Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch


Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

BODY AND SOUL

The song. That’s what London constable and sorcerer’s apprentice Peter Grant first notices when he examines the corpse of Cyrus Wilkins, part-time jazz drummer and full-time accountant, who dropped dead of a heart attack while playing a gig at Soho’s 606 Club. The notes of the old jazz standard are rising from the body—a sure sign that something about the man’s death was not at all natural but instead supernatural.

Body and soul—they’re also what Peter will risk as he investigates a pattern of similar deaths in and around Soho. With the help of his superior officer, Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, the last registered wizard in England, and the assistance of beautiful jazz aficionado Simone Fitzwilliam, Peter will uncover a deadly magical menace—one that leads right to his own doorstep and to the squandered promise of a young jazz musician: a talented trumpet player named Richard “Lord” Grant—otherwise known as Peter’s dear old dad.

PC Peter Grant is back, and I really enjoyed this second book in the Rivers of London series. This book picks up pretty much where the first book finished, but I was really pleased to find it stood rather well by itself. The remaining ramifications from the first book – like PC Grant’s friend and fellow police officer, Lesley, physical recovery as well as PC Grant’s governor Thomas Nightingale recovering from being shot – are all quite clearly explained without dragging the book down nor leaving the reader too mystified about what was going on. Indeed, for much of the first half of this book Grant is actually following along with two seemingly separate cases. It’s a bonus that the author manages to slowly and very subtly begin to link them, and I was impressed I wondered before the characters did if they were, in fact, related. So that made me feel pretty good about myself.

I also really enjoy how while there is a very strong paranormal aspect throughout the entire book, it’s not too overladen on the actual storyline. It’s still very much a modern London book, with regular people and plenty of “normal” stuff – there just happens to be magic and other paranormal beings out there below the surface. I found this realism really well handled and personally I felt it really added to the book and my enjoyment of it.

I feel both mystery readers and paranormal readers should feel there is strong enough writing to appeal to both genres – and only purists who dislike anything other than their chosen genre might not enjoy this well written and well-paced storyline. I also really appreciated the author has a “chatty” kind of style – instead of a gritty or stilted type of tone to the telling of his story it feels like two friends catching up on the latest action in their lives over a strong cup of tea. This writing style greatly appeals to me – it’s light enough to not bog me down or depress me over the harder aspects of the plots, but it’s catchy and interesting enough to keep me eagerly turning the pages. I really enjoyed it.

With a small but thoroughly enjoyable cast of characters, two excellent plots that were woven together with great skill and a bunch of mystery and paranormal aspects to the plot I feel this should appeal to a wide range of readers. A great book and I’m eager for the next in the series.

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.

Death Sentence by Damien Boyd


Death Sentence by Damien Boyd
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Fern

The body of an elderly man is found in an abandoned World War Two pillbox beside the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal. With no obvious motive and no credible suspect, DI Nick Dixon starts digging into the victim’s past.

The more he digs, the deeper Dixon is drawn into a case that takes him from the cave systems beneath rural Somerset to the heart of government, and threatens to expose a military cover-up at the highest level.

Blocked by a wall of silence, Dixon must unravel a dangerous conspiracy before the killer strikes again.

When the body of a Veteran is found in a World War Two pillbox DI Nick Dixon at first struggles to find any kind of motive that makes sense. But as he and his team peel back the layers the military cover-up and resounding silence that meets them leads Dixon into very dangerous territory.

I have been enjoying this series and really enjoyed this newest addition. I was very pleased that the author kept a series of strong and believable links between what happened in the past and how it was relevant and still effecting people in the present – I feel this kept the book from dwelling too hard on the history and kept it modern and far more relatable.

