Katherine Armstrong has worked in publishing for over six years. She is a crime fiction Editor for an independent publishing company in London.
Gone in Seconds introduces us to Dr Kate Hanson: single mother, university lecturer and forensic psychologist for the Unsolved Crime Unit of the West Midlands police force.
Her expertise is in the behaviour of sexual predators: What makes them tick and why they do the things they do. She’s professional, intelligent and she cares about the victims. Like Linda Fairstein’s ADA Alex Cooper, Kate works with two police colleagues, DS Bernie Watts, a Brummie born and bred, and Kate’s potential love interest, US Firearms Officer Joe Corrigan who’s on secondment to the UK in order to help train the Armed Response teams.
When the remains of a young woman are found off a bypass it looks like an easy job for the Unsolved Crime Unit (UCU). A gold necklace found on the girl names her as ‘Molly’ and a Molly James had disappeared in 2002, so it seems pretty likely that these are her remains. So far it looks like being a straight forward case. This all changes when another set of female remains are uncovered nearby. Kate determines that the two victims were killed by the same predator but due to the incompetence of the police investigator at the time neither woman was found nor the links between their disappearances made. Kate comes into conflict with that officer, Furman (who is now an Inspector), as she and the UCU team try and track down the killer. After all, once a Repeater, always a repeater and soon the case hits a little too close to home for Kate.
Gone is Seconds is the first in what the publishers are calling a ‘major new forensic crime fiction series featuring Dr Kate Hanson’. Could this be the UK version of Temperance Brennan? The author, AJ Cross, is herself a forensic psychologist and this is obvious as you read the novel; it’s full of explanations about forensic psychology but administered with a light touch and without the reader feeling like they’re reading an undergraduate textbook in forensic psychology. Kate Hanson herself isn’t a new creation but there is something appealing about her. Only time will tell, however, if she can match the global appeal of the likes of Brennan, Scarpetta and Dr Maura Isles.