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Friday 31 December 2021

‘Prisoner’ by S. R. White

Published by Headline,
2 September 2021.
ISBN: 978-1-47226845-7 (HB)

A local man discovers a dead body: a man who’s been crucified in a remote swamp area in Queensland. The dead man’s soon identified as Curtis Monroe, who’d been released from prison the day before. Soon Detective Dana Russo and her team are hard at work trying to track his last movements...

Prisoner  was a real page-turner. The investigation quickly draws in two sisters who live alone in a half-derelict house in the middle of the swamp – one who was Australian equestrian world’s ‘golden girl’ in her teens, and the other one stayed at home with their mother – who’s now mysteriously absent. Their horrendous mother and the effect she had on them is vividly drawn, and this resonates with Dana, who has her own past demons. The detective team are a wonderful bunch: the story focuses mostly on Dana, but it’s third-person throughout, moving from head to head: family-man Mike’s investigation of a possible prison-gang link, rookie Rainer’s interview with elderly Clara who doesn’t let any car go by un-noticed, acerbic Lucy’s struggles with officialdom over her elderly father. Their banter is laugh-out-loud funny, but the fleshing out of these side characters is never at the expense of the plot, which is a real roller-coaster ride with frequent twists and a surprising, totally satisfying ending. This is a new view of Australia too, a land of shifting swamps, dangerous mist, constant drizzle.

A cracking read with a clever plot, a sympathetic and lively cast of police officers, and a vividly-evoked Australian setting. It reads well as a stand-alone but for those who like series in order, the first about Dana and her team – a brilliant debut for White – was Hermit.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

S.R. White worked for a UK police force for twelve years, before returning to academic life and taking an MA in Creative Writing at Nottingham Trent University. He now lives in Queensland, Australia.

Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

 Click on the title to read a review of her recent book
The Shetland Sea Murders

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