Heavenfield by LJ Ross

5/5 stars. I love the atmospheric locations, the sinister backstory and the engaging central characters, all wrapped up in some great writing.

Description

The hunter becomes the hunted…

When a man is found dead at the remote church of Heavenfield, DCI Ryan is the only other person for miles around. The police have no weapon, no motive and no other suspects.

Already suspended from Northumbria CID, Ryan must fight to clear his name. But soon, more than his career is at stake when prominent members of the mysterious ‘Circle’ begin to die. Somebody wants Ryan’s name to be next on the coroner’s list and to survive he must unmask the devil who walks among them – before it is too late.

Unfortunately for Ryan, the devil looks just like everybody else…

My thoughts

The beauty of a series is getting to know the main characters a little better with each book. In Heavenfield it’s the way the main characters come together and rally round DCI Ryan that lifts a story where there’s so much going on. He’s under attack from ‘The Circle’, whose members seem to be ruthlessly purging anyone who threatens their existence or exposure.

The events in this story have been brewing in the previous two books and lead to an intense and complex plot with many threads and a rather neat twist at the end. Hats off to the author for keeping so many plates spinning. At times it felt like there was too much going on, diluting the tension, but the thrilling climax more than made up for this.

I love the atmospheric locations, the sinister backstory and the engaging central characters, all wrapped up in some great writing that makes for exciting and dramatic stories that are an absolute pleasure to read.

I can’t wait to find out how the team deal with the aftermath of this story in the next book, Angel. From the standard of writing so far, it promises to be another great book.

5/5 stars

Heavenfield

Revising my opinions

Or did I really write that?

Yes, I’m afraid I did write it. When you’re writing a novel, there’s no one else to blame for the words you choose and the way you put them together. (Ghost writers excepted.)

It’s your name on the cover and there’s no hiding.

But before we get too carried away with responsibility, let’s go back to where it all started – the first draft.

Michael CrichtonNow, in writing circles, everyone tells you the first draft is the start. Michael Crichton said, books are not written they’re rewritten. And he’s right. Of course he is. The chances of turning out a perfect novel first time must be greater than winning the lottery. The opposite’s usually true – most authors could happily tinker away at their work for years to come. (We’re talking sentences and paragraphs here.)

We grow in confidence. We get better. We expect more of ourselves.

But we’re never satisfied!

Anyway, back to that pesky first draft. There’s a pretty good chance it will be too long, too meandering, repetitive, lacking suspense in the right places, or any number of other issues that mean it bears little resemblance to the perfectly formed creation in our imagination.

Ernest HemmingwayOr, if you’ll forgive the Anglo-Saxon, I’ll defer to Ernest Hemmingway, who apparently said, the first draft of anything is shit.

While I’ve no wish to argue with someone so respected, I would say the first draft of anything can usually be improved. So, why, on the third round of editing and revising, did I come across a chapter that made me wince?

Did I really write that?

It’s my own fault. I started writing the third Kent Fisher mystery, No Remorse, without an outline, a synopsis, or a plot. The story was a simple trail from the present into the past to discover a dark secret. Kent Fisher and I started with a challenge and set off on the trail. We discovered the clues, followed the leads, and dealt with the obstacles as they occurred, never quite sure where they would take us until everything began to fall into place towards the end of the story.

I was pretty pleased with the first draft, I can tell you.

Once written, I printed out the first draft and set the manuscript aside to distance myself before editing and revising. In this case, I allowed two months to pass before I read the story from cover to cover over three days, my trusty fountain pen in my hand.

Boy, did I make some notes and alterations.

EditingThe purpose of this read through is to discover whether the story hangs together, whether it works. But in addition to the structural elements, you soon spot errors, changes in character names, events referred to wrongly, repetitions, boring descriptive passages and so on.

More importantly, you get a feel for the overall balance of the story. Does it flow logically? Do the characters behave correctly, dealing with conflict after conflict in a realistic way?

I hesitated. There were a couple of chapters where things were a little too easy, a little too convenient for Mr Fisher. I spent a considerable amount of time trying to correct the problem, trying different ideas, until finally it felt right.

