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.

Fall From Grace by John Carson


Fall From Grace by John Carson
Publisher: Vellum
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Fern

A mythical man known as Nightmare, haunted young children for years. Until he became real. DCI Harry McNeil knows the legend all too well. Growing up in the Highlands, Nightmare was on his and every other child’s mind as they went to sleep. Then, Nightmare claimed his first victim. A young girl, found dead in an abandoned cemetery with the words, I am Nightmare, carved into her chest. Two more victims, the same words carved into them. Then Nightmare disappears. Now, years later, there have been reports of graffiti being sprayed around Inverness and on graves in old cemeteries. Is Nightmare back? The question is on the lips of residents who are starting to feel uneasy. Initially dismissed as a prank, things start to get all too real. A Glasgow couple are talking to their adult daughter on Zoom. She is a reporter for an online magazine and is in the Highlands reporting on Nightmare. She is being chased through the woods. The couple don’t know if their daughter is spooked or if somebody is really chasing her. The call is cut and they call the police. The next morning, her body is found in a cemetery. I am Nightmare is carved into her chest. Harry McNeil is sent to the Highlands with a team from Glasgow. Their job is to hunt down a killer who once only existed in fevered minds. Once again, he’s all too real. I am Nightmare. Catch me if you can…

DCI Harry McNeil returns up to the Highlands when a sudden rush of murdered women appears in the cemetery with “I am Nightmare” carved into their chests. Has the old Boogeyman really returned or is something even more sinister afoot?

I have been reading this series for quite some time and still continue to enjoy the easy, smooth voice these stories have but also the banter and connection the group of characters have together. There is now a decent sized core group, both with Harry’s Edinburgh team and the equivalent Glasgow team so frequently joining in to work the cases together. The larger size of the main group of characters leads me to suggest that for a full appreciation of this (and the other) novels readers should have read at least a few prior books in this series. Absolutely read them all and from the start as each of these books are great, but with such a decent sized cast I feel readers won’t get a full appreciation of the storyline and importance of the case without at least some prior knowledge of the characters and the setup.

I also feel it important to note (without spoilers) that there is a major character death in this book. For the most part I feel this death was well handled and to some degree I could see it coming throughout the story. If I’m being really picky, I felt the final quarter or so of the book felt a little rushed to me – but that very likely could have been due to the fact a number of critical things happened in a short space of time and I read the last of the book all in one sitting. This might have made me feel everything was a bit rushed as there was quite a sense of urgency and the plot cumulating and no real fault of the author or story itself.

I admit I am very interested in how the next book (or next few books) progress, and how Harry deals with the major character death. I was surprised that a number of loose ends from the previous books were fairly neatly wrapped up and I definitely appreciated how the author handled the somewhat convoluted plotline and managed to draw a number of various parts together for this book. I also feel a re-read of the story will help a number of these parts to solidify well and I could see this being one of those books where a few re-reads give greater clarification and picking up of missed items.

Overall, I found this to be a very well plotted, decently paced murder mystery. There is a good amount of character ribaldry and interaction which I really enjoyed and a solid and properly complex plot which both add great weight and enjoyment to the book in my opinion. While I don’t feel readers should start with this book the series overall is quite excellent and is well with the time and money investment. I am eager to see what happens next and will absolutely be continuing with the next in the series.

Against The Clock by John Carson


Against The Clock by John Carson
Publisher: Vellum
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

The body of a teenager is found near Portobello Beach in Edinburgh, wrapped in plastic. She went missing five years ago but it’s obvious she only died recently. Inside the plastic is the dress she was wearing when reported missing. Where has she been kept and why has she been killed now?

The dead girl’s abduction mirrors that of two young girls who have gone missing in the past two weeks. DCI Harry McNeil is assigned the case with the help of two colleagues from Glasgow, who have discovered the body of a young girl in an abandoned leisure park. Now an eight-year-old girl is snatched from the beach. Is it connected to the other two older girls who have gone missing?

