Barry Maitland’s Brock and Kolla series, set in England, has been one of Auntie M’s mainstays for years. Then last year he brought out a second series, featuring DS Harry Belltree and set in his current home of Australia. The second in the new series, Ash Island, finds Harry just back to work after his near death in Crucifixion Creek and is a strong sequel.
Harry’s posting away from Sydney and the horror of the past case suit him fine. He and his wife, Jenny, are expecting their first child together, and living in a cottage in Newcastle with Jenny’s new guide dog.
Harry’s case revolves around a body found in the marsh vegetation of Ash Island, showing obvious signs of torture. He’s convinced this is a dumping ground for bodies, and he’s proven right, but not without consequences.
Newcastle was the area of the accident that robbed him of his parents and Jenny of her sight. Harry knows it wasn’t an accident: his father was a well respected Aboriginal judge, and he’s always understood that his father’s position led to his death.
How these deaths are connected to the bodies buried in the marsh provide some of the strongest action scenes in the book, as Harry not only tries to find out what’s at the bottom of the accident, and those buried bodies, but whom he can trust.
The area comes alive under Maitland’s assured descriptions.
There will be a double surprise at the end, and the resolution Harry seeks will come at a steep price. An accomplished and fast-moving plot will keep readers flipping pages as the past reaches it fingers into the present.