Title: Hit and Run (Detective Janine Lewis Mystery #2)
Author: Cath Staincliffe
First published in 2006; Republished on1 August 2022 by Joffe Books
Genre: Mystery and Thrillers | Police Procedural
Hit and Run is the second book in Cath Staincliffe’s Detective Janine Lewis Mystery series.
Detective Chief Inspector Janine Lewis is back at work after giving birth to her fourth child. She is dropping off her seven-year-old son Tom to school when she witnesses an accident. A Car breaks fiercely with a squealing sound. A child is flung to one side and the car speeds off. Janine recognizes the child who’s lying unresponsive on the road – it’s Tom’s classmate Ann-Marie.
Janine chases the hit-and-run driver and also reports it to the station, asking for backup. But the driver gets away. Janine was to go to a crime scene after dropping off Tom. When she finally reaches the crime scene, she hears a body of a young woman has been fished out of a river. The victim was in her early twenties and something from her right thigh has been removed – a tattoo perhaps. She has no clothes or ID on her. Sounds like someone did not want her to be identified.
In Blue Murder, Janine was six months pregnant. In Hit and Run, she’s a mother to six-month-old Charlotte. Things with her colleague Richard Mayne are a tad tense. Last time, Janine felt she and Richard might have a chemistry. But she overheard her colleagues gossip about Richard’s wandering eyes being the cause for his divorce from Wendy. This frustrated Janine as she thought he was serious about her. But turns out, the flirting was just a time-pass – at least Janine felt so. Her relationship with her ex-husband Pete is still shaky. But of late, he’s been spending some time with their children.
The story begins with Rosa and Marta styling each other’s hair. Both women are getting ready to go out. Rosa does not tell Marta what’s on her mind. She’s quite determined to set things right with someone. The next scene is Janine’s home where she’s getting ready to drop Tom to school. She has to drop him off and go to a crime scene. But at the school gate, she witnesses a hit and run accident involving Tom’s classmate Ann-Marie.
When she reaches the crime scene, she learns a young woman’s body was fished out of the river. There is no ID on her. Meanwhile, Marta is worried that Rosa has not made it back home. Janine’s boss wants Richard to take over the hit-and-run case while she can handle the murder case. But Richard is not happy with the arrangements. He was in charge when Janine went on maternity leave. Now things are back to how they were before Janine left and he’s not okay with it.
Each child copes up with a loss in their own way. When Tom’s classmate Ann-Marie dies, his imaginary friend Frank’s back – and if Tom does an oopsie, he blames it on Frank. Ellie, Janine’s daughter too seems to be shocked that Ann-Marie is dead.
Speaking of Ann-Marie, her father is not happy with how the police are handling his daughter’s case. He is filled with rage – anger towards his wife who did not hold Ann-Marie’s hand (if she had, Ann-Marie wouldn’t have died) and anger towards the bad guys whom the police had brought in for questioning but had to let them off as there was no proper evidence suggesting they were in the car that killed Ann-Marie.
As the police start to investigate the dead body found in the river, they learn the victim’s identity – it’s Rosa. They learn she worked at a lap-dancing club. When they visit the place, they meet the manager – Mr. Harper. Turns out, Mr. Harper had reported his vehicle stolen the previous night – the same vehicle that killed Ann-Marie. Is there a connection between the two cases? And how is Mr. Harper involved?
Did you know that this book series was made into a TV series that aired on iTV from 2003 to 2009? The series also features DS Ian Butchers and Tony Shap, and Janine’s boss DCS James Hackett aka The Lemon. There’s a funny scene from book #1 when the DCS gives Janine a phone call and her son Tom receives the call saying ‘mummy, is it Mr. Lemon.” Hahaha! This reminded me of a similar scene on Vera where Vera is called the Hitler by her colleague’s kids. This is why one must never gossip about their boss in front of the kids. *wink*
The storytelling is simple fantabulous. I loved the first book and the same can be said about this one too. There’s a balance between Janine’s professional and personal life this time – unlike in the previous book where she was struggling. Also, some development in the relationship between Janine and her ex-husband Pete. Michael, their eldest son has calmed down a bit – he was caught mugging a couple of months ago (book #1) and he also used to skip school.
Another development that caught my attention was Sarah. She’s Janine’s neighbor and friend. She used to babysit the kids when Janine was working late. Sarah’s moved to a different city now. But Janine now has a full-time nanny so she’s not tensed about baby-sitting Charlotte, Tom and Ellie.
The mystery behind Rosa’s murder kept me guessing till the end. Speaking of endings, the police have concrete evidence on a notorious Polish man who’s responsible for Rosa’s death. But his identity remains unknown – no one’s seen him. When Janine finally discovers his real identity – gosh, that was such a huge shocker, I tell you. The story also highlights human trafficking. Young women are brought to England on the pretext of better job and accommodations but when cross the border, their passports are snatched and they are forced into flesh trade.
If you are looking for a gripping police procedural with a mind-blowing twist, you might want to give Hit and Run by Cath Staincliffe a try.