If a man is guilty, the son is often guilty by association. What was that saying? An apple never falls far from the tree. That’s what everyone would think.
This is my first time reading Rob Parker and it definitely won’t be my last. It only took a couple of pages for me to be drawn in to DI Brendan Foley’s complicated world and from a personal perspective I loved that it was partially set in my family’s stomping ground around Liverpool. The fact that I knew every setting as the story unfolded added to the gritty reality of this brilliant crime novel. DI Foley’s life becomes very complicated when a trench containing 27 bodies, in various states of decomposition, turns up in woodland on his Warrington patch. It encroaches on family life immediately as he has to leave his son’s own christening to attend and his wife Mim has to hold the fort. However, things become even more complicated, and terrible, for his family, when one of the 27 turns out to be Brendan’s nephew Connor.
We learn how conflicted the Foley family are as the case develops further. The strength of character it has taken for Brendan to be different shines through. I loved the balance between the family story and the case in hand, and the tension between the two as the answers to one seem a little too close to home. Each character was so well drawn I could imagine them clearly. I loved DS Madison, policewoman and part-time boxer. She’s loyal and disciplined, so when she’s asked to bend the rules she has a hard choice to make – does she stick to the letter of the law or trust her own moral compass? Sometimes the legal route isn’t the ethical one. Hoyt also stood out as a colourful character, combing pomade through his hipster beard while taking phone calls from the public. Every one of them will have their loyalty tested and family is the threat used to change loyalties in ways unthinkable before. Some members of the team have terrible choices to make and will act in ways they never imagined possible to keep their loved ones safe. The tension is these scenes is unbearable, especially the one with a body bag and a child’s toy rabbit.
The action is incredible and the way the author writes is almost filmic in these moments. He has a way of starting these scenes with something unexpected and so startling, you have to go back and read it twice to make sure you did read it – like the man having his nose shot clean off! That set piece as two motorbikes unleash automatic weapons on a van full of men is so fast and slick it could have come from a Christopher Nolan film. As the final showdown approached I couldn’t tear myself away from the novel for a second. As the action bounced between a boxing match, the police station and a house in Huyton (no surprise there!) events left me breathless. It’s amazing what we might do when those we love most are in danger. I love how the author explores what pressure like that can do to someone and how blurred the lines between good and bad really get. There’s no holding back on how bloody and terrible these crimes can be, and it was slightly disorientating to see so much violence in a place I visit for fun. I’ve stayed a few times in the Titanic Hotel and have often wondered what goes on in the tiny industrial units that line the surrounding streets. It made me think what might really be going on behind the facade of an auto spares unit!
This was a great read, engaging from start to finish and with a lead character I was truly rooting for. His wife Mim was clearly a strong woman who could take the helm when necessary but was also able to tell Brendan straight when he wasn’t on the right course. Strangely, it is his dad, with whom he has the most conflict, who tells him where his loyalties should lie. There are times you should be home with your wife and family. The ending wasn’t what I expected, but left me realising there is light and shade in all areas of life. Even with something we imagine is very black and white, like the law, there are always shades of grey. It’s simply a case of how much compromise we can live with and how far the apple really does fall from the tree.
Meet The Author
Rob Parker is a married father of three, who lives in Warrington, UK. The author of the Ben Bracken thrillers, Crook’s Hollow and the Audible bestseller Far From The Tree, he enjoys a rural life, writing horrible things between school runs. Rob writes full time, attends various author events across the UK, and boxes regularly for charity. He spends a lot of time in schools across the North, encouraging literacy, story-telling and creative-writing, and somehow squeezes in time to co-host the For Your Reconsideration film podcast, appear regularly on The Blood Brothers Crime Podcast, and is a member of the Northern Crime Syndicate.