ShortBookandScribes #BookReview – The Blame by Charlotte Langley

The Blame by Charlotte Langley is published by Bedford Square/No Exit Press and is available now in hardcover and eBook. My thanks to Emma Dowson of EDPR for the review copy.

A girl found murdered. A town torn apart. A police force in disgrace.

Green turned to grey as night approached. A wall of officers in high-vis jackets emerged from the trees, an army
of neon advancing onto the field. There was no barking from the sniffer dogs, no chatter. Just a deep, searching silence.

Erin looked at her phone. 10:23. Over nine hours now since Sophie had gone missing…

When Detective Inspector Erin Crane is put in charge of the investigation into the murder of local teenager Sophie Madson, she knows she has been given the case of a lifetime.

But her own secrets – including a love affair with her partner – threaten to spill into the open as the investigations deepens, putting her reputation on the line and the case in jeopardy.

Just when Erin thinks she has things under control, new evidence emerges that turns the investigation upside down.

Dashcam footage from a local driver shows Sophie Madson leaving in the car of a police detective, just an hour before she died.

More and more twists emerge that send Erin further from everything she thought she could trust.

The Blame has a premise that immediately piqued my interest but it could have gone either way. Police procedurals either bore me or thrill me and I’m very happy to report that not only did The Blame do the latter, it’s also one of my favourite reads of the year.

Perhaps it’s because this is a book that’s billed as part police procedural and part psychological thriller. There’s a lot more to it than an investigation into a murdered teenager. There are entanglements, power play and corrupt officers thrown into the mix and it made for an exhilarating read.

The story opens with DI Erin Crane on the case of missing girl, Sophie Madson. It’s not long before Sophie’s body is found and a murder investigation is commenced, with Erin working with her usual partner, DCI Tom Radley. Things then become very complicated – Erin’s personal life is intertwined with her job, her past is playing on her mind, and then when Sophie is seen getting into the car of a police officer just before she died it blows everything apart.

From a very procedural beginning this turned into a rollercoaster thriller. Unexpected punches to the gut had me exclaiming out loud more than once. I didn’t know who to trust, not Erin, not Tom, not their colleagues, and Charlotte Langley threw suspense and surprise at me time and again. The Blame is a fast-paced read that I wanted to get back to whenever I was forced to stop. Think Line of Duty. It would translate so well onto the small screen. The end of The Blame made me think there might be more for Erin but either way this was an excellent debut which means I’m excited about what Langley will deliver next.

Charlotte Langley works as a journalist and a personal finance reporter at The Telegraph and is a fresh, breakout voice in gripping psychological police dramas.

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