Outside Looking In by Michael Wood

19th November 2018 – 5/5 stars.

Every once in a while a story comes along that blows your socks off. It’s not just the story that stands out from the rest, but the writing, characterisation, plotting and emotional content, combining to create a brilliant novel.

Outside Looking In, the second in the Matilda Darke series, is one of those stories. I loved every minute, every page, from the dark, but compelling opening to the final twists and revelations at the end. Central to my enjoyment is the character of DCI Matilda Darke, a damaged officer, whose vulnerability is challenged almost daily as she teeters on the brink of a breakdown due to past mistakes and losses. Her strength, refusal to be beaten and friendship with Adele, save the day but provide some emotional drama to add to the dark and twisting plot that starts with an horrific murder and attack.

Like all good dramas, the plot is filled with tension and suspense as the police struggle to get a handle on the murders. The local newspaper doesn’t help, slurring Darke’s character and abilities. There’s an old enemy, lurking in the wings, and plenty of potential suspects to confound the reader, but once it starts to fall into place, it’s a terrific ride to the climax.

While Outside Looking In can be read as a standalone, treat yourself to the first book, For Reasons Unknown (click here for my review), before you do. Not only will you read another cracking story, but you will get so much more from the characters and relationships.

Outside Looking In is without doubt my favourite crime novel so far in 2018.


When elderly George Rainsford goes to investigate a suspicious noise one night, the last thing he expects to find is a bloodbath. A man has been killed and a woman brutally beaten, left for dead.

The victims are Lois Craven and Kevin Hardaker – both married, but not to each other. Their spouses swear they knew nothing of the affair and, besides, they both have alibis for the attack. With nothing else to link the victims, the investigation hits a dead end.

The pressure is on for investigating officer, DCI Matilda Darke: there’s a violent killer on the loose, and it looks like her team members are the new targets. With no leads and no suspects, it’s going to take all Matilda’s wits to catch him, before he strikes again.

Outside Looking In