Bamburgh by LJ Ross

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


When a cantankerous old woman dies at her home in the sleepy, picturesque village of Bamburgh, DCI Ryan doesn’t think much of it—except, that is, for the small matter of it having been his wife who happened to find her body. Then another body turns up amongst the sand dunes at the base of the mighty castle fortress, and he decides it can’t be a coincidence…

Meanwhile, after a recent revelation about her sister, DC Melanie Yates’ quest to avenge her death is becoming an obsession—much to the concern of those around her. With a new DCS to contend with and hundreds of cold case files to sift through, the chances of uncovering a dormant killer seem unlikely. But as Melanie delves deeper into the secrets of the past to uncover the truth, she soon realises it lies much closer to home…

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

For the first time in fifteen years since the murder of her twin sister, DC Melanie Yates has concrete evidence the monster she has searched for is not only still active, but remains nearby. Determined to eke out her revenge, Melanie is not deterred when she is sidelined from the investigation. Meanwhile DCI Ryan and his team are kept busy not just with the hunt for this murderer, but also discover an old woman dead in her home near the sleepy township of Bamburgh. They wouldn’t have thought much of it, except they had all met the lady shortly before her death at a masquerade ball at the castle, and DCI Ryan’s wife was the one to discover her body. Can the team work these two cases in tandem and find justice before it’s too late?

I found this to be a well balanced and interesting story. While the series is quite long, I feel readers should certainly be able to pick this book up with very little history and still enjoy the two murder mysteries contained inside. Though I do admit I found it far more emotional and deeper for having known the complexities tying all the main characters together and their histories.

I have to be honest and I was quite disappointed with a number of Melanie’s decisions in this book. Despite multiple conversations with her team-mates and her partner, Melanie consciously decided to chose a path not just of revenge but also of taking actions where the future ramifications were quite dire. I can fully sympathise with Melanie’s character, and I can even comprehend how in the moment she wasn’t thinking about the future or where her actions were going to lead. But I really struggled to feel empathy when a number of her choices were entirely selfish and destructive to her loved ones and Melanie recognized this – but chose to keep going anyway. I really disliked how Melanie put her personal need for revenge above the safety and emotional wellbeing of her supposed life-partner and the love and friendship of her nearest and dearest. I’m not sure I can forgive her character for acting like this.

To be fair, this absolutely made the plot more interesting, and made the danger lurking much stronger and a more conflicted and interesting read. Indeed, this overshadowed pretty much everything else in the book for me, personally – this massive metaphorical bomb going off in the character’s lives and relationships overshadowed most of the rest of the book for me. It made gripping reading and was very well written. I also have to admit that much of this plot – and its seriousness – would have sailed right past me had I not known and understood the histories between all the characters. I do feel the book and its main plots would have still been quite enjoyable as a read had I picked this up with no prior history, but for sure the depth would not have been there without that prior knowledge.

An enjoyable read – and quite explosive for fans, I expect – this is a well written police procedural with a good murder mystery, a small but delightfully layered cast of characters and a series I plan to continue to enjoy more of.

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