"". Leave No Trace by Jo Callaghan | Is This Mutton?

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Friday 12 April 2024

Leave No Trace by Jo Callaghan


Dear friends. Today's spotlight falls on a police procedural with an intriguing angle. One of the officers is a creation of Artificial Intelligence, manifested as a hologram. But AIDE Lock is treated as simply one of the investigating team. Here is an outstanding thriller, with an exciting conclusion. 

It's my stop on the blog tour for Leave No Trace by Jo Callaghan. 

Publisher's Description

One detective driven by instinct, the other by logic. It will take both to find a killer who knows the true meaning of fear.

When the body of a man is found crucified at the top of Mount Judd, AIDE Lock – the world’s first AI Detective – and DCS Kat Frank are thrust into the spotlight as they are given their first live case. But with the discovery of another man’s body – also crucified – it appears that their killer is only just getting started.

The police issue a controversial warning to local men to be vigilant: do not walk home alone at night, do not leave a pub with a stranger. The Future Policing Unit is thrust into a hostile media frenzy as they desperately search for connections between the victims. But time is running out for them to join the dots, so they must combine their human instinct and algorithms to catch the killer before the strike again. For if Kat and Lock know anything, it’s that killers rarely stop – until they are made to. 

The cover of Leave No Trace by Jo Callaghan, reviewed by Is This Mutton

My Thoughts

You know how sometimes you finish a book that was so satisfying you sit with a smile for a few minutes?  This was one of those rare books.  It's Jo Callaghan's second novel: the first, also featuring DCS Kat Frank and AIDE Lock, was hugely acclaimed.

Leave No Trace sailed through my criteria for a good crime thriller:

1. Believable and likable police characters. Kate is recently widowed, with her son at uni, and she's spending more time at the police station and putting off going into the attic to get the Christmas decorations. She is very determined to solve this challenging crime even if it means "going rogue" and defying her superior.  

I loved the interaction between Kate and AIDE Lock too.  The AI agent takes everything very literally, which creates some amusing dialogue.  Lock also shows a worryingly human side at times too.  

I like the fact that the female pathologist, in her 50s, was keen to utilise the skills of Lock in her "virtuotopsies", rather than being presented as a technophobe, as is usually the case with older women.  The pregnant police sergeant was also a good character, worried that she was being given "soft" jobs because of her condition. 

2. The plot:  I don't want to give any spoilers but it's a fabulous plot. Left me guessing until quite near the end.

3. The aftermath:  many detective books end on a celebration as the crime is solved.  Leave No Trace has two endings, effectively.  There's a heart warming exchange between Kat and Lock, which I couldn't help thinking was also a little sinister; and a cliffhanger, setting up a possible book 3. 

Thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours, the author and publisher Simon & Schuster UK for the advance copy in return for an honest review.

About the Author

Jo Callaghan works full time as a senior strategist, where she has carried out research into the future impact of AI and genomics on the workforce. After losing her husband to cancer in 2019 when she was just forty-nine, she started writing In the Blink of an Eye, her debut crime novel, which explores learning to live with loss and what it means to be human. In The Blink of an Eye was selected for BBC 2’s ‘Between the Covers’ in Spring 2023, and Jo was a featured debut at Harrogate Crime Festival and Bloody Scotland Festival. She lives with her two children in the Midlands. Leave No Trace is her second novel. 

Acclaim for Leave No Trace

'A smart, agile, immaculately plotted and moving thriller that is unswervingly gripping and scary, and at the same time beautifully tender and humane' Nicci French, author of The Favour

‘Chilled me to the bone and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. Callaghan writes with such intelligence; interspersing humour with moments of utter heartbreak’, Nikki Smith, author of The Beach Party

‘Jo Callaghan has done it again in this intricately plotted, humorous and incredibly moving thriller’, Laura Marshall, author of My Husband’s Killer

'With Leave No Trace, Jo Callaghan cements her status as a crime fiction force to be reckoned with', Caz Frear, author of Five Bad Deeds


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