I wish!

Come the second edit and revisions, I reached the revised chapter and winced. I’ve no idea what happened when I rewrote the chapter, but clearly my brain and fingers were working to different agendas.

Do you ever suffer that? You’re thinking one thing but saying or doing something else?

Fortunately, I saw a solution that not only worked better than the previous two versions, it added something more meaningful to the character and story. And now, a few days after emerging from 10 days of intense editing and revision, I realise this process was a necessary evolution to get the story where it needed to be.

No pain, no gain, as they say.

And that’s why editing and revising are so important. I only discovered how important a little over two years ago while working with a publisher’s editor for the first time. We batted ideas, solutions and revisions back and forth for a couple of months. She showed me a different slant to my words. She helped me improve whole sections of the story, like polishing a tarnished surface to a shine.

It was fun. It boosted my confidence. It showed me how to distance myself from my work so I could look at it with an objective eye.

If only I could do the same with my life … but that’s probably a story for another day.


No Remorse is scheduled for release in May 2018.

If you’d like to know more about No Remorse or the other Kent Fisher mysteries, you can visit my website by clicking here.

Or if you want to learn more about the characters and stay up to date with new releases, you can join my Reader Group by entering your details below. I’ll never share your information or spam you, and you can unsubscribe any time. You’ll receive a free copy of A Health Inspector Calls, filled with humorous tales from my work, if you do.

Talking authors

It’s easy to lose sight of what matters, isn’t it?

You’re focused on editing and revising your latest novel, maybe wondering how to raise your profile on social media, hoping someone will notice your books on Amazon. It’s easy to become isolated and frustrated, especially when your attention’s focused inwards.

So it was brilliant to look outwards and engage with readers and authors on one of UK Crime Book Club’s Author Chats on Facebook last Wednesday.

It’s a simple premise – for an hour, the author answers questions posed by those taking part.

It didn’t stop me wondering if it could be that simple though.

As this was a new departure, I joined a chat with author, David Videcette, to discover what was involved and hopefully get a few ideas. He made it look easy, posting quizzes and games in between answering the flurry of questions fired at him. I clung onto his shirt tails, following the questions and replies on all manner of topics.

Fortified by this experience, I drew up some quiz questions, tracked down a few humorous quotes, knowing that preparation is the key.

But what if no one showed up after all that preparation? Having read an article about an author who did a book launch where no one turned up, I felt a little apprehensive. While a few people said they would take part in the author chat, few people have heard of me and what I write.

Murder mysteries, if you’re interested. A traditional whodunit with a modern twist, ‘unique in crime fiction’, according to one reviewer.

HarveySo, after walking Harvey, my West Highland White Terrier, and eating a somewhat rushed tea, I pulled up my chair a couple of minutes before 7pm. I logged into Facebook, opened the file on the PC with my quiz questions and humorous quotes so they would be easy to access, and waited.

Was there anybody out there?

There was no way of knowing until people posted questions. Caroline from Admin, who was hosting the chat, introduced me and promptly fired off a number of questions to get me going. Tell us a little about your writing had me foxed for a moment. How did I sum up my aims, goals and aspirations into a few short sentences?

Then more questions from those who had joined the chat. My fingers flew across the keys, I scrolled back and forth, trying not to miss any questions as more came in.

It was so full on, I almost forgot my quiz questions.

It was great to chat with readers and other authors, replying to comments, answering diverse questions that made me think hard before answering.

What was the easiest part of writing? That was a tough one.

What was my favourite method of murder? What’s your favourite book? Why write crime? Do you map out your plots? Are your characters based on people you know?

The hour whistled by, leaving me tired, but exhilarated. It was brilliant and so much fun, engaging with people who have a genuine interest in books and authors, but most of all learning what interests them. As Caroline closed the chat, I felt a little sad that it was all over so quickly.

I hope everyone who took part enjoyed the experience. I would certainly encourage other authors to take part. And it’s a great way for readers to discover new authors and what they write. After all, we need each other, so it’s a great way to get to know each other too.

