Hands up: who loves a novel with more twists than a slinky?

Me! Me! Me! As long as they make sense in the wider context of the plot and characterisation, of course, which these do. Oh they do so beautifully. ‘Buried Secrets’ is the first of DC Lisa Cutts’ crime novels I have read, but I know it will be the first of many. (I’m already a third of the way through ‘Never Forget’, her first, widely acclaimed police procedural / crime thriller and so far it’s just as brilliantly unputdownable.)

What’s it about?

Milton Bowman is having a bad day. It doesn’t improve when he is involved in a major car accident on his way to work, but it gets much worse when his friend and colleague DI Harry Powell goes to tell Milton’s wife, Linda, about his accident and discovers she’s dead. Murdered.

Whodunnit? Was it Milton himself? Or is there any link to the secrets in Linda’s past? Secrets she may not have buried deep enough. And just what was Milton hiding?

Between them, the detectives at East Rise Incident Room are going to find out. And along the way, family liaison officer DC Hazel Hamilton might just develop a relationship with DI Harry Powell – though even he is under suspicion…

What’s it like?

Twisting. Turning. Breath-taking. The ending is superb and will send chills down your spine.

Lisa Cutts has twenty plus years of experience as a police officer and has used this wealth of knowledge to create a thoroughly convincing cast who work their way through the evidence and the witnesses to unearth the secrets at the bottom of it all. I loved the honesty of this, the fact that sometimes the reader has to play catch-up for a second as an officer reveals a key piece of new evidence to a witness because in this book THERE IS NOT ONE MAGIC MAVERICK DETECTIVE.

All the officers actually work together and they aren’t miraculously intuitive, though they certainly mind their instincts, and they work as a team. This is, for this reason alone, easily the best police procedural I’ve read in ages.

Very short chapters encourage a fast pace and there are numerous intriguing hooks to ensure that you only eye up your bookmark for a moment before deciding that you must read just one more. Then another one more. And, oh, you just need to follow this thread…oh, dear, is that the time? Just the one more, then…

Final thoughts

Did I mention that I loved this? Yes? Good.

Hazel is a very understated character to take on the main police officer role; she appears to have no significant mental health or alcohol issues, no dodgy exes or stalkers or secret pasts or tendencies towards self-destruction. She’s thorough, dedicated to her job and delightfully, shyly, interested in Harry Powell. Often romantic relationships in crime fiction novels leave me cold. I just want to read about the crime and crime solving, thank you very much, but Hazel and Harry are really quite cute.

I also found reading about how a family liaison officer operates really interesting. It must be a challenging role: balancing supporting shocked and hurting family members with investigating a crime in which, of course, an officer is always conscious that a family member may have been involved in.

What else? Oh, yes: read it. Go on, off you go. Then come back and chat to me about that ending.

‘Buried Secrets’,
Lisa Cutts.
2017, Simon & Schuster, paperback