As the detectives follow the clues, they know they’re dealing with somebody who is not only a deranged killer but who will disappear with his victims. Just like he did five years ago. Harry and the others are pulling out all the stops to find the girls, but all of them know, they’re running against the clock…

When two teenaged girls are found dead – one in Edinburgh and one in Glasgow they are very quickly identified as two of three young girls who went missing within days of each other five years ago. DCI Harry McNeil and a number of his colleagues quickly work together to try and find both where the third girl might be but also re-investigate the original kidnappings.

This is a fast paced and enjoyable Scottish police procedural style of book. I have been enjoying this series and while the plot and mystery can definitely be read alone, I feel readers will gain far more enjoyment from the many characters if they have read at least a few of the previous books to understand the various interactions and relationships.

I was a little disappointed this time around to find Alex’s character pretty annoying. I fully understand her situation and that she’s not quite herself – but equally I feel the jealousy and slightly petty behavior she showed Harry in particular was a bit beneath her. While I feel some readers may think this makes Alex more relatable and human, I personally found it a bit annoying and was pleased when she reverted somewhat back to the character I’m used to.

There is a bunch of Scottish antics and swearing from the various characters – quite a decent sized cast of them too – so readers who are somewhat new to the series might find it a bit of a juggle to keep it all in hand. I admit I really enjoyed this part of the story – the ribald interactions and clear friendship and connections between the group of men. To my surprise, I actually even somewhat liked DSup Calvin Stewart, though I expect he was purposely written as a bit of a git and rude character. He was certainly memorable regardless of whether you liked him or not and while personally I enjoyed him – I’d understand if he’s not every reader’s cup of tea. He is certainly a different and unique kind of character.

With a solid mystery plot and a wide range of variable characters I found this to be a fun romp of a story with plenty of swearing and police work. I’m greatly enjoying the series and am eager for more.

Life Extinct by John Carson


Life Extinct by John Carson
Publisher: Vellum
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Doctor Angela Monroe is found dead at the foot of Salisbury Crags on Arthur’s Seat. An avid runner, it first appears that she fell to her death.

Until the pathologist deems it murder.

It’s the night of the summer solstice and people have been celebrating on the famous dormant volcano.

DCI Sean Bracken and his team are called in to lead the investigation.

Monroe was a well-respected professor, lecturing at a local university, who had no known enemies and was a private person who kept to herself.

Was this a random attack? As they dig deeper into her background, nothing makes sense. But somebody wanted her dead, and when the killer strikes again, it takes the team into a whole new direction.

Meantime, Bracken’s girlfriend is being stalked…by a dead man. Logic says it can’t be him, but who would want to harm her? She enlists the help of Bracken, who knows all too well that dead men don’t stalk…

DCI Sean Bracken is enjoying where he’s at with his life. His work and family relationships are all fairly stable and happy, his growing relationship with his girlfriend Chaz is moving steadily but well and he’s even comfortable still staying in the guest house with a retired detective as his landlord. Only an odd death draws Sean’s idyllic summer to a close on the solstice and Chaz appears to have a stalker – a man who she met a number of years ago through her work in the mortuary – a man who is very dead.

I’ve read a number of John Carson’s books and enjoy both his DCI Harry McNeil series as well as his DCI Sean Bracken series. While I have frequently found the Bracken series to be a bit grittier and harder than the McNeil series, I still thoroughly enjoyed this story. I was very pleased that Bracken’s romantic relationship with Chaz is slowly gaining momentum and they each seem to be steadily getting more series about each other. I also enjoyed how the author spent a little more time showing us the reader more of Sean and Chaz together in their personal time and not glossing over the somewhat new relationship. This helped me see them both and understand that this isn’t some quick fling but has the potential to be long term and serious between them.

I was pleased with the balance between Sean’s work as a homicide detective and his looking into the more personal investigation of who was stalking Chaz. I enjoyed this extra layer into their private life and seeing them work together outside their professional career and I enjoyed this. I definitely feel that while readers who have been following along with this series will find a lot of satisfaction in seeing this extra layer to the characters we’ve read about for a while – this book can easily be picked up by itself and readers can thoroughly enjoy this story even if they haven’t read anything previously in this series.

