Review: The Running Girls by Matt Brolly

Publisher Description

From the bestselling author of the British Detective Louise Blackwell series comes a story of two murders, twenty years apart. There’s only one suspect. But what if he’s innocent?

Twenty years ago, in the seaside town of Galveston, Texas, Annie Randall took her dog for a walk. The dog returned. Annie did not. When her body was found, cruelly broken and posed like a runner, there was only ever one suspect: Annie’s husband, Frank. Now he’s served his time and come home – but the locals won’t let him forget. Especially when there’s a new ‘running girl’ murder…

Detective Laurie Campbell remembers Annie’s case. She’s also married to the Randalls’ son. Painfully conscious of the deep wounds within her family, and still suffering from a personal tragedy of her own, Laurie takes the lead on the new investigation. As much as the finger of suspicion points to her father-in-law, something doesn’t add up. If he didn’t commit the most recent murder, is it possible he never killed Annie either? And if he didn’t, who did?

As a terrifying hurricane hits Galveston, Laurie finds herself in a dangerous race against time. Can she find the answers that could heal her broken family before the wind and the waves hide them forever?

Thrilling Reads Review

Initially, I was drawn to this book due to the intriguing Galveston setting and my love for police procedurals and thrillers with unsettling elements. While the beginning was a bit slow, the second half was impossible to put down. The initial section established the characters’ dynamics and relationships, generating a modicum of tension while anticipating the inevitable twists. The second half ratcheted up the tension with a hurricane acting as a massive catalyst, creating a sense of urgency and excitement. I had never considered the impact of a destructive storm on criminal investigations; evidence can disappear, and people may vanish. The hurricane’s force is palpable, weighing on Laurie, the lead character and investigator.

However, one aspect that detracted from my enjoyment was Laurie’s repetitive fixation on her miscarried child. It’s brought up over and over. Might be triggering for someone who went through this.

The author’s British origins occasionally reveal themselves in his word choices and phrasing, which can be disorienting given the Texan setting. Nevertheless, he manages to skillfully immerse the reader in the story, making it an enjoyable read overall.

It's safe to say that Alan Petersen loves mystery and thriller books. He writes high-octane thrillers, hosts the MEET THE THRILLER AUTHOR podcast, and reviews thriller/mystery books.

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