A Dark and Twisted Tide
Just to clear up any confusion as we commence: Sharon Bolton is actually S.J. Bolton, and A DARK AND TWISTED TIDE is yet another compelling Lacey Flint novel. Flint is an intriguing character, complex and damaged on several levels, but by no means undone. This latest installment moves Lacey’s story along in ways unanticipated and otherwise, meeting and exceeding the high level of quality and promise of its predecessors.
As one might guess from the title, water is the constant within A DARK AND TWISTED TIDE, almost always present throughout the narrative, which bounces across various points of view and back and forth in time. Bolton fortunately labels each change in perspective and shift in time so that readers are never cast adrift, so to speak. As a result, the frequent narrative changeovers add to rather than detract from the tale, as the author no doubt intended.
"What is most intriguing about A DARK AND TWISTED TIDE...is Bolton’s use of water as a metaphor for the killer. Both are dirty, dangerous, omnipresent and treacherous. And, not to mention, in plain view."
And what a tale it is. Lacey is no longer on the London homicide squad, having elected to be reassigned to the river policing unit. It is a change that she embraces wholeheartedly, living on a boat and taking regular --- not to mention illegal and somewhat dangerous --- swims in the River Thames. It is during one of her surreptitious morning dips that she discovers the corpse of what turns out to be a young woman. The body is wrapped tightly and tangled in debris. The investigation has barely begun before it is surmised that the body was deliberately placed there so that Lacey would discover it.
Lacey is no longer a part of the homicide squad, but finds herself drawn into the investigation, in part because of the almost uncanny feeling that she is being observed from afar. At the same time, Detective Mark Joesbury, Lacey’s love interest, has gone off the radar while on a deep undercover assignment, and it is feared by his colleagues and superiors that he has possibly joined the forces of darkness. Both the investigation and the issue regarding Mark’s whereabouts slowly converge as Lacey comes to realize that the body she discovered is hardly the first victim of a highly intelligent and clever killer who may well be targeting Lacey next.
Lacey Flint is one of the stronger and more convincing characters in contemporary police procedural fiction, and Bolton is doing a fine job developing her life, for better and worse. That is reason enough for readers to keep returning to the series; the reason for staying, though, continues to be the dark and intriguing mystery at the heart of the tale. Bolton is one of those authors with the rare talent of knocking readers off-kilter practically from the first page, only to gradually put them upright, however slowly, as the story progresses. What is most intriguing about A DARK AND TWISTED TIDE --- and this bears repeating --- is Bolton’s use of water as a metaphor for the killer. Both are dirty, dangerous, omnipresent and treacherous. And, not to mention, in plain view.
Kick Bolton’s latest offering to the top of your reading list, and set aside a long afternoon to read it.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on July 18, 2014