But I’m still not sure what’s the easiest part about writing.

Any thoughts?


If you want to find out more about me and my books, you can sign up to my reader group using the form on the right of this page.

Alternatively, please click here to visit my Amazon page.

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

Alas poor Robert …

I wanted to be an actor.

I didn’t know this until I was eleven and stepped onto the stage during a Drama class at school. But it wasn’t until we were asked to pick a song and act it out that I realised acting was for me. I had no idea what to do with Metal Guru by T Rex, and realised I needed a song with a story. My mother liked Tony Christie, who was riding high with a song called, I Did What I Did for Maria, about a guy killing the man who attacked his wife.

It was melodramatic stuff and under my enthusiastic direction, we brought the song to life. I lost myself in the part, becoming the wronged man out to deliver his own form of justice in a world that didn’t care.

I’d always had a terrific imagination and drama allowed me to channel it. I wrote short stories and plays, eager to perform them. But alas, the kids in my class were neither keen nor as driven as me. To them, our one drama lesson a week was a chance to escape from behind the desk and lark about with a soft teacher. My ambitions and self-confidence took a hit, more so when I discovered that there would be no more drama classes the following year.

The following year, one of my teachers destroyed what was left of my self-confidence.

We had to choose the subjects we intended to take for ‘O’ level in two years’ time. Looking back, I should have realised it was an hour dedicated to ensuring every pupil took as many science subjects as possible.

You might be surprised to learn, I had no sciences on my list. The teacher homed in on this like a missile, cross examining me like a barrister, refusing to accept that any boy in the North of England could be interested in the arts.

Advisor“And how do you think you’re going to earn a living from arts?” he asked, focusing the class’s attention on me. “Employers want people with qualifications in science, not someone who can paint the view from the canteen window.”

The sniggers from my classmates told me I was on my own. “You don’t need sciences to be an actor,” I said defiantly, oblivious to the reaction this would cause.

“An actor?” The teacher said it several times, making me sound like I’d lost all reason. He studied me with disdain, his voice a mixture of disbelief and mockery. “You want to be an actor?”

He laughed along with the rest of the class, certain I needed to be totally humiliated to cleanse me of this disease that had infected my mind.

I could live with the laughter. It was the destruction of my dreams I couldn’t recover from.

Two years later, I did some scene shifting at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, meeting some well-known actors. I loved the atmosphere and mixing with these creative and artistic people, but I couldn’t muster the courage to take up acting.

After I’d left school, I trod the boards playing one of the orchestra in the finale of a musical in a local amateur production. I remember the makeup, dressing up in a red jacket with gold buttons, and choosing the French horn to march around the stage with. But it wasn’t acting.

reporterI could have written a review for the local newspaper had my dreams of going into journalism not taken a similar battering at school. It wasn’t a teacher who rode roughshod over my dreams of becoming an investigative reporter, delving into scandals and cover ups, exposing wrong doing and all manner of evils.

It was a careers advisor, brought in by the school. We each had a 15 minute session with him in a portakabin in the school yard.

“Have you any idea how difficult it is to become a journalist?” he asked. “Out of the thousands who try, only a select few ever make it. You’ll waste years at university and end up working in a chip shop.

The irony of wrapping greasy food in newspaper crushed another dream. I tried to reason and argue, to fight for my chosen career, but he had all the answers, and a manner intended to make me feel indebted to him for the way he destroyed my aims.

“You need a qualification that offers you the greatest range of opportunities,” he said, producing a brochure from beneath the table. “Business Studies is the degree to take at Manchester University. It will open doors into worlds of opportunity in almost any discipline you could imagine.”

“Including journalism?”

He shook his head. “I think we can both agree that writing’s hardly a business, is it?”

The following day, back among my classmates, I was surprised and then angry to discover that we were all applying to Manchester University to take Business Studies.

I continued to write and dream, but soon I would have to leave school and join the world outside. My desire to protect the world we lived in and banish the pollution that was causing so much harm drew me to environmental health. Even better, I could go to college or university, get a qualification and have a job at the end.

