Survivor’s Guilt by Michael Wood

Today I’m sharing my thoughts on the brand new Matilda Darke novel from Michael Wood, Survivor’s Guilt. I’m still reeling from the events in the last book to be honest, much like the characters. Here’s what the book is all about:

Source: Netgalley
Release Date: 28 October 2021
Publisher: One More Chapter

About the Book

A TEAM TORN APART

Nine months ago DCI Matilda Darke survived a bullet to the head. The brutal attack claimed dozens of lives, including those she loved most, and the nightmares still plague her every waking thought.

A MEMORY SHE’D RATHER FORGET

Now, she’s ready to get back on the job. But a new terror awaits. A woman is found murdered and her wounds look eerily similar to several cold cases. Desperate to find a lead, DCI Darke and her team must face a terrifying truth: a serial killer is on the loose in Sheffield.

A THREAT CLOSE TO HOME

Matilda has led countless murder investigations before but the lingering emotional scars from her ordeal and the uneasiness within her once-tight team have left tensions high. As the body count rises, Matilda realises that this might just be where it all ends.

The brand new instalment in the DCI Matilda Darke series will leave you on the edge of your seat. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Kathy Reichs and Peter James.

My Thoughts

If you have read book seven in this series, Time Is Running Out, then you will know what a completely shocking, tense, pulse-pounding and game changing read it was. I think I was left shell shocked. Still am a touch to be honest. And with that in mind I’d say that if you haven’t read it, don’t read this book. Not yet. It is one very much rooted in the after effects of that very disturbing set of events and as such is better read not as an introduction to the series but as a continuation. And it is a continuation, seeing perhaps not a closure of that storyline, or even one other very key part of Matilda’s backstory, but certainly a very big change, one that will potentially leave readers both delighted and perhaps just a touch maudlin. And I mean that in a good way, if that’s possible.

This was always going to be a tough story to handle, for readers just as much as the characters. The title sums things up perfectly and the preceding events have taken their toll, physically and emotionally, something which the author has explored very carefully in this book. They don’t take over, don’t entirely dominate, but it is impossible to ignore the impact that the progression of the story has on the characters and subsequent events. There is a melancholic and reflective undertone to the story, perhaps some challenge to the previous unity of this wonderful team, and understandably so. It adds a kind of conflict and tension to an already on edge team and loyalties are well and truly tested. It’s almost impossible as a fan of the series not to be affected by what happens, but if you think this is going to be a ‘safe’ story, you really don’t know this author. Seems he has a really sadistic streak when it comes to his characters because he’s really not finished with them yet.

Aside from the obvious emotional side to the tale there are two threads to this story. First up is the ongoing story of Carl Meagan, the case which has haunted Matilda Darke throughout the course of this series. One of the great regrets of her career, and one which she has always sought to put right. This is another layer of distraction and guilt to add to Matilda’s ever growing burden but something that informs the character she has become. Alongside of this is the team’s investigation into a series of murders of sex workers. Although not initially linked, Matilda is convinced they are the work of one person and vows to get to the truth. Rather a large and high profile case for her first one back in the hot seat and one which really does keep the tension and the tempo of the book high. Surprises, jaw dropping revelations and moments of real peril are littered throughout, scenes that get the heart rate rising in the way that Michael Wood excels in.

The conclusion to this particular case – well got to admit I did not see that one coming. At all. I’m still not sure what I think. Shock I suppose. The author kept that well hidden. And as for the books ending … Gah. So much threat, so much uncertainty and such unease left by a seemingly very simple and, compared to the rest of the book, seemingly innocent interaction. It brought out the dread but also the intrigue and a little bit of excitement. This book could easily have signified an end, of sorts. I’m hoping the conclusion means that the story of Matilda Darke and her team is far from over.

Tense, emotional, and completely compelling. A story of murder and betrayal, of love, loss, grief, family and friendships stretched to their very limits. If you love the series, you will really want to read this. With a box of tissues to hand maybe. And some comfort food. Recommended.

About the Author

Michael Wood is a freelance journalist and proofreader living in Sheffield. As a journalist he has covered many crime stories throughout Sheffield, gaining first-hand knowledge of police procedure. He also reviews books for CrimeSquad, a website dedicated to crime fiction.

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