The Reach of Shadows by @TonyJForder #BookReview #BlogBlitz

Recovering from injuries sustained in a road collision, DI Bliss is taken directly from hospital to a fresh crime scene and ordered to investigate the vicious stabbing and murder of Jade Coleman.
When Bliss realises the victim had reported being stalked, and that two of his own team had been drafted in to take her statement, he is given the unenviable task of interviewing both of his detectives.
Increasingly it appears that the stalker may be their killer. However, several other people soon become part of the team’s suspect list.
Bliss also finds himself being questioned about his own past, and has to battle to defend himself whilst continuing to investigate the murder.

Soon more questions arise.

 Why would anybody target Jade Coleman?

Why are the team unable to identify the victim’s close female friend?

And why did Jade recently leave her job without any explanation?

 With his work cut out, and his team under pressure, can Bliss solve the case before more victims show up?
Or will the shadows of his own past reach out and drag him under before he can succeed?

I'm so delighted to be taking part in the blog blitz for The Reach of Shadows today. Huge thanks to Tony J. Forder, Bloodhound Books and Emma Welton for inviting me and for my advance digital copy of the novel.

Tony J. Forder's books are always a highlight of my reading year and I look forward to each new instalment of his DI Bliss series with particular anticipation. The Reach of Shadows is the fourth book in the series and it opens with Jimmy Bliss being made to feel his age when a chase leads to him being struck down by a vehicle and left concussed and with broken ribs. His recovery time is cut short when his partner, DS Penny Chandler arrives to collect him from the hospital to take him straight to a crime scene. Bliss' long career has meant he has faced all manner of horrific crimes over the years but his reaction to Jade Coleman's death reminded me why he's one of my favourite fictional detectives. It's clear that every case he investigates stays with him and becomes a part of who he is,
'The sensation would stay with him now wherever he went, circling the drain but never disappearing entirely. Eventually it would filter through his skin and lodge somewhere alongside all the other obscenities he had witnessed in his career.'
Bliss is principled to the point of bloody-mindedness, he is a loyal boss who regularly ignores orders and doesn't always recognise that he has friends who want to to be given the chance to support him. The Reach of Shadows can be read as a standalone but I'd really recommend reading the series in order to really appreciate the reasons for his character's development. In this book, he finally has to confront his past and it makes for powerful, emotive reading. This is a beautifully crafted novel where the focus switches between the investigation into Jade's murder and Bliss' enforced revisiting of the early days of his career and his old stomping grounds in London with both strands of the story equally as compelling. The police work is shown to be necessarily slow and painstaking rather than packed with explosive action and it gives the book an assured authenticity. The tension mostly comes from Bliss' personal troubles as he is torn between protecting himself and doing what he believes is right by Jade. He doesn't do half measures but there are scenes in the book where he seems set on a course of self-destruction and he must endure some dark and difficult moments during the course of the novel.
It's far from all doom and gloom, however, and as always the relationship between Bliss and Chandler is a joy, cementing their place as one of my favourite duos. The banter between them has a natural flow to it that can only come from a long-standing friendship but there are flashpoints too, especially when Chandler feels Bliss is cutting her out or not looking after himself as well as he should. She has a point too, it's not just his mind that suffers here, his body is put through the wringer and I loved the juxtaposition between the obvious concern his colleagues feel for him and the piss-taking they can't resist indulging in when his escapades lead him into less than dignified situations. Perhaps in this book more than any other in the series, Bliss feels like he is truly a part of the team he leads and as much as his partnership with Chandler is a high point of the novels, I also enjoyed his interactions with his other officers, particularly Bishop and Short. Bliss might be old school but he's the boss you'd want in your corner and the respect his team have for him is obvious and rather touching given his troubled history with his previous colleagues.
There's a point in the book where Chandler remarks to Bliss that he makes a difference to the job and it makes a difference to him and I think that's why I've become so invested in this series. I wanted to find out who killed Jade because Jimmy Bliss cares about what happened to her. He wants justice not because it will further his career but because it's what she deserves. For all the politics in modern policing and regardless of the mental and physical turmoil he puts himself through, Jimmy Bliss cannot just sit back when there is a crime to solve. To see him torn between a perplexing case with little in the way of leads and his battle to defend himself against career-threatening allegations is compelling, especially when he learns who is behind the claims and realises that despite the danger he may be putting himself in, he can't just walk away from this. The pacing of the novel is just perfect and the frustrating sense of disappointment that occurs in a case when the much-needed break seems just out of reach is beautifully expressed, while the ominous feeling of foreboding that comes from knowing that somebody is out for revenge meant I couldn't resist reading 'just one more chapter..."
This series just keeps getting better and The Reach of Shadows is my favourite book yet. Tony J. Forder has written an engaging drama with an intriguing mystery to solve and characters whose lives I have grown to care about - I'm desperately hoping that Chandler will be reunited with her daughter, I'm fascinated to see how the ambitious Short will manage to combine her job and her family life as she climbs the career ladder and most of all, I'm waiting to see if Jimmy Bliss can begin to finally find some happiness. The Reach of Shadows is exactly what I'm looking for in a police procedural, it is gripping, convincing and emotional. I can't wait to read the next instalment and cannot recommend this wonderful book - and series - highly enough. An absolute must-read!

The Reach of Shadows is published by Bloodhound Books and can be purchased from the following;
Amazon UK

Don't forget to check the rest of the blog blitz, details are below.

About the Author

Tony J Forder is the author of the critically acclaimed, internationally best-selling crime thriller series featuring detectives Jimmy Bliss and Penny Chandler. The first three books, Bad to the Bone, The Scent of Guilt, and If Fear Wins, are now joined by The Reach of Shadows, published in January 2019.
Tony’s dark, psychological crime thriller, Degrees of Darkness, featuring ex-detective Frank Rogers, was also published by Bloodhound Books. This is a stand-alone novel. Another book that was written as a stand-alone was Scream Blue Murder. This was published in November 2017, and received praise from many, including fellow authors Mason Cross, Matt Hilton and Anita Waller. Before it had even been published, Tony had decided to write a sequel, and Cold Winter Sun was published in November 2018.
Tony lives with his wife in Peterborough, UK, and is now a full-time author.
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