I also really appreciated how – tempting though it might have been for the author – the story didn’t have many flashbacks to the past. This also really helped me feel like the story was centered and rooted in the present and I was very happy with this. One slight critique would be that there is a short opening scene at the start of the book set in some underground caves and while I thoroughly enjoyed this scene is it not referenced or linked in any way to the rest of the book until well after the halfway mark of the story. Indeed, around the halfway mark I went back to that opening scene and reread it to make sure I hadn’t missed anything as I could not see at all how it related to the rest of the book. It felt like an incredibly long time to not know how it fit in and I really wonder if it needed to be the opening scene – well written and attention grabbing as it was – or if it would have been better served later on in the story.

That said I really enjoyed this British police procedural style of story. I definitely feel readers can pick it up and enjoy it even though it’s part of a series. While some of the secondary characters feel a little thin – more of a support than a standout character – DI Dixon and the main characters are strongly written, and I found thoroughly enjoyable.

An excellent book. Recommended.

The Way It Is Now by Garry Disher


The Way It Is Now by Garry Disher
Publisher: The Text Publishing Company
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Fern

Set in a beach-shack town an hour from Melbourne, The Way It Is Now tells the story of a burnt-out cop named Charlie Deravin.

Charlie is living in his family’s holiday house, on forced leave since he made a mess of things at work.

Things have never been easy for Charlie. Twenty years earlier his mother went missing in the area, believed murdered. His father has always been the main suspect, though her body was never found.

Until now: the foundations are being dug for a new house on a vacant block. The skeletal remains of a child and an adult are found—and Charlie’s past comes crashing in on him.

Twenty years ago, Charlie Deravin’s mother went missing. His family was already in the middle of a divorce with clear lines drawn in the sand, yet this shattered what remained of the relationships between himself, his brother and his father. Now, on an enforced sabbatical from his own work in the Police force, Charlie has moved back into their old beach shack and had endless time on his hands and the threads of the past have come calling once again.

I really enjoy most of Garry Disher’s works – and am a huge fan of his Wyatt series. A strong Australian mystery writer I’ve seen him reviewed as “Rural Noir” and have to agree with this assessment. Disher writes exceptional mysteries – often set within small coastal Australian towns or the more rural outer reaches of civilization. I thoroughly enjoyed this stand-alone story and found it captivating almost from the first page. With a definite coastal/beachy feel and a good blend of rural and city life this book was really well balanced to my mind.

I enjoyed Charlie’s character, burnt out and mature enough to be relatable and realistic yet not gritty enough to be off-putting or depressing, I found myself enthralled. There were two very strong and well written plotlines – Charlie’s career and association with the Police, and Charlie slowly unpicking the events of the past that led to his mother’s disappearance. I strongly feel each aspect was well handled and both were given a good amount of attention so neither plot felt like it had been tacked on or not given proper attention.

Readers looking for a light or “happy” style of story probably won’t find themselves satisfied. While not dark or overly gritty I felt this book was definitely leaning more to the noir/harder side of mystery rather than a cozy or lighter piece. That said I in no way found this to be dark or true noir – this isn’t some moody or depressing mystery, but a really good balance between reality (the timeline goes until late February 2020 when Covid really began to get its grips in Australia) while maintaining an air of hopefulness. This is definitely Australian enough that while the plot is fully resolved there are – as there often is in British and Australian stories – a slight question mark left at the end as to which direction, exactly, our protagonist is going to take now the mystery is resolved.

I absolutely enjoyed this story and will be re-reading it again in the near future. It goes onto my keeper shelf, and I am very excited for what Disher might have in store for readers next. Recommended.

Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths


Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths
Publisher: Quercus
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Forensic archeologist Ruth Galloway investigates a heart-stopping case: an old university friend and fellow archeologist murdered in an arson attack.

When Ruth Galloway learns that her old university friend Dan Golding has died in a house fire, she is shocked and saddened. But when she receives a letter that Dan had written just before he died, her sadness turns to suspicion. The letter tells of a great archaeological discovery, but Dan also says that he is scared for his life.

