DI Will Jackman is called to the remains of a burnt out barn, appearing initially as a straightforward case of arson. Until a burned body is discovered. When Will calls at the nearest farmhouse to speak to the owners of the barn, he finds a confused and injured young woman. Nancy Faraday is in a relationship with the manager of the farm, Evan Baker, and the owners are abroad. Nancy can’t remember anything after spending the evening in the pub with Evan, or why she woke up on the kitchen floor amid shards of glass from the shattered back door.
As Will and his team work to unravel the case it becomes apparent it’s anything but straightforward as they uncover false identities, links to previous cases and secrets. People are not always as they appear. Will has more than enough on his plate with the added complications of a looming promotion interview board, a visit from his daughter and the boyfriend Will hasn’t yet met and the state of his wife’s health.
Beneath The Ashes, the second book in the DI Will Jackman series, is an extremely well structured, complex and convincing police procedural. An easily believable and twisty plot, the seemingly unconnected threads going off in all directions before being tied up cleverly with a great ending. The thorough research and attention to detail is fascinating, I liked the atmosphere and feeling of involvement as the investigation progressed. Great setting too, I love Stratford upon Avon and the surrounding countryside.
Although the story focuses predominantly on the investigation, Will is an engaging main character who I’m beginning to like very much. He’s not an emotionally damaged detective but has a tragedy in his life which has left him with feelings of guilt regarding his wife’s situation. He’s living on his own since his daughter left for university, very proud of her and coming to terms with the fact she’s an independent person going her own way in life. He’s also dealing with the idea of a possible promotion, his wife’s terrible condition as well as diligently working all hours to solve the present case. Jane Isaac captures the essence of the characters, bringing them and their interactions to life realistically.
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