A reader sometimes chances upon new books and authors in the strangest of ways. From a stray reference within another book to a spine glimpsed on the dusty top shelf of a library, we all have a story about a memorable book discovery. I have a few tales myself, including a particularly happy one involving The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society, Bengaluru’s Blossom Book House, Charles Lamb’s Essays Of Elia and a bookish kindred spirit. However, at a time when my bookshop visits have dwindled to a once-in-a-month luxury and I find myself clicking on the “buy now" button more often, those stories seem to be getting rarer, and hence more precious.

Many articles have been written on how the thrill of the hunt has disappeared with the rise of online book stores. Sometimes, however, even an e-bookseller can help a reader find a new favourite.

It was nearing the end of 2015 and readers around the world were looking up the hundreds of “best of the year" booklists that brighten up our lives and empty our wallets. The Girl On The Train, check. Elena Ferrante, check. Amazon also brought out its lists—editors’ picks, celebrity picks, children’s books and so on. There was also one with the top 20 best-selling books of the year—10th on the list was a book that intrigued me because it was (a) crime fiction; and (b) not a book/author backed by a big publishing house. Silent Scream by Angela Marsons.

The paperback was for more than 800, but the Kindle edition was for just 99. A couple of five-star Goodreads reviews later, the first Kim Stone thriller, sub-titled “An edge of your seat serial killer thriller", was on my e-reader.

I finished the book in a day, discovered from the author note that Marsons had written two more books featuring the character, and bought them immediately.

Yes, the book was that good.

Oh all right, let me elaborate. Kim Stone is a loner who doesn’t like to form attachments. She is committed to her work and won’t rest till she solves a case. So far, so Wallander.

Kim has valid reasons that have turned her into a loner (the reader will discover them over the course of the first two books) but she is essentially kind, has an unexpected caring streak, is eminently knowledgeable about bikes (she drives a 1,400 cc Kawasaki Ninja and restores classic motorcycles in her spare time) and follows complicated recipes to cook inedible food. Despite all the skeletons in her past, she is neither addicted to alcohol nor drugs. She is a tough but fair boss. She also investigates crimes, especially sexual attacks, with utmost sensitivity (I am looking at you, the horrendous Linda, As In The Linda Murder).

In short, Kim is a complicated character. Though presented initially as a seemingly unsympathetic lead character, the reader unpeels the different layers that make the detective what she is as she tries very hard not to let her past cloud her judgement.

In Silent Scream, Kim and her team look for answers to two different sets of murders—one which happened in 2004, and the current murder spree. Marsons’ compassion as an author is obvious; and because she cares for her victims, so does her detective and, by extension, the reader.

There is also a definite politics to the writing—two of the books, in one way or another, deal with the working of a state with little resources to monitor its foster care or counselling systems, leading to children/readymade victims often being delivered right into the hands of the very people they should be kept away from.

The Kim Stone books have tight, well-written plots but, most importantly, there’s a lot of heart beneath the words. If you like your thrillers to come with a conscience, these books are for you.

Discovering Marsons also showed this reader that the best books aren’t always to be found between glossy covers.

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