Remain Silent – Susie Steiner

STEINER came out of nowhere with Missing, Presumed, her first novel about DA Manon Bradshaw, and muscled her way through the huge crowd of writers police procedurals.

She achieved great success with its follow-up Persons Unknown, and now hopes to score a hat-trick with Remain Silent.

Manon is member of a CID team, just one cog in the wheel, and she's not the most driven of detectives.

A mother of teenage children, in a marriage that's simply 'okay', she brings a breath of fresh air – well, slightly stale air – to a genre overburdened with handsome chief inspector guys and feisty young detective women.

There's an vein of black humour to Manon's world – not so black as Stuart McBride's Logan McRae novels, but enough to lift what starts out as a fairly pedestrian story.

Even with this, however, I was beginning to get bored by around a third of the way through Remain Silent: thankfully the story eventually begins to become more interesting. And as it moves into the second half it becomes quite gripping.

Lukas Balsys is found hanging from a tree in Cambridgeshire accompanied by an ambiguous note, at least whether it was murder or suicide.

Lukas was a Lithuanian migrant, living with fellow Lithuanians in a rundown house, badly treated by his gang master and dreaming of home.

Is it simply that he was silenced by the gang master as a warning to others? Or did he run for the husband of the woman he was having an affair with?

And will the investigation run off the rails as anti-immigrant protests break out in the town?

David Knights