The Twisted Web by Rebecca Bradley: A Great Hook and Subtle Storytelling Make for a Compelling Read

The Twisted WebThe Twisted Web

by Rebecca Bradley
Series: DI Hannah Robbins, #4

Kindle Edition, 277 pg.
2018
Read: November 9 – 10, 2018

‘So, he talks about crime online and is murdered and left to be found in what is made to look like a crime scene?’ Ross asked, clarifying the situation in his own mind. A situation we all needed to get our heads around.

‘That appears to be the gist of it, Ross…’

I can’t come up with a plot summary as succinct as that, no matter how hard I try. As far as hooks go, they don’t come much better than that. This is my second Rebecca Bradley novel, and it’s the second one with a killer hook. In many ways, a killer hook — like knowing — is half the battle.

It’s up to DI Hannah Robbins and her team to find this murderer, and from the get-go, the cards are stacked against them. To begin with, social media was aware of the body before the police were (despite the number of CCTV cameras in the area the body was dumped), and Twitter was demanding action. Which means — like in so many aspects of society today — the pressure on those seeking to do the work in a professional, careful manner works against them. The online mob (and the politicians that fear getting on their wrong side) demand instant action, instant results and instant justice. Good police work rarely gives you instant anything.

Robbins’ team is in a little bit of flux at the moment — they have a relatively new DCI, who isn’t thrilled with the makeup of the team and doesn’t trust Robbins’ leadership (possibly not her ability at all — I’m not sure) as well as a newish DC who has started to prove herself (but is still trying to); they’re short a vital member due to a recent heart-attack; and Robbins herself is recovering from an injury and isn’t quite herself while being distracted by some family drama. But like any good team of professionals, they band together, adapt and get to work. I can easily see versions of this book where the internal problems distract the team from the investigation enough that the killer strikes again (which doesn’t mean that the killer doesn’t strike again here, but it’s not for this reason).

Robbins seems to do a pretty solid job running things, using her personnel and herself efficiently and wisely — from this particular armchair, the procedural part of this novel is the way things are supposed to go. No maverick detective bucking the system, going their own way, or bending any rules of evidence. How many “police procedurals” can claim that? Through that careful, ticking every box kind of approach — the stuff that Rebus can’t be bothered with, Bosch only gives lip service to, and Peter Grant submits to (grumbling the entire way) — Robbins team gets the job done. Not that serendipity doesn’t play a role, but that happens.

While delivering on that front, Bradley gives us a lot of really good character moments and subtle emotional beats. The observations about witnesses trying to insert themselves into things, the effect that a crime can have on the family of a victim, what goes on in a postmortem, and so on — elevated this from merely a solid procedural. (not that there’s anything wrong with a solid procedural)

One death permanently changed the life of many people.

Those affected by a murder often felt as though their life had also been taken once a loved one had been snatched so ruthlessly. But a court, should a murder ever go to trial, only ever counted one life. The media only counted and reported on the one life. Investigating the murder, you soon came to realise it was a hell of a lot more than one life. You don’t live in a vacuum. You are more than yourself in the world.

There were a couple of times, however, that she ruined the moment (well, diminished it greatly) by following a nice bit of description and showing us what was going on by following it up with an unessential and clunky sentence telling us what she’d just shown. Displaying a little more trust in her readers would help things. But overall, I was really impressed with the way she described the thinking and emotions behind the actions of her characters — even the tertiary ones.

Her characters are fully-developed and well-rounded. Even many of those we meet for only a few paragraphs. I’m a newbie to this series, but by the end, I thought I had a pretty good handle on almost everyone in Robbins’ world, as well as the killer and their family. That’s not easy to accomplish in a book like this that really had a lot more going on than just the murder inquiry. I really want to find out how things progress with a few of these people, and would jump on book five in this series tomorrow if it were available for that reason alone (well, okay, December — but only because I’ve got the rest of this month tightly scheduled).

I spent most of the novel annoyed by how much time we were spending with the killer — typically, novelists don’t pull this part off well, or at least with enough value added to make it worth my while (and several novelists and novels that are my favorites have this problem). Getting his perspective on the reaction to his crimes and on the official investigation didn’t seem to add much to the book, and took time away from the more interesting characters and actions. Because, really, almost all of his reactions were what the reader would’ve guessed if Bradley hadn’t given us this. But, I have to admit by the end, Bradley made almost all of it worthwhile — it was some pretty clever plotting on her part and a subtle bit of character work — and turned what was a weak point (for me, not for others) into a strength.

I was impressed with Dead Blind when I read it a few months back — but this The Twisted Web is so much better. Maybe because she’s had more time to create this world and knows her characters better, maybe it’s just the world she’s created. Either way, this book has insured that I’m going to be on the lookout for whatever she’s doing next (and, time permitting, I’ll grab the first three in this series). The Twisted Web delivers it all — some reflection on the driving forces behind our contemporary culture (and a well-deserved critique!), a solid police procedural, a villain with a credible motivation, a crime spree one can actually imagine happening, a couple of legitimate surprises, and human characters (as opposed to cardboard cutouts or stereotypes) driving it all.

