“A baby lies abandoned amongst the rubbish; her tiny face as white as alabaster, her body as stiff as a miniature doll.
A young prostitute lies beaten, her figure lying like a mannequin on the frozen concrete, her blood spilt, her life ebbing away.
As DC ‘Charlie’ Stafford and her boss DI Hunter struggle to identify the victim from the violator their hunt brings them to the crack houses of Lambeth, littered with damaged people, their lives scarred by tragedy and violence, most broken beyond repair.
As further lives hang in the balance Charlie must enpower the weak to speak out against those who seek to cause harm.
But can a broken doll ever truly be mended; or will the wounds of the past, fashion the events of the future?”
Delighted to be finally taking my turn on the tour for Broken Dolls by Sarah Flint. My thanks to Melanie at Head of Zeus for inviting me to be on the tour.
This is the fourth book in the DC Charlie Stafford series but the first one I have read. It worked fine as a standalone book but there were a few aspects about her history and relationships that I may have appreciated more if I had read her previous books first. However, this did not detract from the power of the story.
And powerful it is. The opening scenes of this book are harrowing and hit you like a punch in the face, which pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the book. The author does not hold back on the imagery and some readers may find the opening events a little hard to stomach and upsetting. This is not a crime book for the faint of heart or easily squeamish but if you like your books gritty and in your face, you will be gripped from the start as I was. I read this book in a single four-hour sitting without taking a break, i could not put it down.
There are fascinating and well drawn characters on both sides of the legal divide, some likeable and some despicable but all rounded and believable and some of them are morally ambiguous, which is always interesting to read. The main character on the police side is DC Charlie Stafford, a young detective constable who is strong and feisty but also compassionate. I really liked her and thought she was a great character to carry the story, rather than someone further up the hierarchy. Being on the lowest rung of the CID ladder, she was right at the heart and on the ground of the investigation, so we could see every development of the investigation which allowed for our full immersion in the story.
There are two other central characters telling the story. Caz, a very young prostitute who is caught up in the midst of a series of deaths in the community of working girls in Streatham and ‘The Punter’ a shadowy character whose darker thoughts and acts are peppered throughout the book. There are two separate investigations in the book which may or not be related and you have to concentrate to work out the strands of each. The stories give a fascinating insight into the world of prostitution, pimps, drugs and sex trafficking and, as previously mentioned, is not the most comfortable of reads but it is gripping.
The pace of the book is fast and furious and the plot twisty enough and with sufficient surprises to keep the reader hooked from page to page. The writing felt very authentic as to tone and language which allowed for a very smooth read. I would hesitate to say I enjoyed the book, given the harrowing subject matter, but it definitely held my interest and was a compulsive read and I would definitely look for more by this author. I love finding new authors with a back catalogue to explore and would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys dark, pacy crime novels. Not for the delicate or squeamish.
Broken Dolls is out now and you can buy a copy here.
My thanks to NetGalley, Aria Fiction and Head of Zeus for my copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.
If you would like to see what other bloggers thought of the book, you can follow the tour below:
About the Author
With a Metropolitan Police career spanning 35 years Sarah has spent her adulthood surrounded by victims, criminals and police officers. She continues to work and lives in London with her partner and has three older daughters.
Connect with Sarah:
Facebook: Sarah Flint Books
Goodreads: Sarah Flint