Bury Your Past by J M Dalgliesh

Bury Your Past by J M Dalgliesh
Publisher: Hamilton Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Fern

A secret worth dying for is a secret worth killing…

When a violent storm uncovers the remains of an unknown young woman, long buried among the sand dunes, DI Tom Janssen must piece together fragmentary evidence to determine how she came to be there.

In the years she lay undiscovered several young women have disappeared and as the team work through the possibilities they come to an uncomfortable conclusion… is a serial killer stalking coastal Norfolk? Each missing person had a story. Each of them had enemies. Some were more dangerous than others…

They appealed to the same men, dabbled in the occult and came to the attention of powerful figures who would brush them aside without a second thought. But who had the motivation to kill? Where is the killer now? When the past is brought into the light will they be willing to ensure their closely guarded secrets remain buried?

To do so, they will have to kill again…

Set within the mysterious beauty of coastal Norfolk, this fast-paced British detective novel is a dark murder mystery with a little humour, one that will keep you guessing until the very end when the final shocking twist is revealed.

DI Tom Janssen has settled back very well into life in Norfolk. His police work keeps him busy but isn’t hectic and he tries to spend more time with his partner Alice and Alice’s young daughter Saffy. When a huge storm passes through the coastal town the skeletal remains of what appears to be a young woman buried in the sand at a popular part of the beach shocks the locals. But this body appears to be just one of a few missing young women and something far more sinister.

This is the second book in the Hidden Norfolk series by Dalgliesh and I admit I quite enjoyed it for the most part. This story can definitely be read as a standalone – only a brief mention is made of the fact that DCI Tamara Greave was brought on to help work with Tom on a previous case together. Aside from the facts that they know each other, have worked together once before and there’s a small bit of attraction (carefully hidden on both sides) nothing else is needed or stated and so this entire story stands really well by itself, and I feel readers should feel quite confidant in picking up this book without reading the previous one.

While I admit the slight attraction between Tom and Tamara is very much downplayed by both characters and indeed from outward appearances they try to not even show or express it – this was the only part of the story that niggled at me a little. Tom is already in a committed romantic relationship with Alice and so it felt odd to me that there was some level of attraction between Tom and Tamara. This was all done very subtly and was realistic (even extremely happily connected people feel attraction to another person now and then) but it still struck a very odd tune to me, personally, and while I didn’t dislike it, it was something I found uneasy to read – partly I think because I wanted this to be a fairly straightforward police procedural mystery and also partly because it’s highly unusual for one of the heroines of the story to not be feeling (even hiding those feelings) in a very heroic manner.

That said, this was all very subtle and effectively had nothing much at all to do with the murder mystery, which truly was the main thrust of the storyline as a whole. Excepting this attraction between Tom and Tamara I felt the entirety of the rest of the story was really well handled. I thoroughly enjoyed the cast of secondary characters who were all drawn in for various reasons into the investigation and were all locals of the small coastal town. I enjoyed seeing Eric again and feel he will in the next book or two be a very strong presence as his detective and police skills grow by leaps and bounds. I also enjoyed that the plot was twisty enough to engage my mind but not so convoluted I couldn’t keep track of all the threads. I feel the author did an exceptional job balancing the plot and pacing and once I got going, I read the book quite quickly and really thoroughly enjoyed it.

Readers wanting a British style, police procedural mystery should find this really suits their mood. While a little gritty I definitely don’t feel this is too dark or edgy and I am looking forward to the next in the series.

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