January, 1987. In the depths of winter, only joggers and dog walkers brave the Thames towpath after dark. Helen Honeysett, a young newlywed, sets off for an evening run from her riverside cottage and disappears.
Twenty-nine years later, Helen's body has never been found. Her husband has asked Stella Darnell, a private detective, and her side-kick Jack Harmon, to find out what happened all those years ago. But when the five households on that desolate stretch of towpath refuse to give up their secrets, Stella and Jack find themselves hunting a killer whose trail has long gone cold.
*May Contain Spoilers*
The Dog Walker, by Lesley Thomson, is a detective novel that delves into the cold case of Mrs. Helen Honeysett, a young woman who disappeared thirty years ago on the Thames river towpath. Stella, the owner of Clean Slate, a cleaning company, is hired by the victim's husband, Adam Honeysett, to clear his name after all these years. With a community full of suspects, some living and some deceased, Stella and her partner Jack must turn over old stones, and open old wounds, to find out what happened on January 7, 1987.
Stella Darnell seems to be a born detective. She's calm under pressure, doesn't mind pushing the wrong (or right) buttons, and is open minded enough to not cast blame prematurely. Her father, Terry, was also a detective and his instructions on how to ask questions or get suspects to open up guide her actions. Stella is a trusting woman, but she doesn't allow that to cloud her judgement. She seems to accept people exactly how they are, which allows her to see others from a unique, nearly outsider, perspective. Though Stella is one of the main characters, not a lot of the book's detail is about her. This might seem like it would be difficult to connect to her character, but Thomson's writing style makes up for this. The details that build Stella's character come out in her delicate actions and thorough thought process, as well as her spontaneous soirees led by intuition and interest. With her web of trusted allies, readers learn a lot about Stella from the background. There isn't just one main trait about Stella that brings readers to feel a connection with her, it's a combination of attributes that work to make her three-dimensional. For example, the fact that she owns a cleaning company says a lot about her personality. Stella likes when things make sense, when the dust is cleared away and the truth can be seen in the clutter that makes up a person's life.
Though Jack's character offers readers a different sort of connection. Jack is Stella's partner in detective work and also works for her at Clean Slate, along with working on the London underground. Jack is a character connected to the supernatural. He believes in ghosts and True Hosts and gives off the sense that he's being haunted. Though he's truly only haunted by his own memories, or lack thereof. Jack likes to keep secrets and walk the streets during the midnight hours. If Stella were light and air, then Jack would be darkness and shadow. Jack balances Stella out, especially in their detective work. He has a sense about people, though it isn't always correct, that guides him to search for meaning in signs and discover the unseen. Readers will witness his wanderings and want to understand his haunting. His protective nature in regard to Stella will bring readers to his side while his emotional or sensed perceptions of the suspects will help lead them to the novel's conclusion.
The Dog Walker revolves around the cold case file of Helen Honeysett. She disappeared on a winter night in 1987 while running, an act she did every night at precisely eight o'clock. Helen's character haunts the novel as her husband and the neighbors that live in the Thames cottages open the door to the past. Her husband, Adam, was the main suspect in the murder investigation until a neighbor's daughter told police that she saw her father follow Helen to the towpath that night. Though Helen's body was never found and no arrest was ever made. The details that the suspects share with Stella and Jack all add up to an un-obvious conclusion. Though I would love to say I had it all figured out, I was wrong in my suspicions, which makes the detective novel that much more fun. As readers join Stella and Jack on this cold case, they will undoubtedly be intrigued by the characters that make up the Thames Cottage community as well as the relationships that work between them. Let the title of this book be the first clue for this interesting and intriguing story of love, loss, judgement, and mystery.
Rating: 4/5 Cups