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The Serial Killer’s Wife by Alice Hunter

It’s good to be back! I’ve been away for a few days while I descended into the chaos and mayhem of moving house. I can now understand why normal people hire removals and don’t do it all themselves. I now have room for bookshelves and books no longer need to act as furniture. Although, having said that, my books, like everything else I own, are all hiding in unreachable and unlabelled boxes at the moment. On with a review! The first in my new house.

The Serial Killer’s Wife by Alice Hunter

Avon | 2021 (27 May) | 400p | Review copy | Buy the book

The Serial Killer's Wife by Alice Hunter

Beth Hardcastle is a contented woman. She has the perfect life. She has a loving husband in Tom, a beautiful daughter in Poppy and she has her dream job of running a ceramics cafe. She is a valued member of a small community, even thinking of starting up a book club. And then the evening arrives when the police come calling and Tom is absent. They want to speak to Tom in connection with the murder of a former girlfriend who went missing years ago. Beth. When they ask her where Tom is, it’s an easy question to answer. He will be in the office where he often works late. But is he?

The Serial Killer’s Wife has a great premise and is a fun read as we follow Beth Hardcastle’s struggle to face a situation which is entirely out of her control, all under the noses of an enthralled community. The author explores the public and private worlds of a couple, who are now greatly at odds as secrets very slowly emerge. We, the readers, are spectators as Beth attempts to adjust while trying to protect her daughter. There are many questions as the world comes to know Beth as a serial killer’s wife.

I think there are pacing issues with the novel. It takes a fair bit of time to find out why the novel has the title it has and it does get rather bogged down in Beth’s obsession with what the other mums will think of her. In fact, that seems to bother her more than the fact that her husband may be a homicidal maniac. This does make her an unsympathetic character, along with most people in the novel, but this is one of those books where that doesn’t matter. We’re not reading this book to like Beth or Tom but to find out what’s going on.

There are also chapters which go back in time and are from the point of view of the missing former girlfriend. I’m not sure these are entirely successful. There are also some very unsavoury scenes but that’s probably just me being prudish! The chapters from Tom’s point of view are, in my opinion, the best in the book.

The Serial Killer’s Wife is a fast and entertaining read, which reminds us that sometimes you think you know someone and maybe you don’t after all.

The Ninth Metal by Benjamin Percy

Hodder & Stoughton | 2021 10 June) | 290p | Review copy | Buy the book

The Ninth Metal by Benjamin PercyThe mining town of Northfall, Minnesota, was already dying before the night it was hit by a devastating shower of meteorites. On the same night, a young boy’s life is changed forever by the murder of his parents, a deed that is overshadowed by the discovery that the meteorites contain an unknown metal, the Ninth, which is more precious than gold and more useful than any known element. Now the world is coming to Northfall. Anyone can become a millionaire but the biggest money is for those who own land. Northfall has become a new Wild West and at the heart of it stands one family, the Frontiers.

Benjamin Percy is such a good writer of speculative fiction and The Ninth Metal has it all – science fiction, horror, apocalypse and disaster, crime, all set within the world of what feels like a modern Western as Northfall becomes the focus of a frenzied Gold Rush (strictly speaking, an Omnimental Rush). The novel is populated by big characters, especially the enigmatic John Frontier and his utterly horrifying sister Talia, but there are other memorable people here, too, both monstrous and innocent, all transformed in the five years since the meteorites hit. Some are little more than gangsters in a violent battle to control land while others have become a cult with the strange metal their object of veneration. There is a lot of life in this town. There is chaos, mystery and more than a little fear. For one boy and the scientist who looks after him, there is terror.

The Ninth Metal is the first novel in a new series, The Comet Cycle. As a result, we don’t get all of the answers but it does have a satisfactory and tantalising end. It left me wanting more without feeling that I’d been left on the edge of a cliff. It tells a great story, packed into about 300 pages. It moves between the present, the night of the fire from the sky, and the following few years. It’s a very fast read. There wasn’t as much science fiction as I would have liked but I suspect that there is more of that to come in book 2 and so I can’t wait to read that.

I thought that there was very much a Stephen King-y feel to the novel, and that is a good thing – a small town at the centre of something horrific, powerful and apocalyptic, even religious, and where salvation may also be found. It’s a novel about good and evil in a dying town cut off from the rest of the world. There’s a sense that people may leave but they will always return. It works on small and epic scales as we realise that what is happening to Northfall could have apocalyptic consequences for everyone. We don’t yet know the nature of what is happening and what it all means but we really want to know!

