The Bad Guys go to the Country
A procedural set of mysteries as the small communities in the Norfolk area are the focus of criminals.
DC Sara Hirst is a new figure in the Serious Crimes Unit at Norfolk. When she joins the team, others were expecting the promotion. Sara’s personal life has led her to make the career change from London to the smaller department. Additional prejudices in the face of Sara’s multi-racial heritage add to the tension in the department. Will they be able to come together in the battle against crime in their area?
One of the Boxed Set
The first novel, Under Violent Skies, has the angst of murder, thievery a,nd human trafficking mixed with secrets and mysteries in Sara’s life. The different plot directions are interwoven and come together in the end.
Sara’s team and people in the farming neighborhood manage to corral the criminals and rescue the Serbian immigrants who have been held in basic slavery, domestic and sexual. The tragic murder of one of the good guys brings Sara’s personal secrets to the fore.
I generally like the characters. There are a few bad hats in the good guy community; caricatures of a bad hat. Diversity is not overlooked. Sara is not a tender youth, but her life is far from settled. She has a small apartment where she sometimes cooks Jamaican food for a neighbor, Chris. They will become closer as the story moves on. The team is archaic as well as prejudiced, but not stupid. They mean well and have a solid sense of humor. These people will become a true team as the novels progress.
Scenery and food are a good expansion on the plot, making the stories believable. Each community has moved toward vacation rentals of the small quaint cottages that were former homes. Tourists and the seaside are a strong part of the plot. The author has lived in the area for most of her life and relates well to the community. Her attention to little, theatrical details is a large help to me in liking the characters. The activities and food in the region are intriguing and very different from where I live in the US.
Two of the Boxed Set
The second book, Into Deadly Storms, addresses drug dealers from the highest to the lowest level, youth in the foster system, clever criminals (for the present) and frustrated law enforcement. The prejudice towards a colored woman continues, but Sara is better than the sorry, judgmental people she encounters. The victims of drug use are given re-hab. There are people on the ground who care and who suffer for at time because of suspicion pointing at them. The situation is sadly deadly for the young, ignorant and foolish.
Three of the Boxed Set
The third novel in the series, A Brutal Season, has more drug use, lots of alcohol and domestic violence. All set in a tourist community which features a festival at the time of the story. There are both young and old characters. One lad is well on the way to becoming a problem psychopath! While his father is a wife-abusing creep, this kid is not totally a product of his upbringing. He’s a menace which the Serious Crimes Unit manages to get off the streets. Sub-plots center around a theater group. Prejudice BLOOMS with reaction to Sara, a criminal group of Travelers who reflect badly on others and a group of Show People who are not the same. Their prejudice towards the Travelers is crystal clear, although the community tends to lump the groups.
About the books and more
There is criminal violence and brutal treatment. Not a great or offensive amount. After all, it is about murder. The immigrants in Under Violent Skies were a rare experience. In their broken English, they used the Ef-word in the correct way. Usually, the bad guys and some main characters use this word as a diluted expletive without acknowledgment of the coarse intent. Because of the language — the amount as much as the specific vocabulary, I will have to relegate a review for this series to the NOT FLINCH-FREE category on my personal review website which is aimed at ‘flinch-free’ books. It wasn’t enough to make me stop reading the book for my own reading time. It simply doesn’t fit my review standards. The author has some aptitude and your taste may well be different from mine. You could easily find these books a pleasant read.
There is a fourth book in the series, recently released and not part of the set. An Artful Murder is on my reading list.
Edited: Four in the Series
I read An Artful Murder and found it to be the best of the lot! Extra internal drama for the Serious Crimes Unit as a new ‘boss’ is introduced. And Sara’s love life makes a major change. Middle-aged romance blooms in the unit and within families. The author’s research and interest in the community really shine in this novel. The murders are wicked, based on an insane drive for revenge. Drugs are over-used for pain and are weapons. Still not FLINCH FREE.
Hurrah for Education
Author, Judi Daykin began this series as part of her MA in creative writing at the UEA in Norfolk. She has an attachment to the area which shows in her stories. She surely earned a good grade for the project and deserves the awards she’s received for her writing. You can learn more at her website: JUDI DAYKIN and at her Amazon page: Judi Daykin on Amazon
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