Year 5 / Book 23: The Dead Line

23) The Dead Line by Holly Watt

I very much enjoyed Holly Watt’s debut, To The Lions and had been looking forward to this follow-up. It features the same dynamic duo of investigative female journalists, Casey & Miranda – and this time they are on the track of human trafficking-meets-international surrogacy, having been tipped off in unlikely fashion by a cry for help in the label of a garment.

What marks out Watt’s books is the up-to-the-second relevance of the journalistic content, with an ability to ratchet up tension and suspense with the best thriller writers. So you have more depth without a loss of pace. And that analysis stands for this novel as much as it does for the first – indeed, in some places, it’s a bit tighter and more succinctly written than the debut. What I struggled with was some of the detail about surrogacy [note: our baby was delivered with a surrogate in the UK] which, well, don’t stack up if you know about it. But I guess that’s just where personal knowledge runs into novelistic exaggeration; it is fiction, after all.

That aside, the plot is a bit far-fetched at points, but so enjoyably tense that I could forgive it – and the characters are becoming more interesting and multi-faceted as time goes on. And if Watt continues to combine such interesting content with complex characters and pacy plots, there’s only more success on the horizon.

Score: 8/10


The Dead Line: ‘Thriller of the Month’ The Times

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