The Ninth Metal is a fabulous book. I was thoroughly gripped and I cannot wait for book 2.

Falling by T.J. Newman

Simon & Schuster | 2021 (10 June) | 304p | Review copy | Buy the book

Falling by TJ NewmanWhen Captain Bill Hoffman of Coastal Airways agrees to take on another flight, against his wife’s wishes, he takes on the responsibility of over 140 souls. It’s not long into the flight before he realises with stark horror that every single one of them is in jeopardy. He receives a call – his wife and children are being held hostage. Only one thing can save their lives. Bill must crash the plane.

Falling has a fantastic premise and kicks off a summer of plane thrillers (never has travel seemed such a nostalgic pleasure!). The author is a former flight attendant and that inside knowledge really adds to the authenticity in the chapters set aboard the plane. The authentic detail also makes the thriller more frightening.

The chapters alternate between the plane and the drama on the ground as the FBI goes into action and Bill’s wife tries to negotiate with her kidnapper. The scenes on the plane are the most successful and are absolutely engrossing and tense. The characters aboard, especially the experi flight crew, are very well drawn and Bill is great. The horror feels real. The FBI and hostage scenes and characters are less convincing and stall the pace somewhat but overall Falling is a very enjoyable ‘holiday thriller’ with a difference. And what a fantastic cover!

It’s possibly fortunate that you’re more likely this year to read Falling on the ground than in the air…

As a side note, I read the ebook but I can see that the audiobook is narrated by Steven Weber who did such a brilliant job of narrating Harlan Coben’s Win.

Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Tor | 2021 (27 May) | 560p | Review copy | Buy the book

Shards of Earth by Adrian TchaikovskyEarth is destroyed, its form twisted and distorted by the Architects, a species the size of a moon, that barely notices the planets and ships that it moulds into more pleasing shapes. Technologies developed to try and confront this enemy, including the creation of enhanced humans, until a method of attack was discovered almost by accident when one type of altered human – the Intermediaries – was found to be able to communicate with them and the Architects, almost in horror, left. But now, years later when humankind is divided by warring factions, vessels are vanishing and it is possible that they have returned. Intermediaries are few and far between and their sleepless endless lives are a torment. One of them, Idris, is navigator aboard a small salvage vessel. He wants to lead an obscure, quiet life. That will not be allowed to happen.

Adrian Tchaikovsky is a truly brilliant writer of science fiction. He is stunningly inventive and imaginative and he fully delivers on that vision with fantastic prose, plots and characters. Children of Time is one of the best books I have ever read, and I thoroughly recommend Cage of Souls and The Doors of Eden as well. And now I can add Shards of Earth to that. I was thrilled to learn that the author was embarking on another space opera series (The Final Architecture) and this is a great beginning.

The world building is vast and glorious. Humanity is divided and warring in the aftermath of the home world’s destruction, and the factions are all represented here, notably Idris and Solace, a Parthenon warrior. The chapters move between key characters, which keeps up the momentum but also widens the epic scale of this universe. The crew members of Idris’s ship are so well drawn (I love the paternal, even maternal Captain) and we follow them as they get into all sorts of scrapes (to put it very mildly indeed) as they travel through the truly terrifying Unspace. These aren’t characters you want to get too attached to…

As with most epic space operas, it does take a while to get going. There’s a lot of history to learn but the book ends with a chronology of events and a list of people, places, ships and factions. This isn’t spoilery and I would definitely recommend reading that first. I found that it helped a lot and when I met Idris, I already had a good idea of what he would face.

This is a witty book, it’s also frightening. The Architects are the stuff of nightmares and the descriptions of what they can do really stand out in the novel. I love the mix of banter and mayhem as people go about their business on ships, habitats and worlds, some of which are lawless and run by gangsters. Everything we see is the result of the Architects. Their random and careless destruction has traumatised mankind, leading people to cope with it in their own ways – whether that’s through religion, becoming part of a warrior elite class, killing, hunting for the Architects, or hiding. And watching all of it, we sense, is something so monstrous that it cannot be perceived, something in Unspace that is so horrific that humans must sleep through their journeys through it, with only the navigator, the Intermediary, remaining awake and haunted. This is fabulous stuff!

Shards of Earth is an immersive and thoroughly engaging read, full of mystery, enigma and menace, as well as wow moments. Epic space operas are a favourite thing for me and Adrian Tchaikovsky is very, very good indeed at writing them.

