Beware the Past by Joy Ellis
29th March 2020. 4 stars.
I like a story where it gets personal – and it doesn’t get more personal than someone threatening to destroy you and everything you believe in. The bleak fenland setting added to the atmosphere of fear and tension to create a well-written, intricately plotted revenge thriller that kept me turning the pages.
The killer seems to know everything about DCI Matt Ballard, whose life and grip on reality are brutally dismantled in a carefully orchestrated way, leading to an exciting climax with a neat twist. It all stems back to the murder of three boys early in the detective’s career. While the main suspect died, Ballard was never convinced of his guilt.
Is the real killer back to haunt Ballard?
The author’s direct style keeps the pace moving along as the suspense and tension are piled on with one setback after another until Ballard is left reeling and almost broken, outwitted at every turn by a clever and ruthless adversary.
Like many revenge thrillers, the villain seems to have endless time, resources and technological expertise. At times it seemed almost too easy for the killer to run rings around Ballard, which meant I had to suspend disbelief to some extent. It might also explain why I struggled to engage with the detective at times. He seemed to be pushed around too easily, often with little resistance.
Maybe there was just too much going on.
To be fair, the author explained every last detail and left no loose ends, including the identity of the original killer, revealing her mastery over the complex and intricate plot.
This is the first novel I’ve read by the author and it won’t be the last. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a tautly written thriller with an intricate plot.
ONE TERRIBLE CASE ALWAYS HAUNTED DETECTIVE MATT BALLARD. NOW MANY YEARS LATER, THE KILLER SEEMS TO BE BACK. AND THIS TIME HE’S AFTER MATT.
When Matt Ballard was starting out his career, three boys were murdered in the same area, the remote and bleak Gibbet Fen. When the main suspect was killed in a hit-and-run, the killings stopped. But Matt was not satisfied that the real murderer had been caught.
Over 25 years later, Matt gets a photo in an unmarked envelope. It’s of the Gibbet Fen crime scene. And the picture was taken before the murder took place.
More photos arrive, relating to the historic murders, as well as intimate pictures of Matt’s very secret private life.
A KILLER WHO WILL STOP AT NOTHING TO DESTROY A DETECTIVE.
Then another murder happens, with some of the hallmarks of the old case. Has the killer returned or is this just a sick copycat determined to ruin Matt’s life and reputation? Everyone around Matt is in danger as the killer plays mind games with the detective.
In an absolutely breath taking conclusion, Matt and his team race against time to stop a vicious killer who knows no limits.