I am absolutely delighted to be one of today’s stops on the blog tour for Secrets of the Dead by Carol E Wyer, the second book in the DI Robyn Carter series. Thanks to the fabulous Kim Nash for inviting me to take part in the tour. I will share my review with you in a moment, but before I do, here are the important book bits.
Three murders. Three innocent victims. What secrets did they share with their killer?
A bottle of bubble bath and colourful, plastic boats were scattered in small puddles on the floor. In the bathtub lay Linda Upton, fully-clothed, her lips a shade of blue, and her bloodshot eyes wide open.
When a young mother is found drowned in the bath, clutching a receipt saying ‘all debts paid’, Detective Robyn Carter knows it’s just the beginning of a harrowing case. She recognises the signs of a serial killer, and when a second victim with a receipt is found, her worst fears are confirmed.
With the local press whipping the public into a frenzy, Robyn is under pressure to solve the crime yesterday. But her team can’t find a link between the two bodies, and the cracks are starting to show.
Just when her leads have dried up, Robyn discovers an unsettling clue she thinks could unlock the case. But as she chases across the plush carpets and manicured lawns of the wealthy elite, honing in on the killer’s shocking motive, one of her own is put in terrible danger.
The press call him The Leopard for his stealth, speed and brutality. Can Robyn stop the most twisted killer of her career before it’s too late?
Now when I read the first book in this series, Little Girl Lost, I was really taken by Robyn Carter, her team and her cousin Ross and also by the brilliant and twisted way in which Carol Wyer spun her tale. The opening of the last book was tense and a little uncomfortable. It remained to be seen whether this new book could capture just a fraction of that tension again.
Didn’t have to wait long for the answer to that one… A resounding yes. Lordy this woman doesn’t take it easy on her victims. First up we have one red hot corpse, but it is unclear if this is the victim of foul play, a suicide or simply an accident. DI Shearer seems convinced of the latter but after a chance conversation with one of the victims friends, Robyn Carter just isn’t sure. The problem is that this isn’t her case and to investigate it would risk the wrath of not only Shearer but also DCI Mulholland.
It isn’t long before Robyn has her own suspicious death to worry about though, a murder scene at which a rather strange clue is left behind by the killer. When a second body is found with a completely different M.O. but the same clue left behind by the killer it is clear there is a serial killer at play here but Robyn has no idea of their end game. When the the team link the victims back to the same spa where Shearer’s victim was found, Robyn is more convinced than ever that something is not right but also that more people may be targets for the killer the press have branded the Lichfield Leopard.
This is one twisted book, the murders all different, all individually brutal and all the results of a very disturbed mind. The pacing is fast but not frantic and the continued development of the team’s characters is a delight to see unfold upon the page. Robyn Carter is a brilliant character, still affected by her partners death a few years before, but not so much so that she cannot function. She is determined and feisty and never going to win at office politics, but you find yourself respecting her all the more for it.
The perspective follows the investigative team for the most part, but we are also treated to some scenes in which we are with the killer, scenes in which his memories take us back to a time that serves as the precursor to and ultimately the reason for the murders. This is clearly someone with a very disturbed mind. He is creepy and unnerving and so very cleverly hidden that it will take some time to work out just who it is. But as the reason for the murders became clear, I was left wondering just how each new victim might be dispatched. That expectation, anticipation even, certainly kept me on the edge of my seat.
I don’t think this kept quite the same psychological edge as the first book in the series but it was no poorer for it. While I could feel a little empathy for the killer in book one, I had no such feelings towards this killer. The victims were slightly more sympathetic but you don’t get as much time to get to know them so their deaths perhaps don’t cut as deep as they could. That said, it was a clear challenge to Robyn and the team to find any reasoning behind the murders and it was this angle, the investigation and the development of the team, which really drew me in.
I read this in one afternoon, it was that kind of a book. I am really growing to like Anna, Mitz, Matt, heck even Shearer to a point, and I am keen to read more about the team. The development of setting, the broad range of towns and landscapes around Staffordshire really adds to the story for me. Being a relatively local lass, it makes me smile to read of towns just a stones throw from me, and it adds to the book in a way, that such murders could take place in such a rural location. It almost makes it even more shocking that the tranquillity of the spa environment could be disturbed by such brutality and yet it just seems to work. And work well. Can’t wait to see what is next for the team.
My thanks to Bookouture for the advance copy of the book. It is available now from the following links.
About the Author
As a child Carol Wyer was always moving, and relied on humour to fit in at new schools. A funny short story won her popularity, planting the seed of becoming a writer. Her career spans dry cleaning, running a language teaching company, and boxercise coaching. Now writing full-time, Carol has several books published by Safkhet and journalism in many magazines.
Carol won The People’s Book Prize Award for non-fiction (2015), and can sometimes be found performing her stand-up comedy routine Laugh While You Still Have Teeth.
Why not check out some of the other blogs taking part in the tour.