Source: Review copy
Publication: 27 April 2023 from Zaffre
My thanks to Zaffre for an advance copy for review
WHEN THE FAIR COMES TO TOWN, A KILLER’S GAME BEGINS…
Scott Jericho thought he’d worked his last case. Fresh out of jail, the disgraced former detective is forced to seek refuge with the fairground family he once rejected.
Then a series of bizarre murders comes to light – deaths that echo a century-old fairground legend. The police can’t connect the victims. But Jericho knows how the legend goes; that more murders are certain to follow.
As Jericho unpicks the deadly mystery, a terrifying question haunts him. As a direct descendant of one of the victims in the legend, is Jericho next on the killer’s list?
From the award-winning author of The Outrage comes Killing Jericho, the gothic, helter-skelter thriller debut that introduces crime fiction’s first ever Traveller detective, Scott Jericho.
I was excited to read Killing Jericho and my excitement only increased the deeper into this twisty and surprising thriller I got. Scott Jericho is a fresh and delightful character. He comes laden with a set of familiar tropes. He is a disgraced former CID detective who has served a prison sentence for violent behaviour. Haunted and damaged by his past, he is dependent on medication and alcohol to help him get through the days and nights, with some casual sex thrown in. His former partner in the force is sending him case files in the hope that it will stimulate his interest, but he can’t raise the energy.
Scott is also a Traveller, returned to his dad’s fair to earn his keep. Now he’s back with his family, he soon finds himself in the midst of a serial killer story that puts his family’s carnival at the heart of the most serious of threats. This is an aspect of the story that I really loved. The Traveller community has been -and still is – the subject of so much prejudice that it is great to gain insight into this world which William Hussey imbues with lots of colour and great dialogue.
David Mark did that to some extent with his character, Roisin McAvoy, the Romany wife of his protagonist, Aector McAvoy, but I can’t think of any actual traveller detectives before. As an ex-cop Scott is regarded with some suspicion by his fellow travellers, so this is a detective who walks alone – though that may be about to change.
Scott is finally roused into action when he is commissioned by a convicted paedophile to look into three grotesque murders. It is clear from the nature of the murders that each is connected in some way, but Scott will have to find out what that connection is.
At the same time, the carnival is about to travel to the small town of Bradbury End, where they are preparing to commemorate a 150 year old tragedy that has reverberation for Scott and his family. What Scott is not expecting when he travels to Bradbury End is to find people whose lives have significantly impacted on his own.
Someone he hates with a vengeance is on his doorstep taunting him and doing his best to goad Scott into the rage that simmers just below his surface. That person also seems to be engaged in a campaign of hatred against the Muslim community with a team of thugs and bully boys at his heels.
Scott also finds someone he thought he would never see again. In this sleepy town there is a confluence of coincidences that cannot bode well for Scott’s investigations.
As the temperature rises and more murders occur, can Scott keep on an even keel long enough to work out how everything is connected and find the serial killer?
William Hussey has written a dark and disturbing novel with lots of layers and in the middle a twisting puzzle that needs to be pieced together to get to the truth. His writing is propulsive and compelling, but it also carries a real depth of emotion which is what makes Jericho a three dimensional character.
Verdict: Scott Jericho is an interesting and refreshing addition to the detective genre and I enjoyed this dark and twisted serial killer chiller. So much so that I am very keen to read the next book in the series. I’d welcome a little bit of dialling back on the tropes though.
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William Hussey is the award-winning author of over a dozen novels, including the Crime Fest award-nominated Hideous Beauty and The Outrage. Born the son of a travelling showman, he has spent a lifetime absorbing the history, folklore and culture of fairground people, knowledge he has now put to work in his Scott Jericho thrillers. William lives in the seaside town of Skegness with his faithful dog Bucky and a vivid imagination.