Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for crime thriller, Hermit by S.R. White. My thanks to Emily at Headline for inviting me to take part in the tour and for my advance review copy. Do check out the post by my tour buddy for today, Mrs Cooke at Mrs Cooke’s Books.
About the Book
He vanished for 15 years… She has 12 hours to find out why.
After a puzzling death in the wild bushlands of Australia, detective Dana Russo has just hours to interrogate the prime suspect – a silent, inscrutable man found at the scene of the crime, who disappeared without trace 15 years earlier.
But where has he been? Why won’t he talk? And exactly how dangerous is he? Without conclusive evidence to prove his guilt, Dana faces a desperate race against time to persuade him to speak. But as each interview spirals with fevered intensity, Dana must reckon with her own traumatic past to reveal the shocking truth…
Format: Hardcover (384 pages) Publisher: Headline
Publication date: 17th September 2020 Genre: Crime
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The events in the book take place over a day giving it an almost real-time feel. But it’s not just any old day. For Dana Russo, it’s “the Day”, the anniversary of something the nature of which the reader can only guess at but immediately senses was traumatic.
Much of the book is given over to the interview sessions between Dana and chief suspect for the murder, Nathan Whittler. The reader really gets a sense of being in the interview room alongside them. It’s claustrophobic and filled with tension. I found myself holding my breath at some points while one of Dana’s questions is posed and considered by Nathan. The accuracy of the description of Nathan as “not their usual kind of suspect” becomes increasingly clear.
What I found particularly fascinating was Dana’s preparation for the interviews: the insight into her thought processes about the line of questioning she should adopt; how and when to disclose information; how to interpret Nathan’s responses and body language. It hadn’t fully occurred to me how much a police interview is akin to a psychological game of chess or poker in which picking up small signs in response to delicate probing is an essential part. In Hermit, the author conveys this element superbly.
Between the intense sessions, Dana has moments of doubt about her ability to interpret the meaning of Nathan’s “flicks, gestures, silences, and absences”. She fears the fact of it being “the Day” may have an impact on her ability to exercise her professional skills and that a mistake on her part might jeopardize what really matters to her – finding the truth. Sharing some of his introvert instincts gives Dana a degree of empathy for Nathan. “Being Nathan Whittler was clearly not easy and the sudden insight into what it involved jarred her.” But are they too alike and will she perhaps have to reveal too much of herself to get the answers she needs from him?
What the reader learns is that Dana likes – indeed, needs – order. She knows she functions best when she “was allowed to take her time – delve, think, plan.” I loved the relationship between Dana and her colleague, Mike. Their light-hearted banter is a sign of their close working partnership but also that they understand each other well. As Mike reflects at one point, “Between them they made one mighty detective. Individually, they were deeply flawed, but in different areas”. They have a tacit agreement to act as Devil’s advocate when either of them is leading a case: challenging assumptions, suggesting different lines of enquiry.
I also liked Dana’s fellow officers: Bill, her boss; Lucy, the team’s formidable secretary and administrator; Rainer, the eager young detective already displaying the instincts needed to be successful. Mike and Lucy in particular have a keen awareness of Dana’s strengths and vulnerabilities and I really loved how the author showed them supporting her in all sorts of little ways.
Hermit is a book for those who like their crime fiction to be character-driven, detailed and of the slow-burn variety. However, even a slow-burning fuse results in an explosion in the end. And, as much as you’ve been expecting it – preparing for it, even- it can still make you jump when it occurs.
I thought Hermit was terrific and I only hope the author is already working on a follow-up.
In three words: Intense, compelling, immersive
Try something similar: Payback (Charley Mann #1) by R.C. Bridgstock
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About the Author
S.R. White worked for a UK police force for twelve years, before returning to academic life and taking an MA in Creative Writing at Nottingham Trent University. He now lives in Queensland, Australia.