Review: Cold Grave by Craig Robertson

A murder investigation frozen in time is beginning to melt…
November 1933.  Scotland is in the grip of the coldest winter in living memory and the Lake of Menteith is frozen over.  A young man and woman walk across the ice to the historic island of Inchmahome which lies in the middle of the lake.  Only the man comes back.
In the spring, as staff prepare the abbey ruins for summer visitors, they discover the unidentifiable remains of the body of a girl, her skull violently crushed.

Present day.  Retired detective Alan Narey is still haunted by the unsolved crime.  Desperate to relieve her father’s conscience, DS Rachel Narey returns to the Lake on Menteith and unofficially reopens the cold case.
With the help of police photographer Tony Winter, Rachel discovers that the one man her father had always suspected was the killer has recently died.  Risking her job and reputation, Narey prepares a dangerous gambit to uncover the killer’s identity – little knowing who that truly is.  Despite the freezing temperatures, the ice-cold case begins to thaw, and with it a tide of secrets long frozen in time is suddenly and shockingly unleashed.

Despite my penchant for Scandicrime, I rarely read British crime fiction, classic or modern, so I was interested to see what Craig Robertson had to offer in Cold Grave.  The cover is very striking, in black, white and blues, plus it’s set in Glasgow, somewhere I’ve visited, so my first impressions were good.  I was also intrigued by the story synopsis, as the crime in question was a ‘cold case’ – I was hoping for lots of mystery and intrigue.

By the end of the book, I wasn’t disappointed, as I found the story had good pace, plenty of action set in and around the seedier sides of ‘Glesga’ as well as up in the Highlands, and some quirky, interesting characters, particularly Tony Winter.  Whereas Rachel, nominally the protagonist, is sketched a little thinly, I got a really strong impression of Tony, with his ghoulish delight in gory crime scenes and his photographs of the best deaths he’d snapped displayed in his spare room.  

Initially, however, I wasn’t grabbed.  The book starts a little slowly for my liking; there is a prologue which sets up the disappearance of the girl, but I felt perhaps it could have been a little more sinister, and when we then meet Rachel and Tony in the next chapter, I found them, at first, a bit bland.  They appear to be off on a weekend away, there’s a lot of focus on issues in their relationship which then seem to be forgotten about, and there was something about the dialogue between them that didn’t always ring true.  This was something I noticed occasionally throughout the book, in fact.  I didn’t always feel the characters had distinctive ‘voices’, and every so often there was a little bit of Dan-Brown-esque telling of information that just didn’t strike me as the way in which people really speak.  I could be wrong, of course – before he became a novelist, Robertson was a journalist for 20 years with a Scottish Sunday newspaper, so he’s probably had more experience with Scottish detective sergeants than I have.

Am I glad that I kept reading, though?  Overall yes; once the wheels of the plot were turning at full speed, Cold Grave was a fun read for the summer holidays – I can imagine reading this on a lounger by the pool, basking in the sunshine while getting my teeth into the grimy, icy action.  This is a book on enjoy on its own merits; it’s not poetic literary prose, although it’s full of fascinating descriptions of blood, but it’s a pacey, well-plotted cop-drama, and sometimes that’s good enough.

Cold Grave is published by Simon & Schuster

Kate Neilan @magic_kitten

Review: Some Kind of Peace, by Camilla Grebe and Asa Traff

Siri Bergman is terrified of the dark.
She lives alone, an hour outside Stockholm where she practices as a psychotherapist, her nearest neighbour far away. Siri tells her friends that she has moved on since her husband died in a diving accident. But when she goes to bed at night, she leaves all the lights on, unable to shake the feeling that someone is watching her.
With the light gone, the darkness creeps inside.
One night she wakes to find that the house is pitch black, and the torch by her bedside has vanished. Later, the body of one of her young patients is found floating in the water nearby. Thrown headlong into a tense murder investigation, Siri finds herself unable to trust anyone, not even her closest friends. Who can she turn to for answers?
The truth is hidden in the darkness.

Some Kind of Peace is the debut offering from Swedish pair Camilla Grebe, an audiobook entrepreneur, and Asa Traff, a psychologist specialising in CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy), and is translated by Paul Norlen. From the first sentence, I found myself immersed in the world of the Swedish countryside – the description of the landscape, and the summer, around Siri’s cottage was beautiful and very intricate, and I was immediately drawn in, wondering what could go wrong in this idyllic setting.

