The most violent thunderstorm in living memory occurs above a sleepy village on the West Coast of Scotland.
A young couple take shelter in the woods, never to be seen again…
DCI Jack Russell is brought in to investigate. Nearing retirement, he agrees to undertake one last case, which he believes can be solved as a matter of routine.
But what Jack discovers in the forest leads him to the conclusion that he is following in the footsteps of a psychopath who is just getting started. Jack is flung headlong into a race against time to prevent the evolution of a serial killer…
I was tempted into this book by a new online book club, The Pigeonhole . I‘d not tried an online book club before, and this one comes with a free app and a number of reading choices.
I chose A Murder of Crows and this was a free book – free for the first defined number of people to sign up, which was delivered in staves over 11 days, with each stave disappearing before the next one arrived.
The site/app also allows readers to make and share comments on the book online as well as having additional content such as an author’s Q&A. In addition the author himself would sometimes reply to comments, so altogether an interesting experience.
So, to the book itself. I enjoyed it.
Set in a small village on Scotland’s West Coast, D.C.I. Jack Russell is the dogged (sic) detective. Nearing retirement, he and his partner, Colin Clements are at serious odds. Colin and his wife have spent years working for Colin’s advancement in the police force and he has begun to feel that it is way past time that Jack retired and stopped him from graduating to the limelight he craves. He’s sour and envious and he and Jack are constantly sniping at each other.
One evening there is a massive flash flooding storm and a young couple – a newly pregnant Caroline and her boyfriend Alistair are caught up in the storm and after running to take shelter in the woods, separated. Alistair was brought up in the village and was taking Caroline to meet his mother for the first time.
What neither of them knows is that Caroline’s previous boyfriend, Matthew, who also comes from the village, has followed them.
So when Alistair disappears and Caroline cannot be found, there are a number of suspects who fall quite naturally into the police’s orbit.
In the village Alice Smith, an elderly woman, is suffering from dementia and has frequent fugue states. Her fragile memory keeps grasping at flashback memories – elements that she knows are relevant to what is happening round about her, but she can never quite pin them down.
Meanwhile Jerome, a local farmer and his son Scott are also at loggerheads. Will the father’s harshness and cruelty drive Scott away for ever?
When blood is found on a potential weapon, Jack puts himself in the firing line to solve this crime.
The setting is rich and atmospheric, and there is a good suspenseful tension in the book. Well plotted and with enough threads to keep you busy wondering where the evil truly lies, this is a very good debut from Ian Skewis.
It could flow a little better, but I think that’s an editing issue.
Overall, an enjoyable read and I would certainly read his next one.
A Murder of Crows was published by Unbound Digital on 27 March 2017