Other reviews
Children of Time
Children of Ruin
The Doors of Eden
Cage of Souls
One Day All This Will Be Yours
With C.B. Harvey and Malcolm Cross – Journal of the Plague Year

The Pact by Sharon Bolton

Trapeze | 202 (27 May) | 384p | Review copy and Bought copy | Buy the book

The Pact by Sharon BoltonSix young students have just finished their A Levels at Oxford’s All Souls School. Each is remarkable, clever and attractive and each is predicted to have a glittering career ahead. But their lives are too safe, they dare each other and play dangerous games. One night it all goes horrifically wrong and it is then that they make the pact. 18-year-old Megan agrees to take the blame. That way they won’t all have their lives destroyed. But it comes as a great shock when Megan is given a sentence of 20 years and she serves every one of them. When she comes out, she is not the same. That is when the five friends, each successful with a great deal to lose, start to become very afraid indeed.

Sharon Bolton is, in my opinion, one of the very best writers of psychological thrillers and we’re lucky to have her. Time after time, she comes up with the most brilliant ideas and leads her readers down such a twisty path and at a rate of knots, too. The Pact is no different. It has a fantastic premise. We’ve had thrillers about groups of old friends before but not like this one. In my opinion, these people are all morally reprehensible and the majority of them know it. Arguably, what matters most to them is being caught, not doing the crime itself. Some may wriggle, and you can’t look away while they do, it’s so compelling, but they cannot escape the judgement of what they’ve done.

I loved the character of Megan. She is genuinely intriguing and odd. She makes each of her friends promise to do a big favour for her on her release from prison. These favours are not at all what you’d expect and add such an element of shock to the novel.

But, as you’d expect from a Sharon Bolton novel, there’s far more to it than that! It’s an engrossing and surprising read. I had a few small doubts about the ending but it still had a great impact on me. One of the things that I really enjoyed is the Oxford setting! This is my town and I recognised so many places, including the snug in one of my favourite north Oxford pubs. This is an Oxford that the author actually knows, which isn’t always the case, and it really adds to the mood of the novel, helping to make the six friends feel real, privileged, sinning and around us, excelling in their jobs (often in the public eye), hiding secrets. It all seems so timely….

Other reviews
Little Black Lies
Daisy in Chains
Dead Woman Walking
The Craftsman

The Split

The River Between Us by Liz Fenwick

HQ | 2021 (10 June) | c.500p | Review copy | Buy the book | Listen to the book

The River Between Us by Liz FenwickOn the rebound from her divorce, Theo buys a cottage, sight unseen, on the banks of the Tamar, the river that divides Cornwall from Devon. The cottage is in a poor state of repair – fortunately the villagers prove to be a useful and practical sort – and Theo soon falls in love with it. Her ties are strengthened when she discovers some letters hidden away, which tell of a love affair between a servant, Zach, and Lady Alice who lived at the nearby manor house of Abbotswood. Their love is divided by the river but also by class and ultimately by war as Zach becomes a soldier in the First World War. In the present day, the remains of soldiers have been uncovered in a field in France. The indications are that they were Tamar men. The village waits to learn their identities.

Liz Fenwick writes the most beautiful romantic stories, each deeply embedded in the place that she loves – Cornwall. I share that love and so I am especially drawn to her novels. There is such a strong sense of place and The River Between Us is no different.

I was immediately drawn to Theo, a middle-aged woman who is starting from scratch all over again, having lost the home she loved. We get to know and like her as she rebuilds her new home and gets to know the people of the village. I do like a novel that features an older woman! Theo is an interesting woman.

The novel moves between the present and the past as Theo investigates the mysterious and unopened letters that she discovers. This is a device but I like it and the letters are soon joined by portraits and the manor itself as a picture is drawn up of society in this remote and beautiful area in the early 1900s before war took away so many of its men. The river symbolises the divide between classes as Zach must deal with his impossible love. I loved Theo’s story but I was also really attracted to Lady Alice.

I listened to the audiobook, which was beautifully narrated by Lucy Scott. This is just the sort of novel that I love to listen to. It carried me away to a place I love and the prose is beautiful and so evocative. I highly recommend it.

