Day ten in our LJ Ross month and I’m taking over for the day to re-share my thoughts on Longstone, the next in the DCI Ryan series. I really do love this series, the brilliant setting and characters, and there is nothing nicer than sinking into another novel. Just in case you’ve somehow missed it, here is what the book is all about:
About the Book
Between the devil and the deep blue sea…
Viking treasure is discovered beneath the icy waters of the North Sea and local historian Doctor Anna Taylor is called in to help catalogue the most exciting hoard in living memory. But when a shipwreck diver washes up dead, she’s soon out of her depth. Luckily, she knows just the person to call…
When DCI Ryan arrives at the picturesque fishing town of Seahouses, he’s faced with an impenetrable wall of secrets and lies. As he juggles marine archaeology and the cutthroat world of shipwreck diving, another murder blows the case wide open. To uncover the truth, Ryan must delve deeper into the hearts of those around him to find what lies beneath…
Murder and mystery are peppered with romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunnit set amidst the spectacular Northumbrian landscape.
The more I read from this series, the more I grow to love it. You wouldn’t think it possible to be fair, as I’m a pretty big fan already, but each book just keeps getting better, my love of the characters, and the setting, grows stronger, and I know, with even tap of my kindle screen, that my chances of getting anything else done (and I include sleeping and eating in that) rapidly diminish. I am very, very happy to say that Longstone was yet another cracker of a book and my eyes are delightfully heavy as I try to write this post due to a complete lack of sleep last night. If there are typos (which there usually are to be fair so perhaps just more than normal) then you know why.
Longstone sees Ryan and co head to the beautiful town of Seahouses on the Northumbrian Coast where the body of a Marine Archaeologist, and colleague of Ryan’s wife, is found washed ashore one of the Farne Islands -the eponymous Longstone. It isn’t clear whether this was simply a tragic accident or something far more sinister as the man had declared the historical find of lol the century, a sunken Viking vessel which could blow apart all that people thought they knew about the history of the north east. But if it wasn’t an accident, then who could possibly want to kill the historian and why?
Well … let’s face it. If DCI Ryan has been called in, there is very little chance of this being a simple boating accident now, is there? What Ryan finds when he arrives is a town full of suspects who are very reluctant to be honest him, a team of Archaeologists and divers who would do anything to claim that one big find, and a family mystery which stems back over two decades. What we as readers find is another absolutely cracking mystery which captivates you and keeps you turning the pages long after you should have gone to sleep. And I really did try last night, but after half and hour of tossing and turning, I gave up trying to kid myself and went straight back into the book, not stopping until I reached the completely shocking, and ultimately tragic, conclusion.
What I love about the books is the way in which LJ Ross’s love for her home county always shines through in the narrative. It doesn’t matter how dark or deadly the story may get, the setting is always so lovingly captured that you cannot help but want to go there yourself. In fact, it feels so real, so tangible, that you may well be there, tasting the salt water as it slashes against your face, feeling the stomach churning rise and fall of the North Sea as you ride with Ryan and a rather distressed Frank Phillips, a man whose sea legs are possibly even less steady than his land legs during a post mortem. I was in Seahouses earlier this year and, although some of the narrative clearly has to be fictional, I could picture every inch of the harbour as the author described it and delighted in the talk of the islands that I sailed around this year and plan to visit again next. It really is quite extraordinary and, as I have said before, Northumberland is like the seventh member of the team, a living breathing character in its own right.
Fans of the series will be delighted to know that poor Jack Lowerson is back in this book. I have to admit to having a bit of a soft spot for our Jack, (which anyone who has read the last few books will know is actually quite ironic and chucklesome). He’s not quite his old self, a kind of melancholy hanging over him as you would expect after all he has been through, but there is still that old spark and it was great to have him safely back within the arms of his other family. Trainee DC Yates seemed very pleased to see him back. I guess we will have to watch to see if anything develops there in the future.
Another key feature of these books, and one which always has me smiling as I read, is the camaraderie between the team, particularly Frank and Ryan. They spar off each other brilliantly and although they really are chalk and cheese, they are the perfect detecting duo and I can’t imagine the series being the same without them together. Anna features less in this book, but the scenes between her and Ryan are beautiful as always, the two of them so in tune with each other than it is always romantic to watch. It is the team as a whole who make these stories, each member making their own mark upon those around them. The are strong as individuals, but together they are unstoppable.
But there is another poignant and wonderfully developed layer in this story, one which involves the secondary characters that inhabit Seahouses. You know from the very beginning that landlord, Hutch, has an unrequited love for his brother’s girlfriend Gemma, and there is something very touching about the way in which he has looked out for her and her son over the years. He is a sensitive character, although he works hard to hide it, and I really did like him and felt for him as he struggled with his feelings.
The story itself is fast paced and completely gripping. I was pulled into it from the start and from the moments of excitement, such as when the archaeologist, Iain, had made his big discovery, to the sense of foreboding which grows as the story progresses, this was a book which just seemed to fly. If anything, I wish it had been longer. There are the moments of fast action and tension, as well as some quieter more reflective scenes which balance each other perfectly. This isn’t a series which relies upon quick thrills to keep the audience captivated – it doesn’t need them. It is the compelling mix of character, plot, setting and mystery which makes each of these books so brilliant and Longstone is up there will the best of them. Loved it.
About the Author
LJ Ross is an international bestselling author, best known for creating atmospheric mystery and thriller novels, including the DCI Ryan series of Northumbrian murder mysteries which have sold over four million copies worldwide.
Her debut, Holy Island, was released in January 2015 and reached number one in the Amazon UK and Australian charts. Since then, she has released a further sixteen novels, all of which have been top three global bestsellers and fourteen of which have been UK #1 bestsellers. Louise has garnered an army of loyal readers through her storytelling and, thanks to them, several of her books reached the coveted #1 spot whilst only available to pre-order ahead of release. Her eleventh novel, The Infirmary, is a prequel story and is also available as a major Audible Originals audio-drama starring Tom Bateman, Kevin Whately, Bertie Carvel, Hermione Norris and Alun Armstrong.
Louise was born in Northumberland, England. She studied undergraduate and postgraduate Law at King’s College, University of London and then abroad in Paris and Florence. She spent much of her working life in London, where she was a lawyer for a number of years until 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, where she enjoys reading all manner of books, travelling and spending time with family and friends.
Louise is a keen philanthropist, and is pleased to have supported numerous non-profit programmes in addition to founding several of her own, including the Lindisfarne Reading Challenge and the Lindisfarne Prize for Debut Crime Fiction.