Kate Marshall Book 1 by Robert Brynzda
Published on: December 1, 2019
I love the feeling I get when I pick up the first book in a brand new series so I was happy to select this novel as my Amazon First Read choice. In Nine Elms, Kate is an ex-detective who now lectures at a local college. She is also known as the detective who identified the Nine Elms Cannibal serial killer back in 1995.
From the breakthrough international bestselling author of The Girl in the Ice, a breathtaking, page-turning novel about a disgraced female detective’s fight for redemption. And survival…
Kate Marshall was a promising young police detective when she caught the notorious Nine Elms serial killer. But her greatest victory suddenly turned into a nightmare. Traumatized, betrayed, and publicly vilified for the shocking circumstances surrounding the cannibal murder case, Kate could only watch as her career ended in scandal.
Fifteen years after those catastrophic events, Kate is still haunted by the unquiet ghosts of her troubled past. Now a lecturer at a small coastal English university, she finally has a chance to face them. A copycat killer has taken up the Nine Elms mantle, continuing the ghastly work of his idol.
Enlisting her brilliant research assistant, Tristan Harper, Kate draws on her prodigious and long-neglected skills as an investigator to catch a new monster. Success promises redemption, but there’s much more on the line: Kate was the original killer’s intended fifth victim…and his successor means to finish the job.
My initial impression upon reading the first couple of chapters in the 2010 timeline was how the setup reminded me a little of the 1995 movie Copycat. The protagonist, Kate Marshall, is a lecturer who discusses serial killers. Just like in Copycat, Kate previously had a run-in with a serial killer and escaped with her life, but not without it leaving her unaffected by the trauma. But make no mistake – Nine Elms is its own story.
The story of Nine Elms is broken up into two parts: Autumn 1995 and September 2010. There are only five 1995 chapters and even then only at the beginning, so this is not a past/present style of book, where the story alternates between the two.
In 2010, Kate receives a letter from the parents of a girl who went missing in the early 1990’s. There are some similarities between the Nine Elms Cannibal and what the parents learned about their missing daughter, Caitlyn, and they are hoping Kate can help since she was the detective who identified Peter Conway as the killer back in 1995. She and Tristan don’t know what they can do, especially since Kate is no longer with the police, but they promise to look into it.
At the same time as Kate and Tristan begin looking into Caitlyn’s disappearance, the police begin finding evidence of a Nine Elms Cannibal copycat, drawing Kate and Tristan into that as well. While this is occurring, we also are shown a picture of Peter while in prison and the relationship he has with his mother, which helps to bridge parts of the book together.
Over the last several months, I have read thrillers that have a consistent tone or approach for about 75% of the book, but then changes as the author draws you in the for the ‘twist’ at the end. When this occurs it can feel as if you might be reading two different versions of the same book. So, what I really came to appreciate in Nine Elms is how the story kept on the same trajectory through-out the enter length of the novel. The story the author is building up to is the same story at the end. Nothing feels artificial or forced as you reach its conclusion – No book whiplash.
The book, while not graphic in general, does have a few moments that may not be for the squeamish. These moments are in the latter half of the book and do not drag on for chapters on end, but they are still there nonetheless. These moments never gave me the impression that they were their for gore’s sake, but instead are part of the natural story being told.
Overall, I enjoyed the story and it was a good pick for me from the Amazon First Reads selection. However, one thing to note is the curse words. There are not very many, but they are there and among them is a word used twice that many may find more offensive than the other curse words within the story.
Rating: 4.5 stars