Other reviews
The Returning Tide
The Path to the Sea

Protector by Conn Iggulden

Michael Joseph | 2021 (13 May) | 416p | Review copy | Buy the book

Protector by Conn IgguldenIt is 480 BC and the mighty Xerxes, King of Persia, has won a historic victory over the heroes of Greece and Sparta at the Battle of Thermopylae. Now he stands in Athens and watches the city burn to the ground. Athens is largely empty, its citizens have been evacuated, an epic undertaking, to the nearby island of Salamis and now the generals and leaders of Athens – Themistocles, Xanthippus and Cimon chief among them – must defend each and everyone of them in a sea battle. The Battle of Salamis lasts for days and the Greeks must use cunning every bit as much as its ships, oarsmen and warriors to take on Persia. But this won’t end it. The enemies will meet in battle again as Pericles, the son of Xanthippus, grows to manhood surrounded by war, death and a hunger for vengeance.

Conn Iggulden is one of the finest writers of historical fiction that you can read. He particularly excels when he takes on the great wars of the ancient and medieval worlds – the scramble for power after the assassination of Caesar, the Wars of the Roses – and Protector is the second novel in a series that covers the Greco-Persian Wars of the 5th century BC. It follows directly on from The Gates of Athens and builds on our investment in the people of Athens and Sparta, an uneasy but vital alliance, as they strive to fight off a relentless enemy whose army greatly outnumbers their own. We’ve watched them win and lose famous battles. Themistocles and Xanthippus are not friends – there is more hatred than liking between them, they are political rivals – but they have come together and the prickly relationship between them, and between them and the Spartans, has been absolutely fascinating to follow. There has also been the more human and emotional side of spending time with Xanthippus’s wife Agariste and their children, including Pericles. It is the families, after all, who would endure slavery or death if their warrior husbands and fathers fail and it is the women who would kill their own children if it came to it.

It is for this reason that I think you should read The Gate of Athens first. Protector is a fine novel but there is too much going on for there to be time to form an attachment to its characters. The reader will bring that from the former novel.

Conn Iggulden is second to none when it comes to battle scenes and the depiction of the sea battle of Salamis is absolutely brilliant. He perfectly captures the confusion, the mighty effort, the heroism and brutality, the pure horror and fear of it all, especially for the rowers. As the oarsmen literally row themselves to death, Greek warriors take their place. We also see the strategy of the battle and watch Themistocles emerge as Athens’ great hero. And this isn’t the only battle in the novel, which also features the famous land battle at Plataea. The pages fly by as the author catches up the reader in these exhilarating events.

Themistocles is an extraordinary character. He does his best to be very difficult to like but he is such an interesting man. There is a sense, though, that Xanthippus is the true hero in Iggulden’s mind and it’s Xanthippus and his family who receive the warmest treatment. I really enjoyed reading about Pericles and his relationship with his siblings. I knew a little about Pericles the famous statesman but I had no idea about his childhood in war and it’s extremely involving.

If I had an issue with Protector, it would be its similarities to The Gates of Athens. There is almost a repetition, with the same characters – Athenian heroes – squabbling amongst themselves while uniting against mighty Persia in another round of battles. But there is a development in Pericles, who I suspect might be the main figure for the series as a whole, and he promises much for the third novel. But the highlight of Protector is an outstanding one, among the very best in all of the author’s novels – the Battle of Salamis.

This conflict took place about 2,500 years ago, such a long time ago, and yet it is well-known to history – the underdog Greeks fighting for survival against overwhelming odds. The battles of Marathon, Thermopylae, Salamis, Plataea continue to resonate but Conn Iggulden brings new life to them and the men who fought them and the depth of his knowledge into the period as well as ancient warfare is resounding. The author has a gift of making each historical period he touches fascinating to the reader and this new Athenian series is no different. He is a great storyteller.

Other reviews
The Blood of Gods (Emperor V)
Stormbird (Wars of the Roses I)
Trinity (Wars of the Roses II)
Bloodline (Wars of the Roses III)
Ravenspur: Rise of the Tudors (Wars of the Roses IV)
Dunstan
The Falcon of Sparta

The Gates of Athens

The President’s Daughter by Bill Clinton and James Patterson

Century | 2021 (7 June) | 620p | Review copy | Buy the book | Listen to the book

The President's Daughter by Bill Clinton and James PattersonThere is a new administration in the White House. Matt Keating, ex-President, ex-Navy Seal, has retired to New Hampshire, while the former First Lady Sam has taken up an academic post. Their daughter Mel is flourishing away from the public eye, old enough now to have had her security shadows removed. But Keating is about to learn that a President is always a President and now, away from the protection of the White House, he is more vulnerable than ever and, more to the point, so is his family. This is brought home in terrifying fashion when Mel, out on a camping trip with her boyfriend, is kidnapped and, when the demands come in, Keating has no choice but to put his faith in his political rival, the new President, once his former Vice President, Pamela Barnes. But, as Matt and Sam grow increasingly desperate, perhaps the former President has options after all.