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4 Stars

My thanks to damppebbles blog tours for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials they provided.

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BOOK SPOTLIGHT (and unauthorized Giveaway): The Twisted Web by Rebecca Bradley — and

Today I welcome the Book Tour for the gripping and throught-provoking The Twisted Web by Rebecca Bradley. Along with this spotlight post, I’ll be giving my take on the novel here in a bit. At the end of this post, there’s a giveaway, too. But let’s start by learning a little about this here book, okay?

Book Details:

Book Title: The Twisted Web by Rebecca Bradley
Release date: September 17, 2018
Format: Paperback/ebook
Length: 401 pages

Book Blurb:

A social media shaming. A killer with a message. A deadly combination.

When the body of a man is left in the city centre set up as a realistic police crime scene, DI Hannah Robbins is forced to enter a world that can break a person, a case and a reputation.

Social media platforms light up and Hannah is pitted against the raging online monster and a killer who has already lost everything.

Can she catch the killer and put him behind bars or will she become part of his sadistic game?

About Rebecca Bradley:

Rebecca BradleyRebecca is the author of four novels in the DI Hannah Robbins series, Shallow Waters, Made to be Broken, Fighting Monsters and The Twisted Web as well as a standalone thriller, Dead Blind.

She lives with her family in the UK with their two Cockapoos Alfie and Lola, who keep Rebecca company while she writes. Rebecca needs to drink copious amounts of tea to function throughout the day and if she could, she would survive on a diet of tea and cake while committing murder on a regular basis.

After 16 years service, Rebecca was medically retired from the police where she finished as a detective constable on a specialist unit.

Rebecca now runs a consulting service where she supports crime writers in making sure their fiction is authentic so they can get on with telling a great story. You can find details of that HERE.

Rebecca Bradley’s Social Media:

Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Website ~ Instagram ~ Amazon Author Page

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK ~ Amazon US

GIVEAWAY

At the last moment, I decided to add a Giveaway for this book. I’m not that creative, and I don’t want to bother with setting up a Rafflecopter or anything, so we’ll keep this simple. In the next 48 hours (check the post for the time — Mountain Daylight Time zone), leave a comment on this post — include the name of your favorite fictional police officer/detective, and make sure I can get in touch with you somehow. I’ll draw two names for an electronic copy of this book (format of your choosing).

My thanks to damppebbles blog tours for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials they provided.

Dead Blind by Rebecca Bradley: A gripping thriller featuring a uniquely disqualified hero

Dead BlindDead Blind

by Rebecca Bradley

Kindle Edition, 358 pg.
2018
Read: August 9, 2018

There are two gripping stories in this novel — the primary one isn’t the crime story (odd for a work of crime fiction), but it is the better executed of the two. Which isn’t a slight to the secondary story, at least not intentionally.

Let’s start with the crime — DI Ray Patrick and his team are investigating an international organ smuggling ring. Every time I’ve run into this kind of story — in print or on TV — it has always been effective. Something about the idea of harvesting organs from people (who may or may not survive the process for at least awhile) to transplant into people who may or may not survive (given the less than ideal facilities for such activities) has always disturbed me. Then when my son was diagnosed with renal failure and we were told he’d need a kidney transplant, these kind of stories became more nightmarish for me. So yeah, basically, this was right up my alley.

Thankfully, he’d received his kidney a couple of weeks before I read this one, so it didn’t end up costing me sleep. Incidentally, the facts and figures about transplants, the need for them and the lack of donors, etc. all lined up with everything we’d been told. Yes, there are differences in protocols between the two medical systems, but on the whole, what Patrick and the rest learned matched what I’d learned. When it comes to thins kind of thing in novels, I’m always wondering how much the author fudged and how much came from research — I’m happy to say that Bradley got this right.

So this story — from how the ring operates to how Patrick and the rest investigate is very satisfying.

Which leaves the primary story. Patrick comes back to work from a nasty automobile accident, mostly recovered from his physical injuries. But that’s not the only injury he sustained. Patrick now is dealing with prosopagnosia, aka “face blindness.” Through some clever guesswork, and a whole lot of luck, he’s never revealed it to anyone other than his ex-wife (so she can help him with his kids). Now back at work, Patrick is attempting to hoodwink everyone into thinking he’s okay, because he doesn’t want to risk not losing his job.

On the one hand you want to see him pull off his silly scheme, on the other, you want to see him be the man of integrity everyone thinks he is and be honest with his colleagues and friends. Especially when Patrick’s inability to discern or remember faces jeopardizes the investigation.

Watching Patrick try to remember people via other means while trying to lead an investigation, and deal with the ramifications of the disorder in his personal life gives the book its emotional weight. And it delivers that in spades.

Patrick’s team is full of some pretty well-drawn characters, which also applies for the other people in his life — grounding the more outlandish flavorings of the other stories. I enjoyed the read and found it gripping — looking forward to seeing more from Bradley.

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3 Stars