Rob Parker’s Thirty Mile Trilogy begins with a detective novel that reads like a season of Unforgotten or Line of Duty, brought to you by Red Dog Press, perfect for fans of crime shows, true and fictional alike.
Spoiler Free Synopsis
After an anonymous tip, twenty-seven bodies are found in a mass grave in the woods, all in vacuum-packed bags.
Brendan Foley, a detective inspector in his mid-30s, is the man on the case, along with a host of characters such as: Iona Madison, his meticulously organised subordinate who is an amateur boxing champ and Ross, Brendan’s brother, who still acts like a teenager, even though he has one.
However, when a personal connection throws Foley’s leadership into question, the Foley family end up on different paths to find the killer.
Far From the Tree is a page turning detective story, with a twist. It’s not your typical whodunnit, it’s a procedural in a book. Right off the bat, Parker subverts your expectations. For example. Madison (MY FAVES, along with Fitz) is a hyper organised copper with a passion for boxing. I loved that. Also, the bodies (small spoiler) are largely men, which isn’t the norm in both true and fictional crime. That made me sit up and pay attention.
The story, set in a small northern town, is filled with other crime (gangs, theft, drugs…the works) and family secrets. It’s not just a story of the murders, it’s a whole world unravelling in front of you, wondering who is in the right. I had real feelings of anger when Foley and his father were fighting, cheering Foley on but also wondering how I’d feel in that situation. The small characters too had their own stories, ones that I was super interested in and was sad to leave, that’s the sign of a great world-builder.
The story flicks between multiple narratives. Largely staying with Foley but also showing the lives of Madison, Ross, Art (Foley’s dad) and others. This keeps the fast-paced procedural moving. Personally, I love multiple narratives, and I like that, with each page turn, you don’t know whose voice you’re going to get. Some are brand new, some are lost throughout, some are wholesome family scenes, some are gruesome murders.
Let’s quickly talk about the nigglers. A few things stood out to this eagle eyed reviewer. Firstly, Foley is meant to be 36 but acts a lot older. This may have been deliberate, but some things stood out, like having to google ‘GILF’. Also, Ross (his brother) had a kid at 18, which is why he’s still acting like a teenager. But Foley also has a six former, which means he was 19 when his son was born. Also, sometimes Parker reiterates information we already knew, reminding us of Foley’s age and personality traits/experience when he acts a certain way. I feel like I knew Foley right from the start and didn’t need these. However, these are really small things and I wouldn’t let them put anyone off.
Who would love this novel? Crime fans! True and fictional. Line of Duty obsessives, who are missing the show already. Or Broadchurch watchers who want to be taken back to that small town vibe. If you do pick up a copy, let me know who your favourite character is!