I can’t believe it’s three years since the last collaboration between Clinton and Patterson was published, The President is Missing. Time has flow by. But I remember vividly just how much I enjoyed it and I am so pleased to see another novel by this duo who marry together thriller expertise and presidential insight perfectly. We have a different President, a different situation, but The President’s Daughter is every bit as thrilling as its predecessor. I read it as soon as I could and also listened to the audio review copy. And that is staggeringly good. There’s money and influence behind this project and that shows in the quality of the audiobook and its cast.

I am a massive fan of action thrillers, especially those with a hint of politics about them and so The President’s Daughter could have been written for me. I’ve found James Patterson’s thrillers a bit hit and miss over the years but the collaboration brings a depth, authenticity and focus that, in my opinion, is very successful.

It’s a great story, very punchy and told through short chapters that alternate perspectives, including those of Keating, Mel, President Barnes, foreign agents, villains. It moves fast for such a substantial novel and we get close to several characters. I particularly liked Mel, who is in such a horrendous situation and deals with it as best as she can. She has coping mechanisms taught to her by her father’s security chief, David, who is himself one of my favourite characters in the novel. It’s not a complicated plot but it is a thrilling one and it is driven. And there are moments of out and out shock. Blimey…..

It is fascinating watching the relationship between Keating, the new President and her husband, her chief of staff. While the plot isn’t complex the relationships are and the benefit of Bill Clinton’s input here is invaluable. He knows what it’s like to leave the White House and what it’s like to be that strangest of political beings – a former President who still remains a President for the rest of his life. What does that mean? This novel explores that.

I can recommend the audiobook, which has a number of narrators and really adds to the pace and immediacy of the plot, which crosses borders and packs quite a punch. A couple of blows had me in tears, they were that powerful. I really, really hope that there is more to come from Clinton and Patterson, and soon.

Other reviews
The President is Missing

James Patterson
Target
With Marshall Karp – NYPD Red 5
With Brendon DuBois – The First Lady

Win by Harlan Coben

Century | 2021 (18 March) | 384p | Review copy and Bought copy | Buy the book | Listen to the book

Win by Harlan CobenWindsor Horne Lockwood III is a man of privilege, a billionaire proud of his emotional stillness, his cold separation from people, except perhaps his friend Myron and maybe his biological daughter. He is the man who, when called, answers the phone with the simple command ‘Articulate’. But when a suitcase containing items stolen from his family years before is found next to the body of a murdered man, Win is mildly ruffled, or at least interested. These items had disappeared on the night twenty years ago that his uncle was murdered and his cousin, Patricia, was kidnapped, stolen away to be raped and tortured at the Hut of Horrors. And then there’s the identity of the murdered man to contend with – Ry Strauss, a hoarder and a recluse, believed to have been a member of a terrorist group in the 1970s, the Jane Street Six. The FBI believes there must be a link with the Hut of Horrors, with Win’s family. It seems only logical that Win should investigate.

Win is, I’m embarrassed to admit, the first Harlen Coben thriller I’ve read but many will know that Win is the sidekick of Coben’s popular detective Myron Bolitar and now he has a novel of his own. This makes Win a great starting point for new readers like me. Myron gets his mentions but this is most definitely Win’s book and it provides such a good entry into this world of Harlan Coben’s thrillers.

Win is quite a character and my feelings towards him are mixed. He’s undoubtedly arrogant, defying anyone to like him, and he has some extremely annoying and obnoxious habits, but the fact that others do seem drawn to him, to want to work for him quite apart from any financial gain, adds to his charisma. But what clinched it for me is Win’s increasing bewilderment surrounding his feelings for his ‘biological daughter’. I found myself liking him, perhaps not a huge amount, but certainly enough to be fascinated by him. He’s undoubtedly unusual and that made a refreshing change.

The big appeal of Win, though, is its extraordinary and fabulous plot. This is a great story with so many layers to it. It’s intricate, it’s involving, it’s terrifying and it is extremely gripping. It’s a puzzle that Win must dispassionately solve but it’s also a dark storm. I love that mix of neatness and chaos. It is brilliantly done by Harlan Coban and, on reading this, I could completely understand why so many people are hooked on his thrillers. I did find myself getting a little lost on occasion but I was happily swept away by it and loved how it all came together.

I listened to the audiobook, which is brilliantly read by Steven Weber. The novel is narrated by Win, which makes it a perfect fit for the audio format when told as well as Steven Weber tells it. He gives Win a voice that fits so well. I was engrossed. Despite the darkness of some of the content, this book is a lot of fun to listen to.

I’m really intrigued now to read earlier novels, to meet Myron for myself and to understand more about his relationship with Win and to find out more about Win himself. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone quite like him in a book before.

Blackout by Simon Scarrow

Headline | 2021 (18 March) | 432p | Review copy and Bought copy | Buy the book

Blackout by Simon ScarrowBerlin in December 1939 is beginning to feel the effects of war. Shortages are becoming noticeable in the city’s most celebrated restaurants, much to the irritation of powerful men, but, far more menacingly, the newly-imposed nightly blackout has brought monsters out to play. When Gerda Korzeny, a former actress and celebrated beauty, is raped and murdered, the establishment takes note. Gerda was married to a top Nazi lawyer, a friend of Goebbels. The Gestapo call in Criminal Inspector Horst Schenke to investigate. There’s a reason Schenke has been selected – he’s not a member of the Nazi Party and is only tolerated for his glamorous past racing cars, an illustrious career that ended in a crash. If this case should uncover demons, then Schenke will make the perfect scapegoat. Then, as the nights draw even darker, another woman is murdered and the pressure on Schenke mounts.

Berlin is one of my favourite cities and I’ve always been fascinated by its past, especially during the 1930s when its reputation as a city of culture and hedonism comes up against the brick wall of the Nazis and fascism. Blackout is set at a particularly interesting time, during the first weeks of the Second World War when society seems bemused that Britain should have declared war on it. At this time war is mostly an inconvenience with the parties and dining out continuing, with the acceptance that eventually Britain and France will succumb to German military might, just like Poland. It’s intriguing to see how these men and women view the Nazis among them. Most have joined the Nazi Party and there is an acceptance and compliance, albeit one tinged with fear and regret. That’s for some, others positively thrive.

Crime fiction set in Nazi Berlin is not straightforward. The crimes of the regime are off the scale, so the author is faced with the challenge of making the reader feel that these murders matter. There also needs to be an empathy with Schenke. That issue is partly solved by giving him his glamorous past and also his angst with his Nazi controllers. He’s getting on with life as best as he can, loyal to Germany but uneasy with its fascism. There is some success. The murders are cruel – I actually couldn’t read some of this – and we do care for the women, especially Gerda. There is a whole social side to this, which goes beyond politics, with the lot of some women as trophy wives or mistresses. But I’m not sure I have the same empathy towards Schenke but that’s not so much to do with his issues towards the Nazis as with his attitude towards women, an attitude that seems prevalent through the novel.

The serial killer investigation part of the novel is bleak (admittedly I’m not much of a reader of serial killer crime fiction, whatever the setting) and I rather think that women have a hard time of it generally. Nobody seems to like them very much, including Horst Schenke, who, like other men in the novel, is very critical of the woman he professes to love. The women here are judged by their lovers. Gerda was and so, too, is Karin, Schenke’s girlfriend. He seems more interested in her important admiral uncle than her and he regularly reflects on her faults. Gerda is hit by her lover. I found this casual dislike of women quite difficult, quite apart from the violence done to them by the killer. It does, though, help build an atmosphere that this is a place doing great wrongs, an evil place and time. It is most definitely atmospheric and immersive – there is a fog of evil hanging over Berlin in December 1939, compounded by the blackout.

So, despite my issues with the novel, it is a powerful read and, if you enjoy serial killer thrillers, then this may well be for you. Its historical setting is vividly real and is undoubtedly one of the most evocative portrayals of Nazi Berlin that I’ve read. You can feel the cold horror of it as Nazism permeates itself into society and people’s lives. The killings don’t seem out of place and that makes them even more harrowing.

I can’t finish this review without saying how much I adore Simon Scarrow’s Cato and Macro novels!

Other reviews
The Blood Crows
Brothers in Blood
Britannia
Invictus
Day of the Caesars

The Blood of Rome
Traitors of Rome
The Emperor’s Exile
With T.J. Andrews – Invader