AUTHOR: LISA CUTTS
Details: no. 1 Nina Foster
Received from Myriad Editions
The investigation starts when the body of a woman is found. She’s been stabbed several times and has been dead for a few days at least. Detective Constable Nina Foster is one of many officers recruited to help with the investigation into the death of the woman who turns out to have been a prostitute with an eight year old son.
It’s not long after that a second body is discovered. Although there is no known connection between the woman and the second victim, his wounds seem to indicate a link between the two deaths.
As the investigation progresses the body count continues to rise and for a long time any connection between the victims remains obscure. When a link is at last established it also reveals a connection to a traumatic event in Nina’s past. Now she has to add worrying about being allowed to stay on the investigation to all the investigative threads running through her head.
But even with evidence slowly pointing the investigators in the right direction, it will take a violent confrontation and a surprising rescuer to bring the investigation to a close and a rather surprising ending to the book.
This book is Lisa Cutts’ first novel and mystery. Drawing on her own experience as a police officer she writes a realistic yet deeply layered mystery. In fact, this is a book that requires attention from the reader. There are multiple characters with complicated connections between them to keep track of. And, since this is the first book in a planned series, a lot of attention is also paid to establishing Nina Foster as a well-rounded and realistic protagonist.
Initially Nina seemed a bit of a stereo type, with her habit of viewing every single man she met as a possible date or partner and her constant preoccupation with wine. Taking into account Nina’s background though I can only applaud the author for not making her main character a lot more neurotic than she was. Many authors I can think of would have taken this character and made her appear far more disturbed than Mrs. Cutts did, just to add drama to the story. With the story-line being what it is this book didn’t need that extra dimension and I’m delighted she resisted what must have been a rather tempting opportunity.
The mystery is well plotted, the investigation realistically described and the resolution both exciting and believable. I had a bit of a problem keeping the various characters involved in the investigation separated in my mind. While it is completely realistic that an investigation as described in this book would involve numerous police officers, and it also makes sense to introduce the characters that will play a role in what is to be a series of mysteries in the very first book, I did find myself getting a bit confused at times. On the other hand, there were a few characters who I imagine will make return appearances in future Nina Foster mysteries, and those were described in such a way that I got a good impression of who they were and what role the play in Nina’s life without taking any pace out of the thrilling story-line. I’m impressed with the balance the author managed to strike; she gave me enough information about her characters to keep me interested yet left me curious about future books with everything that hasn’t yet been revealed.
The short of it is that I really enjoyed this book. It is wonderful to find a new series with an interesting and realistic protagonist, a well written story and a complex and well executed mystery. I’m going to keep an eye out for future Nina Foster mysteries. If this debut is anything to go by, the world is one very talented mystery author richer.