Sycamore Gap by LJ Ross


Sycamore Gap by LJ Ross
Publisher: Dark Skies Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

The past never stays buried for long…

Detective Chief Inspector Ryan believes he has put his turbulent history behind him. Then, in the early hours of the summer solstice, the skeleton of a young woman is found inside the Roman Wall at Sycamore Gap. She has lain undiscovered for ten years and it is Ryan’s job to piece together her past.

Enquiry lines cross and merge as Ryan is forced to face his own demons and enter into a deadly game of cat and mouse with a killer who seems unstoppable.
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Murder and mystery are peppered with a sprinkling of romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunnit set amidst the spectacular scenery of Hadrian’s Wall country in Northumberland.

Life has settled into a comfortable and happy routine for DCI Ryan. He is living with his lady-love, his police work fulfills him and the events from six months ago are finally turning into memories. When an old murder site is discovered in the old Roman wall at Sycamore Gap though, events and connections from the past once more threaten to steal Ryan’s happiness for good.

I really enjoyed this story. For the most part this is an excellent British police procedural story with interesting characters and a slow but well plotted murder mystery. While I feel this book can be read as a stand alone there are a number of factors that link the present mystery plot with items from the first book (Holy Island) and even the events from DCI Ryan’s past that are deeply important to him and the work at large. So while I genuinely feel readers can pick this book up and enjoy it by itself, I also strongly feel a deeper understanding and enjoyment will be gained from having read the first story – and as this is the second in a much longer running series I am beginning to feel it likely is best to read these books in order to gain a full understanding of some of the longer-running plotlines.

That said, this is an excellent and well plotted story. There are a few different factors swirling around – the cult from the Holy Island series that was never fully resolved, the serial murderer who killed DCI Ryan’s sister whom Ryan incarcerated, the relationships between the small police squad and DCI Ryan’s solid but still-new relationship with Anna. Each of these components are exceptionally written and all interlinked together marvelously and I was particularly pleased that in this book I felt Anna and Ryan’s relationship felt far less stilted or forced. I felt the balance in this book was really well handled and even and the book sang because of it.

Readers looking for a fast paced or highly action orientated story probably wont be as satisfied as I was, this book is far more procedure and “discovering who done it” based rather than running around hunting the killer and bad guy. Personally, I wasn’t bothered by this at all and found the more character and process based story really interesting and well woven. I feel readers who enjoy a series with a longer-term story arc as well as a mystery/case for each individual book should find this story and series as a whole really fits their needs.

An excellent book with good balance I am really pleased I’ve given this series a chance and am looking forward to reading more in the future.

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