Beneath The Ashes is book two in the DI Will Jackman series. A charred body found in a barn and a girlfriend with no memory of what happened that night – Jackman is on the case.
From the back cover:
The floor felt hard beneath her face. Nancy opened her eyes. Blinked several times. A pain seared through her head. She could feel fluid. No. She was lying in fluid.
When a body is discovered in a burnt-out barn in the Warwickshire countryside, DI Will Jackman is called to investigate.
Nancy Faraday wakes up on the kitchen floor. The house has been broken into and her boyfriend is missing. As the case unravels, DI Jackman realises that nothing is quite as it appears and everyone, it seems, has a secret.
Can he discover the truth behind the body in the fire, and track down the killer before Nancy becomes the next victim?
Some of you may know, I read book one – Before It’s Too Late – last month and I thought it was an ‘okay read’ so I was quite apprehensive when I started this one. However, I’m happy to report, I enjoyed Beneath The Ashes much more – inevitably this is a comparison-style review.
One of my main issues from book one was regarding the main protagonist, Will Jackman, I just didn’t feel as connected to him as I hoped, despite getting a brief insight into his personal life. Again, in Beneath The Ashes, I didn’t feel that emotional connection that I believe is important when investing in a series. However, I do like Jackman, he’s friendly, honest and hardworking and I accept that this is a series where there isn’t a huge emphasis on the characters’ backstory but a solid focus on the mystery at hand. So, if you are tired of reading about the woes of the flawed detective, this may be the series for you. Isaac does a lovely job portraying the friendship between Jackman and his colleague Davies – Davies has a partner and a baby so there’s not going to be a great love affair, and I like that they are portrayed as genuine friends and you really feel that they care for each other and this allows you to smile along at their interactions.
Interestingly, while there is a worry that Nancy may become the next victim, I did not like her character, however, this added an element of tension to the plot as I keep thinking at any moment she was going to do something to jeopardize the entire case, either intentionally or otherwise.
The case in this one is more complex than in the previous book, and did have me guessing until the very end; I did feel the ending came a bit out of left field and disrupted the smooth flow of the book slightly but nonetheless, I enjoyed it.
I really appreciated the realistic nature of the plot, there are no outlandish investigation tactics; there will always be “office politics” but it’s nice to read a police procedural that shines some positive light on, and the focus is, the police proceedings. Issac has a nice straight-forward/direct writing style that makes this a good choice of book if you’re looking for a solid police procedural with the emphasis on solving the crime rather than the characters.
More mystery than thriller, Beneath The Ashes, isn’t too gritty or dark in its nature and, like book one, it’s not particularly fast-paced but it’s a quick read. This appears to be a series that is getting better with each book and I look forward to seeing what book three offers.