Source: Review copy
Publication: 28 October 2021 from One More Chapter
My thanks to One More Chapter for an advance copy for review
A TEAM TORN APART
Nine months ago DCI Matilda Darke survived a bullet to the head. The brutal attack claimed dozens of lives, including those she loved most, and the nightmares still plague her every waking thought.
A MEMORY SHE’D RATHER FORGET
Now, she’s ready to get back on the job. But a new terror awaits. A woman is found murdered and her wounds look eerily similar to several cold cases. Desperate to find a lead, DCI Darke and her team must face a terrifying truth: a serial killer is on the loose in Sheffield.
A THREAT CLOSE TO HOME
Matilda has led countless murder investigations before but the lingering emotional scars from her ordeal and the uneasiness within her once-tight team have left tensions high. As the body count rises, Matilda realises that this might just be where it all ends.
Not going to lie…it was with some trepidation that I picked up the 8th book in this brilliant series. Michael Wood had left his characters and me, traumatised by the events of Book 7. Now we are back, picking up the pieces and looking around to see what’s left.
Lives have been ended. Mental and physical wounds are in some cases beginning to heal; in others there’s a long way to go yet. Friendships have been fractured, and D.CI. Matilda Darke is full of grief, guilt and is unable to express how she is feeling to anyone.
Her team are in sore need of uniting under her leadership and yet as she returns to work, in many ways she is as absent as when she was on recuperative leave. The reader needs that sense of things getting back to normal, too, but Michael Wood isn’t one the kind of author who sees it as his job to make the reader feel better.
Matilda may be back at work, but she’s not herself. Nowhere near it, in fact. Her brain injury may be healing, but she’s not cleared to drive yet and things are about as far from normal as they could be. Matilda’s sister and her children are staying with her for the moment and her mother is close by, but she can’t speak to either of them about what’s she’s going through.
An old case, one that has haunted Matilda for years, looks to be resolved, but Matilda is still beating herself up for a lapse that occurred on the day her husband died and she’s not getting much joy from that resolution. Not only that but the annoying local journalist, Danny is still on her case, hounding her for that elusive interview; wanting to poke and pry into her innermost grief.
When it seems that the team have a serial killer on their hands, there’s concern that Matilda may not be up to the stress and challenges that such a big case brings. The team feels unsettled, missing their former colleagues, still haunted by the shootings they witnessed and not anywhere near ready to move on. They need leadership, but can Matilda provide it?
Verdict: Michael Wood reflects the restlessness and unsettled nature of this team so well. Refusing to reassure our anxious hearts, he creates more tension and strife within the team as we watch, heartbroken to see the fault lines that have developed between them. The tensions of this case are brittle and for the reader there is the sense that something might snap really soon. When it comes, the crisis point is sharp and brutal. Wood gives no quarter to his characters and the shocks keep coming, thick and fast. It seems that this team have a lot to go through before they can expect to have earned some respite.
As a reader that makes for a tense, exciting novel, full of danger and ratcheted up with edge of the seat tension and heightened emotion. It seems we’re in for a bumpy ride. But I would not have it any other way.
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Michael Wood is a crime writer based in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, which is the setting for his thriller series featuring DCI Matilda Darke. He spends his days writing and researching new and inventive ways of killing people off for future DCI Darke novels as well as other projects he has up his sleeve.