A strong Scottish police procedural style of novel, this is a strong read and one I enjoyed. I thought there is a good amount of character growth and an easy and steady interaction between the main characters, but it’s also a very strong police investigation-based mystery and I feel this should appeal to a wide range of readers.

Crossing Over by John Carson


Crossing Over by John Carson
Publisher: Vellum
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 star
Reviewed by Fern

A woman is found dead, brutally murdered, her death made to look like an accident. DCI Sean Bracken is called in and discovers that the young woman has a very powerful father. Was somebody trying to get back at him or has the woman’s secrets finally caught up with her? Bracken also has to deal with the mysterious arson attack on his boss’s house. And a name from the past resurfaces, a name that Bracken thought was dead and buried. He is walking a tightrope with these cases and not everybody wants him to succeed. But he’s never backed down from a challenge in his life, and this is no different. With his hands full, Bracken is getting pulled in different directions. But he’s more than capable of dealing with a problem head on. As somebody is about to find out…

At first the death of a young woman looks like an accident, but DCI Bracken and his team quickly discover that she was brutally murdered. With a powerful father determined to find answers and the recent arson of Bracken’s boss’ house all putting pressure on the team they each have plenty on their plate. Can they all find the answers they seek?

This is the third novel revolving around DCI Bracken and I am really enjoying this slightly harder, edgier series. All three books have occurred in a very short timeframe (approximately a month of time for Bracken) and so while I wouldn’t classify this as a serial novel, it definitely has a bit of that feel, with events from the previous book somewhat overlapping this story. I feel the author did an excellent job explaining everything without massive pages of info-dumping – I do feel readers who pick this story up by itself won’t feel lost and will be easily able to follow along, but at the same time I can’t help but feel that reading the series in order will give fans a far deeper and better enjoyment of the story, characters and the situation they’ve found themselves in.

The plot is really well handled to my mind. There are a number of moving parts – both with the murder investigation and also the arson and a few tendrils of other sub-plots dangling from the previous two books – and so I found this gives the storyline a good pace without being too crazy. While there is still a bit of banter and lightheartedness between the character interactions, I thought that unlike this author’s Harry McNeil series there is a bit of a grittier, harder feel to the world and story as a whole. Personally, I really enjoyed this – but fans who are expecting a lighthearted, even slightly comedic feel might find this doesn’t meet their expectations.

With some good plots and twisting for them to intertwine I thought this was a well written and solidly paced story that I thoroughly enjoyed. I’ll absolutely be reading more in this series. Recommended.

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.

Restless Dead by David J Gatward


Restless Dead by David J Gatward
Publisher: Vellum
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

His latest case has him chasing ghosts. But the murderer is flesh-and-blood hiding in the ashes…

DCI Harry Grimm is on the cusp of a stunning decision. Considering making his move to the scenic Yorkshire Dales permanent, he ends up reviewing details of a terrible car accident that killed a retired colonel’s beloved wife. But when the panicked widower calls the police claiming the deceased woman’s spirit is haunting him, the dedicated detective wades in to piece together a less implausible explanation.

With suspicions running high after a cabin on the property burns down, Grimm and his team are shocked to identify the scorched human remains that leave behind a twice-grieving family. And when he uncovers evidence the fire wasn’t simple misfortune, the no-nonsense investigator is certain the culprit is more than a ghastly ghoul…

Can he nab the phantom killer before they vanish into thin air?

DCI Harry Grimm is settling in well to life in the Dales, both the small police force he’s working with and the friendly community. When a road accident tragically kills a woman Harry and his team are drawn into the strange goings on at Black Moss House – which the community whisper tales about, believing it was – and maybe still is – haunted. With the additional stress of a herd of valuable sheep being stolen by a seemingly well-established gang there is plenty going on for Harry and his team.

