Review: Only the Brave by Mel Sherratt

Tuesday, 26 May 2015
Title: Only the Brave
Author: Mel Sherratt
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date: 26th May 2015
Pages: 352
ISBN: 9781477830628
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 4.5/5
Purchase: Amazon
When one of the notorious Johnson brothers is murdered and a bag of money goes missing, a deadly game of cat and mouse is set in motion.

DS Allie Shenton and her team are called in to catch the killer, but the suspects are double-crossing each other and Allie has little time to untangle the web of lies.

As she delves deeper into the case, things take a personal turn when Allie realises she is being stalked by the very same person who attacked her sister seventeen years ago and left her for dead.

Only the Brave was another book I have been highly anticipating from one of my new favourite authors, Mel Sherratt, who has been a great supporter of my blog over the past twelve months. Only the Brave is the third book in the DS Allie Shenton series, and returning readers will be more than ready for the events of Taunting the Dead and Follow the Leader to come to a head in Only the Brave. New readers should definitely read those two books first before picking up Only the Brave.

I've said it before but what sets Mel's crime writing apart from a lot of others is that she writes about real people, people we can easily imagine and puts them into situations that are all too believable. Particularly for those of us who grew up and/or live in areas not dissimilar to the Stoke setting in this series. DS Allie Shenton is our main character, and she is really pushed to her limits in Only the Brave having to contend with not only the hunting of another killer but also the fact that she is being stalked by the same person who attacked her sister seventeen years ago, leaving her for dead. The sister that Allie is forced to make some heartrending decisions about in this installment.

It is of course difficult to discuss the plot in any great detail except to say that I really enjoyed the way the series continues to include characters from previous stories. This time around sees the return of Terry Ryder, his daughter, and the various other criminals they associate with. One associate being Jordan Johnson, who is found murdered, opening up a can of worms for Allie and her team, and a race against time to find the killer in a tale where nobody can be trusted. Told over a 48-hour timeline, the plot is fast-paced, barely giving you time to pause for breath and this works brilliantly. By this point in the series I do have a soft spot for Allie, and once she realises she is being stalked and her life may be in danger, I felt genuine fear at how things would play out as the book progressed.

Slight spoilers but for me that killer showdown can make or break a story, it doesn't matter how good everything that came before it was, but that culmination that an author has spent numerous books building up to has got to be spot on and I'm so glad to say that Only the Brave does not disappoint. I think perhaps what hit me most was, in keeping with the realism and grittiness of her stories, Mel's bad guys are often believable, those normal people that you pass on the street everyday, and I think that's the genuinely scary thing about her stories. The fast-paced nature of the 48-hour narrative allows Mel to really go full throttle near the end delivering a fantastic conclusion which, whilst I thought there could have been one or two unexpected twists, it was an exciting and thrilling finale. Returning readers will not be disappointed with book three, and new readers have a series of books to read that I wish I could read for the first time again.

4.5/5

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