Payback by R.C. Bridgestock #BookReview #BlogTour

Charley Mann left Yorkshire for the Met and a fast-track career - but now she’s back, she’s in charge and the area’s first young, female DI.

Her hometown, the Yorkshire countryside, and her old friends all seem unchanged but appearances can be deceptive.

When a brutal murder is discovered, Charley is forced to question everything, and the interest of her ex - reporter Danny Ray - doesn’t make it easier. 

I'm delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Payback today. Many thanks to Bob and Carol Bridgestock and to Emily Glenister from The Dome Press for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.

Although R.C. Bridgestock's DI Jack Dylan series won legions of fans, I was late to the series but thoroughly enjoyed Poetic Justice last year. Therefore, I was thrilled to be able to start the Charley Mann series from the very beginning and looked forward to getting to know her and her colleagues at Peel Street police station.
From the very start I could tell that Charley is going to be a compelling character who may have risen swiftly through the ranks but isn't averse to risk-taking behaviour which could result in embarrassing or difficult consequences for her. It's soon clear that returning to her hometown in Yorkshire has led to her experiencing mixed feelings - on the one hand, she is looking forward to being reunited with old friends but at the same time it's apparent that her relationship with her childhood sweetheart, Danny Ray ended badly and coming home will naturally remind her of a difficult time in her life. Exactly what happened between the pair isn't revealed until later in the book but as a local reporter, Danny certainly proves to be a thorn in her side. Her attention-seeking boss, Brian Roper is another character who is impossible to warm to and it gradually becomes obvious why Charley has such a poor opinion of the man.
It's imperative that a new police procedural introduces characters who readers want to know more about and Payback assuredly does that. Charley is an intriguing woman who is clearly very good at her job and is able to handle herself both physically and verbally but there is a vulnerability about her too; something which becomes especially evident when investigations lead her to question a decision she made in the past. I particularly enjoyed seeing how her return to Peel Street with a promotion isn't viewed with suspicion or jealousy and that those who knew her previously are pleased to see her back. Each member of her new team is given enough time on the page to ensure they become distinct from one another and even at this early stage in the series, I am already beginning to become invested in their lives and interested to see how their stories will develop in the future.
As excellent as the characterisation may be, it needs to be complemented by an engaging storyline and Charley's first case as detective inspector kept me gripped throughout. The top-notch plotting here ensured there was enough tension to make me want to keep turning the pages without ever losing the realistic portrayal of a murder enquiry. The authors' own knowledge of police work meant the methodical steps involved in a case are described with great authenticity. Perhaps because of the first-rate descriptions of the evidence gathering and the little clues which are scattered throughout the story, some of the revelations didn't come as an enormous surprise. However, I don't intend this to be seen as a criticism of Payback because I don't feel that every crime fiction novel always needs a shocking twist  -  sometimes it's actually more satisfying to learn the truth in a more gradual manner alongside the investigating officers, due to a combination of their hard work and keen intuition (and perhaps a little luck!) I also welcomed the way the case is concluded in such a believable manner and thought the ending of the book was brilliant as it left me intrigued to discover what it means for Charley.
The superb sense of place isn't just restricted to the investigation room and the vivid descriptions meant I was easily able to visualise the Yorkshire countryside. I loved the inclusion of a little local folklore too and thought Charley's own superstitious beliefs made her an even more fascinating character whose open-mindedness and interest in the old stories will naturally endear her to some of the older residents. The juxtaposition between the old and the new is another enjoyable aspect to Payback as local myths, past histories and a cold case all become important to an investigation which perceptively explores many current issues, including sexuality and gender identity, corruption and the power of the media and cuts to our essential services.
With so much to recommend here, Payback is a really promising start to the new series and I'm eagerly looking forward to reading the next book. I'm sure #TeamCharley will soon have as many fans as #TeamDylan and I will definitely be amongst them!

Payback is published by The Dome Press and can be purchased from Amazon, Hive or directly from the Dome Press shop.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Authors

R.C. Bridgestock is the name that husband and wife co-authors Robert (Bob) and Carol Bridgestock write under. Between them they have nearly 50 years of police experience, offering an authentic edge to their stories. The writing duo created the character DI Jack Dylan, the ninth book of which was published by The Dome Press in 2019, along with their backlist. 

Bob was a highly commended career detective of 30 years, retiring at the rank of Detective Superintendent. During his last three years, he took charge of 26 murders, 23 major incidents, over 50 suspicious deaths and numerous sexual assaults. He was also a trained hostage negotiator with suicide interventions, kidnap, terrorism and extortion. Bob was seconded to a protracted enquiry investigating alleged police corruption in another force. He worked on the Yorkshire Ripper and Sarah Harper murder, and received praise from Crown Court Judges and Chief Constables alike for outstanding work at all ranks, including winning the much-coveted Dennis Hoban Trophy. 

As a police civilian supervisor, Carol also received a Chief Constable’s commendation for outstanding work. 

The couple are the storyline consultants / police procedural on BAFTA-winning BBC1 police drama Happy Valley and series 3 of ITV’s Scott and Bailey, and are presently working with Scott Free Production scriptwriters on two commissioned TV drama series.

The couple pride themselves on being up-to-date on past and present day UK police procedures, and as a result, Bob is regularly sought by UK television, radio and national and local newspapers for comment on developing major crime incidents etc. They have also taken part in BBC Radio 4 (Steve) PUNT P.I.

Carol and Bob are also patrons and ambassadors for several charities.