Of course, I know exactly the sort of things that could go wrong. I’m a big fan of Scandinavian crime writing. My first experience was the Martin Beck series, by Sjowall and Wahloo, then I worked my way through the works of Mankell, Nesbo, Holt and Lackberg. As a result, I know only too well that the pastoral scenes of Sweden and Norway can hide the most appalling, bloody and baffling crimes. Luckily, these countries seem replete with dogged, imperfect but determined policemen and women, who can’t rest easy until they have caught the perpetrator.

However, Some Kind of Peace presents the reader with something a little different in Siri Bergman. Siri is a psychotherapist, not an investigator. She is a victim, not only of intimidation, stalking, threats, but also of her own damaged psyche. She cannot understand why anyone might want to hurt her in this way, does not want to be a burden to her friends and family by talking about what has happened, doubts her own perception, wondering if she has imagined the whole thing… She is by no means a reliable narrator, making the novel tens and mysterious.

Siri is accompanied by an array of friends trying to help discover who is out to get her: her friend and colleague, Aina, Marcus, the very friendly policeman, Vijay their university contact who specialises in criminal profiling. She’s also surrounded by her patients, who display more or less disturbing thoughts and behaviours, and her lecherous practice-mate Sven. As the plot thickens, Siri starts to wonder who she can trust – who really does have her best interests at heart? And her own insecurities multiply too, as she dwells on her husband’s death. Was it an accident? Siri is forced to reevaluate, and gradually loses control over her life.

I found Some Kind of Peace a really fascinating read, with great insights into the psychology of the criminal mind, as opposed to the traditional police procedural a la Beck or Wallander or rogue-cop of the Harry Hole books. I also found the characters extremely well-drawn, particularly Siri herself. Finally, I found the prose style highly engaging; this is not always the case with books in translation, but I think Paul Norlen has done a very good job expressing the finesse and intricacy of the original. This book has already been a great success in Sweden and I hope it makes a big splash here very soon.

Some Kind of Peace is published by Simon & Schuster

Kate Neilan @Magic_kitten

YA Review: Hollow Pike by James Dawson

She thought she’d be safe in the country, but you can’t escape your own nightmares, and Lis London dreams repeatedly that someone is trying to kill her.

Lis thinks she’s being paranoid – after all who would want to murder her?  She doesn’t believe the local legends of witchcraft.  She doesn’t believe that anything bad will really happen to her.

You never do, do you?

Not until you’re alone, in the woods, after dark – and a twig snaps…

Hollow pike – where witchcraft never sleeps

Hollow Pike tells the story of Lis London – victimised and bullied at her old school in Wales, she’s moved hundreds of miles to live with her grown-up sister in Yorkshire, Hollow Pike to be precise.  But when she arrives, to her horror, she recognises the place she’s seen in her dreams, or rather her nightmares.
And things only go from bad to worse once she arrives at her new school, to find the cliques and outcasts even more pronounced, and a girl called Laura Rigg ruling the school.
On top of all this, Lis is sure there’s something strange going on.  Could some of the local tales of witchcraft be true?

I really enjoyed this debut novel from former teacher (and ‘Queen of Teen’ nominee) James Dawson.  It was immediately obviously that Dawson has worked with young people, and that he’s got a really good understanding of teenage relationships – much more so than some YA authors – as the dialogue and school situations were realistic, within the context of the supernatural/paranormal genre that Hollow Pike inhabits.  

I would say that I think this book is aimed at mid-to-older teens, given the age of the main characters (Year 11, 16 years old) and some of the topics covered (relationships, drinking, a bit of light swearing), but I really think the level of that content has been well-judged and shouldn’t put off any parents thinking of buying this for their daughter.  I say daughter because it’s very rare for boys to read books with a female protagonist.  I think that’s a bit of a shame, but I also think Dawson was aware of that when he chose his main character.  Many teenage boys would drop the book in horror at the mention of a tampon on page 316!

Dawson has also made good use of his own background in Yorkshire to create a really believable setting in Hollow Pike and Fulton.  Many people may know of the Pendle witch trials, which also, in part, inspired Raven’s Gate, the first in Anthony Horowitz’s The Power of Five series.  These real historical events, along with references to the Salem witch trials via The Crucible, add to the ‘is it real, is it teenage hysteria’ mystery of the book, helping the reader to empathise with Lis and her feeling of confusion and disorientation.

