Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Burned and Broken - Mark Hardie

Sent to me by the Publisher in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: 04/05/17

Publisher: Sphere, Little Brown

ISBN: 978-0751562088

Format: Paperback, 364pp

Genre: British Crime

Rating: 4/5

Summed up in a few words
Mental Illness. High-stakes investigation.

First Impressions
Little, Brown and their imprints are so good to me here at Always Trust In Books. Involving me in lots of fun blog tours and promotional events, so thank you! Burned and Broken is the debut novel from Mark Hardie. The intense plot lines, troubled characters, and vivid, rapid fire writing sets the scene for a very successful career for Hardie in the British crime genre. Burned and Broken was released last year and is about to be released as a paperback later on this year. In the paperback edition, along with the novel, you get an enlightening Q&A with Hardie and a sneak peek at the next instalment of the series.

Book Synopsis
A vulnerable young woman, fresh out of the care system, is trying to discover the truth behind the sudden death of her best friend. The charred body of a policeman - currently the subject of an internal investigation - is found in the burnt-out shell of his car on the Southend seafront.

To DS Frank Pearson and DC Catherine Russell of the Essex Police Major Investigation Team, the two events seem unconnected. But as they dig deeper into their colleague's murder, dark secrets begin to emerge. Can Pearson and Russell solve both cases, before more lives are destroyed?

My Thoughts
Burned and Broken is an impressive and absorbing debut from author Mark Hardie. With a decent, developed and well paced plot; populated with plenty of damaged souls. Pearson and Russell are investigating the death of a colleague. The officer in question was no saint, with erratic behaviour leading up to his death, a pending investigation into his current work and previous allegations of assault. Following the investigation into his flaming demise, Pearson must follow leads that seemingly take him nowhere and just end up with more death. Russell used to be partners with the deceased and her image of the man she knew is fractured and skewed. Did she make the right decision when she lied for him?

As well as the police investigation, Burned and Broken follows Donna Freeman, a young girl who has recently lost her best friend. Alicia was found dead under a bridge in what seemed like a successful suicide attempt. An investigation was made into her death but was soon put aside when no further leads came up. Donna is lost without her friend and can't deal with the fact that everyone has forgotten about her so soon. Donna is on a mission to make them remember.

Mark Hardie commands people's attention with his breakneck, succinct writing. Using short and explosive sentences that stick out to the reader. Burned and Broken sits comfortably in the British crime genre, with all the darker tones and grey atmosphere that comes with it. The edge that MH has with this novel is the disturbing psychological themes that manifest within Donna over the course of the book. I found that to be one of the main elements that drew me in. Donna is a tortured soul and without her tether, she cannot control her actions. I also really enjoyed the fact that all the main characters are fully developed. They each have their own lives, problems and distractions. I dislike it when authors have their characters solely focused on the key plot.

My list of dislikes for Burned and Broken is very slim. In my opinion it crosses a few lines with some of the content. Several inappropriate themes and aspects litter the background of the story, but they are necessary to add the grittier feel to MH's writing so for the most part they are important for the overall experience of the plot. I think this novel is a great addition to the genre, it hits all the right notes. MH has not broken any boundaries but he has set a solid series of books that will take him far.

For me the stand out aspect of Burned and Broken are the characters. I mentioned before that I like diverse and conflicted characters and you certainly get plenty of those here. Pearson is trapped in his life and is uncertain about his marriage, family and the state of his health. Russell faces ethical problems, she lied for a colleague, and is struggling to maintain her integrity in light of new information about this person. Donna is unhinged and is desperate to feel connected to Alicia again. She is traumatised, lost and her grip on reality is slipping fast.

I recommend this book to all crime lovers, it captures the tone and atmosphere that is necessary for successful crime fiction. Readers are left scratching their heads as the plot thickens and you can no longer see the bigger picture. You are sucked into the various conflicts and interactions that each character is facing, trying to fight against the tide of pain and frustration. Burned and Broken doesn't add anything new to the genre, but it is well executed. It contains all the necessary ingredients to be disturbing, entertaining and keep you invested for the coming sequels.

Thank you for checking out my thoughts on Burned and Broken, I rely on all my readers here on Always Trust In Books and I appreciate all the support given to me by yourselves and the publishers who involve me in blog tours like this one. Thank you to you all. 

Pick up a copy of Burned and Broken here (Kindle Edition): Amazon UK/Amazon US/Goodreads (The paperback edition is released in May 2017) 

About the Author: Mark Hardie was born in 1960 in Bow, East London. He began writing fulltime after completely losing his eyesight in 2002. He has completed a creative writing course and an advanced creative writing course at the Open University, both with distinction. Mark lives with his wife Debbie in Southend-on-Sea. Burned and Broken is his debut novel. The second instalment of the series, Truly Evil, is set to be released in August 2017.

Thank you again for visiting Always Trust In Books for my stop on the Burned and Broken Blog Tour. Please visit some of the other amazing blogs that are helping to promote the book with me, here are some links:

The Bookish Reader 
It Takes A Woman
Live To Read, Read To Live
Heather Reviews
Kelly's Book Corner
Grab This Book
The Book Magnet
Books, Tea and All Things Me

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