“Dark Truths” by A.J. Cross is book one in the new “Will Traynor Forensic Mysteries” series. The story opens with a precise detailed investigation that sets the tone for the no-nonsense investigation that follows. However, it turns out that nothing is business as usual in this police department or in this case. Police department politics, community interest, interpersonal relationships, family dynamics, and the pressure of the case all influence the investigation
Cross introduces “supporting” characters so readers get to know them before introducing the title character with some fanfare and controversy. William Traynor, an expert criminologist, has been diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress following his wife’s murder. He is the antitheist of what readers usually find in police procedure book, so he adds controversy and tension to the traditional mix of characters.
The narrative expertly balances the pursuit of a criminal with the every day activities of participants. This adds realism to the story and helps readers understand that the characters are ordinary, regular people; and one must not forget the cat whose snoring makes sleep impossible. Conversations are casual, friendly, and professional. Events proceed in an orderly fashion, and the pace is steady and documented by dates on chapter headings. Details are revealed little by little as clues gradually emerge. More victims are found to complicate the investigation. Just when readers think things are just going along on schedule, something unexpected is thrown into the mix.
Cross developed a focused, precise, planned investigation, and yet within it, skillfully placed a surprise. I received a review copy of “Dark Truths” from A.J. Cross and Severn House Publishers. The characters are complex, and the narrative is compelling. This is the start of what should be a great series.