Review - Siren of the Waters, Michael Genelin
Having had the opportunity to read the fifth in this series a while ago I've been champing at the bit to go back to the start - SIREN OF THE WATERS. Sneaking this in amongst a lot of required reading recently was quite a treat, although now I'm wondering when I'll get a chance to read two, three and four now. Hopefully before a lot more of them come out.
This series debut starts out with a car crash that has killed seven people, most of whom are prostitutes from Eastern Europe. Quickly the investigation switches to one about human trafficking, and organised crime. Along the way the background of Matinova is built up - from a young woman in the Czechoslovakian police force, married to an actor, with a young daughter. The novel looks back in a fair amount of detail, woven into the current day story, to the time that her marriage disintegrated; her much loved husband became more erratic, ultimately going on the run as an enemy of the state; and the eventual estrangement of her only daughter.
The plot quite quickly becomes rather complicated with a lot of elements thrown at the reader so you'll need to pay attention. Whilst she finds and works with colleagues wherever she goes, always, at the middle of everything is the taciturn and complicated Matinova.
You really get a sense of what it must have been like to live in a Communist regime like the one in Czechoslovakia. The constant foreboding, the little steps required to put yourself out of favour with the regime, and the lengths that families had to go to in order to survive. Matinova's family story is particularly sad, and goes to explain a lot about her character style and motivation. Having said that, reading a book further on in the series first means she is less morose, more determined; less humourless and more introspective.
Once the complications of the plot start to reveal there's a decent balancing act maintained between that and the character development, with the focus being very much on Matinova, but providing some context for her friendship with her boss - Trokan. He's a great character, not just because he's supportive of her, but because he's a bit larger than life, and very good at working the system to have survived in the way that he does.
There's something very nice about having a series to look forward to, especially now with the opportunity, finally, to go back to the start. Am now really looking forward to filling in more of the gaps.
Jana Matinova entered the Czechoslovak police force as a young woman, married an actor, and became a mother. The regime destroyed her husband, their love for one another, and her daughter’s respect for her. But she has never stopped being a seeker of justice.
Now, as a commander in the Slovak police force, she liaises with colleagues across Europe as they track the mastermind of an international criminal operation involved in, among other crimes, human trafficking. Her investigation takes her from Ukraine to Strasbourg, from Vienna to Nice, in a hunt for a ruthless killer and the beautiful young Russian woman he is determined either to capture or destroy.