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Monday, 18 February 2019

‘Mummy's Favourite’ by Sarah Flint

Published by Aria,
10 January 2019.
ISBN: 978-1-78954185-4 (PB)

Charlie Stafford is a trouble-magnet; a problem in most walks of life, but it can come in useful when you're an ambitious detective constable. In the first few pages of Mummy's Favourite, she has already started her day by chasing a fare-dodger on the London Underground before she even arrives at work.

The crime at the heart of this first-in-series police procedural is a particularly horrible one. A mother and one of her two children have disappeared; we learn from the abductor's point of view that they are buried in woodland in a deserted part of London; the child is dead, his throat cut, and the mother is slowly starving to death, watched by the highly disturbed killer.

For Charlie and her colleagues in the Community Support Unit of CID, it starts out as missing persons' enquiry, and focuses on the woman's violent husband. Charlie herself falls victim to his savage temper, but a conviction proves hard to achieve. Which, of course, makes this feisty young woman all the more determined to get to the bottom of the case, even before there's a second abduction in which her assailant couldn't possibly be involved.

Sarah Flint has a sound background in the Metropolitan Police, so it comes as no surprise that the police procedure in this richly detailed novel rings all too true. I especially enjoyed the account of an episode of Crimewatch, in which Charlie's boss DI Hunter takes centre stage and Charlie herself is taking calls from potential witnesses.

The same meticulous approach is applied to the characters.  Even the bad guys have redeeming features, and I felt I was starting to get to know Charlie's colleagues, especially motherly Bet and harassed Naz, and of course Charlie herself. But perhaps my favourite is a peripheral character called Ben Jacobs, a war veteran suffering from PTSD. He has a soft spot for Charlie, and she for him, and despite his drink problem and sad past there could even be romance in the air in future. Charlie too has a sad past, which has helped to shape her into the spirited and enterprising person she is.

The background too is well drawn. Flint knows her London, even its less familiar corners; and there are various houses and flats which suit their occupants very well. And that Crimewatch studio came alive too.

DC Charlie Stafford is a promising newcomer to the police procedural canon. I look forward to seeing where Sarah Flint takes her next.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Sarah Flint is the author of the best-selling 'DC Charlotte Stafford' series, her first novel Mummy’s Favourite having reached the top ten on Amazon UK, Australia and Canada. Her books are now available throughout Europe. Sarah has been based in South London all her life and served 35 years in the Metropolitan Police, working in pro-active roles dealing with serious violent crime and the victims and perpetrators of such violence. She retired 18 months ago and now writes full time. Her books are based in the area in which she worked and have been described as ‘gritty and authentic.’  She was inspired to write at the age of 43 by her older sister and she has never looked back. Now living with her partner in Berkshire, she has three grown-up daughters but regularly returns to her old stomping ground to refresh her memories and get inspiration for new stories.

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

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