Source: Netgalley Review copy
Publication: 30 November 2018 from Bookouture
Detective Beth Young has just joined the Cumbrian major crimes team when a body is found posed in a ritualistic manner – arms spread and graceful wings attached – at a crumbling castle in the hills of the Lake District.
The entire police force are on red alert. But Beth begins to feel she’s the only one who can follow the disturbing clues left by the twisted killer. Because she doesn’t think like everyone else. To Beth, crimes are puzzles she can solve. Even if real life is a little harder.
As more bodies are discovered in derelict stately homes across the Lake District, she knows she’s in a race against time.
But the killer is looking for another victim to add to his collection… Will Beth be able to save her? Or will he get there first?
Graham Smith is an author I have heard a great deal about,but had never read any of his books. So when I saw that he had a new series coming out, I thought this would be the perfect place to start. I do love the beginning of a new series, as you start to get to know the characters, find out about the protagonist and their strengths and weaknesses and begin to understand something about them. The layers that these characters have start to settle in your mind and before you know it you are hooked.
I have a strong feeling that Beth Young will become a firm favourite.
By now it’s no secret that I like my crimes to be dark and sinister and if they make huge ripples in their own worlds, so much the better.Beth Young’s first case is a cracker and a wonderful start to an excellent new series.
D.C. Beth Young has transferred from CID to the Cumbrian Force Major Investigation Team. Reporting to DS Thompson and Head of the FMIT, DI Zoe O’Dowd, she is keen to make a good impression. Her skill lies in her ability to look at a case from all angles and see what others can’t – to discover patterns or links in cases that are not immediately obvious. An intuitive thinker, she’s ambitious, but not forceful.
Beth’s first challenge comes in her very first week with her new team. Emily Welton is getting married in a grand country house hotel when she stumbles across a hideously disfigured body Angus in the grounds of a decaying once grand country mansion .
Clearly staged and displayed the bride has the presence of mind to call on her cousin, a policeman, to call in the police while she tries to put the scene to the back of her mind and get married to the man of her dreams.
Beth’s backstory is one that she carries with her. She has facial scars from an incident in a pub when she was younger when she was younger and this sometimes makes her quite defensive. She’s not immediately impressed by DS Thompson who straight away calls her ‘Young Beth’ which gets right under her skin.
The other principal member of the team is Unthank Hewson. Hewson and O’Dowd don’t seem to get on, yet Beth quite quickly comes to realise that he can see what an asset she could be to the team. This is a unit that doesn’t quite gel, yet which needs to work closely together if the crimes are going to be solved.
It isn’t long before more grotesquely displayed bodies are found in dilapidated stately homes across the Lake District and Beth’s powers of observation and lateral thinking will have to be at the forefront if this case is to be solved before anyone else dies.
This is a fast paced novel where the gruesome finds do not seem to offer up any obvious clues. Throughout the novel, we hear from the unnamed voices of two men who seem to play a part in these gory and unpleasant deaths – but who are they and is one the murderer?
In a race against time, Beth will be up against a deadly, twisted killer and my heart was in my mouth as I got caught up in this deadly game of cat and mouse. Smith keeps up the tension and this dark, intense thriller is just the thing for dark winter nights when you know that you are safely inside,away from the clutches of a warped serial killer.
Smith provides both clues and red herrings to keep the reader’s mind churning and I was totally caught up in the story as the next victim was stalked in a deeply creepy and fashion.
As I watched Beth try to piece the puzzle together whilst finding her way in this new team, I realised I was willing her to succeed and that she had caught my imagination in a big way.
Verdict: A great character in what is bound to be a successful new series.
About Graham Smith
Graham Smith is a former joiner who now runs a hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green.
He has been a fan of crime fiction since being handed a Famous Five book at the age of eight. He made the usual progression through the Hardy Boys to adult novels and since 2009 has been a reviewer for Crimesquad.com
He turned his hand to writing in his late thirties and considers it to be the most infuriatingly rewarding hobby imaginable, although he is well aware that he is nothing more than a stenographer for the voices in his head.
He is also the founder of Crime and Publishment, crime-writing masterclasses which are held annually at The Mill Forge (the hotel he manages). He is incredibly proud to say that six attendees of Crime and Publishment have gone on to sign publishing contracts.