SJI Holliday has been reading crime fiction since she was able to hold a book. She writes short stories and her debut novel, Black Wood was published in spring 2015. You can find out more at www.sjiholliday.com.
A man is burnt alive in a suburban garden shed.
DI Zigic and DS Ferreira are called in from the Peterborough Hate Crimes Unit to investigate the murder. Their victim is quickly identified as a migrant worker and a man several people might have had good reason to see dead. A convicted arsonist and member of a far-right movement has just been released from prison while witnesses claim to have seen the dead man fighting with one of the town's most prominent slum landlords.
Zigic and Ferreira know all too well the problems that come with dealing with a community that has more reason than most not to trust the police, but when another migrant worker is attacked, tensions rapidly begin to rise as they search for their killer.
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Long Way Home is set amongst the immigrant population of Peterborough, a hot topic and one that I have so far not read about in crime fiction.
DI Zidic and DS Ferreira - both non-English yet both having grown up in the area, lead the Hate Crimes Unit, which focuses on crime among immigrants and opens with a man found burned to death in a shed.
What initially seems like a case of racist white couple pushed too far, soon unfolds into mystery and intrigue, from the tortured lives of the eastern European girls working in the pub serving ‘drinks with extras’, to the hidden slaves entrapped by brutal ganglords wanting cheap labour at any cost.
It’s a harrowing read at times, but never less than fascinating – it’s clear that the author has done her research as it feels hugely authentic. The prose has a somewhat hypnotic tone, carrying the reader along, and you can’t fail to empathise with both 'criminals' and victims alike, as it is clear the most of the behaviour described is borne out of poverty and desperation.
The main characters are both likeable and intriguing, Ferreira especially – a feisty female that I would actually like to hang out with. Zidic, is strong and determined to succeed while keeping his seemingly solid family life together, yet there are hints that all is not as it seems.
Full of twists and turns with an excellent sense of place, this is one of these books where you want to devour it in one go, yet the unsettling nature of the various interwoven tales makes it a novel that you'll want to savour.