Today I’m delighted to share my thoughts on The Soul Killer, book two in the DI Barton series by Ross Greenwood. My thanks to publisher Boldwood Books who provided an early copy for review, here’s what the book is all about:
About the Book
A murder made to look like suicide. Another that appears an accident. DI Barton investigates the tragedies that have shattered a family’s lives, but without obvious leads the case goes nowhere. Then, when the remains of a body are found, everything points to one suspect.
Barton and his team move quickly, and once the killer is behind bars, they can all breathe a sigh of relief. But death still lurks in the shadows, and no one’s soul is safe. Not even those of the detectives…
How do you stop a killer that believes life is a rehearsal for eternity, and their future is worth more than your own…?
Ross Greenwood writes gritty, heart-pounding thrillers, with twists aplenty, and unforgettable endings. Perfect for fans of Mark Billingham and Stuart MacBride.Available from: Amazon | Kobo | Waterstones | Googleplay | Apple Books | Hive
The Soul Killer is the second book in the Peterborough set DI John Barton series. Taking place a short time after the events of The Snow Killer the book opens with all the same flair and intrigue as its predecessor and holds your attention from the first place to the last. With a killer every bit as complex and devious as book one, Ross Greenwood has served up another slice of serial killer heaven.
As with book one, the story is told from two perspectives – that of the investigative team, specifically, DI Barton, and, more importantly, the eponymous Soul Killer. Again, from a very early point in the story we are given a real insight into the character’s motivation and the reasons why they might be operating a little on the darker side of life and morality. The chapters told from the killer’s perspective are quite dark, their logic seemingly obvious, at least to them, but still chilling to read. The author uses them to great effect, giving the reader clues as to who the person might be, whilst still hiding them in plain sight. Suspicion moves from one to another of the characters, but when the big reveal comes you realise which subtle clues it was that you missed along the way. When it comes to the police investigation you are treated to scenes of frustration in which evidence, motive and suspects are all greatly lacking. This is not a case which is solved in a matter of days, in fact it is not entirely clear to the Detectives if they have a case at all. They don’t know what we know …
The murders vary in both style and depravity, making it even harder for any link to be made between the murders that we know are happening. From the routine suicide of a dying man to the violent murder of a woman in Cambridge, the most severe murders take place off the page, but their aftermath is detailed enough for readers to be left in no doubt as to what has happened. It was a strange feeling reading the book as although you can’t condone the actions of the killer, I did kind of understand them. The killer has a very complex outlook, a very skewed view of life, but to their mind it made perfect sense and their actions were driven by a sense of destiny which played out clearly on the page. They aren’t infalible though, catching the attention of more than one person for all the wrong reasons and seeing the conflicts build to a head leads to an increase in both pacing and tension.
The characters in the book are well fleshed out. We get to know a little bit more about DI Barton and his team, all of whom, in their way, are battling to move on from events of the first book. I do like Barton as a character. He’s a family man for sure, but also dedicated to his job. This time he seems to be feeling the strain a little, perhaps a little jaded and weary after all that has happened, but he leads the team well and is a great character to root for. He’s not billed as a genius or some kind of super sleuth – he goes where the evidence leads, even if that appears to be frequently into danger. I have to be honest – I’m not sure I’d feel entirely safe working for Barton. Bad things seem to happen to the people involved in these investigations. He does a great job of mentoring his younger, more inexperienced colleagues, but he is backed up by a great team that it is easy to like, especially Zander and Kelly, who are Barton’s two closest colleagues. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know them all and look forward to reading more in the future.
I really liked the way in which Ross Greenwood brings the setting to life too. From the wilds(?) of Norfolk to the streets of Cambridge and through to Peterborough and the surrounds, he really manages to capture the feel of the area and the stark differences between the killer and those he is targeting. I have a vague idea of the area that Barton and co police, but was able to picture everywhere really clearly from the way in which the author painted the scenes on the page. The set up for each murder was used to good effect too, an almost perfect clash in one scene between the preparations for a family Christmas used as a backdrop to a merciless killing.
A real treat for fans of the crime thriller/Detective thriller genre and heartily recommended.
About the Author
Ross Greenwood is the author of six crime thrillers. Before becoming a full-time writer he was most recently a prison officer and so worked everyday with murderers, rapists and thieves for four years. He lives in Peterborough and his first title for Boldwood – the beginning of a series – is The Snow Killer to be published in November 2019.