The techniques and dilemmas of investigative journalism and the horrendous workings of the underground surrogacy industry are utterly convincing, but Watt is also an expert at ratcheting up the suspense, with a highlight an eerie chase through a wrecked cruise liner. A superbly crafted sequel in what one hopes will become a long-running series.
Watt travelled to Bangladesh before writing the book and she deploys her research with skill. Dhaka, where “green tuk-tuks slipped through impossible gaps, forcing their way past with shouts and squawks”, the Rohingya camps, the rotting hulks of beached ships are vividly and evocatively drawn. The air of menace, subtle at first, is steadily ramped up as Casey and her colleagues are drawn deeper into the criminal underworld.
a message discovered in an item of high street clothing – “they take the girls” – leads investigative journalist Casey Benedict to Bangladesh on the trail of illegal “baby factories”. Teenagers kidnapped from refugee camps are forced to become surrogates for wealthy westerners, who will go to any lengths for a baby including condoning the commodification of some of the most vulnerable women on the planet...
Very well researched – the author is an investigative journalist – with plenty of action and lots of suspense, The Dead Line is hard-hitting, authentic and, sadly, very relevant indeed.
Investigative reporter Casey Benedict first appeared in Holly Watt’s debut To the Lions, which won her the Crime Writers’ Association’s Ian Fleming Steel Dagger. Now she’s back in The Dead Line, which sees her team looking into the discovery of a desperate message sewn into clothes manufactured for the British high street: “They take the babies for the women.” ... Casey is fierce, obsessive and brilliant. Watt, herself an investigative journalist, provides a daunting insight into what the job entails – “ordered to override, day after day, the human instinct to be polite, to not intrude, to avert one’s eyes so civilly” – as Casey blackmails and tricks her way to the truth.