Deadly Shores by Kerry Buchanan is another worthy page-tuner with loads of pain for the characters and loads of thrills and suspense for readers. Buchanan’s writing is again the stand-out for me in this twisty, intriguing tale.
I’ve read both of Kerry Buchanan’s previous books and she gives us something different with each outing. Her latest, Deadly Shores, is no exception. While there is still plenty of suspense, a twisty plot, and the realistic and engaging cast of characters we’ve learned to expect from her, this one seems to lean more strongly into police procedural territory, which I loved. Buchanan has impressive story-telling ability and hits the mark with strong attention to detail every time. She is one author I’m always eagerly awaiting the next book from.
TWO SHIPS IN THE NIGHT.
ANOTHER DEAD BODY.
NO SAFE HARBOUR.
A wave lifts the stern of the boat, rigging groans in protest and a crash comes from down below, as the wails of the cargo rise above the howl of the storm.
It’s a wild Christmas Day on the rugged Northern Irish coast. But there’s no time for turkey and pud with the family for Detectives Harvey and Birch.
DS Aaron Birch leans into the wind and driving sleet. Thick, scudding clouds make the streets of Lisburn almost as dark as early evening
Then he gets the tip-off. Smugglers coming into a boatyard in Bangor.
Birch and DI Asha Harvey head to the marina. They expect to find drugs. But the evidence points to something far, far worse.
When one of the couriers is found murdered in his hotel room, they realize they are facing in a deadly storm of corruption and criminal depravity. Will they sink or swim?
The book opens with a bang as the prologue grabs our attention. A woman named Clara is at the wheel of a boat on a treacherous, stormy North Atlantic passage bound for the northwest coast of Ireland. With the decks awash with saltwater, another massive wave sweeping the deck would have tossed her over the rail into the sea had her lifeline not brought her up short. We’re not sure what this is all about, but a woman alone on an angry sea teetering on the fine line between life and death is more than adequate to grip our attention and get our pulse pumping. Of course, we learn much more about Clara and what she is about as we get deeper into the story and then the thrilling opening makes all the sense in the world.
We’re reunited with DC Aaron Birch and later DI Asha Harvey, the engaging leads from the previous books in the series. Both barely survived encounters with some corrupt police colleagues in the previous book, Small Bones. Buchanan offers adequate backstory from that book so that readers entering the series with this one won’t feel lost. She strikes a nice balance between the crimes-at-hand and past events impacting on recurring characters, so this book can work as a stand- alone. But readers who appreciate a fuller context might want to read Small Bones first.
Our lead characters are no longer partners since Harvey has received a promotion and transferred from the police station where they both worked together under Chief Superintendent Yvonne Patterson to the Bangor station in North Down. To Birch’s delight, after Patterson gets a tip-off from an informant about a large drug delivery destined for Bangor’s patch, she sends Aaron there to liaise with DI Harvey for the investigation, giving him the chance to work side-by-side once again with his friend and former partner.
Birch and Harvey begin their investigation, and it isn’t long before the first body drops when someone murders a suspected drug courier. Immediately, the investigation grows in scope and complexity. Both the action and suspense build from that point, keeping us turning the pages until the satisfying end. Both Birch and Harvey develop romantic interests (in others) in this book, which made for an interesting subplot, but the romance part never overshadows the primary plot which centers on drugs, murder, and bent cops.
Here, Buchanan again offers readers likeable leads, well-drawn, realistic supporting characters, and another intriguing plot with several twists and turns to keep us guessing. As much as I enjoyed her first two books, this one is my favorite of the series so far since it seems to enter the realm of a police procedural (my favorite genre) more strongly than the others. And it’s definitely one of my favorite books of the year. Fans of crime thrillers with a strong police procedural flavor should give this one a read.
I purchased the copy of this book used for this review, which represents my own honest opinions.