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.

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