Dark Truths - Gillian Cross

This is the first in a series featuring criminologist Will Traynor although the subtitle is a bit of a misnomer. The crimes/investigation we follow are set in Birmingham & while he is part of the investigative team, the story focuses much more on local DI Bernard Watts & the shiny new PC he's saddled with.


It all begins with the body of a headless jogger. That would be more than enough to kick off any investigation but unfortunately the site has a few more surprises in store. When links are made to past crimes, Watts & his crew are soon overwhelmed by an increasingly complex case.


Like police forces everywhere, Watts’ station is suffering from a lack of funding & manpower. He’s desperate for help but less than thrilled with the chief’s solution. Joining the team are Will Traynor, a criminologist with a tragic past & brand new recruit PC Chloe Judd. Thank goodness he has ace pathologist Dr. Connie Chong to lean on.


Watts is an old fashioned copper who ran the cold case unit until it was disbanded. This is his first active case in a while & he provides the steady hand & experience needed to guide the investigation. He & Connie are compelling characters I enjoyed spending time with. Both are intelligent & committed to getting the job done.


The plot is layered & well written but a couple of the main characters let the story down. Will is a man on the edge & by his own admission, AWOL much of the time. His mental state is due to an event in the past that has him seeing ghosts everywhere & I found it hard to believe he’d be deemed fit for service. The other would be Chloe. Her uniform is barely out of the package but that doesn’t stop her telling Watts how to run things. For me her inexperience was not an issue…everyone has to start somewhere. It was her OTT behaviour & tendency to pout that made her come across as childish & inappropriate instead of as a professional young woman. The character is just not credible & her scenes left me tired.


Despite an abundance of creepy discoveries, this is not a fast paced read. Much of it is taken up by to-ing and fro-ing from various locations & pouring over the same information again & again. But I guess that’s what you do when an investigation stalls. It’s the grunt work that eventually makes a difference. Most of the action is reserved for the last couple of chapters when everything suddenly falls into place & our killer is unveiled.


It’s decent start to a new series & after the ending, I have a feeling Traynor will figure more in the next instalment.