DARK FLIGHT - Lin Anderson
Ever read a book and thought, well I shouldn't really be liking this. Worse than that, have you ever read a book and found yourself ticking the things that the author is doing that annoy you. And yet you find yourself liking the book! DARK FLIGHT did that for me. Well liking is a difficult word to use when the subject matter is as dire as it is in DARK FLIGHT, but that's just one of the things that ticked that list for me.
DARK FLIGHT starts out with the repulsively, shockingly over the top violent death of two women and little boy Stephen is a witness to at least part of the butchering of his mother - then he disappears. Rhona MacLeod finds herself having to work with ex-lover DS Michael McNab in a team that is desperate to find Stephen alive. It seems, from the fetish that was left at the scene, that there is a juju (voodoo) connection to this murder, and Stephen is a mixed-race child, and he and his mother have just returned from Nigeria. A high-profile Nigerian professor from the local university has gone missing, seemingly returned home for sudden family reasons. A member of MacLeod's forensic team is romantically involved with a young medical student who turns out to be a member of a Nigerian Church whose members are the prime suspect group for what seems to have been a ritual killing. So can MacLeod and McNab put aside their own personal problems and find Stephen? Add to that a bit of fem-jep, a hefty dose of relationship anxiety and DARK FLIGHT may or may not sound immediately appealing. But for some reason, probably the skill of the writer, it worked as an engaging book to read.
MacLeod is one of those characters that alternatively annoy you, and interest you. There are aspects of this woman that make you want to track her down and shake some sense into her. She insists upon walking into all sorts of situations that end up with her getting back out again by the skin of her teeth. She constantly dithers around in her personal life. But she also gets really involved in the cases she's called upon to investigate and she's prepared to put a lot of her own baggage aside in the event that an answer can be found.
The other thing that really works in DARK FLIGHT are the supporting cast of characters - MacLeod's closest colleague and friend, Chrissy is definitely the personality in the group - feisty, outspoken, stubborn and loyal to a fault. DI Bill Wilson heads the investigation, deals with his own family problems, and just keeps slogging away, the death of these women, the killing of children is something that affects him greatly.
Despite the presence of Rhona - a forensic scientist - at the centre of this book, this is more of an old fashioned investigative book than a forensic book. Having said that, it's not strictly police procedural either, it's more a sort of a mix of everything.
DARK FLIGHT is the most recent in the Rhona MacLeod books - you can find more about the earlier books at http://www.rhonamacleod.com/
A six year old boy has vanished from his own back garden, his mother and grandmother horrifically murdered. At the scene, forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod finds a chilling African talisman made from the bones of a child. Then the mutilated torso of a second child is pulled from the river. Has Stephen been snatched by human traffickers who intend to butcher him in a juju ritual? Can Rhona decipher the talisman's meaning and track Stephen down before he becomes the next link in the killer's chain?