What the blurb says: “DI Charlotte Savage knows who killed her daughter. As Charlotte struggles with an overwhelming need for revenge, a series of terrifying events starts to unfold on the moors … First, a bag containing clothes and a passport is found floating in a reservoir. But the girl they belong to is nowhere to be found. Then a man’s body is discovered, entombed in an ancient pagan grave. Amidst a web of corruption and lies, Charlotte must figure out who she can trust, before the killer strikes again. Or before she, herself, is driven to become the killer …”
This atmospheric police procedural makes the most of its moorland setting, using beautiful but remote areas of the Dartmoor geography as settings for some of the more brutal crimes and in doing so providing a startling juxtaposition between the wonders of the natural world and the horrors inflicted by humans.
And there are horrors in this story. It’s gritty and brutal in places, with ritualised killings, animal sacrifice and frenzied attacks woven into the twisty, turny tale. As the police take forward several investigations – the discovery of a man’s body in a shallow grave, the search for a missing woman, and the killings of Dartmoor ponies on the moor – the different plot strands interweave and separate, challenging the reader to piece the clues together before the detectives do.
This is the first of Mark Sennen’s DI Charlotte Savage series that I’ve read, and I did feel that perhaps I was missing out by jumping straight into this book (the fourth) rather than starting at the beginning of the series (which I will now go and do!). This was largely due to the emotive incident that happened in a previous book and the huge influence it has on Savage’s behaviour and decisions in this one. There are flashbacks to bring a reader fresh to the series up-to-speed, so you do get a flavour of past events as you read forward, but personally I wanted to get a sense of who DI Charlotte Savage was before the tragic event occurred.
That said, Tell Tale does make for a good standalone read. DI Savage, a respected and high calibre detective, is still reeling from the shock and grief of past events. This influences her, both in her work and home life, and adds an air of unpredictability to her reactions and actions as she tries to piece together the chain of events that led to the incident in her past, while working the murder investigations she is faced with in the present. This ratchets up the tension page by page, and challenges both DI Savage, and the reader, to solve the cases before another victim is claimed.
Recommended for fans of gritty police procedurals.
[with thanks to Avon for my copy of Tell Tale]