On the Bookshelf...

Stolen Souls

ML Rose

The two little boys clutched each other's hands, shivering. The wind whistled through the cracks in the window frames of the children's home they lived in. Outside their room, they could hear footsteps coming closer. 'I don't want to go,' the small boy whimpered to his friend, 'don't let them take me.' On a crisp winter evening, Detective Nikki Gill is taking a peaceful stroll through New College Oxford grounds before starting her new job at Kidlington Criminal Investigations unit the following day. But when she hears a blood-curdling scream coming from one of the buildings, she discovers the lifeless body of Professor Brian Allerton in his office and his wife kneeling by his side. With her first case already underway before she's officially begun her new role, Nikki is feeling the pressure. Recently divorced, Nikki's return to her hometown of Oxford after years away has also brought the memory of her traumatic childhood to the surface… the tragic loss of her brother Tommy, who spent time in a children's home before his fatal accident. As Nikki and her new team start to investigate, they dig deeper into Brian's life and uncover an unsettling connection to Dunston Hill, the very same children's home where Nikki's brother lived. But just when Nikki thinks she has made a breakthrough in the case, the body of another professor is found. With the investigation becoming more personal by the minute, Nikki must confront painful memories and old wounds. Can she overcome her past to solve the murder and bring justice to the victims before the killer strikes again

Stolen Souls is my first ML Rose book, but judging by what I've read it won't be the last. The novel is extremely well put together, the story taut and breathless at times, it's not a pleasant read because of the subject matter, child abuse.

As I say, it's my first ML Rose book and I was very impressed by not only the style of writing but the story. It flowed very well, eliciting emotion at the right places, revulsion at others. The main protagonist Nikki Gill, a detective inspector who is moving from London to Oxford is on the surface competent, yet there is a past that isn't fully told in this story. I guess it'll eke out over the following books, which on the basis of this must come. It affects the way she deals with others. It's a highly personal case that Nikki finds herself being dragged into. At first sight a suicide, yet Nikki soon realises that its murder. Little does she know that it'll end up dragging memories from her childhood.

This was a really good read, devoured over a couple of nights, it left me wanting more of Nikki Gill. A harrowing subject that can at times be difficult to read. I loved the devotion of the two boys to each other. Pauls support for Tommy was very touching.

Thanks to NetGallery and Storm Publishing for the eARC and a chance to read a scintillating story.

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Review by
AJ Steel
August 8, 2023

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