Review of Holy Island by L.J. Ross (DCI Ryan #1) – 5 Stars

Holy Island (DCI Ryan Mysteries, #1)Holy Island by L.J. Ross

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I stumbled across this book by chance when it showed up rather cheaply on a Kindle titles sale and the outline sounded quirky and I must say I am very pleased with the find.

This is actually the first of the DCI Ryan detective mysteries series by L.J Ross and it starts the series off with a bang – especially the ending, great job on keeping us readers hooked for the next one in the series. I do think the writing in general was very good, not overly police procedural, plenty of characters to set it up for a series but not too many that you can’t figure out who is who, enough of an intriguing back story about the characters that I suspect may come back to haunt them at a later date. A very strong start to the series.

The plot mainly includes two interlinked storylines/character viewpoints. DCI Ryan has taken a sabbatical from his police duties after a traumatic experience during a murder investigation and temporarily moves to Lindisfarne. After several weeks of calm enjoying the peaceful island, his sabbatical is disrupted when the body of a young woman is found murdered at the priory. The murder looks staged with cult underlying’s and soon more murders in the small island follow. The murderer is smart, leaving very few clues and cleaning the sites so that the investigating team struggles to narrow it down. In the meantime, questioning becomes more and more difficult as the Islanders try to protect their own from outside police interference.

In the second storyline, we follow former local girl Anna who travels back to the island as an informant on the occult. When one of her own family members turns out to be the next murder victim Anna is removed from the case but fearing for her safety and his new-found feelings for her DCI Ryan insists she move into his small cottage that is doubling as police base on the island.

The storylines are very sharp, intricate and clever, but the book itself is not as dark as you would expect for a murder mystery, certainly, there is actually very little gore allowing you to sit back and enjoy the storyline.

I think Ross has done a great job, leaving plenty of room for the characters evolving, in this novel you really feel sorry for Ryan; his mental trauma from his past and how he is suffering trying to suppress those feelings to deal with the new case. I actually finished this book a little while ago but the story and characters still feel very vivid and I think that is a sign of how well the story has been told.

One of the real big highlights for me was the locations. I loved the rugged windswept island and it’s close knit community. The one pub that you need to visit to find out what is going on. Unless you want to risk speaking to the gossipy landlady of the local b&b. All great places and very easy to visualize.

For those that haven’t discovered the DCI Ryan collection, I would suggest these novels are quite similarly written to something like Elly Griffiths (Ruth Galloway Series – also very good if you haven’t read that). It is crime but not really dark gritty like rebus or anything, also not a Miss Marple cosy crime, something in the middle.

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Review of With Deadly Intent by K.A. Richardson – 4 Stars

I was very lucky to discover this author at a local writers talk at

KA Richardson - Book Signing

Image of K.A. Richardson with her debut novel and novella.

my library. Her passionate for her story-telling came across immediately. Not to mention the fact that she has actually worked in the local crime units described in the book, so her credentials for crime drama are superb. I knew immediately that I had to read her novels and I was not disappointed.

 

This story follows three characters:

  • Cass a crime scene manager for the North East police force, who along with some awful murders has her own personal traumas to deal with. Shutting herself off from the world and creating her own isolation comes with some very big risks.
  • Alex, DCI on the murder investigation. Alex grows increasingly frustrated with the case and lack of sufficient evidence linking the victims. Alex also finds a conflict of emotions when he discovers he has feelings for the slightly odd, very private Cass.
  • The Killer. The author allows brief looks into the killer’s world and his patient observational hunt, prior to the murders.

I enjoyed the authors writing style in this novel, especially the dialogue it is very well written and doesn’t rely on heavy accents as some stories do to represent regional areas.

My only slight (and it is slight) complaint was the introduction of Alex’s brother, it felt unnecessary to introduce the character at a late stage, it was maybe to get out of the tricky situation or to introduce him for any future novels but for me it didn’t quite sit right for some reason. That being said it didn’t detract too much from the rest of the story which is very fluid and very enjoyable.

Readers of any crime novel will really enjoy these books. The use of a crime scene manager gives this novel a really unique perspective, which makes it stand out in the genre. The closest in author style that I have read is Karin Slaughters Grant County series (medical examiner with a police officer) but it’s quite nice to come across something different written like that (with a slant on the police team).4 stars

Summary – A very enjoyable read, and a fresh take in the crime genre. I am looking forward to reading more from this exciting new author.

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Short Story Writing Opportunity – North of England

Hi Guys, spotted this and thought you might like to give it a go 🙂

OPPORTUNITY – Writers from the North of England – North East, North West, Yorkshire and Humberside

Submit a short story of up to 5,000 words.

 The Clare Swift Short Story Award

This exciting new award worth £1,000 has been created by friends and family of Clare Swift. It will be given to the best short story submitted. The award will be judged by journalist and former editor of the Independent on Sunday and New Statesman Peter Wilby. It is supported by the North East Chamber of Commerce working with Northumbria University.

Links:

http://www.northernwritersawards.com/apply-the-clare-swift-short-story-award-details-68.html

http://www.northernwritersawards.com/clients/c4ca4238a0b923820dcc509a6f75849b/Clare%20Swift%20Short%20Story%20Award.pdf