Grimm Up North by David J. Gatward


Grimm Up North by David J. Gatward
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Edinburgh has Rebus.
The Highlands have Logan.
Now Yorkshire has Grimm.

Welcome to Wensleydale, where the cheese is famous, the scenery beautiful, and the locals have murder on their minds …

Detective Chief Inspector Harry Grimm is forced to take leave from Bristol’s Major Investigations Team when his boss, tired of Harry chasing the ghost of his murderous father, sends him north on secondment.
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Used to city life and high stress, Harry fears his life will now be spent handing out speeding tickets, finding lost sheep, and directing tourists. But when a local teenager runs away, Harry finds himself pulled into an investigation much worse than anyone could have ever expected.

The nicer the place, the darker the secrets. Wensleydale is beautiful, everyone is friendly and welcoming, and people just don’t get murdered … do they? A classic fish-out-of-water crime mystery set in the stunning and evocative scenery of Wensleydale in North Yorkshire.

DCI Harry Grimm is frustrated but not overly surprised when his boss sends him up north to the countryside for secondment – far away from the Bristol Major Investigations team and life as he knows it – after he refuses to let go of the past and chasing elusive justice against his murderous father. Only life in the countryside isn’t as quiet or idyllic as Harry expects when a local teenager goes missing, and all too soon a body is found, murdered.

I absolutely adored this book. I was expecting just another “city cop goes unwillingly to the country” and instead found an amazingly well balanced and gripping story. While Harry is an excellent character, I found it particularly pleasing that he’s surrounded by a bunch of well written and equally interesting secondary characters. Harry’s brother Ben (and the obviously complicated, unresolved history there) and the various members of the small police station in Wensleydale – Jim in particular – weren’t just cookie cutter or slapped into the story to show Harry in a good light or be cardboard cutouts to further the plot. It’s clear to me the author put an immense amount of thought, plan and detail into these characters and I found them as interesting and gripping as I did Harry. This was refreshing to me and really helped me become fully immersed into Harry’s world.

I was also impressed that while on the surface the plot is incredibly simple – city cop goes to the country and realizes murder and mayhem happens everywhere – this book is so much more complicated and rich than that. The various interactions with the different police characters with the locals and the different pace and setting of small-town life. And while the problems might superficially appear easier they’re no less dangerous or significant to those who are effected. Add in a murder mystery and what I personally found was a fantastic tone and style of writing and I’d purchased the second book in the series before I’d made it half way through this story. I found it gripping, engrossing and wonderfully written.

I found it impressive the author also managed to clearly show that Harry has his own demons, along with a complicated relationship with his brother and I feel there is the over-arching plot-line of their father. While that part of the storyline wasn’t neatly wrapped up I felt the author did an exceptional job of making it clear this was a background and long-term personal goal/story-line and didn’t make it feel as if this particular book had dangling threads left or wasn’t finished to a satisfactory degree. I’m eager to start the next book and see not just how Harry continues to adjust to his new situation and how he relates to the many friends and characters – but also what progress is made on his more personal story-line.

With an interesting mystery – but far more importantly a wonderful set of characters and a new perspective – this was a magnificent story and one I greatly enjoyed. I will absolutely be reading the next installment soon.

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