Book review: Deadly Deceit by Mari Hannah

The survivor of a horrific road crash murdered amidst the carnage, and a young father and his baby son burned to death in a house fire... Northumberland police detective Kate Daniels has her work cut out in a new and devastating case.
Deadly DeceitDeadly Deceit
Deadly Deceit

Former probation officer Mari Hannah is back on the beat with her classy leading lady in the third book of an award-winning crime thriller series which began last year with The Murder Wall and has evolved into one of the best on the market.

In Deadly Deceit, Hannah moves into top gear; there is a new and assured confidence in her writing, and her characters are finding a firm footing in the harsh countryside of the North East.

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The key to this wily author’s success is her ability to combine tense, action-packed plotlines and a finely fleshed-out cast with authentic police and forensic procedural detail.

Taking centre stage is her tough, likeable cop, DCI Kate Daniels, a determined and fair-minded police officer dedicated to her demanding job but with a carefully hidden sexuality which renders her unexpectedly and appealingly vulnerable.

In Deadly Deceit, Hannah’s deepest, darkest and deadliest story so far, Kate tackles a truly complex and ruthless killer, and the uncompromising detective will need all her guile to keep on the trail.

The night of June 24, 2010, is hot and sticky so when a sudden thunderstorm brings a deluge of rain on the busy A1, it seems almost inevitable that a driver skids dangerously out of control.

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Within minutes there is carnage... cars on fire, others hemmed together in a concertina of mangled metal, a lethal mixture of diesel and petrol spewing on to the road surface, motorists dead in their cars or crawling from the wreckage on hands and knees.

Caught up in the mayhem that has quickly become one of the worst road traffic accidents in Northumberland’s history are Kate and her professional partner Hank Gormley, a sergeant with a hard shell and a soft centre, who cannot help but be moved by the terrible scenes around them.

What they can’t see is an elderly woman, trapped in the passenger seat of her car, who is just sending up a prayer of thanks for her miraculous survival when out of the shadowy darkness steps a figure whose mission is not to rescue, but to kill.

Kate and Hank are on their way to another incident in the scruffy back streets of Newcastle’s West End where the locals have been holding a street party to watch England’s latest football match in the World Cup tournament in South Africa.

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An arson fire at a small terraced house nearby has turned its two inhabitants – Mark Reid and his 10-month-old son Jamie – into charred corpses while the child’s mother was out for the evening.

The fatal fire is seemingly unconnected with the traffic accident and Kate sets about investigating both incidents separately. But it soon becomes apparent that all is not what it seems, and Kate and her colleagues find themselves always one step behind a killer who will stop at nothing to get what they want...

Deadly Deceit is a multi-faceted thriller with a memorably chilling murderer and a clever, clever twist in the tail.

Meanwhile, Kate Daniels continues to grow in stature, both as a capable, loyal and sensitive detective and as a woman whose private emotions seem to be increasingly a part of Hannah’s grand plan for her....

The only way is up for crime fiction’s top team.

(Pan, paperback, £7.99)