Blood Trail by David J. Gatward

Blood Trail by David J. Gatward
Publisher: Weirdstone Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

A gruesome tradition, a blood-spattered crime scene, and a killer hiding in plain sight.

Detective Harry Grimm is a worried man. When a group of vigilante locals start patrolling the Dales in response to a recent spate of crimes, he is forced to warn them off. Things only get more complicated when he is called out to multiple crime scenes – each with plenty of blood but no bodies.

Very soon, though, body parts start turning up. Delivered in a way that echoes a local poem and an old-but-grisly village ceremony. Faced with the bloody evidence in front of him, Grimm soon realises that his worst fears have come true: someone has already taken the law into their own hands.

With an ancient tradition being used to commit modern-day murder, can this battle-scarred detective stop the lanes of the Dales running red with blood?

A group of locals from the Dales have formed a group, patrolling their farms and streets, determined to eke out their own brand of justice after a string of local petty crimes. DCI Harry Grimm is very worried, not just because of the increase in crime, but he’s seen how very quickly – and violently – such well-meaning assistance can spiral out of hand. Soon, a few crimes scenes are drenched in blood – but where are the bodies? When pieces begin to turn up, Harry knows that he needs to solve this and fast.

I’ve been really enjoying this series and found this book to be an excellent addition. Well into the Harry Grimm series I feel readers will get a fuller understanding if they have read at least a few of the previous books – but that’s not strictly necessary as the main characters and certainly the plot and mystery are very well explained and well contained within this story. Much of the links and camaraderie between particularly Harry’s team and the forensic technicians, however, come from the previous cases and the characters all working together and sharing so much history.

One of the things I really like with this series is just how relatable and “normal” the crimes and plotlines are. This isn’t some organized crime or street gang style deeply convoluted mystery plot. It’s a bunch of local – fairly normal – people being somewhat hot headed and misled. I felt this was a very relatable plot and something most readers should be able to associate with. Equally, I liked how none of the main characters are perfect, Matt is over-tired from being a new father, Harry has a bit of a temper, Rebecca is going stir-crazy on sick leave and jumps the gun getting back to work – they are not picture-perfect characters who never put a foot wrong. I feel this really helps not only keep my interest, but also lets me feel like the characters are more human.

Readers looking for a thoroughly enjoyable police procedural style of murder mystery set in the Dales countryside should find this (and all the other books in this series) a strong and lovely read.

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