The Santa Killer by Ross Greenwood

Today I am both delighted and a little sad to share my thoughts on The Santa Killer, the latest and final!!! Detective Barton novel from Ross Greenwood. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Barton, Zander and the team over the course of these books so want to say a big thank you to publisher Boldwood Books for providing an advance copy and to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for the tour invite. Here’s what the book is all about:

Source: Netgalley
Release Date: 12 September 2022
Publisher: Boldwood Books

About the Book

The Santa Killer is coming to town…

One night less than two weeks before Christmas, a single mother is violently assaulted. It’s a brutal crime at the time of year when there should be goodwill to all. When DI Barton begins his investigation, he’s surprised to find the victim is a woman with nothing to hide and no reason for anyone to hurt her. 

A few days later, the mother of the woman attacked rings the police station. Her granddaughter has drawn a shocking picture. It seems she was looking out of the window when her mother was attacked. And when her grandmother asks the young girl who the person with the weapon is, she whispers two words. 

Bad Santa.

The rumours start spreading, and none of the city’s women feel safe – which one of them will be next?

He’s got a list. It’s quite precise. It won’t matter even if you’re nice. 

My Thoughts

What a way to say goodbye to the team. Still infused with it’s usual mix of mystery and tension, the book is also one that will tug at the heartstrings, and which feels sadly all too familiar and uncomfortably close to home in the financial political and economic climate.

At surface level, this is the story of the team’s investigation into the brutal assault of a single mother. Left unconscious outside of her own front door, it soon becomes clear that her young daughter may well have witnessed the assault. Her description of the attacker? Well it’s far from being unique or helpful to be honest but does give the exam pause for thought.

There are no end of suspects, from her colleagues, some of whom may well have been more than a touch jealous of her recent promotion, a boss who is far more familiar with his staff than he really ought to be, or maybe even the victim’s fitness instructor who has been showing a lot of personal interest of late. There were clear motives for all of them and I love that Ross Greenwood kept us all guessing to the end.

This isn’t the only case that the team are faced with and Barton soon finds himself on the periphery of a case in which a previously undeclared serial killer seems to be making their way ever closer to Peterborough in a case that bears some similarities to the assault case. It’s a mild distraction and we do have to wonder how the two cases tie up if they even do.

If you have read any of the other books in the series, you will be used to the narrative style, with the majority of the scenes following the investigation but being threaded with some that are told from the point of view of the ‘killer’. There is a twist to this narrative this time around but I’m not going to say what. It works perfectly, drives the tension and, to a degree, the empathy for the perpetrator as much as for the victims. What happens cannot be condoned, but the more we learn, the easier it becomes to understand what comes to pass.

There is a real socio-political heart to this story, one which could, and probably will, easily be replicated across the country in the coming months. Poverty, grief, and mental health all have a bearing on these cases. It is fair to say that the subject of family, be it of the victims, the perpetrator or the Detectives themselves, plays a very large part in the story.

Barton has always been a family man, and it is down to his family and all that he is missing that a rather game-changing decision is made. But for every moment of darkness or sadness, there is an equal moment of humour and lightness, and scenes which made me both laugh and smile, just what I have come to love from these books.

I will miss Barton and co but this was a fitting ending with tension sky-rocketing and stakes being raised right to the end. And the final chapters – I can’t think of a nicer way to say goodbye. Or maybe it’s adieu? I can always re-read the books after all. If you love the series you will love this one too, even if it leaves us with one of those bittersweet moments fans of a fabulous series all come to dread – the very, very last page.

About the Author

Ross Greenwood is the bestselling author of ten 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.

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