I was pleased to see that Hollow Pike won’t have a sequel.  It feels like a really well-rounded narrative, and I felt happy to say goodbye to the characters at the end of the book.  However, Dawson has written a second, which, according to his website is with his editor now; it is a thriller for young adults, but won’t have a supernatural element this time.  I’m interested to see what it might be able and will definitely be keeping an eye out for a publication date.  In the mean time, I’m certainly adding Hollow Pike to my list of recommended YA fiction.

Hollow Pike is published by Indigo/Orion Children’s Books
James Dawson is on Twitter – @_jamesdawson

Kate Neilan @Magic_kitten

Review: Zom-B by Darren Shan

Can you love a bullying, racist thug if he’s your father?
Where do you hide when killer babies invade your dreams?
How do you react when confronted with your darkest inner demons?
What do you do when zombies attack?

B Smith is about to find out!

So says the blurb on the back of the advance copy of Zom-B, Darren Shan’s new YA Horror thriller.  I was interested to see how Shan, who normally deals more in the magical/fantasy type monsters, would deal with his first big foray into the world of teen zombies.  This is a subgenre that’s really expanding at the moment, on the back of a number of popular films – the rebooted Dawn of the Dead, 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, the ‘zomromcom’ Shaun of the Dead – and of course Charlie Higson’s bestselling The Enemy series.  However, Higson’s terrifying books have set the bar very high, so the question for me was, would this match up?

Sadly, I wasn’t a big fan of this book.  My main issue is with the structure of the plot.  The way in which the book is ‘sold’ is as a zombie-horror.  However, other than in the prologue, that’s exactly what the story is very light on!  In fact, the majority of the plot is taken up with the relation between B and dad Todd, a rightwing activist.  The story seemed to take a very long time to get going; I felt like the whole thing was really the exposition of something much longer.  This is the first book in a series – apparently planned to consist of twelve parts – but I feel it’s not really treating your readers well to leave so much to a second installment.  That being said, there are some fun twists which I really didn’t see coming at the end of the book, although they felt perhaps more like cliffhangers to set up the next book than revelations in their own right.

I do think this book suffered in comparison to Higson’s zombie trilogy (soon to be quartet).  I didn’t find the dialogue as naturalistic, there were inaccuracies in regard to the school settings and, while the time spent getting the reader to sympathise with the character of B was generally well-spent, there was little enough for us to admire and quite a lot that was still off-putting.  I’m also unsure as to whether it was necessary to spend so much time on B’s family here, even if Todd is a ‘interesting’ character.  It seemed that the book couldn’t decide whether it was a teen family drama or a horror/thriller; if Shan wants this to stand with his Cirque du Freak series, he may need to up his game and resolve this confusion in book 2.

Despite my reservations, I expect this will be a very successful book for Darren Shan; he already has a massive fan base of dedicated readers who I’m sure will enjoy Zom-B.  I’m not sure, however, if newcomers to Shan’s writing will enjoy this as much.  I don’t think it’s really fair to sell the beginning of a story as a book in itself, and I’m not sure I’ll be rushing out to get the next installment when it’s published.  Especially because the fourth book in Higson’s The Enemy series is coming soon…

Zom-B by Darren Shan is due to be published on 27th September, by Simon & Schuster

Kate Neilan @Magic_kitten

Review: Smut by Alan Bennett

Forget E.L. James; Alan Bennett brings us two tales of a smutty nature, told in his inimitable, dry yet tender style.

Smut consists of two ‘unseemly’ stories, The Greening of Mrs Donaldson (first published in the London Review of Books in 2010) and The Shielding of Mrs Forbes, in which Bennett presents us with scenes of recognisable British day-to-day life, tinged with erotica and sexual intrigue.

The Greening of Mrs Donaldson focusses on a late-fifties ‘respectable’ widow, with an unappealingly arrogant daughter and a part-time job impersonating ill people for the benefit of students at a local teaching hospital.  She decides to take in lodgers, partly to supplement her income but partly for the danger and young company.  However, she gets a lot more than she bargains for when her lodgers suggests an alternative arrangement when they fall behind in the rent.  Mrs Donaldson accepts their offer and it transforms her life, allowing her to reflect on the nature of relationships, her ‘respectable’ reputation and ultimately what it is to be in control of ones own life, although Bennett is careful to say there is no moral to the story.