I really enjoyed this book, an excellent addition to the DCI Harry Grimm series. While the book can be read by itself, I feel readers will definitely get much more out of it having read the previous books in the series. The sheep/animal rustling plot in particular had been started in previous book and the lingering sub-plot of Harry, his brother and their father has been going on in the background for a few books now. The main plot – that of the car accident and death – along with how the family cope with their grief and the strange goings on at their home can certainly be read by itself and I feel the reader can easily enough follow along with the two plots intertwining in this story, so readers shouldn’t be too put off by it being the middle book in a series.

The slower pace and the freshness of the small-town feel and close community really was a pleasure to read, and I enjoyed how the small police force all had easily differentiated characters who were well drawn. I found them engaging and easily got sucked back into this authors world.

Readers who enjoy a solid mystery with interesting characters and a small-town feel should definitely enjoy this book, though I would recommend going back to the start of the series and enjoying each of these works. Recommended.

Think Twice by John Carson


Think Twice by John Carson
Publisher: Vellum
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

As the end of the year draws to a close, Detective Chief Inspector Sean Bracken is called to a murder scene near the Writer’s Museum. The body of a woman is sitting on a bench in the square, her frozen hand holding a paperback.

The book is by famous American professor of psychology and crime writer, Edwin Hawk. Who has just ended a book tour, culminating in Edinburgh.

Hawk doesn’t know her and thinks she may be just a fan of his.

Knowing he is the number one suspect, he sets out to convince Bracken of his innocence. But Bracken has dealt with people like Hawk before. Is the man telling the truth or using psychology to get away with murder?

Bracken discovers the real reason the professor is still in Edinburgh, and it’s not for Hogmanay. And when he discovers the secrets he’s been keeping, not only could his own life be in danger, but those around him.

Bracken will have to deal with not only a vicious killer but somebody who doesn’t like to lose. But Bracken has played these games before, and one of them has to lose.

And for the loser, life will never be the same again.

DCI Sean Bracken has been back in Edinburgh for only a few weeks and already he’s drawn into another murder investigation. A woman is murdered and left holding a book – the author of whom she was a strong fan of and had been to a small soiree for just hours before her death. The more DCI Bracken investigates the deeper and more complicated the mystery – and everyone’s motives – become.

This is the second book featuring Sean Bracken and I really enjoyed it. I’m a big fan of this author’s DCI Harry McNeil’s books but while the tone of the author’s voice is similar in a “more-ish” manner I was really pleased that the actual feel and structure of the story was quite different for this series. Sean Bracken is a fair bit harder and grittier than Harry McNeil and there’s a noticeable amount of more force and swearing in this series. The whole feel to the story rather than a fun romp through a police investigation is a lot harder and sharper. Readers who enjoy the darker edge many British based stories tend to lean towards should really enjoy this series and this book in particular.

I strongly feel readers can pick this book up as a standalone. The entire events of the first book were all crammed into a little over one week of story timeline – so quite a bit of explanation and background/character history was parceled out in this story. This should help keep fresh readers completely aware of what’s going on and the plot itself is very well written and completely contained in this book.

With a small cast of vibrant characters and a solid plot that kept me turning the pages and guessing well into the story this was a good book and an exceptional new series I plan to thoroughly enjoy.

Return To Evil by John Carson


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

A woman is found in a local cemetery, crushed to death under a gravestone. A production company is there, filming the remake of a classic sci-fi TV show in the grounds, making the investigation more difficult for DCI Harry McNeil. It’s his first day in charge of the cold case unit in Edinburgh. After spending four years in Professional Standards, he has little choice but to take the promotion. The Crown Office decides which cold cases should be reviewed, and this time, they’ve decided the murder of a teenage girl from twenty years ago should be re-opened. A girl who was murdered by somebody pushing a gravestone on top of her… The case gets more complicated when they find out who the latest victim is. Suddenly there are no shortage of suspects. As the filming continues, so does the killing. And McNeil wonders, has a killer been murdering for twenty years? Or is this case completely unconnected? With Frank Miller’s help, he’s going to find out…the hard way…

DCI Harry has just transferred out of Professional Standards and into the Cold Case unit. With a short period under his mentor to ease the transition for both Harry and the other officers no one expected them to suddenly pick up such a large and active case. Someone has murdered a woman in the cemetery in an identical manner to the killing of a pregnant teenage girl twenty years ago. With a film crew also currently inhabiting the cemetery shooting for a TV show there are any number of complications as Harry and his new team try to piece everything together.

