The Christmas Killer by Alex Pine

Today I am sharing my thoughts on The Christmas KIller by Alex Pine. I know some might argue that it is still far too early to be talking about books with the ‘C’ word in the title but as it was followed immediately by Killer, I figured I would be forgiven. Murder at Christmas – who can’t live with that? Apart from the victims. My thanks to the publisher for an advance reader copy, here’s what it’s all about:

Source: Netgalley

About the Book

As the snow begins to fall, the body count begins to climb…

DI James Walker is ready for a quiet family Christmas in the sleepy village of Kirkby Abbey.

But when he opens an early Christmas present left on his doorstep, he soon realises it is no gift. Inside is a gruesome surprise, and a promise – twelve days, twelve murders. Not long after, the first body is found, half frozen in the snow.

As the blizzards descend, panic spreads through the remote Cumbrian village – there’s a killer amongst them, and with eleven more victims to go, anyone could be next….

Can James stop the killer before they strike again?

My Thoughts

Don’t be fooled by the opening of this book, although full of threat it isn’t quite what this book is all about. Not yet at least. It does give the reader a good grounding though into the world of Detective Inspector James Walker and how one of the Met’s finest Murder Squad detectives finds themselves in the ‘not so sleepy as it should have been’ backwater village of Kirkby Abbey in Cumbria. Don’t ignore it completely though, file it away for later reference as I think that it’s one situation that’s going to come back and haunt our latest Detective on the block.

For me this book sits on the cosier side of crime. The murders are cruel, the threat ever present and the potential for carnage great, but despite this, the violence is not gratuitous and the method of passing messages from the killer to the police … Well, let’s just say that it fits in with the spirit of the season, if not quite echoed by the sentiment it contains. It is with DI Walker that the killer first communicates, sending him a warning of what is set to happen, almost a Ghost of Christmas yet to come if you like, although I’d rather a ghost appear on my doorstep than the grisly message Walker is sent. Initially dismissed as a strange prank, or perhaps a message from his past, Walker soon realises that there is far more to the strange parcel than he thought and Christmas plans in Kirkby Abbey may just need to be placed on hold.

The author does a good job in creating a whole host of suspects and for such a small village there are a good number of people I wouldn’t quite trust. Being his wife’s home village, be prepared for a number of long buried secrets to come to the fore, adding to the mystery that unfolds and also creating a wider pool of both suspects and potential victims to be uncovered. I have to be brutally honest and say that I guessed the killer very early on, but it didn’t mar my enjoyment of the book as I liked the characters that I met, even if some of them really did make for some very worthy victims. Just my opinion. One of the other mysteries that fed through the book also came as no surprise. I was more surprised no-one else picked it up sooner, but then with a killer in their midst, I guess they were somewhat preoccupied.

Setting really does play into the sense of isolation for the book, the village being somewhat remote and ending up cut off by a snow storm – more believable than you’d think in those parts, although it seldom actually seems to fall at Christmas. this adds jeopardy to the story as the whole village is trapped with a killer amongst them but who, if anyone, still ‘deserves to die’?

If you are looking for fast paced, hard action, this really isn’t the book for you. If you want a solid police thriller with a great central character and a very seasonal twist, then definitely give this a whirl. I’m intrigued to see how the author develops the series, and the characters, from here.

About the Author

Alex Pine was born and raised on a council estate in South London and left school at sixteen. Before long, he embarked on a career in journalism, which took him all over the world – many of the stories he covered were crime-related. Among his favourite hobbies are hiking and water-based activities, so he and his family have spent lots of holidays in the Lake District. He now lives with his wife on a marina close to the New Forest on the South Coast – providing him with the best of both worlds!

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