The Shielding of Mrs Forbes really deals much more with her son, Graham; Graham feels that his mother must be shielded from the truth about him, or, more precisely, his sexuality.  However, it seems that in fact the women in this story – Mrs Forbes and the woman he marries, Betty – are in fact more perceptive than he realises.  It turns out that Betty is shielding Graham and he, Betty and Mr Forbes are all attempting to shield Mrs Forbes – Bennett draws out the British obsession with appearing to behave in the way that society expects, while all sorts of exciting, risky and salacious things occur beneath the surface.

I very much enjoyed reading this little gem; Bennett is effortlessly funny and knowing, his wording subtle enough to be inoffensive given the subject matter, but also cheeky, giving us a very clear idea of exactly what might be happening.  Erotica is all the rage at the moment, with the Fifty Shades of Grey revolution, but this shows us how so-called mummy-porn really should be done.  This is all about real life, real people and real concerns, not some bizarre anti-feminist S&M fantasy.  If you’re looking for a quick, well-written read with a few ever-so-slightly naughty bits, this is perfect.

Kate Neilan @Magic_Kitten

YA Review: The Power of Five series so far, by Anthony Horowitz

As punishment for a crime he didn’t really commit, Matt was given a choice: go to jail or go live with an old woman named Mrs. Deverill in a remote town called Lesser Malling.
He should have chosen jail.
A strange and sinister plan is coming together made in Lesser Malling, with Matt at the center of it all. People who try to help him disappear … or die. It all ties to an evil place named Raven’s Gate – a place whose destiny is horrifyingly intertwined with Matt’s own.

The Power of Five series by Anthony Horowitz will be comprised of five books – Oblivion, the fifth installment, is due to be published in October 2012 – and I’ve been eagerly working my way through the first four, starting with Raven’s Gate, first published in 2005.

I’m already a fan of Horowitz’ work, having read the Alex Rider books, which I found really exciting and adventurous.  Alex Rider was a great, believable teenage character, who grew and developed over the course of the series as his adventurous became more and more thrilling and dangerous.  I was looking forward to more of the same fast, tough action from this series.

I have to say, at first I was a little disappointed with Raven’s Gate.  It started really well, introducing Matt Freeman, our hero, in an interesting way, but then, as Matt is taken to Lesser Malling by Mrs Deverill, the action slows somewhat.  I felt that, for a long time, we didn’t get a clear idea of what the malevolent power was that Mrs Deverill was in league with.  This meant that some of the big action scenes weren’t as exciting as they could have been, as I wasn’t quite sure how scared I was supposed to be.  Possibly, this is because I’ve been reading some pretty violent/scary YA fiction lately (The Hunger Games trilogy, Charlie Higson’s The Enemy series) but I didn’t really get as drawn in as I was expected.  I wanted a bit more depth in terms of the mythology behind the story – who were the Old Ones exactly? – and in fact for the characters as well.  I did discover that Raven’s Gate was at least partly based on one of Horowitz’ short stories, so perhaps that’s why.  I decided to keep reading as I’d been given the first three books in the series as part of my Reddit Book Swap, so I thought I might as well.

The second book in the series is called Evil Star.  In this volume, we accompany Matt to Peru.  The Nexus, the shady organisation who are working with Matt to combat The Old Ones, have discovered that, although [SPOILER] Matt and his new guardian Richard were successful in Lesser Malling, a new threat is rising in South America, and The Old Ones may be released into the world again…  So, Matt and Richard set off to try to stop this disaster before it happens.  Before long, their plan falls apart – has someone betrayed them? – and Matt is rescued by a street urchin names Pedro, who helps him attempt to complete his quest and stop the Old Ones from returning to terrorise humanity.

I enjoyed Evil Star a lot more than Raven’s Gate – finally we get some insight into the Old Ones, who they might be, what they want, and why Matt (and the four other Gatekeepers) have been chosen to try to stop them.  Pedro was a great addition, Richard became more than just a begrudging babysitter and Matt really starts to show some backbone.  The confrontation at the end of the book is really thrilling and the whole thing has more than a whiff of Mysterious Cities of Gold about it, which can only be a good thing.  And the dramatic ending of Evil Star leads us to…

Nightrise.  Good name! In Nightrise, we meet two new character, twin brothers Jamie and Scott, who have a strange and uncanny power.  They’re performing in a two-bit theatre show in Reno, they’ve been passed from pillar to post and it’s only going to get worse from here.  The shady Nightrise Corporation is taking an interest in them and it’s clear that’s not going to be good for the boys.  Jamie must battle to save his brother, and we discover how they fit into the wider story and mythology.