Was Dan’s death linked to his find? The only clue is his mention of the Raven King, an ancient name for King Arthur. When she arrives in Lancashire, Ruth discovers that the bones reveal a shocking fact about King Arthur—and that the bones have mysteriously vanished.

The case draws in DCI Nelson, determined to protect Ruth and their eighteen-month-old daughter, Kate. But someone is willing to kill to keep the bones a secret, and it is beginning to look as if no one is safe.

Dr Ruth Galloway heads north when an old University buddy gets in contact with her. Wanting Ruth’s expertise in bones and with her sterling reputation in forensic archaeology Ruth is compelled to go searching the answers when her friend is unexpectedly murdered. Ruth and Nelson once again cross paths as Nelson has returned home with his wife for a short summer break to visit each of their families and his ties with the local police remain as strong as ever.

I found this an interesting and enjoyable archaeology-based murder mystery. While the entire book is solidly set in the present, I did love how the author managed to make so much of the history feel equally modern but still factual and historically accurate. I greatly enjoyed the characters – though readers who have enjoyed previous books in this series should be warned that Nelson, his wife, Ruth, Kate and Cathbad are really the only main characters that have significant amounts of time in the book. I did enjoy getting an update on Judy though – that helped tie this book in with the recent events in the few previous books.

Readers should know I feel this book can definitely stand exceptionally well on its own. I feel a lot of my emotional investment in the characters comes from having read the previous installments – but the plot absolutely is self-contained in this story and there aren’t too many ties threading this book with the others. I feel readers should be able to easily pick this book up with no prior knowledge and thoroughly enjoy it.

I thought the mystery was solid and well-paced. While it is definitely a mystery novel there is a lot of history and archaeology as well in this story. Personally, I feel it was very well balanced and made for a lay person to read quite easily. I found it enjoyable and very readable having no real experience or knowledge about British history and/or archaeology. I found it really interesting and the plotlines themselves very well woven.

A fun and enjoyable read, I’m looking forward to more books in this series.

The Well Of Hell by Greig Beck


The Well Of Hell by Greig Beck
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Action/Adventure, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

In the forbidden deserts of Yemen, a structure has been found – a buried pyramid – thousands of years older than anything previously known. And indications are, it was buried on purpose.

What is discovered inside could prove that we’re not alone in the universe. And terrifyingly, after 7000 years, there is a biological obscenity that remains, not yet dead.

Ancient writing suggests the pyramid’s builders have been taking humans for reasons that will tear at all sanity, and when evidence is found that in remote corners of the world people are still disappearing, the HAWCs are called to action.

In a final battle across two worlds – with the fate of the planet at stake – Alex Hunter and his team will be pushed to their very limits as they confront a horrifying and deadly army.

A buried pyramid has been found in the secret deserts of Yemen – one that appears to be thousands of years older than those of the Egyptians. Ancient writings appear to discuss how beings not from here crafted mind-destroying objects and all too soon various factions around the world are all converging for a fight no one truly understands. Alex Hunter and his team are right in the thick of it – but will this be a fight they can win?

This is an excellent story that ranges over quite a number of different genres and I feel should appeal to a very wide range of readers. There is plenty of action/adventure and an Army/military thrust to a lot of the plotline – especially in the second half of the book where the proverbial excrement hits the fan. There is also quite a healthy dose of science and archaeology related around the monsters and their pyramids and that side to the story, so readers who like those sorts of adventures should also be deeply satisfied. Finally, there is quite a bit of paranormal and Lovecraft kind of things going bump in the night and forces far greater than we mere humans at work. So roll all of that together, add in some tech gizmos and gear and a bunch of excellent characters and it all works together into one fantastic ride of a book.

While this is the tenth book featuring Alex Hunter, I don’t feel you need to have read all of them to follow along in this adventure. Readers who really dislike landing halfway through a series might find there’s a bit of background they need to catch up to on the fly – but as long as the general idea is grasped this actual story is fairly well contained in itself and I found it quite easy to pick up and follow along when I haven’t read the last few books in this series for quite some time. I feel this story might be better appreciated with some prior knowledge of the key players and main points – but for sure it can be picked up by itself and still greatly enjoyed.

