A shadow is being cast over the region of Battambang in Cambodia. Teenage mothers are vanishing from the villages surrounding the minefields, some later turning up dead. Members of the mine clearance team working on the site are being lured to their deaths on the minefield – with fresh mines being planted in cleared regions.
Tess Hardy finds herself drawn to the region and the mine clearance efforts by a phone call from a voice from her past – her violent husband Luke, sounding scared for the first time in his life. When he is killed in an explosion, she finds herself investigating his death. Convinced that he was murdered, it seems that everyone in the region has something to hide.
The White Crocodile – a harbinger of death – is waiting in the darkness. And the Crocodile is hungry…
Another new release – out on the 7th August in paperback and ebook in the UK – this review copy was provided for me by Faber and Faber. I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure about this one – I tend to prefer my thrillers and mysteries divorced from reality, and the setting of a Cambodian minefield felt far too real for my liking. But I rarely turn down a free book – probably the reason for my last post 🙂
What was a really pleasant surprise about this book is that it presents a genuine mystery. There’s a lot going on, a reasonable handful of suspects and a surprisingly clean solution for everything that’s going on. It’s more of a spot-what-makes-sense than piece-together-the-clues but this is a lot closer to a classic mystery than many modern thrillers that I’ve read. There’s plenty to work out and although I guessed out one aspect – the most important aspect – of the plot, I still enjoyed waiting to see if I was right.
The central character of Tess is well thought out and feels like a real person in a tense situation, although there are times where she seems to a bit psychic – she is convinced that a murderer is knocking around very early in the book, and later on, she starts referring the White Crocodile as a person which the villain kindly confirms for her when they turn up. Although these points niggled when they came up, they were soon forgotten. The parts of the story set in the UK, seemingly unrelated, are tied into the main plot very cleverly and the whole book sits together nicely as a debut novel. The author brings the region of the world where the book is set and hopefully it will open some peoples’ eyes as to the problems beyond their backyards.
So, a strong mystery-thriller debut from K T Medina and I’ll certainly be looking forward to reading more from her in the future. Highly Recommended.