Title: Murder Across the Lines (Warwick and Bell #2)
Author: Janice Frost
Published on: 12th December 2021
Genre: Mystery and Thrillers | Police Procedural
At a busy crossing in Lincoln city center, a motorbike drives through the traffic. Just when onlookers think the rider might jump the signal, the bike comes to a halt, the pillion gets down and hugs a young girl for a second. Then jumps on the bike and speeds away. The young girl falls to the floor – she’s been stabbed and her handbag’s gone missing.
Special constable Jane Bell was standing next to the girl when the incident occurred. As she tries to clear the scene and help the dying girl, the girl whispers ‘Nate.’ DI Steph Warwick and DS Elias Harper are in charge and arrive at the scene of crime to interview witnesses. Jane and Steph have a history and it is not good. Steph ‘blames’ Jane for almost ruining her career while Jane thinks Steph must be grateful to her for saving her life.
Steph and her partner Elias have been investigating the murder of a drug dealer named Cole. A young boy named Nate has gone missing – and was possibly groomed by the drug dealers. As the detectives make their way through notorious County Lines operation, can they find Nate before it is too late?
Murder Across the Lines is the second book in Janice Frost’s Warwick and Bell series. I haven’t read the first book of this series but I did not find it difficult to understand the series plot. There are ‘flashbacks’ of Steph’s previous case and how Jane came to her rescue at the last minute. This caused some problems between Steph and her work partner Elias.
There are instances throughout the story where Steph feels Elias is trying to interfere in her personal life, deliberately try to put her in situations to gauge her reactions and complain to the higher authorities. Maybe he wants her gone so that he can be promoted. Hmm, not really! As the story proceeds, Steph’s views on her partner changes – at least a tad!
The story alternates between past and present. The past is the events leading up to Lana’s murder – the girl killed at the crossing while the present is Jane and Steph following different lines of investigation, only to arrive at a common point. Steph is annoyed when she finds out Jane is getting herself involved in a case that she shouldn’t. (According to Steph, Jane is a special constable and not a ‘real’ police officer.)
The story does bring out a strong message on how the young and vulnerable are ‘groomed’ by drug dealers. The County Lines operation has taken over most part of the city and children have gone missing. Most of these children come from troubled homes and there’s no one to file a missing person’s report.
I liked the mystery behind the missing young boy and how the murder/mispers was drug-related. The only niggle I had with the story was the character portrayal. Somehow, I couldn’t connect with the main characters as much as I would have wanted to.
If you love police procedural, you might want to give this book a try.
I received an ARC from Joffe Books in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion.