Sticks And Stones by John Carson

Sticks And Stones by John Carson
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

A horrific murder. A stunning abduction. Can he open an old case to prevent another grisly death?
Edinburgh DCI Harry McNeil isn’t easily intimidated. But after years investigating crooked cops, a promotion heading up a Major Investigation Team will put his reputation on the line. And he’s starting to sweat when the daughter of a rich and powerful family vanishes from the honeymoon suite in a Scottish Highlands castle…

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Can McNeil bring the butcher to justice before the celebration turns into a mass funeral?

I was pleasantly surprised by this Scottish mystery novel. Not as dark and gritty as some UK crime/mystery novels can be I nevertheless found the tone of the book to be similar to many other British crime novels. With a small number of main characters that I could easily keep a handle on this helped me feel pretty quickly like I knew the characters and the energy between DCI Harry McNeil and his work partner DC Alex Marshall. I was really pleased that – for me at least – the banter and friendliness between Harry and Alex didn’t seem to have an undertow of romance or chemistry. I feel for now at least their professional, working relationship was a good blend of boss and co-worker and the two of them being genuine friends. I’m not sure I’d want Harry or Alex to muddy that with sex or complications between them.

Indeed, for the most part I found this a refreshing, enjoyable Scottish mystery with a good – albeit slowly moving – plot. Readers looking for an action based, fast-paced mystery might find this one moves a bit slower than they’d prefer. Personally I was pleased to find since this was the first book in a series a decent amount of time was spent showing me Harry, Alex and the other main characters and setting the scene of the crime. A good portion of the start of the book was spent with the missing bride, the wedding guests and searching the massive grounds for clues and trying to piece together what had occurred. I was left a little bewildered, since I couldn’t seem to slot the prologue into what was occurring in the main part of the book, but I was really pleased with how everything wrapped up neatly, and a little over half way through the story there were a few plot-twists that I found particularly satisfying and felt really helped both move the plot along and give the book a taste of individualism which made me pleased I’d kept on with it.

Readers looking for an enjoyable, not too gritty mystery with good characters and a solid – though at times slow-ish – plot should really enjoy this book. I found it easy to stick with the book since the characters and writing style really appealed to me and especially around the half way mark when things started to really come together I was pretty chuffed that I’d stuck with it. I enjoyed this book enough I’ve ordered the second in the series and I might even look into the author’s other works since I really did enjoy his writing style and tone.

A good, enjoyable and interesting mystery book and a new-to-me author I’ll happily read again.

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