There is nothing more I like better than a good police based crime thriller series and, when it comes to series, LJ Ross’ DCI Ryan books are one of the best. I was so excited when I heard that there was an Audible Original story in production, a prequel to Holy Island, and I couldn’t wait to bang it on preorder. When I was offered the opportunity of an early listen, I snapped it up and am so glad I did. But before I tell you what I thought of the production (as it really was a production piece), here is what it is all about.
The Official Blurb
Introducing a new multicast drama by LJ Ross, the author of the international number one best-selling series the DCI Ryan mysteries.
There’s a serial killer targeting the streets of Newcastle, seemingly picking his victims at random but subjecting them all to the same torturous end. When the Chief Inspector on the case goes missing, it falls on DCI Ryan to track down the man who is brutally murdering women and goading the police to ‘catch me if you can’.
As everyone becomes a suspect, Ryan and his team get drawn further and further into the case, but for Ryan the nightmare gets closer to home than he could ever have imagined.
This Audible Original drama stars Tom Bateman (Murder on the Orient Express, Jekyll & Hyde, Snatched), Bertie Carvel (Doctor Foster, Les Misérables), Hermione Norris (Spooks, Cold Feet) and Kevin Whately (Lewis, Auf Wiedersehen, Pet) and is a prequel to the DCI Ryan series.
Starring: Alun Armstrong, Rachel Atkins, Tom Bateman, Mark Bazeley, Anna Bolton, Bertie Carvel, Stephen Critchlow, Vicki Davids, Reece Dinsdale, Harriet Ghost, Frances Jeater, Jack Lloyd, Dean Logan, Daniel Matthew Lemon, Roger May, Hermione Norris, Kate Okello, Colleen Prendergast, Shaun Prendergast, Nicholas Rowe, David Seddon, Marlene Sidaway, Tom Slatter, Fiona Victory, Lauren Waine, Kevin Whately and Hannah Wood
If, like me, you are a DCI Ryan fan then you will already know what this story is about. If you haven’t yet met DCI Ryan and his crew then you are in for a treat as this starts the series off in the most chilling of ways.
There is a killer on the streets of Newcastle. So far they have claimed one victim, a young woman who has been murdered in the most brutal of ways. The Police think they already have their man, but do they? It is only after the killer claims a second victim, throwing the current investigation into a truly dark realm, that DCI Ryan and his team are called in to take over. This is a murderer unlike any they have seen, someone clearly so dark in mind that what they do to their victims is horrific, torturous. With an investigation already underway, Ryan, DS Frank Phillips and DI Denise MacKenzie need to sort through the facts that they know and eliminate a growing list of suspects to stop someone who is fast becoming the most notorious killer in Newcastle.
Now, if you know the series, you will know there are some things, including the killer’s moniker, that I have left out of that description. The reason is that I think, if you are new to the series there are things better left unsaid so that you can discover them for yourself, just as we did when reading Holy Island. This audiobook can easily be listened to as a standalone, or as the first in the series as at this stage the relationships are all new, the future of Ryan and his team undecided and anything can happen. It gives good grounding before heading into the written series as to how Ryan came to be on Holy Island in the first place, although bear in mind that if this is the first ‘book’ you engage with, there will be elements of Holy Island which will not be as big a surprise when you do read it.
If it were me, I’d read Holy Island first and then come back to The Infirmary so that you can fill in the gaps and understand Ryan better, once you’ve already got to know him. There are subtle differences in his character between the two stories which make perfect sense when you know why, and LJ Ross has managed to find a subtlety in creating Ryan’s personality in this audiobook which means that, at heart, he is the same person we all know and love, but yet to face some of the horrors, and beauty, which will come to frame and shape his life moving forward. It’s very hard to explain but when you listen, you’ll understand what I mean.
What I loved about this story was the way in which the story balanced the line between the darkness, as this is quite probably the darkest story to date in the series, and the need to keep the core of the violence off the page. The portrayal of the murderer, both by the ‘killer narrator’, Bertie Carvel, and the killer himself, Mark Bazeley, was absolutely chilling. I could feel the goosebumps rising, my skin crawling as you got that absolute detachment, especially from Bertie Carvel as he divulged the killer’s thoughts to the listener. You are never given the full force or description of the violence that is inflicted, but you are given enough to let you form your own ideas and for your mind to take it as far as you are comfortable.
Now, this really is a star studded affair. Featuring Tom Bateman as DCI Ryan and Kevin Whately as Frank Phillips, you are sure of a stunning performance. For me they both captured the characters perfectly, Whately especially making a brilliant Frank. Alun Armstrong was almost unrecognisable as Gregson but again a superb performance, and fantastic narration by Hermione Norris throughout the book, all of them keeping listeners on the hook from beginning to end. I don’t think I could imagine a better cast for this to be fair and can only hope that there are more audio productions in the future to reunite (most of) them again.
It is so hard to review this audiobook without giving things away. With all the thrills and spills of your favourite DCI Ryan novels, brought to life by a stellar cast, this book will hook you from the action filled opening, through the story’s dark and chilling heart, to its sad but inevitable conclusion.The pacing is perfect, the tension, at times, taking you to the very edge of your seat and the sense of menace … Off the charts. I already knew how this book would end but still, the way in which the drama built up, the way I got to reconnect with characters I already loved in brand new ways, I couldn’t help but wish that the ending could be different. That Frank or Ryan could make the connections just that little bit sooner, act that little bit differently. But then, if they had, the rest of the journey wouldn’t be the same now would it?
Imagine a world where Ryan never went to Holy Island … Perhaps, never met Anna?
Fans of the series are going to love this and for those yet to fall in love with Ryan then do yourself a favour and give this a go. You will not be disappointed. I loved it.
If you would like a copy of the audiobook it is available now from the following links:
About the Author
LJ Ross is the author of the international #1 bestselling series of DCI Ryan mystery novels. Her debut, Holy Island, was released in January 2015 and reached number one in the Amazon Kindle UK best sellers chart.
Since then, she has released a further six full-length novels in the DCI Ryan Series, all of which have been top three bestsellers. Cragside, Dark Skies and Seven Bridges (due for release 25 May 2018) were all #1 in the UK on pre-orders alone.
The novels are available to purchase in e-book, paperback and audiobook formats on the Amazon store, as well as in selected independent bookshops. Holy Island is also available in German translation.
Louise was born in Northumberland, England. She studied undergraduate and postgraduate Law at King’s College, University of London and studied abroad in Paris and Florence. She spent much of her working life in London, where she was a regulatory lawyer for a number of years before taking the decision to change career and pursue her dream to write.
Now, she writes full time and lives with her husband and son in Northumberland. She enjoys reading all manner of books, travelling and spending time with family and friends
If you want to get your DCI Ryan fix (and you know you do) then the full series of books is below. UK buying links can be accessed by clicking on the relevant image.
And now available for preorder – Book 10 – Longstone.