Blackwater by James Henry.


About the book

January 1983, Colchester CID

A new year brings new resolutions for Detective Inspector Nicholas Lowry. With one eye on his approaching fortieth birthday, he has given up his two greatest vices: smoking, and the police boxing team. As a result, the largest remaining threat to his health is now his junior colleague’s reckless driving.

If Detective Constable Daniel Kenton’s orange sports convertible is symbolic of his fast track through the ranks, then his accompanying swagger, foppish hairstyle and university education only augment his uniqueness in the department. Yet regardless of this, it is not DC Kenton who is turning station heads.

WPC Jane Gabriel is the newest police recruit in Britain’s oldest recorded town. Despite a familial tie to top brass, Gabriel’s striking beauty and profound youth have landed her with two obstacles: a young male colleague who gives her too much attention, and an older one who acts like she’s not there.

January 1983, Blackwater Estuary

A new year brings a new danger to the Essex shoreline. An illicit shipment, bound for Colchester – 100 kilograms of powder that will frantically accelerate tensions in the historic town, and leave its own murderous trace.

Lowry, Kenton and Gabriel must now develop a tolerance to one another, and show their own substance, to save Britain’s oldest settlement from a new, unsettling enemy.

My Review

I had never read any books by James Henry before reading Blackwater. I’m sometimes slightly dubious when starting a new series but I didn’t need to have any concerns, I think that the series will be good.
Its slightly different. For one, its set in the 1980s. The army feature heavily and there are a few references to the Falklands War ‘last year’. The music and fashion are obviously different and there is no modern technology such as computers used in policing.
The main character is Lowry, he is trying to give up smoking and boxing much to his superior officer Sparks disgust. He also has problems in his marriage, while the reader is aware of this he isn’t. I think it will take time to get to know Lowry, he’s more distant than some other fictional detectives but I liked him. Sparks is an old school detective, politically incorrect in just about everything and it doesn’t even occur to him that he might cause offence. He also wouldn’t think twice about using his fists. I loved the parts where he featured.
The other two officers are Kenton, a pretty boy who has a lot to prove to the uniformed police and WPC Gabriel, an ex-model who became disillusioned with her former career and had family connections within the force.
The case itself is nothing new but obviously being set in 1983 the policing methods are different. The army being involved also gave a different slant. Both approached the situation differently, and each thought the other was crossing boundaries. It was good to read and it was a change to read a novel that wasn’t solved by science and technology.
With thanks to Real Readers for the copy received.