Rush To Judgement by John Carson

Rush To Judgement by John Carson
Publisher: Vellum
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Fern

A woman is found hanging in the woods in a small Highland town. A hearse crashes into an old church and is abandoned. The police find a coffin inside but the body isn’t a recent death. It’s the badly decomposed body of a girl who went missing thirty years ago. DCI Harry McNeil is sent north to co-ordinate the hunt for a killer, along with colleagues from Glasgow. The town plays host to the annual Christmas Land festival, and this year marks the thirtieth anniversary. With the festivities in full swing, it seems that somebody wants to draw attention to the town for a different reason. With hundreds of tourists flocking to the area and only a few days left before Hogmanay, can Harry McNeil and Jimmy Dunbar capture a killer who is not only intent on bringing back the dead but adding fresh kills to his tally? They’re going to have to move fast. The clock is ticking and a New Year is fast approaching. Then everybody goes home. Including the killer…

DCI Harry McNeil and his new MIT team are called up north when a woman is found hanging in the woods of the small Highland town. With the forensics proving she was murdered it reopens old wounds as the victim was the only survivor of a strange set of deaths from a number of years ago. As they investigate further Harry and his team find a surprising number of other deaths all linked together – can they discover what’s really going on in this small rural town?

I definitely feel as if Carson is hitting his stride with this series. The police team have an enjoyable and friendly style and banter that helps keep the pace of the story feel like it’s moving at a decent clip. I also really enjoyed how while it’s clear the team are an excellent machine that works really well together – and have for a while now – there isn’t the feel of this big history, or a series of “in jokes” to make the reader feel lost or like they must go back and read previous novels in the series. This book stands well by itself and I feel readers new to this author and series can absolutely enjoy this story on its own merits.

This has the solid feel of a police procedural story – where following the evidence, questioning other residents of the small community and piecing together both what occurred in the past and connecting it to what’s currently happening in the present all mesh together really well I feel. I thought this book gave a good feeling of a solid plot, with enough characters to keep me guessing but not so convoluted I got lost or had to flip back and re-read sections again to get things straight in my head. I also enjoyed how while there was clearly character/personal progress particularly between Harry and Alex’s characters, it was woven in with the mystery plot and police work carefully enough that I felt the balance was just right.

With an interesting plot, a number of vibrant characters and a lighthearted banter between the cast this is an excellent book both as a standalone mystery and as an addition to the DCI Harry McNeil series.

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