Overall, I found this to be an exceptionally plotted story with a number of different and well-woven-together parts. There are a few longer-term story arcs I was happy to catch up on and clearly there’s a general direction where these wider ranging parts to the story is heading. This book can stand well on its own and has a wonderfully fresh plotline with enough realism to it to be just this side of scary because it’s so very believable. A great read and an author I can strongly recommend.

Longstone by LJ Ross


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

Between the devil and the deep blue sea…

Viking treasure is discovered beneath the icy waters of the North Sea and local historian Doctor Anna Taylor is called in to help catalogue the most exciting hoard in living memory. But when a shipwreck diver washes up dead, she’s soon out of her depth. Luckily, she knows just the person to call…

When DCI Ryan arrives at the picturesque fishing town of Seahouses, he’s faced with an impenetrable wall of secrets and lies. As he juggles marine archaeology and the cutthroat world of shipwreck diving, another murder blows the case wide open. To uncover the truth, Ryan must delve deeper into the hearts of those around him to find what lies beneath…

Murder and mystery are peppered with romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunnit set amidst the spectacular Northumbrian landscape.

After years of searching, a university professor contacts Dr Anna Taylor-Ryan, excited beyond belief he’d found an intact Viking ship and treasure beyond belief. Agreeing to meet the following morning, Anna is shocked to discover her colleague drowned mysteriously overnight. DCI Ryan is called in to investigate, but the small coastal town has plenty of secrets and no one appears eager to divulge any of them.

I have been enjoying this series and while this – the tenth book – is not blindingly new or breaking new ground, it has all the hallmarks of a really good British police procedural storyline and a gripping who-done-it murder mystery plot. Given the small, coastal town and the limited number of potential murderer’s readers could be forgiven for thinking the mystery element might be a bit lacking – but I was delighted to find that assumption couldn’t be more wrong. While superficially the motive for murder is clear cut, I was pleased that DCI Ryan’s investigation uncovers a complicated web of interlocking parts, and the entire plot was shown to be delightfully complex.

Readers who have enjoyed the previous stories might be a little bummed that a number of the regular main characters – particularly other members of DCI Ryan’s team – are very much on the periphery of this investigation until about halfway through the book. I thought this was a double-edged sword for the book. On the one hand I really enjoyed the fact this plot and mystery very much stood properly by itself – an exceptional and well contained story that could be picked up, read and thoroughly enjoyed by anyone even had they not read a single previous book. That is always a very bright spot in a series and an excellent way to draw new readers in who otherwise might not be keen to start a series mid-way through. That said, I spent most of the first half of the book struggling not to skim ahead to see how some of the characters – particularly Jack – pulled up after the events of the last two books. While this will easily make a re-read of the book later far more enjoyable, I do feel it was a bit of a shame the author left it so late into the book to answer those questions left dangling from the previous two books.

I greatly enjoyed seeing plenty of Anna and Ryan though and was pleased to see such a self-contained plotline back in England. The mystery itself was quite interesting and there were enough subplots, red herrings and other goings-on in the small town that kept me invested and eagerly turning the pages. I feel this would be a good book for readers new to this author and series to dip into – virtually no pre-existing knowledge of the characters, world or set up is needed to properly and thoroughly enjoy this story.

An interesting read for those who enjoy British police procedural style murder mysteries.

Final Warning by John Carson


Final Warning by John Carson
Publisher: Vellum
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

A detective on his way out. A pathologist already out the door. And a killer up for the challenge.

Detective Superintendent Calvin Stewart is on his final warning after messing up a crime scene in Glasgow. He’s never been one for desk duty and he’s not going to start now.

Finbar O’Toole is a pathologist and is at the crime scene where Stewart disgraces himself. There’s no love lost between the two men.