I found this to be a fun and well-paced story. While this book was written after Sticks and Stones (the first in the DCI Harry McNeil series) the setting in the fictional world is shortly before Sticks and Stones – being Harry’s first case after leaving Professional Standards. It is still quite modern though and I found it was quite easy to read it out of chronological order.

There are a number of other cast members, including DCI Frank Miller who is featured in another of Carson’s series. At times I wondered if maybe there were too many secondary characters, but I feel Carson handled this quite well and I thought the story was better for having the somewhat larger size to its cast.

The mystery plot was very interesting and captured my attention pretty much from the beginning. This is a very well written police procedural style of story and Carson has an excellent writing style – the “voice” of which I really enjoy and personally I feel it flows very well and is easy to get sucked into the characters and stories. I greatly enjoy this series and am always happy to read more when each book is completed. This book – despite it being chronologically moving backwards – is no different.

A strong and well written police procedural style murder mystery book that I really enjoyed; I’ll definitely be purchasing more of Mr. Carson’s works.

Point Of No Return by John Carson


Point Of No Return by John Carson
Publisher: Vellum
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

An old mystery solved after thirty-five years. And a new one just beginning…Millionaire Murdo Wolf took off in a small plane from the island where he lived, and neither he nor the plane was ever seen again. Until now. The Wolf family have gathered on the island they used to call home. They’re celebrating the life of their father, Oliver Wolf, who died six months ago. Now, one of Oliver’s sons has been murdered. And when his body is discovered, so is the body of his grandfather. Did the son know where his grandfather was hidden? Did he die because of it? DCI Harry McNeil is sent to the island to investigate the cold case and track down a killer who may or may not still be there. Helping with the investigation are two detectives from Glasgow, DCI Jimmy Dunbar and DS Robbie Evans. This isn’t an open-and-shut case and they discover the killer is still lurking on the island, and the body count is increasing. But with no clear motive and no direct links to the patriarch going missing all those years ago, this is going to be one of the hardest cases Harry has ever worked on.

I found this to be an excellent addition to the DCI Harry McNeil Scottish mystery series. With a small cast of long-standing characters and an interesting murder mystery plot this book was a solid addition. Best of all while I do feel readers who have read some of the previous installments will get a deeper understanding from the book, the characters and setting is well-laid and explained fully enough that readers should feel comfortable picking this up and reading it as a stand-alone.

I greatly enjoyed the “closed room” aspect to the mystery plot. The murder occurs on a small Scottish island – off the Isle of Mull – with a limited number of local inhabitants and the members of a wealthy family who have gathered for the patriarch’s funeral service. This lent the whole book the air of an older style who-did-it sort of mystery with a limited number of people who could possibly have committed the crime – with the rich family members right at the top of the list.

Indeed, I strongly feel the characters and their interactions are what make this story so wonderful to read. The author does a really good job to my mind of writing the Scottish police characters in a realistic and relatable manner, without being too cliched or over-the-top. I found the main characters to be particularly vivid and enjoyable, their camaraderie and clearly solid relationships were really well handled and made the reading quick and pleasurable for me. While the other characters and suspects were also very well drawn I was pleased a large part of the story focused on the police investigation and interactions. This might make the plot feel a little slow moving for some readers – those used to high-octane and strongly action orientated novels – but personally I enjoyed the deeper characterizations and slightly slower pace.

Readers who enjoy closed room murder mysteries – or smaller town settings like, say Agatha Christie or more plot and character centric novels with a little less action and adrenaline, should find this book really fits the bill. I found the mystery to be interesting and well handled, though admit there is an equal – if not slightly greater – focus on the main characters and their interactions and investigation. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and look forward to the next in the series. Recommended.