A Dark and Twisted Tide by Sharon (S.J.) Bolton (Lacey Flint #4) – Hot Off the Press



A Dark and Twisted Tide book coverA Timely and Interesting Mystery – 3.5 Stars

This marks the 4th installment in the Lacey Flint series and according the author, we will have to wait a while for the next. Over the course of 4 books Lacey Flint has come to be one of my favorite characters in any current crime thriller series. She is brave and impulsive, loyal and secretive. She is running from her past and avoiding her future.   While I enjoy the character, it is my hope that when Lacey does return, the author choses to begin a new story arc for the character. Lacey often comes off as directionless. While this is part of the who the character is, it doesn’t feel as if she is growing. I want to read about Lacey for many years to come but, for me, if she doesn’t grow the series will become stale.  This is, of course, my own opinion.  Read it for yourself and see if you agree!

Plot summary

Lacey Flint’s career has taken a step back. It was not for a lack of skill, a demotion or punishment. She has banished herself to the river and joined the marine unit. She is hoping on one hand to escape the horrors that have plagued her career thus far while on the other, seemingly drawn to the river that has nearly taken her life on more than one occasion.

While taking her daily swim in the River, she comes upon a floater. This dead body is wrapped in what appears to be a burial cloth and was seemingly left for her to find. The discovery of a second similar body leads to an investigation with international implications and deals with some timely and topical issues.

Throughout the course of the investigation, Lacey becomes aware that she has once again become the object of attention for an unknown party. Is Lacey being harassed by a disturbed admirer or is Lacey being sized up as the next victim

The Good

Timely and Interesting Themes

No one can accuse Sharon Bolton of writing a boring story.  Pick up one of her novels and you can be assured it will not be a run of the mill mystery. Revealing the ultimate crime in this story would be a spoiler but I can say that the theme is often discussed in my local legal circle and is a topic that is gaining wider notoriety. It deals with dark and shameful realities of our time.

That said, it is not as dark as the previous novels.  It may be more appropriate to say that it is not dark in traditional crime thriller fashion. I appreciate that the author tries to avoid the cliché crime story. This is not a story of your average serial killer or some grisly mass murder. The story is more complex and the themes are more intelligent and compelling than your average best seller.

The story clips along at a fast pace.  The chapters are very short and the perspective is constantly shifting.  Having listened to the audio version of the first three, I am not sure if the previous novels were set up in the same fashion.  Initially, this was distracting and could be difficult to follow but it did not take long to get into the rhythm as the perspectives flowed in and out like the tide.  Each perspective was unique and provided a well rounded view of the story.  The reader was completely immersed in the plot as we saw the story through the eyes of most of the major players.

The Bad

Enter the Bizarre and the Boneheaded

The “bad” portions of the novel are in large part my own take on the story, characters and plot elements. I do my best to keep my personal feelings about the story from colouring my rating. In this case, it was hard not to allow it to do so. I like Lacey Flint. Truly. She is one of my favorite leads in any crime thriller series. That said, I will soon become rather annoyed with the character. The character is remaining (in my opinion) a little too static. There seems to be a lack of growth, and in this case some regression. I feel like the character has hit a plateau and the author will have to tread carefully to ensure Lacey does not become stale.

I do not know how many times a case can become personal to Lacey. There is always some third party fixating on or trying to draw Lacey into the case. This was interesting initially but is becoming tired.  I am not saying that the novels are formulaic but I am attuned to repeating plot devices.

Finally, I have to say something about the ending… While I will not spoil the ending, there is an inclusion that is flat out absurd and an equally absurd fight scene to go along with it. After a reading an intelligent novel with intelligent themes, the ending was straight out an old time carnival.  It left me questioning the inclusion of some characters and Lacey’s interactions with them.  Bolton writes like a magician and deftly uses misdirection.  While she employ this quite masterfully in the current installment, one of the objects of misdirection leaves me shaking my head.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I enjoyed the book. The characters, the story and the themes were interesting and engaging. Unfortunately, the plot development seems to be following a pattern and this installment came out as my least favorite and the least creative. That said, I have yet to meet a bad S.J (Sharon) Bolton novel. Even though I felt like she wasn’t at the top of her game, she towers over many other authors and this novel is a must read for any Sharon Bolton and crime fiction fan alike.


Content Advisories

It is difficult to find commentary on the sex/violence/language content of book if you are interested. I make an effort to give you the information so you can make an informed decision before reading. *Disclaimer* I do not take note or count the occurrences of adult language as I read. I am simply giving approximations.

Scale 1 – Lowest 5 – Highest

Sex 2.5

There is some investigation into women being used for sexual purposes. It is discussed in broad terms and is not explicit. There are comments about the sexual orientation of several characters. There is a build up to a sexual encounter between two characters but it cuts away and there is no explicit material.

Language 3

Mild to moderate use of mild obscenities and mild use of the f-word. Nothing stood out as especially pervasive and I would rate the usage as average.

Violence 2.5

There are multiple dead bodies and the examination of them as part of an investigation. There is fighting and murder/attempted murder near the end of the novel. It is not graphic. Overall, the violence was tame and less dark than previous novels.

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Tim Written by:

Tim is a lawyer, sports fan, parent, husband and book lover. He runs his own legal practice and is the founder of The Literary Lawyer book blog and a contributing writer for baseballbabble.com. Tim loves to share his love of reading by providing reviews to entertain as well as provide information to help you make an informed reading decision.