Daily Review: In Harm’s Way by Owen Mullen
March 11, 2019
When no one knows you are in danger, how can you ever be saved?
The Baxter house in the Lowther Hills, in Scotland, has been on the estate agent’s books for decades. Dilapidated and near-derelict, nobody is interested in it. But, for one potential buyer, the remote location and rat-infested cellar are perfect.
For the first year, Mackenzie’s marriage to Derek was ideal. But Derek believes she is having an affair and when she realises her husband is becoming controlling, she knows she’s made a terrible mistake.
But Mackenzie has a drinking problem so when she threatens to leave Derek and then disappears no one believes she has been abducted.
DS Geddes is handed the case but isn’t convinced anything criminal has taken place until a startling development comes to light.
Has Mackenzie been abducted or has she simply left her husband?
And who has bought The Baxter house and for what purpose?
Owen Mullen pitches us into a domestic drama with a savage twist. Mackenzie is married to Derek Crawford. Mackenzie drinks too much and Crawford doesn’t like it. Her brother and sister have their concerns but also have their own lives to worry about. Her brother, Gavin and sister-in-law, Monica have a new baby to care for, not that Mackenzie has been too interested or bothered in visiting Alice, her niece. Sister, Adele and husband Gavin seem fairly content with a couple of thirteen-year-old twin boys – both aliens according to their harassed mother.
Adele’s birthday party is the trigger point for all that follows. Mackenzie gets drunk again, insults her hosts, rows with Derek and the pair leave. A further fight follows at home and Mackenzie threatens to leave him. And so she does, but not voluntarily.
Abducted and held captive – well she had been saying she was being followed. But she had also been drinking and was notoriously unreliable so no one believed her.
The family viewpoints are differing …. ah, she’s walked out and left him. She’s got someone else a lover – what a bitch. Derek does everything for her, she doesn’t know how lucky she is. You know what she’s like……… hmm, Derek’s a bit too old for her, he’s a bit too controlling. I don’t think he’s good for her…… Mackenzie – she’s left me, she admitted she had a lover.
It’s interesting seeing the family dynamics with all the hurts and resentments of the past coming to the surface. Rows, jealousy, rivalries, hurt, pain, memories, mistakes, sympathies and pressure mounting on their own relationships and careers and at the bottom of it all an increasing level of concern for Mackenzie once they realise that if she has left, she’s done so without taking any belongings with her.
As a reader, we know where Mackenzie is and what happened, but we don’t know the why. Her family tries to discover both with Gavin eventually involving the police, much to Derek’s annoyance.
There’s a lot of drama packed into the pages of this not too long a novel. There’s the mundane and the humdrum of everyday family lives, but enlivened by the backdrop of an unusual event and the effect is has on those closest to Mackenzie. It brings out both the best and the worst in the family.
Decent pace, very strong and realised characters, a bit of a puzzle throughout in that only towards the end do we discover the why and the who for Mackenzie’s abduction, but an enjoyable puzzle. After that revelation, Mullen also serves up another twist or two before the end. Lots to like.
EXCERPT: She shut her eyes as her clothes were ripped from her body. The last thing she remembered was lying naked on the bed with the man in the black coat standing over her, breathing hard, turning the belt in his hands.
He smiled for the first time. ‘Think of this as your reward. Enjoy it. I will.’
ABOUT THIS BOOK: What if you were being stalked and no one believed you?
What if you were abducted in broad daylight?
What if you were chained to a bed and held captive in a cellar? What would you do?
Mackenzie Crawford screamed.
What if your wife went out at night and wouldn’t say where she was going?
What if she admitted she had a lover?
What if you came home one day and discovered she’d left?
What would you do?
Derek Crawford went to pieces.
What if a woman with an alcohol problem disappeared?
What if there was no evidence of a crime?
What if her brother asked you to help?
What would you do?
In Glasgow, DI Andrew Geddes put the case to the top of his list.
What if someone you loved was in harm’s way?
MY THOUGHTS: I am so pleased to meet up with DS Andrew Geddes again. I first encountered him in the Charlie Cameron series, and if anyone deserves a series of his own, it’s Andrew. On the force for more than twenty years, he loves being a policeman.
Family dynamics. . . families are strange things. We love to disparage one another, and yet when it comes down to the wire, who do you really want by your side? We envy one another, not that we would ever admit it, we put one another down, we purport to detest family gatherings which we claim to attend only out of ‘duty’, but we always have one another’s backs.
MacKenzie Crawford is a spoilt youngest child, the ‘surprise’ baby, now married to a man twenty years her senior who appears to worship her and who gives her everything she desires. Why then is she an alcoholic? Why is she making such ludicrous claims? Is it just attention seeking, or is there really something to it?
In Harm’s Way starts off slowly, focusing on the complicated dynamics of MacKenzie Crawford’s family of two sisters and a brother, their spouses, and children. But soon it becomes apparent that there is much more going on with this family than what appears on the surface, and it becomes a full-blown thriller. By halfway through, I couldn’t put this book down, even on the third read!
Mullen writes with a gritty realism and wry sense of humor that I enjoy. Having read and loved everything he has written, I am eagerly awaiting his next offering.
Please click HERE to find In Harm’s Way on Amazon.