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.

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