A Dark and Twisted Tide  - S.J. Bolton

After three tough cases, Lacey Flint has stepped down, back into uniform with the Metro Marine Unit in London & her life now revolves around the water. She works on it, swims in it & lives on a small houseboat tied up in Deptford Creek. 

This is a softer, more fragile Lacey than we're used to seeing. She clings to the structure & routine of her days, side stepping the cases that almost destroyed her as a detective. Her colleagues watch her carefully & even DI Dana Tulloch has declared a truce.

And then there's Mark Joesbury. After all the challenges, they're finally a couple. Well...sort of. Mark went undercover a few months ago, pretending to be a bent cop & no one has heard from him.

So Lacey waits, spending her time cruising the Thames with her crew & wild swimming with Ray, her neighbour. But it seems she's a magnet for damaged souls & we know before she does that someone is watching her every move. The little gifts left on her deck aren't so bad. But the shrouded body is down right creepy. As is the next one.

Aaaand we're off. The main plot concerns the illegal smuggling of beautiful immigrant women, some of whom suffer a terrible death at the hands of a twisted individual. A flurry of red herrings obscure your view of the killer as there are several excellent candidates. Before long, even Dana is in danger as the case bleeds over into her personal life. She & Helen have taken the next step in their relationship & now it's all at risk. 

In separate passages interspersed with the investigation we meet the women being brought to London & learn of their sad lives in other countries. There are also chapters told through the eyes of the killer as they watch Lacey & these are truly creepy.

The eerie quiet of her morning swims, the oppressive summer heat & sudden flashes of movement under water all make for a gripping & atmospheric read. The tension builds slowly to become palpable as we watch Lacey go about her business, unaware the killer has her in their sights. 

There are many returning characters such as Mark's Uncle Fred, Toc & other members of the force from previous books. Newcomers include Lacey's neighbours on the creek but don't get too attached...some of these people are not whom they seem. 

As fans have come to expect, this is a fast paced, engrossing book full of suspense. If I had to nitpick, I'd complain about the small role given to Mark in this instalment. He pops up now & then, especially toward the end but we never get to enjoy any substantial time with them together or eavesdrop as they even have a lengthy conversation. Puh-LEEZE, Ms Bolton...you're killing us. The ending is nebulous & could be interpreted as the end of the series. Just give us at least one more book where they share some quality time. They & your readers have earned it.