A violent incident takes place and Finbar steps in to save Stewart, and then the two men get talking.

A bond is formed as they set about tracking down a killer who’s been amongst them all this time – and nobody is even aware.

Finding roadblocks at every turn, they put their own lives on the line as they search for the truth and hunt down a killer who won’t let anybody stand in their way. Not even them.

Detective Superintendent Calvin Stewart has always been a man to walk his own path. When he’s put on desk duty – possibly for good – he has no intention of being forced to toe the line at this stage of his life. There’s no love lost between Stewart and local pathologist Finbar O’Toole but after an altercation at the pub the two men find themselves reluctantly talking and finding some common ground. Then when Finbar admits he strongly believes what was assumed to be a natural death due to a heart attack is the latest in a series of murders Calvin and Finbar team up to do what they both do best – find answers and hope for justice.

This is the first book in a new spin-off series for Carson and I really enjoyed it. Readers should be aware there is plenty of banter between the characters – and a lot of it is bawdy and not necessarily PC. Personally, I have thoroughly enjoyed Calvin Stewart’s character in the Harry McNeil series and am pretty excited to see him have his own series hopefully starting up now. I wouldn’t quite say Stewart is an anti-hero, but I don’t feel he will suit every reader’s tastes. He absolutely walks his own path and has no problems being rude – and crude – when he feels it warranted. He’s not your average hero and I can see why he’s somewhat of a polarizing character. Speaking personally, I enjoy him and find this a great read, but I can understand that this won’t be to everyone’s tastes.

As this is the first book in the series there’s a bit of set-up at the start of the book, properly introducing Calvin’s character and the team he works with, and the events that lead to him being desk-bound etc. I felt the pace moved along at a decent clip, but there is more banter than police work for much of this stage and while I completely understand how the situation needs to be explained this start to the book isn’t heavily involved in the eventual mystery and police procedure. Once Finbar and Calvin begin to talk and the mystery around the women’s death is divulged things move much more quickly and a lot more of the investigation work begins. And I definitely feel this is where Calvin – and Finbar – both shine.

Readers who enjoy Carson’s other novels should find this one similar enough in tone that they will enjoy picking this up as well. I personally am a big fan and am eager for the release of the second novel. Readers who are new to Carson’s work should find this a fun, fairly light and definitely blokey book full of banter and shenanigans. There is plenty of mystery and police procedure in it, but enough light and heart that readers should find it a fun and easy book to read with enough characters and interest to keep the pages eagerly turning. A fun book I absolutely enjoyed.

Old Bones by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child


Old Bones by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
Publisher: Head Of Zeus Ltd
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Nora Kelly, a young curator at the Santa Fe Institute of Archaeology, is approached by historian Clive Benton with a once-in-a-lifetime proposal: to lead a team in search of the so-called “Lost Camp” of the tragic Donner Party. This was a group of pioneers who earned a terrible place in American history when they became snow-bound in the California mountains in 1847, their fate unknown until the first skeletonized survivors stumbled out of the wilderness, raving about starvation, murder-and cannibalism.

Benton tells Kelly he has stumbled upon an amazing find: the long-sought diary of one of the victims, which has an enigmatic description of the Lost Camp. Nora agrees to lead an expedition to locate and excavate it-to reveal its long-buried secrets.

Once in the mountains, however, they learn that discovering the camp is only the first step in a mounting journey of fear. For as they uncover old bones, they expose the real truth of what happened, one that is far more shocking and bizarre than mere cannibalism. And when those ancient horrors lead to present-day violence on a grand scale, rookie FBI agent Corrie Swanson is assigned the case…only to find that her first investigation might very well be her last.

Corrie Swanson is a newly minted Special Agent. Eager to move forward from re-visiting cold cases, she is undeterred when her first case is the murder of a low-level criminal hired to dig up a long-interred grave. Corrie finds a number of circumstantial links to other similar cases and a tenuous link to one common ancestor – Albert Parkin. Parkin was one of those who died on the infamous Donner Party and Dr. Nora Kelly has just begun a search and excavation of the Lost Camp, the third and final resting place of that long ago Party. Past and present collide as Nora and Corrie discover long-buried secrets.