I didn’t realise at the time, but my career choice would not only allow me to indulge in some acting, it encouraged me to be creative and I got to meet some terrific and inspiring characters. I’m writing about many of them in A Health Inspector Calls, a collection of humorous incidents from my work. It’s free to anyone who subscribes to my Reader Group.

Just complete the form at the top of the page to join.

Throughout my career, I remained an artistic square peg in a scientific round hole, but I’ve no regrets. It took a long time, but my work allowed me to create Kent Fisher, described by reviewer Susan Corcoran as ‘a wonderful creation, unique in crime literature.’

He’s not a hard act to follow – just click here or visit my website at http://robertcrouch.co.uk to learn more.

When Hollywood lent a helping hand

A year ago this week, the wonderful Carrie Fisher passed away.

Carrie FisherMy earliest memory of her is Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy, but it was her TV interviews with Clive James that helped me discover and appreciate her wit, intelligence and delightfully acerbic sense of humour. This lady was sharp, irreverent and so honest you couldn’t help but admire her.

At the time, I had no idea she would help me create a new crime fiction character and series.

During the late 1990s, after some success writing articles for magazines, I wanted to write a crime novel. I was reading Dick Francis and Sue Grafton at the time, watching Inspector Morse and Miss Marple on TV, and desperately in need of something to put my heart and soul into.

I wanted to create something fresh and different, something that would stand out in a crowded market.

Why couldn’t an environmental health officer (EHO) solve murders?

But it couldn’t be a traditional EHO, bound by rules and red tape, working for a local authority. He needed to be dynamic, courageous and dogged, willing to bend or break rules, and he had to handle himself in difficult, life threatening situations.

But to bring this character alive, I needed to give him a name.

Names matter because they create an impression of the person behind them. Take my name, Robert. Think how different I would be if I were Rob or Robbie, Bob or Bobbie, Bert or Bertie. Each name conjures up a different character and persona.

I went through an alphabet of names before I settled for Kent. It was unusual. It said cool and decisive, dynamic, a man of purpose and action. It had echoes of Superman, which I liked. Maybe he’d earned the nickname, Superman, from his days in the army.

And if anyone asked why he was called Kent, he would tell them it was where he was born. (This would prompt the riposte, Lucky you weren’t born in Middlesex.) But in reality, he’d abbreviated the name Kenneth, which was a family name he hated.

This said plenty about his character.

His surname proved more of a challenge. I wanted a fairly traditional name that sounded good with Kent, but nothing sprang to mind. I thumbed through telephone directories, watched the credits at the end of TV programmes and checked the obituaries in the local paper, but without success.

So I explored his character, his background, his education and his tastes, hoping to trigger a name. That’s when I realised he was in love with his assistant, Jenny (later changed to Gemma). She looked like the young Carrie Fisher and had the same dark, sexy eyes.

As a teenager, Kent had idolised Carrie Fisher, loving her wit and humour, sharing her sense of not fitting in, watching all her films, pinning posters of her on his bedroom wall.

And that’s when I knew he was a Fisher too. He realised they could marry without Carrie having to change her surname. The fantasy amuses him – not that he would ever share it with anyone – and reminds him of those lonely teenage days.

Hollywood sign

Since then, Kent Fisher has changed and developed, and continues to do so with each novel, but he would never have existed without a helping hand from one of Hollywood’s finest.

Find out more about Kent Fisher.

In-credibility

If you ask people what makes a great novel, they’ll probably tell you it’s characters or plot, thrills and suspense, maybe an unexpected twist or surprise, maybe the way the author told the story.

But underneath these responses lie some not so obvious reasons as I realised when I recently finished Looking Good Dead, by Peter James.

Looking Good DeadIt’s the second of his Roy Grace novels. It has strong, believable characters, a clever, somewhat sinister plot with a few unexpected moments, plenty of suspense and he tells the story well.

I thoroughly enjoyed it because it had that realism and believability that enhances your enjoyment of the story. You learn something new and you trust the author. That matters more than you think, I suspect.

It’s called credibility.

