Alex Walters is the new pen-name for Michael Walters, the author of the critically acclaimed Nergui novels – a series of crime thrillers set in modern-day Mongolia. Trust No One is the first in a new series about Marie Donovan, an undercover officer. Donovan is a cop, but in Trust No One we find her working for ‘the Agency’, never specifically referred to in the novel as the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), but clearly based on it.
In Manchester, Donovan has become a little too close to Jake Morton, an informer she recruited, about to give evidence against crime lord Jeff Kerridge. So close in fact that she has just left his bed in the early hours and is sitting on the balcony of his flat with a decaff coffee. Having nodded off for a short time, she wakes to discover three professional hit men in the flat and quickly escapes down the outside of the building. With Morton confirmed dead, Donovan knows her situation is compromised and her handlers know there is a leak from their side, so who can she trust?
Walters cleverly plays with the timeframes here, opening with Morton’s demise but then taking us into the story of how Donovan got to be where she is when we meet her in that flat before moving the story forward. It’s all action and adrenaline from the first pages in Trust No One, but depth is added by opening up Donovan’s world and her mind to the reader (with perhaps a little too much of the mind on times). However, we have a great dollop of realism with Donovan as she constantly copes with the stresses of her fictional life as a printing business owner, the need to obtain and pass on intelligence, and her private and real life with an artist partner suffering from MS whom she supports. There is always the sense that this has been meticulously researched and based on true fact. It’s also refreshingly good to add to the canon of crime fiction with an undercover officer and a plot based on money laundering, albeit the latter would have benefited from more detail in the plot to add to the sense of involvement and understanding.
Trust No One is a very promising start to a new series delivering a character you want to spend more time with. It’s an absorbing and attention-demanding read for these cool autumn nights.