Simon Kernick has become very much the go-to man for those who like taut thrillers that take no prisoners, and inhabit the landscape between regular police procedurals and the more cut-throat world of the intelligence agencies and counter terrorism. He has written a string of best sellers since his first novel, The Business of Dying, was published by Bantam in 2002. The Bone Field is his latest work, and will not be available until January 2017, but thanks to the good souls at Penguin Random House, my friendly postie dropped off a copy at the end of last week.
It is every parent’s nightmare, perhaps more so when daughters are concerned, that something awful will happen when their offspring is far from home, perhaps away volunteering, on a gap year, or maybe just taking a long back-packing trip to somewhere like Thailand. It is Thailand that initially takes centre stage here, because it was there that 21 year-old Katherine ‘Kitty’ Sinn was last seen, back in 1990.
Time, like an ever rolling stream, has born many of its sons – and daughters – away since 1990, and the case of Kitty Sinn is not so much cold as fossilised beneath the permafrost of unsolved crimes. But then her bones are discovered, not in what used to be called Indo-China, but six thousand miles nearer home, in the grounds of a Buckinghamshire school.
DI Ray Mason, of the Metropolitan Police Homicide Command would not normally be involved in cold case crime, but when Kitty’s former boyfriend, Henry Forbes, comes forward to state that he knows all the whys, whens and wherefores of her death, Mason has to listen. His attention turns from dutiful to totally riveted when both Forbes and his expensive lawyer are gunned down in a hit which is so proficient that it reeks of organised crime.
From here on in, Mason and his team realise that it is ‘game on’ as it is obvious that they are not dealing with a domestic tragedy, but a ruthless international crime gang led by a man whose cruelty stems from the fact that he believes himself to be untouchable.