Written by Louise Voss and Mark Edwards — Family: it’s a six-letter word that covers a whole world of possibilities. If you’re lucky, it means happy get-togethers with relatives. Then again, it could conjure up mental images of Barbara Windsor in EastEnders. Love ’em or hate ’em, family is something you’re stuck with.
A veritable conveyor belt of dysfunctional families move through this book, like cuddly toys on The Generation Game. Just when you think you’ve got one lot sorted out, another appears in view. Such is the relentless action in this firecracker of a book that you’re loath to put it down for even a minute, in case something else happens in your absence!
The reader’s card is marked from the offset, with a prologue set 18 months previously. DI Patrick Lennon arrives home, late again, tired to the bone and ready for some quality time with his wife, Gill, and baby daughter, Bonnie. But as soon as he crosses the threshold, he can sense something is badly amiss. His wife is sitting on the stairs in a near-catatonic state, while upstairs his beloved daughter is lying near lifeless in her cot. As the paramedics arrive to take his barely breathing baby to hospital, Pat has no choice but to arrest his wife for attempted murder.
Move forward to the present, and Lennon is frantically juggling work and home life, constantly in danger of dropping one of the balls. His retired parents are looking after his daughter while he grapples with a case that is getting more complicated by the day. Already embroiled in the search for two missing toddlers, taken when their parents’ backs were turned, the Met’s Murder Investigations Team team is in danger of losing their grip when a third tot is snatched from her bed at home. Once again, nobody appears to have seen or heard anything. So what, if anything, is the connection between the three? All of the families are well off and live in moneyed parts of London. On the surface, their lives are to be envied – but scratch below the surface, and myriad cracks appear.
When the first missing child is found dead, the pressure to catch the culprits reaches tipping point and the team begins to fray as fast as the families in its spotlight. Can Lennon keep his head while, all around him, people appear to be losing theirs? Especially when he has the added complication of a wife who looks set to be released from the secure mental hospital where she has been held since her trial – and who finally wants to see him after all this time. Can things get any more difficult for him? Trust me… they can, and do.
From The Cradle is a Thriller with a capital T, with twists and turns aplenty as the dynamic duo of Voss and Edwards demonstrate once again just why their books are so popular. It is the first in a series featuring DI Pat Lennon and I’m really looking forward to delving deeper into the past and following the future exploits of this tattoo-covered ex-Goth with a love of albums by The Cure. The flawed dynamics of his team add spice to the investigation and certainly bode well for future storylines.
And here’s a final thought: In this age of mash-ups, maybe the writing team could also welcome Kevin Sampson into the mix – don’t you think a book about Detectives Pat Lennon and Billy McCartney sounds like a match made in heaven?
From the Cradle is released on 1 November.
Thomas and Mercer
CFL Rating: 5 Stars