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Thursday 14 October 2021

‘Paying the Ferryman’ by Jane A. Adams

Published by Severn House Trade Paperback,
May 2015.


Teenager Sarah Griffin, flees from a gun attack that has already killed her mother and step-father.  Clasping her fifteen-month-old half-brother, Jack, she makes for a nearby barn but sustains a bullet wound on the way.  Sarah reaches the safety of the farm building but she is fast losing blood.  Sirens scream the approach of the first police response units and officers soon discover the bodies of Lisanne and Victor Griffin but initially seek in vain for their two children.

DI Ryan Steel and DS Sophie Willis are charged with leading the investigation, but when ex-DI Naomi Blake’s business card is found in the back of the dead couple’s address book the detectives must reframe their initial theories about probable suspects.  Naomi and her husband, Alec Friedman, as serving officers, both had dealings with Lisanne and her first husband, Terry Baldwin.  The retired detectives agree to travel to Ferrymouth, where the dead couple had lived with their young family, to assist Steel and Willis with historical aspects of the increasingly complex inquiry.

The Friedmans are soon joined by an old friend, a mysterious character known as Gregory, whose background in the military and intelligence services is never fully defined.  Gregory now works alongside another friend, Nathan Crow.  Naomi feels uneasy with Gregory’s involvement; he and Nathan inhabit a world where distinctions between right and wrong are constantly blurred, and this challenges Naomi’s firm belief in the sanctity of the law.  However, the support given by Gregory and Nathan proves invaluable as the investigation penetrates the dangerous and murky underworld of organised crime where players have no regard for the mores that guide conventional society.

Paying the Ferryman’s pacy opening immediately engages the reader, and the unfolding police procedural, continually driven by new evidence, thrusts the fast-moving investigation in unexpected directions.  The theme of domestic violence runs throughout the story and, whilst the author describes these episodes with empathy, its tragic consequences are portrayed graphically and with honesty.  This is the tenth book in the Naomi Blake series and another highly enjoyable read.

Reviewer: Dorothy Marshall-Gent

Jane A Adams was born in Leicestershire, where she still lives. She has a degree in Sociology, and has held a variety of jobs including lead vocalist in a folk rock band. She enjoys pen and ink drawing, martial arts and her ambition is to travel the length of the Silk Road by motorbike. Her first book, The Greenway, was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Award in 1995 and for the Author's Club Best First Novel Award. Jane writes several series.  Her first series featured Mike Croft. Several books featuring DS Ray Flowers. Seven titles featuring blind Naoimi Blake, and six titles featuring Rina Martin. Her most ret series is set between the two World Wars and featuring Detective Inspector Henry Johnstone and his sergeant, Micky Hitchens. Jane has also written several standalone novels. She is married with two children.

Dorothy Marshall-Gent worked in the emergency services for twenty years first as a police officer, then as a paramedic and finally as a fire control officer before graduating from King’s College, London as a teacher of English in her mid-forties.  She completed a M.A. in Special and Inclusive Education at the Institute of Education, London and now teaches part-time and writes mainly about educational issues.  Dot sings jazz and country music and plays guitar, banjo and piano as well as being addicted to reading mystery and crime fiction.

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