Cragside by LJ Ross

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

Are you afraid of the dark..?

After his climactic battle with notorious serial killer The Hacker, DCI Ryan is spending the summer with his fiancée within the grounds of Cragside, a spectacular Bavarian-style mansion surrounded by acres of woodland. When they are invited to attend the staff summer party – a Victorian murder mystery evening – it’s all a joke until the lights go out and an elderly man is found dead. It looks like an unfortunate accident but, as the dead man’s life begins to unfold, Ryan and his team of detectives realise that all is not as it appears.

When a second body is found, terror grips the close-knit community and Ryan must uncover the killer who walks among them, before they strike again…

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

DCI Ryan and his fiancée have been spending the summer on the grounds of Cragside – a Bavarian style mansion. They both attend the annual staff summer party only for one of the guests to die in what at first appears an accident toward the end of the night. It soon becomes apparent though that this isn’t a tragic accident and there is far more to the victim – and others at Cragside – than anyone first believed.

This is the sixth book in the series around DCI Ryan and his team and I’m pleased to still be enjoying this series. In some respects, I feel like this book can be read by itself. The murder mystery as the feel a little an old school Agatha Christie style “closed house” mystery and as such there’s a whole slew of characters and suspects who have only been present at the party and so no prior knowledge is needed and there is no link to any of the previous books. So, from that perspective the mystery aspect to the book is easily stand alone and anyone can pick this book up and enjoy it.

That said, for the other members of Ryan’s team who are called in to help the investigation, there is a quite a bit of recent history that needs to be unpacked. Ryan’s partner is under a bit of a shadow after an enforced sabbatical and another member of the team – MacKenzie – is still recovering after having been kidnapped and tortured. In addition to that there is a young new member of the team who is trying to find her place and fit in with the others, and an old superior officer from Ryan’s past who has suddenly reappeared on the scene again. So, there is quite a bit going on under the surface of the murder mystery and while I definitely feel readers can easily work out what’s going on, I equally can’t help but feel a lot of the emotional connection and empathy with the characters situation mainly stems from having read some of the previous books and knowing exactly what the characters are recovering from.

I definitely feel readers looking for an interesting “closed house” style of murder mystery should be easily able to pick this book up. The plot can be read and easily enjoyed by itself. Readers who are after more of a long-term investment in the team dynamic and various characters and their growth should likely investigate starting earlier in the series than this book. There is definitely the feel that the working and personal relationships for the team members are becoming equally important than the various cases this team investigate. While I’m pleased the various plots help keep the books interesting and the police procedural aspects are excellent, the emotional investment in the main characters is given just as much eight and importance as these books progress.

A strong mystery book, this is a good series I am really enjoying.

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