Thursday 28 March 2024

Leave No Trace by Jo Callaghan BLOG TOUR #LeaveNoTrace @JoCallaghanKat @simonschusterUK @RandomTTours #BookReview

One detective driven by instinct, the other by logic.
It will take both to find a killer who knows the true meaning of fear . . .
When the body of a man is found crucified at the top of Mount Judd, AIDE Lock – the world’s first AI Detective – and DCS Kat Frank are thrust into the spotlight as they are given their first live case.
But with the discovery of another man’s body – also crucified – it appears that their killer is only just getting started. With the police warning local men to be vigilant, the Future Policing Unit is thrust into a hostile media frenzy as they desperately search for connections between the victims. But time is running out for them to join the dots and prevent another death.
For if Kat and Lock know anything, it’s that killers rarely stop – until they are made to. 

Leave No Trace by Jo Callaghan is published today, 28 March 2024 by Simon and Schuster. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour. 

Back in January of last year, I read and reviewed the first book in this series - In The Blink of an Eye. I was so impressed by it and it has stayed with me for the whole year. I have been delighted to see how popular the book became, especially being chosen for the BBC Between The Covers series. 

Leave No Trace was one of my most anticipated books of this year, I was sure that it was going to be great, but didn't expect it to be quite this fabulous. I flew through this in a couple of sittings, it is engaging, with a strong crime plot line and the constant exploration of the relationship between Kat Frank and her AI sidekick AIDE Lock.

Kat has wanted to be in charge of a current, live case for some time. Since returning to work after the tragic death of her young husband, she has been working cold cases. She's part of a new initiative where AI has been introduced, in attempt to make police work more transparent,  the public more trusting and also to speed up investigations. Whilst Kat was, at first, dubious as to whether this is just a ploy to replace humans with AI, her working relationship with Lock has gone well so far. She still has some niggling doubts, and does not hesitate to point out that there are certain areas in which AI just can't compete, such as natural instinct, but on the whole it's all going well. 

When the naked body of a man is discovered crucified at the top of a local hill, Kat and her team are given the case. It is down to Lock that the man can be identified so quickly, but Gary Jones was a popular bloke, about to be married to his beautiful girlfriend, with a good job and plenty of friends. Who would want to kill him in such a macabre way? It is wasn't a quick death either, the post mortem proves that he actually died from hypothermia which would have been long and slow. 

Gary Jones is not the only victim. Another crucifixion takes place, not far away, the same MO, except for one detail. It's clear that there's a serial killer on the loose, but why and who and what do the two victims have in common. How to stop the next one?

Kat and Lock work well together. Jo Callaghan uses her extensive knowledge of AI when creating Lock and at times, there are some really funny parts. Lock often speaks out quite literally, almost like a small child with no filter and whilst it can be laughable, Kat is often driven to distraction by it. 

There's the underlying thread of Kat's own story too which adds such depth to the novel. The recent death of her husband, the threat to her teenage son not long enough and the return to an empty house each night means that her character is so much more than just a detective. Her relationships with her team members are mother like at times, caring and protective, putting herself last, but a blossoming new friendship is emerging and that's interesting to see. 

The plot is fast paced, a little dark at times and slowly but surely points to the unexpected. It's totally gripping. Jo Callaghan is a stylish, intelligent writer, not afraid to address social issues that need to be highlighted whilst always keeping on track. I was very impressed and look forward to book three, there's more to learn yet, I'm sure. 

Jo Callaghan works fulltime as a senior strategist, where she has carried out research into the future 
impact of AI and genomics on the workforce. 
After losing her husband to cancer in 2019 when she was just forty-nine, she started writing In the Blink of an Eye, her debut crime novel, which explores learning to live with loss and what it means to be human. 
In The Blink of an Eye was selected for BBC 2’s ‘Between the Covers’ in Spring 2023, and Jo was a featured debut at Harrogate Crime Festival and Bloody Scotland Festival. 
She lives with her two children in the Midlands. Leave No Trace is her
second novel.

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