What Falls Between the Cracks

Written by Robert Scragg

Review written by Mik Brown

Mik lives in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, but travels the length and breadth of the UK as a Project Manager. He's a long-time crime fiction fan, with bookshelves groaning under the weight of signed copies from some of the greats of the genre. He's also a reviewer, and an aspiring crime writer, with hopes of joining his literary heroes on a shelf near you in the not too distant future.

What Falls Between the Cracks
Allison and Busby
RRP: £19.99
Released: April 19 2018

It starts with a crime scene that has lain undiscovered for thirty years. A maintenance engineer is called to investigate a leak in what appears as an abandoned flat (one that has the décor of the 1980s) and while inside, he discovers a severed hand. This is the precursor to an energetic new detective series featuring Detectives Jake Porter and Nick Styles.

We soon discover, thanks to the wonders of DNA fingerprinting, that the severed hand belongs to a young woman, Natasha Barclay who the flat was registered to. The problem is that she has never been reported missing (by either her family, nor by her friends). Also puzzling is the hand having a missing digit.

So we start with character. Porter is a complex man, a detective who's still struggling to cope with the loss of his wife, but professionally he has serious problems. He is up against allegations of police corruption, and then there’s a criminal who has been hiding in plain sight. There is also a dark hidden family history which slowly begins to surface during the investigation, one that some wish were left in the shadows.

There is always an air of anticipation when the spine of a debut novel is cracked.  The Crime and Thriller Genre though now recognised as the UK’s biggest selling sector in publishing, is still competitive as readers struggle with the constraints placed upon their time, and ever shortening attention spans thanks to a changing society. Scragg’s debut provides a bridge between contemporary times, as well in the 1980s, where modern technology hadn’t disassociated our lives by the clinks of incoming emails from the iPhones we carry.

What signifies this debut to be one to explore is firstly character. Detectives Porter and Styles spark off each other in a way that engages the reader, until the reader feels part of the investigation. The narrative is not weighed down by the heavy luggage of backstory; instead we traverse nimbly between contemporary London and the past with just a lightweight carry-on Tote Bag.

Between this fast read there is family tragedy, one that is hard to face up to, so it has remained hidden from view – until now. Add a slab of organised crime and some police corruption and the spider’s web is formed - thanks to some remarkable dialogue and deft (though dark) humour.

The title is clever, as our detectives discover finding themselves in the wake of a cat and mouse game, one that has its roots in the deeds of others, dangerous people and of course to those caught between that crossfire.

This is a muscular story, a no-nonsense debut from a new talent, and one that I would keep an eye on, for Scragg’s debut lingers in the mind like the portent we told each other as children when we were warned about walking on the cracks in the pavement; or when Dorothy left Kansas, she was told to stick to the Yellow-Bricked Road avoiding the dark; advice that Detectives Porter and Styles ignored when assigned the case of the missing hand.

A highly recommended start to a new police procedural series.

Book Reviews
About Us
Contact Us

Privacy Policy | Contact Shots Editor