Arriving at a new posting in Canterbury, DI Edina ‘Ed’ Ogborne is thrust straight into the middle of a big case - a young woman has gone missing. It’s quickly apparent that the case bears similarities to a similar one from four years ago, and Ed must try to integrate with a new team which resent her arrival and try to solve the case before a tragedy occurs.
The villain in The Taken Girls is an interesting character, one who experiences no sexual desire for his victims, just an obsession with having children. The young women taken are kept in captivity, never see their captor’s face, but are well treated for several weeks until their release. Soon after, they discover they are pregnant, which is a unique twist in this sort of crime novel I hadn’t heard of before. Because of the nature of the crime, I had my suspicions from early on about who the perpetrator was which were proved correct, though the author did plant lots of red herrings to try and keep the reader guessing until the very last minute.
As a protagonist, Ed is fascinating but it’s hard to feel empathy for her, mainly because for a supposedly smart woman she shows absolutely deplorable judgement when it comes to her personal life and particularly the men in it. Forced out of the Met because of an affair with a married man, which I have to admit made me dislike her immediately (I despise adultery) she promptly gets involved with another sleazebag without even making an effort to discover if he’s married or not. I wanted to shake some sense into her, I’m afraid.
There were some pretty toxic tropes surrounding the villain as well, with him blaming his mother and sister for everything he’d become. Fortunately he wasn’t the only character in the book behaving badly, with a network of wealthy and influential men proving to be doing some pretty terribly things too; this was the part that most disappointed me, that Ed didn’t get the chance to roll up this old boys’ network as a side benefit of her investigations.
There’s a lot of repetition and since the book is set in 2012, it seems a little ‘dated’ in regards to technology usage, particularly CCTV. I’m a little surprised the editorial team didn’t get the author to update it as well as tighten up the prose and rewrite Ed as somewhat more relatable.
All in all, an interesting story let down by poor characterization and a lack of editing. Three stars.
The Taken Girls is available now.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.