keeps the story on point. With Tristan Harper’s return, the reader is able to learn a little more about him. There are some poignant moments in one of the subplots that enrich the larger story and keeps the reader connected to him. The entire cast does well and propels the narrative forward, in a case that spans decades, with much to hide. 

Bryndza dazzles readers with this piece, offering great plot development throughout the novel. The story takes many twists, growing from the location of a simple body during a dive into a larger mystery and an apparent serial killer. The narrative builds throughout, as the reader is pulled deeper into the story. The subplots that occur throughout help the reader to see the larger and more personal side of those characters to take centre stage. 

Bryndza offers a mix of chapter lengths, helping to push the story along and then keep the reader hooked with more detailed aspects of the case at hand. All this is done with such ease that the reader soon finds themselves devouring the story and losing track of time. This is the sign of a superior novel handled by a great writer. I can only hope that Robert Bryndza’s next Kate Marshall thriller packs just as much punch. 

Kudos, Mr. Bryndza, for another stellar piece of work. Fans, new and longer-term alike, will find something  worth sharing with others.

Be sure to check for my review, first posted on Mystery and Suspense, as well as a number of other insightful comments by other reviewers.

Review: Shadow Sands

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:

Nine Elms (Kate Marshall #1), by Robert Bryndza

Eight stars

Returning with a new series to captivate fans, Robert Bryndza delivers a knockout punch with Kate Marshall crime thriller. Back in 1995, DI Kate Marshall was hot on the heels of the Nine Elms Cannibal, a serial killer with a taste for flesh. While working the case, Kate almost becomes a victim herself, but is able to capture the killer, none other than her boss, DCI Peter Conway. Flash forward fifteen years, Kate has left the Met and is now teaching Criminology, able to lecture about the horrors she and the various female victims suffered. When she is contacted by a family seeking answers about their missing daughter from 1990, Kate is intrigued, wondering if this might have been one of Conway’s early victims. As she prepares to head out to meet the grieving family, Kate is contacted about a possible resurgence of the Nine Elms killer, though Conway is safely tucked away in a psychiatric ward. While trying to trace some of the last known whereabouts of the long-missing woman, Kate discovers that some of the new crimes mirror those from 1995. Meanwhile, Peter Conway might be locked away, but he is receiving messages from ‘a fan’ who admired his work and is ready to help him escape. Conniving but also highly calculating, this fan will stop at nothing to ensure Conway’s path is kept clear, placing Kate and the one she holds dear in the crosshairs. Kate’s already cracked open the case once, but now she will have to rely on her intuition and help from some skeptical coppers to bring down another killer, while keeping Peter Conway locked away forever. Bryndza does a formidable job of keeping the reader on their toes and wanting to know more. Recommended for those who have loved Bryndza’s Erika Foster series but need a new angle, as well as the reader who enjoys police procedurals with cunning antagonists.

Having throughly enjoyed all of Robert Bryndza’s past work, I could only hope that this new literary pathway would work well and not be a one-first flop. I was pulled into the story from the opening pages and wanted to learn more about Kate Marshall as soon as I could. Marshall has an interesting backstory, not the least of which that she was romantically involved with the man who was her boss and ended up being a serial killer. From there, the revelations and shock of the entire situation pushed her into academia—as well as into numerous drunken stupors—though she kept her passion for police work. Now, with life changes that have chilling aftereffects, Kate is pulled back into the investigation she swore she’d seen to its end, and cannot stop herself from wanting to help. With more to lose than her own life, Kate risks it all as the reader sees her take major risks and gambles everything. Others help keep the story riveting, including Peter Conway, who appears to be the innocent bystander in his psychiatric ward, until someone pulls him into the middle of a serial murder spree again. The balance between Kate and Conway is again apparent, as they flashback to 1995 and a connection that yielded more than they both could have expected. The entire cast work well together to tell a story the reader will want to hear and the intensity never lets up. With a strong story and chapters that coax the reader to push forward, Bryndza proves why he is the top of his genre and readers who are just coming to hear his name will rush to read more in short order. A great launch to a new series, though one can hope there is more Erika Foster to come, even if in a crossover effort.

Kudos, Mr. Bryndza, for keeping me up late trying to crack the case wide open alongside Kate Marshall. I cannot wait to see what else you have in store for fans.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: