BURNED AND BRO­KEN BY MARK HARDIE

Crime Scene - - POST MORTEM - BY MARK HARDIE By ZILAH BYNG-THORNE

Mark Hardie’s de­but novel reads like an episode of The Wire set on the Es­sex coast. At times it can be hard to keep track of ex­actly what’s go­ing on as the story jumps be­tween char­ac­ters, plot­lines and time­frames. Burned And Bro­ken fea­tures sex abuse, mur­der, police cor­rup­tion, pros­ti­tu­tion and child ne­glect all within the first few chap­ters. The two prin­ci­pal char­ac­ters, DS Frank Pear­son and DC Cather­ine “Cat” Rus­sell, both have all the hall­marks of the clas­sic cop hero in crime fic­tion. There’s the trou­bled home life, the fa­mil­iar prob­lems with au­thor­ity and a dogged de­ter­mi­na­tion to do the right thing. The story is set against the back­drop of a sor­did and tired Southend (de­scribed as be­ing in “ter­mi­nal de­cline”), and some of the char­ac­ters are equally sor­did – DI Sean Car­ragher is the typical bent cop­per, while Donna Free­man is the clas­sic trou­bled teenager in care.

The book ini­tially feels stereo­typ­i­cal, writ­ten with the se­quel in mind ( Burned And Bro­ken is the first in a two-book deal). How­ever, the plot grad­u­ally be­gins to knit to­gether, with a tragic and sur­pris­ing twist in the fi­nal few pages, while the ques­tions about what hap­pens next for Cat and Frank Pear­son will leave you an­tic­i­pat­ing the next in­stal­ment from Mark Hardie.

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