This is the first in a series featuring DS Glyn Capaldi. Once a rising star in the big city, he has been banished to the small town of Dinas in rural Wales after screwing up a major case.
He wasn't exactly met by Welcome Wagon. Never mind the suspicious, close knit community. Even the other cops want nothing to do with him.
He tags along to the scene of a stolen van. It was taken by 6 men after they picked up a female hitchhiker & left in a remote area. Hours later, 5 of them come staggering out of the bush armed with an implausible story. Missing: one of the men & the hitchhiker.
Capaldi smells something rotten but is told to drop it by his colleagues. After all, they know these men & they're all "good people". He could care less about the locals, it's the woman he's worried about & proceeds to do some digging. No one is prepared for what he'll find.
This is a complex plot with many side stories. Just when you think Capaldi has it sussed, there is another layer of lies & deceit that changes the direction of the investigation. And don't think murder will be the worst of it. Contrary to what we're told, these are NOT good people & the revelations of their crimes may be disturbing to some readers.
For me, this is a case of liking the character more than the story. Capaldi is a flawed yet decent guy & smart cop who made one dumb decision. His thoughts & dialogue reveal a sardonic, slightly cynical sense of humour that helps him deal with his exile. There is also a deep regret for the mistakes he's made. Part of him accepts his posting as punishment, part of him will do anything to get the hell out of there.
I know the exiled cop as outcast is a popular trope of this genre. It usually follows that he's the only one who figures out what is going on & must do so with little support. But it's taken to extremes here. I get that a community may circle the wagons to protect their own against an outsider but when the true nature of the crimes comes to light, it's hard to believe anyone would cover for the sadistic perpetrators. Also, Capaldi has to continually fight his colleagues as well & after awhile it became tiring.
Many of the cast are not good people but they are good characters & along with tight dialogue, it's what makes this as compelling as it is. Just a few breaks in the constant sturm und drang would improve the pace & reading experience. I'd like to bump into Capaldi again but maybe I'll skip to book #3 to see if his situation is any better.