I found Nightrise more gripping again than the previous book in the series – Jamie is so well drawn, and there’s so much depth to him, the brothers’ relationship and the people who help him on the way.  I particularly like the sinister members of the Nightrise Corporation, and the way that the evil of the Old Ones is being perpetrated by capitalism in the modern world.  I also enjoyed the way Horowitze uses Jamie’s story to delve back in time to the ancient Gatekeepers, to give us a much clearer perspective on what the Old Ones and the Gatekeepers could be capable of.  The tension is definitely building as we start to see just what a monumental task our heroes have on their hands.

The fourth book in the series is called Necropolis.  I read this book in a day – I found it by far the best and most exciting part of the series to date.  It deals primarily with the fifth Gatekeeper, Scarlett, or Scar, although we have already met her (in a way) in Nightrise.  Here, Horowitz creates a really nasty, creepy new reality as the Old Ones’ power grows and they begin to wreak havoc, in Hong Kong.  The Nightrise Corporation returns, helping them to carry out the slow and insidious destruction of the city.  I felt this book edged from fantasy towards horror, as the quite gruesome nature of what is happening to people in the city is revealed.  There were some fantastic action sequences as Scarlett and the boys fight off their supernatural attackers and encounter some very dangerous locals too.  Luckily, they’re on the right side!

Over all, despite my initial mixed feelings, I’m very glad I kept reading.  There’s a great storyline unfolding here, which will grip young people and imaginative adults, drawing on a rich mix of cultures and mythologies, as well as some classic fantasy tropes.  Although Raven’s Gate is perhaps a little ‘light’, the later books certainly make up for this, with full on action scenes, creepy and intriguing villains and brilliantly described locations around the world.  The final book in the series, Oblivion, is due to be published in October 2012, and I for one will be queuing up for a copy.

Kate Neilan @Magic_Kitten

Review: Artemis Fowl and The Last Guardian

IS THIS THE END FOR ARTEMIS FOWL?

Opal Koboi, power-crazed pixie, is plotting to exterminate mankind and become fairy queen.

If she succeeds, the spirits of long-dead fairy warriors will rise from the earth, inhabit the nearest available bodies and wreak mass destruction. But what happens if those nearest bodies include crows, or deer, or badgers – or two curious little boys by the names of Myles and Beckett Fowl?

Yes, it’s true. Criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl’s four-year-old brothers could be involved in destroying the human race. Can Artemis and Captain Holly Short of the Lower Elements Police stop Opal and prevent the end of the world?

Artemis Fowl and The Last Guardian is the final instalment in the phenomenally successful YA fantasy/action series by Eoin Colfer. Eoin first introduced Artemis to the world in 2001, already a criminal genius at the age of 12. Living in a mansion near Dublin, his (criminal mastermind) father disappeared and his mother mad with grief, he is convinced of the existence of fairies and is determined to get his hands on ‘The Book’, which could unlock untold riches and also a way to cure his mother.

Described by Colfer as ‘Die Hard with fairies’, the story romps through a brilliant, witty adventure peopled with a varied cast to say the least – LEPRecon officer Holly Short, a fairy, Foaly the tech-wizard centaur, Mulch Diggums the kleptomaniac dwarf and Artemis’ faithful bodyguard, the formidable Butler.

Artemis does succeed in unlocking the secrets of the Lower Elements (he is a genius, after all) but by the end of the book, he and the fairies are beginning to forge a shaky alliance. By the end of book 7 – Artemis Fowl and The Atlantis Complex – the boy genius has assisted the Fairy Folk in saving the world at least five times over.  The Last Guardian sees our heroes reuniting one last time to make a stand against arch-enemy Opal Koboi, who has one final plan to achieve world domination.

