[ARC Review] The Bad Place

DI Sasha Dawson #1 by M.K. Hill
Published on: September 5, 2019

An enjoyable start to a new detective series. In The Bad Place characters ooze with life and the primary detective on the case has her hands quite full both on the job and off.


The newspapers called it The Bad Place. A remote farm out on the Thames estuary, where six children were held captive for two weeks. Five of them got out alive. That was 20 years ago. Now adults, they meet up annually to hold a candlelit vigil for their friend who died. The only rule is that no one can talk about what happened the night they escaped. But at this year’s event, one of them witnesses a kidnapping. A young girl, Sammi, is bundled into a van in front of their eyes. Is history repeating itself? Is one of them responsible? Or is someone sending them a twisted message? DI Sasha Dawson, of Essex Police, is certain that the key to finding Sammi lies in finding out the truth about The Bad Place. But she also knows that with every second she spends trying to unlock the past, the clock ticks down for the missing girl.


Almost seamlessly moving from detective to mother to daughter to wife, DI Sasha Dawson has a lot going on that gives you more than one story to care about and be interested in.

The main mystery of The Bad Place tells a story about 5 adults who were kidnapped when they were younger. Once a year, they meet together with the purpose of helping them heal – although they never do, especially since there were 6 who were kidnapped with one never making it out alive. Each of the surviving individuals still live with demons that haunt them 20 years later. Not a single one has recovered, even though they both try and yet don’t try to move on.

The story begins at the annual dinner when one of the attendees sees a young girl being kidnapped on her way there. The police are called, which is where we meet DI Sasha Dawson. It’s not an official kidnapping until later, but here is where we start to see the individuals and how broken they truly are.

As the main mystery is engaged, the personal life of DI Dawson is woven through-out. She is a mother of 3 children, however, one is deceased prior to the time of the story. Much to DI Dawson’s frustration, her mother has decided to live with them temporarily while at the same time her husband just isn’t acting like himself anymore and is letting his new neighbor upset him. Last, but not least, her children are young teenagers, which automatically comes with its own issues. To say there is a lot going on in her private life would be an understatement.

In this story there are a lot of characters to keep track of – between the 6 kidnap victims, new kidnap victims, the detectives, DI Dawson’s family, and witness and suspects it was at times difficult to remember everyone. At one point something occurs with a character where it was evident that we had met him before, but I couldn’t remember who it was and was too lazy to search through the beginning of the book and find out. It turns out it was one of the original kidnap victims. I suspect some readers may prefer books with fewer characters to keep track of and should be noted. I personally enjoyed it since it keep my interest up due to so much going on.

Overall, I enjoyed the series and look forward to the next mystery that DI Dawson needs to solve. Hopefully, when this occurs her family life will be less hectic, but somehow I doubt it. Recommended for those who enjoy police procedurals, mysteries, and thrillers.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Thanks to Netgalley and Head of Zeus for the advanced reader copy and opportunity to provide an honest review.

2 thoughts on “[ARC Review] The Bad Place

    1. I passed by it a few times myself. I had been trying to work my way to 80% on Netgalley and was worried it would derail my progress. It wasn’t until I remembered I was about to take a long trip with a lot of reading time that I grabbed it. I’m glad I got it – I definitely enjoyed it.


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