Title: A Trade in Tears
Author: Samantha Shiye
Published by: Matador
Publication date: 28th Feb, 2020
Morag, ‘Mo’, has it all. A happy-go-lucky, free-spirited student and martial arts enthusiast, she’s on top of the world until she finds Cindy beaten and bloodied in the graveyard – ultimately shining a light into unknown shadows of her own childhood.
Cindy, eighteen with her whole future in front of her, has lost it all. One victim of many in a brutal string of sex crimes that has swept their corner of South East England, the experience leaves her shaken, before revealing secrets she’d kept even from herself. Despite the support of her rich and successful older friend, Faye, who has troubles of her own, Cindy sinks deeper into despair.
As Detective Chief Inspector Colin Massey, Mo’s father, heads the special task force investigating the sex crimes, another girl goes missing. Her boyfriend, Johnny, begins to hear her voice in his head. Driven to the edge of his sanity, he teeters between reality and the beyond.
As their four journeys collide in an explosion of violence, love and betrayal, the principle questions are, who can they trust? And, is the face of the person looking back at them masking the identity of a killer?
I was given a copy of A Trade in Tears via NetGalley in return for an honest review. My thanks go to NetGalley and author Samantha Shiye
A Trade in Tears is the debut novel by Samantha Shiye, a twisting tale seen from the point of view of several characters. Morag ‘Mo’ Massey is taken from her, easy-going life and plunged into a nightmare when she finds Cindy; the victim of a vicious and violent rape, left for dead in a graveyard. As a character, Mo is easy to read about and quick to connect with, she is warm, caring but certainly no push over. She’s a well-rounded, strong female lead and nothing but a pleasure to read about. Morags connections with the other characters in the book; Colin Massey, Johnny and Cindy bring her to a more central position than the other characters A Trade in Tears. Which makes following her journey a lot more sense.
The plot of A Trade in Tears twists and turns rather rapidly, despite the time-span that it takes. You get a real sense of scale to the novel and that the complicated case of Cindys abduction and abuse is taking a long time to solve – for various reasons all explained as and when the plot develops. It’s great to read a thriller that isn’t instantly solved by a singular ‘one man army’ character. There are some developments that genuinely shocked me, not for their graphic content – of which there are a few scenes, which I’ll come on to in a moment – but for the events that take place. A Trade in Tears doesn’t pull it’s punches and I find it rare that a novel will go to the lengths that this one did to keep the reader guessing. The frustration for Colin Massey as the lead on the investigation into Cindy – and all that it ends up entailing – is palatable at times and I found myself feeling really feeling for him in more ways than one. I ended up second-guessing all of the members of his team and feeling paranoid as I turned the page to find out what was going to happen next. A Trade in Tears is a tense, emotional rollercoaster of a book that I found addictive.
I am a hardened reader, especially when it comes to graphic and violent scenes. I grew up reading horror stories so not much phases me. A Trade in Tears has scenes of violent, physical mutilation and rape. All of which are central to the plot and bring something more to the book than just shock-value. This might be a big put off for some readers, especially the scenes of genital mutilation and the violent rape scenes. A Trade in Tears is not for the faint hearted. These scenes however are off-set with ones of tenderness and affection and both are handled with careful consideration on the authors behalf.
There are a few elements that I struggled with. Johnny, one of the central characters, loses his girlfriend along the way. As a part of his grief he talks to her – which is fine and part of the natural grieving process – but it’s implied that she walks back to him and guides him. I can understand if the guiding of Johnny was just an implication, but it becomes an integral part of the plot. This is the only supernatural element to the book and, other than providing a rather satisfying conclusion to the antagonists fate, I found it rather out of place as it only comes into play around Johnny. Other characters express their concern about Johhnys conversations with his dead-girlfriend, but nothing else comes of it. It’s a little unusual and feels out of place compared to the rest of the story, but despite the reservations I have of this side-element I still found myself enjoying where they led the plot and how it helped to wrap up A Trade in Tears to it’s conclusion.
A Trade in Tears is a very nicely wrapped parcel. We have some really well-rounded and interesting characters, a strong plot that makes a lot of sense and is wrapped up nicely at the end. A Trade in Tears follows a good pace, that’s not drawn out despite the fact the story takes place over a long period of time. Some of the elements felt a little out of place considering the book as a whole, but don’t detract too much from and enjoyable, but graphic read.