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The Killer on the Wall by Emma Kavanagh

April 20, 2017

The first body comes as a shock

The second brings horror

The third signals the beginning of a nightmare

When fifteen-year-old Isla Bell finds three bodies propped against Hadrian’s Wall, her whole world falls apart. In such a close-knit community, everyone knows the victims, and the man who did it.

Twenty years on and Isla has dedicated her life to forensic psychology; studying the brains of serial killers, and even coming face to face with the convicted murderer who turned her world upside down. She is safe after all, with him behind bars.

Then another body appears against the Wall.

And another.

As the nightmare returns and the body count rises, everyone in town is a suspect.

Who is the Killer on the Wall?

I thought this was a great book. Set in the small rural village of Briganton, the kind of place where everyone knows everyone and 20 years after you have moved into the village, you are still an incomer. The backdrop is Hadrian’s Wall – a lasting reminder of Northumberland’s tempestuous and rich history.

Set against this unspoilt wilderness and the moor where you can walk for miles without seeing a soul, the tranquility of this beautiful countryside is abruptly ruptured.

‘It began with the bodies….’ – such a great opening line. Isla Bell’s life was shaped the day that, aged 15, she discovered three bodies artfully posed against the wall. Running home for her dear life, she chants to herself that her father can fix this; he can handle the death and devastation that this event will wreak on the small village community.

20 years and 6 dead bodies later, Isla is working as a forensic psychologist, spending her days studying brains and mapping in particular the brains of psychopaths. Driven by the need to understand what makes a psychopath and why they kill. One in particular has a special significance for Isla and she is drawn to interrogate his brain more closely than any of the others

Her father, Eric Bell, is basking in the glory of having captured the serial killer, Heath McGowan and has been cock of the walk in the village and surrounding area since then.

Then out of the blue, the killings start again. Posed in the same way; carrying every sign of the first series, police are baffled as to whether this is a copycat or was there an accomplice who was never found?

As the body count rises, and police struggle to work out whether there is a connection between any of the victims, Briganton again is under the shadow of a merciless serial killer.

This is Emma Kavanagh at her best. The writing is richly atmospheric, the tension is palpable and the characterisation excellent. With such a small cast of characters, there are sufficient red herrings to keep you guessing, but even if you do spot the perpetrator, the quality of the tension that Kavanagh creates, alongside the taut prose and excellent plotting, create a book that is highly enjoyable and not a little scary.

Thoroughly recommended.

 

The Killer on the Wall is published by Arrow on April 20th 2017

The Killer on the Wall

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