Today I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts on Cuthbert’s Way, the latest book in the DCI Ryan series by LJ Ross. Now it’s no surprise to followers of this blog that I love this series, and no surprise to readers of the series that I have a good reason to enjoy it – still get a giggle out of seeing my name in print. I was so chuffed when the release date was announced for the book at the tail end of November, but I put off reading it to be able to savour it more over Christmas. Before I let you know if it was worth the wait, here’s what the book is all about:
About the Book
A SECRET KEPT FOR A THOUSAND YEARS…
After the dramatic theft of a priceless artefact from Durham Cathedral, the rest of the world believes that DCI Ryan and his team were able to recover and return St. Cuthbert’s cross to its rightful home. But Ryan knows the cross he recovered was a fake—far from being over, their problems are only just beginning…
Just as Ryan and his team begin to unravel the truth behind the spate of mysterious thefts, something even more priceless is stolen—something that can never be replaced.
As the nationwide manhunt continues without success, Ryan is thrust into despair—until he realises the answer lies not in modern policing but in an age-old secret known only to a chosen few. To recover what’s been lost, he must first crack ‘Cuthbert’s Code’, following the trail of a long-dead saint across the wild, unpredictable hills and valleys of the borderlands.
Can Ryan find what he’s looking for, before it’s too late?
He’s going to need a miracle…
Murder and mystery are peppered with romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunit set amidst the spectacular Northumbrian landscape.
So. First things first. Was the book worth the wait? Yes. Yes it was. My only regret is that I did wait as it was such a brilliant story and such a tense and exciting follow up to The Shrine. And that is the one thing I would caution going into this book. If you haven’t already, at the very least you should read The Shrine first as there is a lot of relevant information that spans the two books and this would absolutely act as a spoiler for the previous book. That said, I’d really recommend you read the whole series first as why the heck not. It’s fabulous, you can watch the characters as they grow and develop and you will grow to love them all as all DCI Ryan fans do. Why miss that right?
Housekeeping out of the way, back to the book. Wow. What another cracker. Picking up a few months after we leave the team in The Shrine a lot had changed for all of them. What hasn’t is the case that they are working on, albeit on the quiet, that carries between the two stories. Ryan is determined to see the riddle solved and put the previous case to bed in spite of pressure from above to move on. It’s not just for professional reasons that he wants to see the perpetrator brought to justice, but this becomes abundantly clear as the story progresses.
What I love about this series is how it is about so much more than just the actual cases they are working on. Don’t get me wrong – I love a good police based thriller. They are my absolute favourites. But LJ Ross has made this series as much about the people behind the cases as the actual mystery itself. From very early on I found myself completely drawn into the world of Ryan and the team and I love catching up with them on every new journey. Now, I’ll be the first to say that I am as romantic as a cold sore, but seeing the love that has developed between Ryan and Anna, Frank and Mackenzie and all, and that whole sense of family that spans the entire team really adds something special to the stories. You get far more than just the science and psychology of the case, you get the emotion that exudes from the characters, no more so than in this case which is rife with tense, emotional and breath-stealing scenes. We get to learn more about Ryan and his family this time around and it is beautiful to watch, to see the stoic stock from which he was born and raised and helping us to understand a little more of why Ryan gre to be a man of such integrity and resolve.
For the mystery lovers out there – do not despair. There is still a very intriguing, and slightly gruesome, case at the centre of this book. With missing artefacts, a macabre murder and a opening which takes readers right back to the 1500s and the dissolution of the monasteries, as readers we are treated to a tale which really pulls you in from the start and keeps you on the hook to the very last page. Pacing ebbs and flows and just as Ryan and the team think they have the perp in the hook, they run into just another roadblock – another hurdle to overcome. And one of those hurdles … Blimey. It will have your heart in your mouth. I mean, you read it thinking ‘she can’t. She can’t possibly. LJ Ross wouldn’t be so cruel’. But as you go on reading you also can’t help thinking that she bloody well might. Whether or not readers have anything to fear – well you’ll have to read for yourself but by heck it’s one rollercoaster of emotions at the end there.
Accept no imitations. There is only one LJ Ross and only one DCI Ryan. I love these books. They bring me such entertainment, such an escape from the day to day (a deliberate covid free zone here – just saying) and they also bring a lot of joy. Brilliant characters, a setting which speaks for itself and which it is easy to tell the author loves so much, and stories that will take you right to the edge, they are all highly recommended. These are cosy mysteries – the violence is never gratuitous – but they do take an occasionally dark turn. They ar packed with emotion, tension but also with laughter. And yes – I do still chuckle when I see a certain name mentioned. Who wouldn’t?
If you love Ryan, Frank, Anna and co, you will love this book too. Just … savour it. I’m going to have to wait a while for the next book and I’m not going to lie. That’s gonna hurt.
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 5.5 million copies worldwide.
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.