I have to say, I felt extremely privileged to be able to read this book before it goes on sale on Tuesday 10th July. At this stage, there’s no need for Puffin to send out proof copies to generate interest, but they did allow a very small number of ring-bound copies to be released to a few lucky bloggers and reviewers. I’m under strict instructions not to reveal any spoilers, but I’ll say what I can…

Any fans of Colfer will immediately recognise his snappy, quick writing style, with plenty of witty humour, up-to-date cultural references and names that play on words; young adult readers will particularly enjoy this, and it’s a refreshing change for a grown-up reader too. Then, of course, there’s the cast of characters who regular readers will know and love. It’s good to note, though, that all our key cast have grown and developed over the series, especially Artemis, and they now show a more mature, sophisticated approach to the disastrous situations facing them. They are not one-dimensional constructs but well-realised and interesting personalities, with histories that readers will treasure.

I found the book a very quick read, as the plot crashes along at break-neck speed. The whole book is set up right from the start with a very quick deadline to thwart Opal Koboi or face the extinction of the human race, so this really helped to keep the pace up. My interest was expertly held, as Colfer revealed each new aspect of Koboi’s plan and the heroes’ counterplanning, piece by little piece. It’s a masterclass in thriller plotting. I also really enjoyed, as always, the interweaving of technology and mythology that is typical of this series and Colfer’s work in general.

The final act is particularly tense, as we understand Artemis may be willing to do something very drastic in order to preserve his family, friends and the human race. Obviously, I can’t tell you what, or if he succeeds, or survives, but it’s a brilliantly emotional piece, and I was genuinely moved as I finished reading. I think Colfer has come up with a perfect way to conclude the series, and fans will feel he has done justice to the characters and story line.

Artemis Fowl and The Last Guardian is available to preorder, and is on sale from Tuesday 10th July, published by Puffin.

Kate Neilan @magic_kitten

Review: The Preacher by Camilla Lackberg

Camilla Lackberg has been heralded as the queen of Scandinavian crime fiction. Her seven novels featuring Erica Falck and Patrik Hedstrom have all been bestsellers around Europe; the front cover of the editions I’ve read proclaimed “7 MILLION BOOKS SOLD”.

The Preacher is the second book in this series. Twenty years ago, two young women disappeared while on holiday in the peaceful resort of Fjallbacka, the setting of the series. Now, their remains have been discovered in a local beauty spot, along with those of a new victim, sending the town into shock.

Patrik Hedstrom, local police detective, takes charge of the investigation, which tears him away from his heavily pregnant partner, writer Erica. As the identities of the victims are revealed, the investigation revolves around the Hult family, a strange clan already at war internally over old feuds and split into two branches, one respectable and one constantly in trouble with the law. Lackberg brings these characters to life in glorious technicolour. I’m not always a huge fan of the Swedish-to-English translation by Steven T Murray but the occasionally clunky word choice didn’t hamper my immersion in this rural seaside community.

Unlike Mankell’s Wallander series, Lackberg’s Hedstrom novels always keep the villain’s identity a mystery. I really engaged as I investigated alongside Patrik and his colleagues, weighing up each new piece of evidence as it was revealed. In this instance, I guessed the murderer but then changed my mind at the last minute – the twists and turns are really gripping and will certainly hold any reader’s attention.

The Guardian quote splashed across the front of the book reads “Expert at mixing scenes of domestic cosiness with blood-curdling horror”; I wouldn’t necessarily say the horror in The Preacher is blood-curdling but it’s very sinister and insidious. You feel as if any number of characters could be guilty of, or complicit in, a foul crime, involving prolonged torture and abuse. There is certainly a sense of threat pervading what should be cosy, homely scenes.

In her previous book, The Ice Princess, the contrast between crime and cosiness is more pronounced – we experience it as a dichotomy as Lackberg presents us first with a murder, then with the growing romance between Erica and Patrik. In The Preacher, however, Erica and Patrik seem to have little in the way of domestic bliss – Erica is fed up of pregnancy, especially in the heat of high summer, she has been advised by her doctor to stop working and she is then plagued by a series of bizarrely inconsiderate house guests. Her troubled sister, Anna, also puts in an appearance, just to add to her woes. I was really puzzled by this marginalisation of the main character of the previous book. Despite Patrik being the police detective, it’s actually Erica who does a lot of the legwork and puts together the pieces to solve the murder of her friend Alex, the eponymous The Ice Princess. As a result, I found that book a more enjoyable read over all. The Preacher, while a great thriller, definitely loses out in the comparison.

Despite this, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend The Preacher, or its predecessor, to those who enjoy crime thrillers with a little more depth.

Kate Neilan