by Samantha Shiye
A Trade in Tears opens with a brutal assault on eighteen-year old Cindy Evans. DCI Colin Massey heads the investigating unit but within days another girl is missing and the abductions continue. Massey begins to uncover evidence of a sex trafficking ring that is always one step ahead. When his own daughter, Morag, is attacked, he faces a race against time to find the perpetrators and who within the force is helping them…
A Trade in Tears is in an excellent crime thriller and it’s hard to believe this is a debut novel. The opening is confident, plunging you straight into the action. The writing assured, immediately setting up subtle twists, turns and providing the reader with hints, leads and probable dead-ends as any good crime thriller should. We also have the side narrative of Johnny which is brought in early on when Annie, his girlfriend, is abducted. You know that this will feed into the main plot but you are not quite sure how, you are also not entirely convinced that Johnny is on the level. Throughout the book, the reader is led to suspect most of the main characters which again, is the hallmark of an excellently involving and nuanced thriller with the ultimate culprit hiding in plain sight. The central character of DCI Massey was well-realised and reminded me strongly of Ruth Rendell’s, Inspector Wexford. In fact, the style of Ms Shiye’s writing (especially the dialogue) and the nature of the plot was very Rendell-esque. Strong characterisations, details and research really made this an intelligent and credibly constructed crime novel that I read in a day because I could not put it down. There are a few wrinkles; it could be levelled it’s a little overlong. Morag’s time out at the Martial Arts School and her disguised activities whilst there, I felt were possibly unneeded and a couple of the characters I thought were superfluous. The issues with Johnny I enjoyed and I think Ms Shiye just hit the right note; any further and it may have become far-fetched. Personally, the sheer craft of the narrative overcame these minor niggles.
The crimes are horrendous and this is not a cosy read so be warned. The relatively short chapter structure is a good move; as a reader you are given a reprieve from reading or dwelling on the horrific nature of the assaults as you are quickly taken into a less brutal and more thoughtful area of the narrative.
I thought A Trade in Tears was an absolutely gripping, brilliantly constructed and excellently written crime thriller and I would not hesitate to read another from Ms Shiye. Highly recommended. Buy from: