Title: The Night Ferry by Michael Robotham
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 433 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Struggling detective Alisha Barba is trying to get her life back on track after almost being crippled by a murder suspect. Now on her feet again, she receives a desperate plea from an old school friend, who is eight months pregnant and in trouble. On the night they arrange to meet, her friend is run down and killed by a car and Alisha discovers the first in a series of haunting and tragic deceptions.
Determined to uncover the truth, she embarks upon a dangerous journey that will take her from the East End of London to Amsterdam’s murky red light district and into a violent underworld of sex trafficking, slavery and exploitation.
The Night Ferry is a complex and intriguing mystery by Michael Robotham. More than just a “whodunit”, this suspense laden thriller delves into the dark world of human trafficking. Fast-paced and riveting, it is a thought-provoking story touches on social relevant issues that will resonant with readers.
Alisha Barba is stunned to receive a plea for help from her estranged friend Cate Elliot. The two have not spoken in eight years but Alisha is quick to agree to a meeting and she is surprised to discover her old friend is now married and expecting a baby. Before Cate can explain what she needs from Alisha, she and her husband are run down and killed by a cabbie. With only a cryptic message to go on, Alisha begins an off the books investigation that takes her into the seedy underworld of human trafficking and what she uncovers is as shocking as it is heartbreaking.
Alisha is an experienced detective constable who is just about to return to work after recovery from a horrific injury that almost left her paralyzed. She is plagued with regrets over the events that led to the end of her friendship with Cate and she is devastated to lose her before they can reconcile their differences. Leading with her heart throughout the investigation, Alisha is determined to discover not only who killed Cate but why.
Alisha gets little help from the detectives assigned to the case and once the deaths are ruled accidental, she quietly begins digging around on her own. With little to go on but Cate’s whispered assertion that someone wants to take her baby, Alisha quickly discovers that Cate’s infertility issues led her friend to take drastic measures in her quest to become a mother. Her complicated past with Cate’s family becomes a hindrance early in the investigation and the Elliot family will do just about anything to protect their daughter’s reputation. Alisha doggedly pursues the clues she uncovers but they quickly lead to dead ends. The case takes her to Amsterdam where she finally gets an idea of what Cate was up to in the months before her death but Alisha’s efforts to bring the people behind her death are thwarted at every turn.
With a personal stake in learning the truth about Cate’s death, Alisha often makes impetus decisions that have dangerous consequences. She also has a social conscience and this leads to some very passionate outbursts in her pursuit for answers. While understandable given the circumstances, her inability to remain impartial hurts her investigation and endangers not only her case, but the people she is trying to help. Her zealous search for answers is admirable but it is also frustrating watching Alisha make mistakes that could jeopardize bringing the guilty parties to justice.
The Night Ferry is a spellbinding mystery that is full of unexpected twists and turns. Michael Robotham has once again written a tightly plotted and suspenseful novel that also provides an insightful view into the tragic exploitation of young, vulnerable women. It is another brilliant police procedural that stands out from others in the genre that old and new fans do not want to miss.