New Release Book Review: The Promised Land by Barry Maitland

The Promised Land…

About the Book:

Brock and Kolla return in an enthralling new mystery from a master of the genre.

Newly promoted Detective Chief Inspector Kathy Kolla investigates a series of brutal murders on Hampstead Heath. Under intense pressure to find answers, she arrests the unlikely figure of John Pettigrew, a failing London publisher who lives alone on the edge of the Heath.

Pettigrew’s lawyer calls on recently retired David Brock for advice, and soon, unable to resist the pull of investigation, the old colleagues, Brock and Kolla, are at loggerheads.

At the heart of the gripping mystery of the Hampstead murders lies a manuscript of an unknown novel by one of the greatest literary figures of the twentieth century. Brock believes that its story will unlock the puzzle, but how?

My Thoughts:

‘Psychopaths don’t reform, Kathy. It’s innate. All we can do is try to teach them about consequences.’

As far as crime novels go, this one is top shelf. The Promised Land is more in line with the police procedural side of crime fiction, which honestly suits me perfectly. I have little patience for the domestic noir thrillers that are currently saturating the market. The Promised Land is the 13th title in Barry Maitland’s bestselling Brock and Kolla Series, but it’s the first one I’ve read and I really don’t think coming into the series this late affected my appreciation of it. Maitland is a skilled writer and he sets this novel up in a way that can be read as a standalone while still adding enough of the serial elements to keep ongoing fans happy. A tricky balance but he nails it.

Kolla is recently promoted while Brock is recently retired, yet a call for help from the other side of justice, the defence, sees Brock jumping right back into law enforcement without hesitation. ‘Once a detective always a detective’ is the mindset here. Unfortunately for Brock, he becomes more entangled in the case at hand than he could have ever envisaged. Given that Kolla is the lead detective on the case, she shouldn’t really be helping to disentangle him, but she can’t help picking at the threads of coincidence and motive. I really enjoyed the dynamic between these two former partners, and I think this is a series I wouldn’t mind diving into. Finding out a bit more of their background appeals, and while not essential to enjoying this novel, the strong character development really pulled me in. All the while I was reading, I could really see this series playing out on the screen, it has that gritty police drama feel to it that is entirely unique to UK TV.

In terms of plot, The Promised Land delivers on several fronts. It keeps you guessing with the mystery, the case in hand spinning out into something much more complex and chilling than I could have possibly imagined. And then there’s the police investigation. I have to say, if the policing represented in this novel is in any way at all reflective of real life, then it really is luck and chance at times that the correct person is arrested for the crime. And too bad if you’re actually in the wrong place at the wrong time. I have to wonder if solving the case is driven by actually solving it or more by closing it, because a closed case is a very different beast to a solved one.

I do admire authors of crime fiction. It can’t be easy coming up with plots that haven’t been done before while also weaving a web of deceit that shocks and thrills in equal measure. Barry Maitland has crafted a clever mix of police drama, mystery, and psychological thriller with The Promised Land. It’s a novel that has wide appeal, to both avid readers of crime and occasional dabblers like myself.


Thanks is extended to Allen and Unwin for providing me with a copy of The Promised Land for review.

About the Author:

Barry Maitland was born in Scotland and brought up in London. After studying architecture at Cambridge, he practised and taught in the UK before moving to Australia where he was Professor of Architecture at the University of Newcastle. He has since retired from the university to pursue his writing. Maitland’s first mystery The Marx Sisters was a nominee for the John Creasey award for Best First Novel and The Malcontenta won the Ned Kelly Award for Best Crime Fiction. Bright Air, Maitland’s first crime novel set in Australia, was published in 2008.

The Promised Land
Published by Allen and Unwin
Released January 2019

5 thoughts on “New Release Book Review: The Promised Land by Barry Maitland

  1. Pingback: #BookBingo – Round 4 | Theresa Smith Writes

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