Hopefully not the end of this association

I love being put in touch with new authors, and I love even more when this leads me to discover a new series. So meeting author Heather Burnside online, and discovering her emerging series The Riverhill Trilogy was a real treat that ticked all my bibliophile boxes. And now with the release of the finale of this trilogy ‘Danger by Association’, it almost feels like the end of an era.

After the saddening and shocking end of the last book, Gangster’s Grip, it was difficult to see where the series could go next. The end of the second book seemed to have things wrapped up tragically yet neatly, so it must have been with devilish glee that the author pulled those threads loose again and sent the characters into yet another misadventure.

Set 5 years after the second book, party girls Rita and Julie, who we were introduced to in book one are all grown up, and are contented wives and mothers. Rita, after the events in the last book has returned to Manchester with mixed feelings, saddened by the memories of 5 years ago, but happy to reconnect with her brother and his new wife. Unfortunately for Rita, the past associations of what went down before come back to threaten Rita and her family.

Like all Burnside’s books, this one was easy reading, addictive and entertaining. The central mystery to the plot was a real grabber, with many a red herring and twists that Burnside is known for. Another thing that I have commented on before is the expert use of character. Over the three books the characters have become more and more well rounded. Burnside seems to know her characters really well and has portrayed them perfectly each time.

This consistency means that every person we have met before in the series behaves exactly as the reader would expect, a skill which is vital when writing a series with the same characters in each book. Of course you want your characters to grow and adapt with new events but anything too out of character would still be a shock; the change needs to be organic. The Rita and Julie we are introduced to in Slur are not the same Rita and Julie in Danger by Association, but after 10 years and so many life altering events it wouldn’t be realistic if they were. But the change and the people they are now is perfectly natural as we have seen the growth throughout the series.

Alongside the old faces there are a couple of new people brought in to this story. The introduction of new characters to a trilogy at the last minute is usually a cause for complaint, as they usually bring along with them unnecessary plot deviations and very little depth. Happily, this is an exception as some of the characters introduced here have been the most intriguing and complex yet. New additions Maurice and Raeni were introduced perfectly, and their character arcs, particularly Maurice’s, handled with real skill. It takes some serious talent to not fully vilify unsympathetic characters, or characters that act in an unsympathetic way, and it is impressive the way these characters were portrayed.

While the ending of the book, and by extension the trilogy, seemed a little unrealistically perfect, with everything tied up, all relationships mended and everyone happy, I’m glad that it seems at last the girls have found some peace which will be permanent this time. Although if not, and Burnside decides to wreak havoc on their lives once again with one last book, I for one won’t complain!

To connect with Heather Burnside visit her Twitter page or sign up for her newsletter

*To read my previous reviews of Burnside’s work, see Slur’s review “Read-along fun”, Gangster’s Grip review “Gripped by this Gangster’s tale” and my review on her her collection of short stories Crime, Conflict and Consequences “It’s be a crime to miss out”.

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