Review - ONLY THE BRAVE, Mel Sherratt
The third in the DS Allie Shenton series, readers might be best served to have at least read one of the earlier books (this reviewer has read FOLLOW THE LEADER only and that helped make sense of a lot of the sub-plot elements).
Whilst the main plot of ONLY THE BRAVE is the bashing, then stabbing murder of a notorious local identity, his connections to the underworld family that forms a big part of Shenton's background might need a bit of filling from the earlier books to make sense. There are complications aplenty in this death - and not just the missing bag of money. Very soon it appears that Johnson was supposed to receive a warning beating, but how he ended up stabbed to death confuses everyone. Not least the underworld figure who wanted him thumped. Not least his own brother, now living in the same family house of a major character from the earlier books, now sleeping with the same gangster's daughter who the brother's are supposedly minding. Confused? Luckily this plays out really well as the plot evolves, it's really only in looking back that you can see just how much was going on, and how complicated is the web around Shenton, her job, her background and her comatose sister.
ONLY THE BRAVE also brings to a climax events that are set in train when Shenton's sister is attacked and left for dead. In the second book in the series, FOLLOW THE LEADER, her attacker is lurking in the shadows, making it clear that Shenton is now a target in her own right. That aspect is ramped up rapidly in this third book, although there are aspects of the resolution of that thread that feel a little rushed and a little sanitised.
Aside from the ongoing threads, the cases being investigated in both the Allie Shenton books this reader has read are interesting. The way that there are many aspects of day to day life that continue on through the books feels very realistic - the gangster family as her nemesis; the ongoing threat; the perilious situation of her comatose sister; and her close although not sugar-coated relationship with her husband all contribute to making Shenton a believable character with a life as well as a job. The complications of the cases that she investigates are also not straight-forward and there's nuance, and humanity in the victims as well as the entire police crew doing the investigation.
ONLY THE BRAVE is the third in a strong series, although it is one that this reader would recommend you start from the beginning.
When one of the notorious Johnson brothers is murdered and a bag of money goes missing, a deadly game of cat and mouse is set in motion.
DS Allie Shenton and her team are called in to catch the killer, but the suspects are double-crossing each other and Allie has little time to untangle the web of lies.
As she delves deeper into the case, things take a personal turn when Allie realises she is being stalked by the very same person who attacked her sister seventeen years ago and left her for dead.