Hey You, Pretty Face by Linda Coles
HEY YOU, PRETTY FACE is the opening book in a new series based around detective Jack Rutherford. Previously appearing in a supporting role in DARK SERVICE, NZ based author Linda Coles longer running DS Amanda Lacey series, this book sees Rutherford leading the search for a series of abducted girls and handling an abandoned infant, with a skeleton staff over Christmas.
As with the Lacey series, Coles is an author who knows how to put together a good plot outline, this time a trio of missing girls, and a found infant, and clues pointing towards the inevitable exploitation of that sort of scenario, this is not a comfortable undertaking. Balanced against that plot and the day to day work of a policeman working those sorts of cases, is the relationship between Rutherford and his wife, which is loving, very home based, and designed, obviously, to provide some relief from the day to day awfulness.
Reading this novel, before delving into the 4th and 5th books in the Amanda Lacey series (DARK SERVICE and ONE LAST HIT), I will confess I struggled a little. Not reading blurbs, or pre-publicity of any sort means that the book, characters, plot and timeframes have to be firmly telegraphed by the narrative, and the dialogue. I will confess to some considerable surprise then when Rutherford picked up his mobile phone. I'd immediately got it in my head that this was an historical novel, so the surprise was genuine. There was something about the dialogue, and a tendency to tell, rather than show, that felt older and more stylised than current police procedurals. After that, I succumbed and read the blurb and got things straight in my own mind, thereby giving myself a mild case of first third of the book disbelief, as DNA has been in use since around 1986 by the time this book is set (1999), which meant I was more than a bit startled to find Rutherford's wife seemed to know more about the subject than an investigating officer in the UK Met.
As with the Lacey series though, this author's strength is in the targeting of clever, current-day plots. Given this is the first outing in a new series, a slightly abrupt ending probably telegraphs more about what's expected in upcoming books, and as with the Amanda Lacey series, there's heaps of potential to block off some of the byways, get the dialogue more free-flowing, and allow the characters to establish their places in the investigative world.
An abandoned infant. Three girls stolen in the night. Can one overworked detective find the Christmas connection to save them all?
London, 1999. Short-staffed during Christmas week, Detective Jack Rutherford can’t afford to spend time on the couch with his beloved wife. With a skeleton staff, he’s forced to handle a deserted infant and a trio of missing girls almost single-handedly. Despite the overload, Jack has a sneaking suspicion that the baby and the abductions are somehow connected…
As he fights to reunite the girls with their families before Christmas, the clues point to a dark secret that sends chills down his spine. With evidence revealing a detestable crime ring, can Jack catch the criminals before the girls go missing forever?
Hey You Pretty Face is a standalone spinoff mystery featuring relentless Detective Jack Rutherford. If you like hard-nosed cops, intricate casework, and plots ripped from the headlines, then you’ll love international bestselling author Linda Coles’ dark tale of suspense.