I have been a huge Preston & Child fan for many years, but I really especially enjoyed this book. I have a particular soft spot for Corrie’s character and she’s hands down one of my favourites. I also really enjoy Nora and am pretty much guaranteed to read anything related to these two – together or apart. That said I feel this is the perfect entry-way book for a number of reasons. Readers who have never read anything by Preston & Child can easily pick this up and enjoy it. This is the first book featuring Nora and Corrie and thus has no real connotation of back story or previous installments. The book very carefully explains how both Nora and Corrie end up at the same place – the Lost Camp of the Donner Party – and what they’re looking for. This is easily a book that can be picked up just by itself and thoroughly enjoyed on its own merits.

I loved the plotline – two seemingly separate stories that slowly wind together until it’s clear they’re both a part of the same whole. And I really enjoyed how both Nora and Corrie were two quite different characters and each coming from different positions yet could try to find some common ground and learn to respect each other. The whole story – both their characters and the plotlines – felt natural and well woven, and most importantly of all enjoyable. Add in there were a bunch of elements that just always make a good story – hidden gold, the history behind a failed journey, cannibalism and archaeology along with modern day grave robbing and murder. What on earth is not to like?

This is a fun book which I found to be a lovely blend of mystery, adventure and high stakes this is an exceptional book and well worth the time. I can’t wait for the next one.

Dead Level by Damien Boyd


Dead Level by Damien Boyd
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

In the early hours of Christmas Eve, the wife of parliamentary candidate Tom Perry is brutally murdered in an apparent burglary gone wrong.

With the by-election campaign about to start in earnest, and the festive season in full swing, torrential rain brings with it flood warnings on the Somerset Levels.

Suspended on full pay and transferred to the cold case unit, Detective Inspector Nick Dixon is languishing on the sidelines as the investigation into Elizabeth Perry’s murder unravels and the floodwaters rise.

Returning to duty, Dixon is convinced that the answer lies hidden in Tom Perry’s political life, but why was Elizabeth the target and not her husband? The more Dixon uncovers, the further he is from finding the truth…

DI Nick Dixon is suspended on full pay while a disciplinary action is investigated against him. Working temporarily in the cold case unit he’s grateful just to be kept busy. But when a local parliamentary candidate’s wife is murdered DI Dixon soon finds himself back in action and investigating quite a murky case.

This next installment of the Nick Dixon mystery series is a far longer book than the previous offerings. I enjoyed the fact the plot was equally a fair bit more convoluted and there were a few more moving parts than I recall there being in the previous books. I was surprised that for much of the first quarter or so of the story Nick was suspended and so it was his girlfriend and colleague Jane, and another DI, Janice, who worked the main murder mystery case. While I did enjoy this very different aspect to the story, I wondered a few times what other readers might think of the focus of the story being very much not on Nick as the main character, but very much sitting idly by and not really involved at all.

I was also a bit surprised that Nick’s cold case really took a back seat once he was reinstated and immediately took over the murder of the politician’s wife. At no stage did I think Nick had forgotten about it or that he wouldn’t return to it, but there was a large section of the book where it clearly wasn’t his focus and while I understood this it also didn’t feel very good to me.

That said, I thoroughly enjoyed this strong police procedural story. I enjoyed seeing a few more characters and actually hope to see more of the other DI Janice in later books. The pace of this story is fairly slow – readers looking for a heavily action orientated style of novel won’t find that here – but for more classic British style who-dun-it and police mystery novels should really find this a well written and exceptionally well plotted story. I was also pretty happy that the book stood very well on its own. I don’t believe any of the prior novels in this series need to be read to really enjoy this book.

An interesting and well plotted murder mystery, this is a great book, and I am eager to read the next.