Kudos to this local Houston writer! Her psychological thriller, Deadly Thyme has won a five-star rating from Readers’ Favorite, a Best Book award and the Clue Award in its category from Chanticleer—with good reason. It’s a great read.
Set against the rich panorama of Cornwall,
our hero is Detective Inspector Jon Graham. He’s been sent out from London to take over surveillance of the local constabulary in a sleepy little village where everyone seems to have secrets. A questionable amount of money has suddenly appeared in the bank account of local Detective Chief Inspector Trewe. A day or two and Jon should be back in London. But things quickly become more complicated.
A 10-year old girl disappears from the beach while gathering seashells with a friend. Her mother, Ruth Butler, is a somewhat mysterious American woman who turned up in Cornwall a few years back. She lives quietly with her daughter, Annie. They have only recently integrated into the local community. The scenes from her numb and desperate point of view are heartbreaking.
Contributing to the reader’s sense of urgency are brief glimpses of Annie’s captivity.
When Jon, quite by accident, discovers the decaying body of a young girl on the rocks below a cliff, it looks as though Ruth’s daughter has been killed. But when they discover the body is not Annie’s, it only adds to the terror and complications. This young girl was held captive for weeks if not months and actually died of exsanguination—she was deliberately bled to death.
Jon finds his covert investigation compromised now that he is a witness in the kidnapping case and comes under the suspicious eye of DCI Trewe. His empathy with the lost child and her mother increasingly conflicts with his duty and his objectivity, especially as he starts falling in love with a woman who may be a suspect in her own child’s death.
Jon helps Trewe unearth several seemingly related kidnappings and deaths over recent years, each body discovered with a bit of a flower or herb attached that offers a clue to the killer’s state of mind. Various possible suspects are introduced with traits that seem to match the villain, whose dark and twisted nature we glimpse in brief POV scenes.
Things escalate to a climactic end as the killer’s ultimate target is revealed to be not Annie, but her mother. Ruth bears a striking resemblance to the killer’s own mother and becomes an avenue to reconcile his hatred and compulsion. A tortuous chase ensues where everyone’s life is at stake at one point or another. But the case is resolved positively and we are given an explanation of Trewe’s sudden wealth, the dark secret that brought Ruth and Annie to obscurity in Cornwall, and the end of a series of brutal deaths. We are also left to wonder if Jon’s relationship with Ruth may not blossom to figure in Nolen’s next book.
Available from Amazon.com in hard-copy and as a Kindle e-book.