The Rock by L.J. Ross

The Rock (DCI Ryan Mysteries, #18)Barbara’s Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Series: DCI Ryan Mysteries #18
Publication Date: 5/5/21
Period: Contemporary Northumberland, UK
Number of Pages: 368

Goodness! I am definitely enamored of this series! The mystery is excellently plotted and perfectly paced. You’ll have a feeling of knowing all of the characters – good and bad. You’ll love the good ones and hate the bad ones – and you’ll know why in each case. We are eighteen books into the series and I still look forward to each new book with as much enthusiasm as I did in the beginning. I love that the author deals with some very gritty social issues – in this case human trafficking – and she presents the subject in such a way that you learn something at the same time you are trying to puzzle out the mystery along with Ryan’s team.  BTW – in case it matters to you – there is a lot about personal relationships within the book. It takes place around Valentine’s Day. For me, those personal tidbits and relationships are what make reading the dark, gritty subject matter tolerable. If it was just a police procedural with no personal information on the investigators, I would have stopped reading the series long ago.

Twenty very scared young women are drugged and handcuffed in the hold of an old, beat-up fishing trawler bound for Scotland. Storm Edith is raging outside and the vessel is creaking and popping and the water is coming in so fast the ship cannot be saved. The four men who are their captors free the women and force them into the freezing water. They are ordered to swim for shore and stay together. Eighteen of the women and all four of their captors make it to the shore together. Two of the women are either dead or separated. The captors search the beaches and caves, but they find no sign of the two missing women.

The broken, bloated body of a young woman is found the next morning – in/near the wreckage of a fishing trawler. DCI Ryan and his team get the call to come to the scene and when they see the body – and notice the bruising on the wrists, they are sure they have more than just a drowning victim.

While Ryan’s team doesn’t know about the woman who is still missing, we do – and so do the kidnappers. What happens to that missing woman – and separately to the other eighteen women is our story. And – it is a doozie of a story. We meet some of the most despicable characters you’ll ever read. They are cruel, unfeeling, selfish, and … well, you name it and if it is bad, they fit. With delight, we watch Ryan and his team methodically follow the leads and dismantle this human trafficking organization. We also witness horrible abuse – and a sad death for a boy I’d hope could be rescued and redeemed.

I definitely recommend this book – and this series. It is an exciting, fast-paced read that will keep you interested from the first page to the last. I read it straight through in one sitting because I just couldn’t put it down – I had to know what happened next. I hope you’ll enjoy the book as much as I did.

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Avid reader/reviewer of historical romance and historical mysteries.

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