The Infirmary by LJ Ross

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

No man is an island…​

In the stifling summer heat of 2014, a killer has been stalking the streets of Newcastle causing city-wide panic. When the officer in charge of the case turns up dead, it falls upon Detective Chief Inspector Ryan to take up the baton and find the person responsible.​

To the close-knit team of police in Northumbria CID, Ryan is still an outsider; aloof and uncompromising. He’s lived a charmed life and has an unbroken track record to match. But, as The Hacker’s death toll rises, Ryan realises this is one adversary he’ll never bring to justice on his own… ​

Murder and mystery are peppered with dark humour in this fast-paced crime thriller, set amidst the iconic North-Eastern landscape.

In the summer of 2014, a killer has been stalking the streets in Newcastle. The officer in charge of this growing case is found dead, and DCI Ryan is put in charge. Still fairly new, he hasn’t yet become solid friends with the close-knit group and as the death toll rises, the members of the team realise they need to work together, or all will be lost.

I was a little surprised to find that this, the 11th book in the DCI Ryan series (the spine of the book clearly states it’s book #11) was actually a prequel. I’m very pleased this is quite clearly shown as a prequel on the title/cover page because I’m not convinced that the opening chapter being set in 2014 would have been enough for me to cotton on immediately and I very well might have been confused for a while otherwise. DCI Ryan and his team have been through a number of cases and history together and so I expect a certain level of friendliness, connectedness and the weight of that history between them all. As this is a prequel the tone and rapport between them all – while still present – is definitely different to my mind, and had I not realized before starting that this was going back in time, that could have been very jarring.

I have to admit though, it was interesting to turn back the clock for a bit and see some of those very early relationship building experiences between the team members. In particular I found it wonderful – though admittedly bittersweet – to see Ryan interacting with his sister. A cornerstone of the series as a whole was how life – and career – changing the death of Ryan’s sister was in this exact case. So, seeing the before and after, watching the events actually unfold even knowing exactly where it would end up was lovely – though at times quite emotionally difficult to read.

I believe as long as readers know clearly and up front that this is a prequel – in fact “the” story of the Hacker and Ryan catching the serial killer who ended up killing his sister – this should be an excellent addition to the series for fans. I could understand some readers will find it jarring to mid-way through the series go back before the beginning and find that a bit hard to wrap their heads around – but overall, I think most readers should really enjoy this. I found this to be a well-paced police procedural style of story with a gripping plot and even though readers who have followed this series will know all the main points and know exactly who the bad guy is and how this ends up, I don’t feel that detracts from the book in the slightest. Highly enjoyable.

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