Peter James works with the police. He researches in great detail, I imagine, and he’s been to the places he describes. He writes about the police with a confident voice, full of authority. You’re with him at the briefings, smelling the coffee and the stale, half-eaten supermarket sandwiches. You understand the procedures in the incident room and mortuary. And you sense the banter and concerns of the detectives are taken from reality.

That’s why I chose not to write a police procedural. While I’ve been in several police stations as part of my job and worked with officers, I have no real idea what it’s like to be a copper. I can guess, but that’s not the same.

I’ve also read police procedurals where authors seem to have based their detectives and stations on TV shows from the last century. I read one where the wrong caution was used. A quick search on Google would have prevented that.

So, on the few occasions the police appear in my writing, I want to be accurate and credible. I wanted my hero, Kent Fisher, to be interviewed by the police for an alleged assault on a child. (He actually rescued the child by lifting him out an animal pen.)

My interview room with small with no windows, painted brick walls, concrete floor, and a cheap table with two wooden chairs either side. It was in the bowels of the local station and had a stale, unpleasant smell about it.

Imagine my surprise when I was invited to the custody suite used by Sussex Police and found a modern building with a comfortable room, equipped with PC, DVD player and video camera. There were no unpleasant smells, a peaceful atmosphere, and fairly comfortable chairs.

No Bodies coverYou can read the scene in No Bodies, if you’re interested.

The sergeant also told me Kent Fisher would not have been arrested and brought to the custody suite as he posed no threat to others and no previous form. That left me with a problem, as I wanted him to be taken to the custody suite. The sergeant came to the rescue, telling me Kent could voluntarily give a statement, with or without a solicitor, at the custody suite.

Problem solved. Credibility maintained.

That’s why I write about what I know.

Kent Fisher’s an environmental health officer (EHO), who uses his contacts and skills to solve murders. (You can read about the skills that make an EHO a good detective in a previous blog, Being different is always the same or my guest post on Linda’s Book Bag).

To add to the credibility, the murders involve some aspect of his work, such as a dodgy caterer or a work accident where someone died. That makes it simple for him to get involved and investigate. After that, his naturally curious and suspicious nature does the rest.

In a forthcoming story, the police ask for Kent’s help with a cold case that involves a restaurant he once closed down. I wanted to know how much the police would tell him about the murder and spoke to a detective over a cup of tea one afternoon.

The police have strict guidelines and would only tell Kent what was in the public domain, the detective informed me. “Has that ruined your story?”

“Not at all,” I said. It means Kent will have to find out everything himself, which makes for a far more interesting and challenging plot. It also means my story will be accurate, authentic and credible.

Credibility matters. It means you’ve taken care, researched thoroughly, done your best to be as accurate as possible. It means readers can trust you.

And as I’ve discovered, it often leads to a better story.

If you’d like to know more about Kent Fisher and the novels, including exclusive content and new releases, why not sign up to my Reader Group by filling in your details below.

Honour Bound by Alaric Bond

October 2017

5/5 stars. This is a great story, filled with engaging characters, action and conflict and historical details that brings the whole tale alive

Description

Satisfied that he has forged HMS Kestrel into a formidable weapon, Commander King is keen to take her to sea once more. But the war is not progressing well for Britain, and his hopes of remaining in Malta are shattered as Kestrel is moved closer to the action. And so begins a story that covers two seas and one ocean, as well as a cross-country trek through enemy territory, a closer look at the French prison system and a reunion with several familiar faces.

Containing breathtaking sea battles, tense personal drama and an insight into the social etiquette of both Britain and France, Honour Bound is a story brim-filled with action and historical detail.

My thoughts

I have an eclectic taste in books, but believe in one simple maxim – a good story is a good story. And this is a great story, filled with engaging characters, action and conflict and historical details that brings the whole tale alive. While it can be read as a stand alone, it would be a shame to miss out on its predecessors in the Fighting Sail series.

Honour Bound, like its predecessors, is character driven, and not afraid to venture from sea to land when the French capture King’s ship.He and his officers are taken prisoner and held at Verdun, France. Their captivity and way of life is shown in considerable detail, adding an extra dimension to the story and characters, who we get to know a lot better.

