Burned and Broken
Paperback: 368 pages
23 June, 2016
An enigmatic policeman - currently the subject of an internal investigation - is found burned to death in his car on the Southend sea front.
A vulnerable young woman, fresh out of the care system, is trying to discover the truth behind the sudden death of her best friend.
As DS Frank Pearson and DC Catherine Russell from the Essex Police Major Investigation Team are brought in to solve the mystery that surrounds their colleague's death, they're under intense pressure to crack the case without damaging the force's reputation.
When a dramatic turn of events casts a whole new light on both cases, the way forward is far from clear. Were the victims connected in some way? And just how much should Pearson and Russell reveal to their bosses as they begin to unearth dark secrets that the force would rather keep buried?
Burned and Broken is Hardie's debut novel and his easy style of writing grabs your attention straight away. His characters are constructed well, in particular the teenage girl Donna, whose vulnerability and difficulties with the situation she finds herself in are written very well. Hardie switches from her point of view to that of his main protagonists DC Russell and DS Pearson and this works particularly well towards the end of the book when everything is being untangled in the interview room.
This is not a fast paced plot but there are plenty of twists and turns as the story takes place over the course of a week or so. Hardie's strengths are in the details that he puts into his characters, making each stand out with their individual voices and his style of tracing back on the characters actions before continuing is a useful tool in seeing the action from the perceptive of the different characters.
A very strong debut novel from Mark Hardie, whose venture into the murky world of crime fiction sets a good tone for future books.