The Playroom by John Connor

The Playroom

Synopsis: On her thirteenth birthday the daughter of a Bradford judge is kidnapped in West Yorkshire, sparking Operation Shade – a massive fifty-strong detective investigation working against the clock to try to locate and save her. Knowing the chances of Sophie Kenyon surviving will diminish dramatically after the first twenty-four hours, Detective Chief Superintendent John Munro begins to crack under the pressure of holding together an enquiry swamped with leads. Meanwhile, left off the Shade investigation because of her past encounters with Munro, DC Karen Sharpe is pursuing her own single-handed enquiry into historic child abuse allegations. Twenty-three-year-old Pamela Mathews says a local MP raped her ten years before. The task of finding corroboration looks hopeless, but Sharpe keeps at it. Anything rather than face up to her own tangled personal life. She lives with a lawyer she doesn’t love and is trying to care for a child who thinks she is her aunt. The truth is more complex and frightening, leading back to still unresolved events from a year before. Karen’s enquiry uncovers connections with the present day disappearance of Sophie Kenyon. As the true nature and extent of the conspiracy are uncovered, Karen realises that there are powerful interests at work – men who have plotted for ten years to conceal the truth. Her investigation becomes a race to find clues that will save Sophie’s life. But violence interrupts. Events spiral out of control and drag her towards a terrifying confrontation with a man who will stop at nothing to keep the past hidden. In an explosion of violence and bloodshed, she is left fighting not just to locate Sophie Kenyon, but to save herself.

Gets 3.5 stars from me.

I don’t think I’ve read any John Connor books before so I had no idea what to expect from this one and was pleasantly surprised by the complexity of the story-line which is often absent from books of this genre.

It has a meaty main subject and touches briefly on descriptions of grooming and child abuse which some people may find they don’t want to read but it wasn’t gratuitous and it wasn’t too in depth so I was comfortable with it as it was in keeping with the story and scene setting. However it’s probably worth noting that some other reviewers haven’t enjoyed/finished the book because of it’s subject matter.

I thought it flowed well and was enjoyable to read although I found DC Sharpe’s relationship with her daughter a bit of an unnecessary and somewhat unbelievable side line to it. Possibly because I read this book without reading it’s predecessor but surely each book should be worthy of being read as a standalone?

I thought DC Sharpe was a good character, had all the usual traits of a readable cop – didn’t play by the rules, couldn’t let go of things, took lots of risks, didn’t respect authority all that well, compromised her personal life for the job etc.

I’m giving it 3.5 stars, would have been 4 if it weren’t for the silliness surrounding her daughter.


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