Cath Staincliffe






Allison and Busby, November, 2006
Reviewed by Sunnie Gill

HIT AND RUN is the second in the series of Blue Murder books. In the first book, BLUE MURDER, Janine Lewis was promoted to Detective Chief Inspector; she thought life couldn't get much better. She had achieved the promotion she'd always wanted and she was seven months pregnant with her fourth child. What better reason to go home early with a bottle of champagne to celebrate with her husband? However, when she arrived home, she discovered her husband in bed with another woman and it went downhill from there.

It is now one year later. After kicking her husband out of the house, Janine is looking forward to getting back to work in her new job. Time away from the children, with real grown-ups talking about real grown-up things, sounds very appealing. While driving to work on her first day back, she witnesses a hit and run accident resulting in the death of one of her son's class.

Once she arrives at work, still shaken from witnessing the accident, Janine finds herself being thrown in the deep-end when she is assigned to head up an investigation into the murder of an unidentified young woman whose body has been fished out of the river. The body is eventually identified as that of an illegal immigrant working as a stripper. After questioning the manager of the club, Janine is put on the track of the club's owner; a mysterious Russian named Sulikov, who by all accounts is also involved in drugs and people smuggling. One very dangerous character indeed.

Things become more complicated when Janine discovers that the vehicle that killed her son's classmate was owned by the club manager, who reported it stolen the night before. Could the two cases be connected in some ways? And what to do about Detective Sergeant Butchers, whose sister was killed in a hit and run accident and who is too emotionally involved? Also there is her relationship with her second in command, the good-looking D.I. Richard Mayne. Janine and Richard go back a way. They trained together and had a fling before Janine married. That old chemistry still seems to be there and Janine thinks Richard is interested. Does she take the chance to find out? Does she have the time or even the energy right now?

Juggling work and family is much tougher than Janine ever anticipated. There are child-care problems. It's not easy to find a reliable baby-sitter. Her husband does help, but her hours are unpredictable and he can't be available all the time. And of course her two teenagers hate the idea of a babysitter and are resisting. To top it all off the baby seems to be nocturnal. She sleeps beautifully during the day and is awake a good part of the night; Janine starts each work day as tired as she was when she went to bed the night before.

Janine Lewis is down-to-earth and a little flawed. She does get things wrong sometimes which makes her all the more easy to like. Her struggle to balance work and family is one that many readers will relate to and her dilemma about whether to act on her attraction to her co-worker adds humour to the book. The author, Cath Staincliffe, originally created Janine Lewis as a short tv series of movie length episodes called Blue Murder, and later wrote the books. The one downside is that having seen and enjoyed the tv series, I found I knew much of the plot. However, for those who haven't, HIT AND RUN is a highly enjoyable mystery with a cast of very credible characters.

Cath Staincliffe is the author of two Blue Murder books (BLUE MURDER and HIT AND RUN) and seven in the Sal Kilkenny series (a single mum who is a Private Investigator. She is also a member of The Murder Squad, a group of seven crime fiction authors from the North of England. Their website is http://www.murdersquad.co.uk/ .

Feb 2007 review originally published on Murder & Mayhem


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