Leah Giarratano, forensic psychologist, crime fiction writer and consummate storyteller has just released her third novel - BLACK ICE. As with both of the earlier books, Giarratano takes the reader deep into a specific world of crime and criminal behaviour, the theme in BLACK ICE is illegal drugs.
Readers of the two earlier books will know about DS Jill Jackson, a survivor of child sexual abuse, she has fought her way back from despair and continues, ever so gradually, to get control of her life and to deal with the memories of what happened to her. BLACK ICE adds another dimension to the story with the introduction her sister Cassie - famous model, one half of a glamorous society couple, a cocaine addict. Her boyfriend Christian, a highly successful lawyer and drug dealer has a past which is about to catch up with him. Cassie inadvertently steps into an investigation into illegal drugs that Jill is working undercover on, and in even more difficult circumstances, Christian's past, when a young mother, just out of jail is hell-bent on vengeance.
One of the strongest aspect's of Giarratano's books is that she is obviously writing about people and behaviours that she knows all too well. DARK ICE draws a picture of both sides of drug addiction. The sheer ruthlessness of the "business" side of drugs - the totally amoral behaviour of the dealers and the people who make obscene amounts of money. The ease with which that money can buy the cooks, the dealers, the trappings of the lifestyle. The craziness that takes over when there's turf to protect and supply and demand chains to maintain. Finally the depths to which the addicts themselves can sink. Even as part of the so called "beautiful people", addicted people do terrible things.
The introduction of Jill's own sister under threat provides Giarratano with an opportunity to explore the relationship between the sisters. There's an age difference, and then there's the problem of the affect of abduction and abuse on the siblings of the victim. The relationship between these two sisters is very fragile, and a lot of the difficulties go back to the way that their family coped with what happened to Jill. Hopefully this is an area that Giarratano's going to get further into as this was a particularly interesting aspect of the affects of dreadful crimes that isn't overly explored in crime fiction. Slightly less successful for this reader was the story of Seren - the young mother jailed for drug offences, who is so keen to achieve revenge. To this reader it seemed the author was seeking to create another character who, despite enormous odds against them, triumphs over circumstances which seemed a little to co-incidental with Jill, despite the specific experiences being very different. Perhaps it was simply a personality thing - but readers who find a connection with Seren will undoubtedly be able empathise with her strongly.
As always with Leah Giarratano's books, the reader is going to come away from BLACK ICE thinking just a little bit more about the consequences behind the headlines on the nightly news. That's a very good thing.