“Only one man can get to the truth…”

  • Book: Dark Truth (Joe Wilde #2)
  • Location: London
  • Author: C D Steele

Review Author: Yvonne@FictionBooks



In this, the second episode of a planned trilogy, we see Ex MI6 officer, turned PI, Joe Wilde, taking on three simultaneous assignments, two of which are related and none of which are going to turn Joe a good profit for his time. His methods of investigation may be unorthodox, but they are thorough to say the least, the outcome being that whilst the justice and prison systems benefit greatly from his leg work, Joe’s bank balance also ends up behind bars!

Jack Riley, is incensed that his ex-fiancee Claire Brooks, called things off when she accused him of cheating on her, so hires Joe to prove that he was framed and that Claire’s accusations are baseless.

Claire has moved on and is now, after many subsequent ‘flings’ following her break-up with Jack, in a relationship with Steve, which is also under threat as the pair have been getting anonymous threats and have been on the receiving end of some pretty malicious acts of vandalism. She suspects that Jack Riley might be behind these events and hires Joe to either confirm or deny her suspicions.

Joe is trying to balance this complicated and disturbing overlap of cases, with a much more distressing request from husband and wife Marie and Tom Archer. The Archer’s six-year-old daughter Laura, has been missing for several weeks and to date the police have few leads and no idea where she might be, or who might be holding her captive.

Joe reaches out to his police contact DI Whatmore and the assisting officer in the case, DI Whelan and the three come to an agreement that only through the sharing of information are they likely to stand any chance of bringing about successful outcomes to any one, or hopefully all of, the three investigations.

It transpires that Claire and Jack both lead very complicated and unconventional lives, which in many ways makes them the ideal couple, as each is as bad as the other and both are masters at bending the truth to suit themselves, quite happy to withhold pertinent information if they think it may damage their personal reputations. The deeper Joe digs, the more the whole affair stinks, especially when he also finds himself a target as he gets closer to unearthing the truth.

For Marie and Tom, there can be no happy outcomes, although their abject misery and misguided lies do help Joe to uncover multifarious crimes which once again find him courting danger and needing to deal with some of the scum of the earth, in order to get to the truth about poor Laura’s short life. Marie and Tom in their naivety, obviously didn’t mean to draw quite so much attention to their personal lives, but they have completely underestimated Joe’s penchant for being thorough, no matter what the consequences and are totally unprepared for the personal retribution they face when their illicit dealings are uncovered.

It’s just another day at the office for Joe Wilde…

When I first met ex MI6 officer turned PI, Joe Wilde in False Truth, the first episode of this planned trilogy, I can remember “waxing lyrical” about his unique modus operandi, which certainly gets results, although whether his methods would stand up to too much in-depth legal scrutiny, isn’t really certain and luckily isn’t often put to the test. There is no tangible backstory relationship between Joe and his police contacts, at least nothing which isn’t explained as you read along, making each book more than capable of working as a stand alone story.

This disturbing and gripping storyline, is multi-layered, well structured and presented in short, well-signposted chapters, which are punchy and keep the action moving along apace. It is rich in atmosphere and very intense, with its many complex strands only slowly dovetailing together into a most unexpected, yet satisfactory conclusion, where I felt that just about everyone got what they had coming to them, one way or another, with the exception of poor little Laura. However, the narrative and dialogue, whilst covering all the salient points in great detail, is not written in quite the same free-flowing style as I seem to remember it having been in False Truth. It’s quite difficult to articulate the feeling I have about it, as whilst the characters completely owned the direction of the storyline, the delivery was not always under their control – Maybe a little too much ‘Received Pronunciation’?

Whilst I still have faith in Joe and his tenacious approach to uncovering the truth and bringing a case to a satisfactory conclusion, no matter what the cost to either himself or his suspects, I’m not sure that my relationship with him personally has moved forward as positively as I might have hoped. He seems a little too laid back and slapdash when it comes to client confidentiality. He is far too willing to share both professional and personal details about one client’s case, with another, and his investigation with Claire and Jack nearly comes unstuck when he realises he has inadvertently left some vital documents pertaining to it on his desk, after asking his secretary to make the client comfortable in his office to wait, as he is a little late for the appointment. I do also wonder if Joe has too high an opinion of himself and the way he handles an investigation. Yes, there is no doubt that he is good at what he does, however his ego might be construed as rather overinflated sometimes.

People smuggling, drug trafficking, child selling, child abuse, sex crime involving a minor, paedophilia and the potential perils and pitfalls of the fostering system, are just a few of the less salubrious crimes which Joe uncovers as part of his digging and research this time. As you might therefore be able to guess, there were very few, if any, of the bit-part characters in whom I wanted to invest any of my time, energy or sympathy. They would have all looked me straight in the eye and lied to my face if it might have saved their own skin, making them unreliable, volatile, manipulative and completely unauthentic. I am still undecided about my feelings regarding the effectiveness of Detectives Whatmore and Whelan. Whilst they are unusually more than happy to share information with Joe, they do seem a little too eager to let him do all the leg work for them, as though he should be grateful for the few crumbs they throw him, whilst having him solve their cases for them.

Location was never gong to be a real showstopper in this fast-moving storyline, as it was all about the characters and the investigation, so 3 stars for this aspect of the book seems like a fair rating for a dedicated ‘armchair traveller’ like myself. Joe is required to make a very brief visit to Cumbria which only has scant attention paid to any place names, with the bulk of the action firmly rooted in various London Boroughs, where the majority of the action involves mundane surveillance work, so street names and individual premises are the main focus, rather than the wider environs.

Overall, this was still a genuinely solid 4 star read, as it was both immersive and entertaining and I look forward to catching up with Joe Wilde soon, hoping that he is eventually going to have a case to solve which will make him some real money as recompense for all the effort he expends.

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