A vulnerable young woman, fresh out of the care system, is trying to discover the truth behind the sudden death of her best friend.
The charred body of a policeman - currently the subject of an internal investigation - is found in the burnt-out-shell of his car on the Southend seafront.
To DS Frank Pearson and DC Catherine Russell of the Essex Police Major Investigation Team, the two events seem unconnected. But as they dig deeper into their colleague's murder, dark secrets begin to emerge.
Can Pearson and Russell solve both cases, before more lives are destroyed?
Burned and Broken isn't a glossy thriller with a maverick cop solving cases in his own rule breaking way. Indeed the policeman who best fits the description of a maverick is the murder victim, Sean Carragher. Instead the officers investigating the case, DS Frank Pearson and DC Catherine (Cat) Russell have to grind out the truth, knowing the media, public and their superior officers are breathing down their necks demanding arrests. However, Carragher had been under investigation, suspected at the very least of financial irregularities. Can they solve his murder without casting bad light on the Force? Burned and Broken is a character led novel, the action often moves slowly which doesn't make for a heart racing thriller but does feel entirely believable. Pearson and Russell are both very ordinary, somewhat melancholy characters, likewise other characters throughout the book are complex, often seedy individuals with dark secrets and frequently unhappy lives. Although set in Southend I felt Burned and Broken has a Scandi noir feeling about it, although the murders are eventually solved not all the ends are neatly tied up and the actions of the protagonists aren't always entirely honourable. This is not a black and white novel and is all the better for it, the complexities and frustrations of modern policing are realistically observed and while the lack of a neat ending may be annoying for those who like a story to feel completed, I felt it was more believable finishing as it did. In all an accomplished and enjoyable debut from Mark Hardie.
Many thanks to the publishers for my ARC and for inviting me to take part in the Burned and Broken blog tour. Don't forget to check out the #BurnedandBroken hashtag on Twitter for more reviews and news about the book.
Burned and Broken is published by Sphere, an imprint of Little, Brown Books and is currently available in hardback and e-book format.