Battles at sea are not forgotten though as a parallel story follows the exploits of Lewis, an officer turned smuggler.

If you like your novels to have strong and interesting characters, facing life and death challenges, and you enjoy learning about life in the past, then please give this novel, and the rest of the series, a try.

Highly recommended and I’m looking forward to the next book.

5/5 stars

Confronting the Hostile by Joy Mutter

September 2017

4/5 stars. Written with great wit, humour and style, Joy Mutter’s down to earth writing makes the unusual seem perfectly normal.

Description

A retired Irish superintendent and his former colleague, a handsome DCI from Liverpool, attempt to rid themselves and the world of their lethal tile masters. Will they succeed in reclaiming their freedom, or will the bizarre killing games continue? Set in Manchester, Liverpool, and Ireland. Confronting The Hostile is book 4 in The Hostile series of unusual paranormal crime thrillers.

My thoughts

I’ve followed and enjoyed the offbeat, but original series, where paranormal entities force people to select others to be killed. It’s not as black or gruesome as it sounds, thanks to the dark, satirical humour and excellent writing. Once you immerse yourself in the characters, the stories become addictive.

With new servants to do their evil bidding, Tile X and Joe embark on another killing spree. This time, two police officers, used to solving murders not initiating them, add a new dimension to the mix. Will they select criminals they can’t bring to justice as their victims?

Written with great wit, humour and style, Joy Mutter’s down to earth writing makes the unusual seem perfectly normal. Add the inventive twists and ideas, the cast of great characters, battling to defeat the evil masters, and the scene is set for yet another entertaining and thought-provoking story.

While you don’t need to read the previous novels in the series to enjoy this one, why deny yourself the pleasure of some terrific stories, filled with characters and plots you’ll soon warm too?

4/5 stars

Confronting the Hostile cover

The Woman in Blue by Elly Griffiths

July 2017

4/5 stars. I enjoyed the gentle pace of this murder mystery allows the reader time to get to know the main characters and the beautiful and atmospheric Walsingham, while the mystery unfolds.

Description

The murder of women priests in Norfolk’s spooky shrine town of Walsingham draws forensic archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway into a thrilling new adventure.

When Ruth’s friend Cathbad sees a vision of the Virgin Mary, in a white gown and blue cloak, in Walsingham’s graveyard, he takes it in his stride. Walsingham has strong connections to Mary, and Cathbad is a druid after all; visions come with the job. But when the body of a woman in a blue dressing-gown is found dead the next day in a nearby ditch, it is clear that a horrible crime has been committed, and DCI Nelson and his team are called in for what is now a murder investigation.

Ruth, a devout atheist, has managed to avoid Walsingham during her seventeen years in Norfolk. But then an old university friend asks to meet her in the village, and Ruth is amazed to discover that she is now a priest. She has been receiving vitriolic anonymous letters targeting women priests – letters containing references to local archaeology and a striking phrase about a woman ‘clad in blue, weeping for the world’.

Then another woman is murdered – a priest. As Walsingham prepares for its annual Easter re-enactment of the Crucifixion, the race is on to unmask the killer before they strike again…

My thoughts

I was lucky enough to meet Elly Griffiths earlier this year when she came to talk to a local writing group. I was struck by her honesty, humour and wit, which are all apparent in this novel. I enjoyed the gentle pace of this murder mystery allows the reader time to get to know the main characters and the beautiful and atmospheric Walsingham, while the mystery unfolds. In this case, it’s the murder of a woman in a graveyard before a religious Easter gathering. Inspector Nelson, who has problems of his own, is then drawn into another case involving abusive letters sent to a woman priest who knows Dr Ruth Galloway.

Is there a connection? Ruth Galloway believes there might be and makes enquiries of her own.

I haven’t read any of the previous books in the series, but this didn’t detract from my enjoyment of a skilfully crafted story, laced with humour and social comment. Walsingham and its religious history are beautifully described and evoked, adding additional depth to the story.

An enjoyable and entertaining story that reminded me of LJ Ross.

4/5 stars