Seven Bridges by LJ Ross

21st November 2018 – 4/5 stars

Once again, the author delivers another terrific story, filled with tension, suspense and superlative writing as someone starts blowing up the bridges over the River Tyne. Is it a terrorist, trying to bring Newcastle to a standstill, or is there a more sinister mind at work?

LJ Ross captured the horror, disbelief and fear of a city, dealing with the aftermath of a bomb and the threat of a second unless a ransom is paid. At times, I couldn’t put the book down, deeply affected by the quality of the writing and the very real reactions of the public and police.

DCI Ryan was his usual impeccable self, taking everything in his stride, even with the distraction of a fellow officer and friend under arrest for murdering Detective Superintendent Jennifer Lucas. Even as the minutes ticked away, with the threat of another explosion imminent, you knew he would battle through and find the bomber.

I had to suspend disbelief as the story sped to a rapid resolution that felt a little rushed somehow. Maybe that accounted for a couple of small slips in procedure, which is unusual. I also found the plot far-fetched, which took the edge of my enjoyment, even though Seven Bridges was original and well written.

Everything else about the story was as good as I’ve come to expect from LJ Ross. Her characters and the camaraderie they share may seem a little too good to be true in these troubled times, but there’s enough negative press, violence and nastiness every night on the news.

Reading should be an escape into a magical world with characters you care about and every book in the series scores highly in this respect.

Description

It’s been five months since a killer walked free and DCI Ryan is preparing to leave Newcastle to hunt him down – this time, for good.

But Ryan’s plans are scuppered when events take a dramatic turn and he is forced to stay and face his past one last time, or watch a friend suffer the consequences.

Amid the chaos, another killer is preparing to strike. When the Tyne Bridge explodes, Ryan’s team are faced with a frantic race to uncover a deadly foe who won’t stop until every bridge is burned, along with everybody on it…

Murder and mystery are peppered with romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunit set amidst the spectacular Northumbrian landscape.

Seven Bridges

Cragside by LJ Ross

28th September 2018 – 4/5 stars

It was always going to be a challenge to follow the high drama and intensity of the previous two novels, Angel and High Force, so Cragside takes DCI Ryan and his team into a more traditional whodunit, set in a stately home. I’m not sure if there was a conscious nod to Agatha Christie, but I enjoyed the change of style and tone.

The pace is gentler, allowing more time to be devoted to the main characters as they cope with the aftermath of The Hacker in the last story. I love the way Ryan’s close-knit team work hard and care for each other. The relationships form one of the backbones of the series and provide some touching and humorous moments to offset the violence and tragedy of murder.

There are plenty of suspects as you would expect with a murder mystery and a good blend of detection and forensics to help the team close in on the killer in a dramatic finale.

Though it lacked the high stakes and tension of the previous novels, Cragside is an entertaining, well written story with a glorious setting and a sinister development that promises to raise the personal stakes in the next novel.

While you don’t need to have read the previous novels in the series, you’re missing out on one of the best crime series I’ve had the good fortune to read.

I’m off to read the next in the series.

Description

Are you afraid of the dark..?

After his climactic battle with notorious serial killer The Hacker, DCI Ryan is spending the summer with his fiancée within the grounds of Cragside, a spectacular Bavarian-style mansion surrounded by acres of woodland. When they are invited to attend the staff summer party – a Victorian murder mystery evening – it’s all a joke until the lights go out and an elderly man is found dead. It looks like an unfortunate accident but, as the dead man’s life begins to unfold, Ryan and his team of detectives realise that all is not as it appears.

When a second body is found, terror grips the close-knit community and Ryan must uncover the killer who walks among them, before they strike again…

Murder and mystery are peppered with romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunit set amidst the spectacular Northumbrian landscape.

Ctagside

Sycamore Gap by LJ Ross

5/5 stars. Absorbing, well-written, beautifully crafted and filled with characters you care about, Sycamore Gap is crime fiction with a heart.

Description

THE EXPLOSIVE SEQUEL TO THE UK #1 BESTSELLER HOLY ISLAND

The past never stays buried for long…

Detective Chief Inspector Ryan believes he has put his turbulent history behind him. Then, in the early hours of the summer solstice, the skeleton of a young woman is found inside the Roman Wall at Sycamore Gap. She has lain undiscovered for ten years and it is Ryan’s job to piece together her past.

Enquiry lines cross and merge as Ryan is forced to face his own demons and enter into a deadly game of cat and mouse with a killer who seems unstoppable.

Murder and mystery are peppered with a sprinkling of romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunnit set amidst the spectacular scenery of Hadrian’s Wall country in Northumberland.

My thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed Holy Island and soon settled into Sycamore Gap with its menacing subplot adding an additional layer of suspense to the main investigation.

Suspense and tension are always much sharper when the crimes become personal. In this case, DCI Ryan, still dealing with recent traumas, seems to be in danger on all fronts. The skeleton of a woman murdered ten years earlier could be the work of his nemesis, currently serving time for other killings. Or is there a copycat killer, vying for his attention? As the body count rises and his own partner, Anna, comes under threat, the stakes can’t get much higher for Ryan.

I really felt for Ryan, attacked on all side, trying to set aside personal trauma that could affect his judgement, while sinister forces plot to destroy his career. But he soldiered on, ably assisted by his team, trying to make sense of a convoluted plot that threw up several suspects before Ryan uncovered the real killer.

I enjoyed the Durham setting, the internal politics and the tensions between team members that all painted a realistic picture of a murder investigation. Absorbing, well-written, beautifully crafted and filled with characters you care about, Sycamore Gap is crime fiction with a heart.

Looking forward to reading the next in the series.

5/5 stars

Sycamore Gap