The Twisted Knot is the second book in the Constable Sammi Willis series. I hadn’t read book one, which wasn’t a problem. There were references to what went on in the first book that related to where Sammi was at in this one. We are filled in on characters from book one that also give us details about her. Colleague Bob ‘had known her for years and still treated her exactly the same as he had before the abduction’, while other new recruits who had started when she was on leave ‘only knew her by reputation – crazy stories of serial killers and helicopter rescues’.
It starts with the frightened and confused thoughts of a young girl being preyed on by a man. She takes herself to another place. ‘Concentrating on a story helped her at times like this. When he wanted to play secret games’.
While starting back on desk duties, an envelope is left under the door of the station. Inside is a piece of paper. ‘There was a single sentence written in the middle. It said “Peter Woodford is a pedophile. Do your job”’. When Sammi queries old-timers Bob and Mel it is referred to as ancient history and she is told to leave it alone.
But then a lynch mob turn up at the station, headed by the mother and grandmother of the girl, Janey, who was allegedly molested by Woodford. They tell her ‘Us locals, everyone who remembers what happened last time, we need to take matters into our own hands. We have to make sure the police do something. Or at least run him out of town so it never happens again.’
Mel fills Sammi in on the background of the report to police, the lack of any charge due to insufficient evidence and the spiraling of a child’s life downwards until she overdosed at twenty-two-years-old.
Then Peter is found hanging in his shed, decomposing in the heat. Sammi gets the job of notifying the next of kin, his mother Faye, and asks her to take care of Peter’s dog who is still at the property. When Faye goes to retrieve him she notices an old photo. In it she ‘was sitting higher up the stairs, too high to look as if she was part of the family group. It seemed to her now that she was observing her family rather than taking part in it. Her mouth was smiling but her eyes weren’t’.
Sammi interviews Peter’s neighbour. He has lived there since Peter and his brother Barry were boys and their father owned the farm, and told her the father used to beat the boys and his wife. Faye confesses that the boys were molested by their father, but hadn’t done or said anything at the time. She hadn’t asked. ‘She didn’t want to hear the answers’.
The child that has been the subject of recent rumours is Peter Woodford’s niece Nici. Her mother, Barry’s wife, ‘recognised already that her daughter’s whole concept of love had already been warped to suit the plans of predators. Would time help to heal this? Or would Nici forever seek out men who would abuse her?’
Barry, Belinda and Nici all go missing, and there are inconsistencies in the evidence. Sammi gets out from behind the desk and back into the thick of policing. ‘Although it both intrigued and repulsed her she was intent on finding out the whole story’.
It is all emphasised by the small town setting, which Peace describes so well. A new colleague says to Sammi ‘I’ve really seen the downside of a small community this last week. Everybody knows everybody else’s business. Everyone seems to be somehow tied to everyone else’.
This thriller addresses the ripple effects of abuse that keeps impacting on victims, sometimes creating new perpetrators. This was another great book in my return to crime novels, and though it would be working backwards, I hope to make time for book one.