Today I’m sharing my thoughts on book four in the Dr Alexander Gregory series from LJ Ross, Mania. This one has been sat on my TBR for some time so I took the opportunity on a recent walk to plug into the audiobook and see what was what. Here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
You can’t run from the past…
Back in London after a dramatic trip to North America, Doctor Alexander Gregory finds himself without an occupation while he awaits the all-important decision of the disciplinary panel at Southmoor Hospital. That is, until he witnesses the death of a famous actor, live on stage during the opening night of King Lear. When the police rule the death suspicious, they call upon the elite services of Gregory and his partner in criminal profiling, Bill Douglas.
Gregory is paired with attractive investigating officer DCI Hope and tensions arise—especially when an old foe resurfaces.
With bodies piling up and no new leads, Gregory and Hope realise they must look to the past to uncover the truth—before it’s too late. Immersed in the glamorous world of celebrity, Gregory soon learns that, beneath the surface, things are far murkier than they seem…
Murder and mystery are peppered with dark humour in this fast-paced thriller set amidst London’s vibrant Theatreland.
Well this book combines two of my great loves – crime novels and the theatre. Add into the mix a touch of Dr Alexander Gregory and really, what’s not to like?
The book starts with Gregory, and his old pal Bill Douglas indulging a wee bit of culture, watching and old college chum of Bill’s in a West End production of King Lear. So far so good – at least until the leading man collapses on stage and, despite all of Gregory’s best efforts, cannot be revived. Now, this being an LJ Ross novel, you know from that very moment that something is very amiss, that this will not just be a case of natural causes and it’s not long before the police are knocking on Gregory’s door asking for his help in solving a very perplexing murder.
I do like this series, the way in which LJ Ross has combined the day to day investigation with a touch of criminal profiling. It takes us as the reader beyond just the what and the how of the murder, to the heart of the why and the who. It’s not about motive necessarily, but motivation does come into it as Gregory tries to pin down the essence of the person who might decide to kill another in such a heinous way. And there is a quite the backstory here, not just for the victim, but for others around him, including Bill Douglas. Innocent witness, potential suspect or, dare we whisper it – potential victim? That’s for the police to decide, but we know Bill well – he was definitely no suspect in my eyes.
As always there is a frisson of romantic entanglement in the book for our dear Dr Gregory. Nothing that is acted out on the page but there is a clear chemistry and attraction between him and the lead Detective, DCI Hope. This is an area of this series that the author really indulges in, never quite allowing Gregory the happiness that he doesn’t think he deserves. He is an enigmatic man, but a damaged one, and it is his personal life which comes to bear upon him this time around, with repercussions from earlier mistakes making a real impact on his potential future. It is that conflict that prevents him from truly settling into the case, a tension always in the back of his, and our, mind.
I love the characters that LJ Ross has created for this series. The lead characters of Gregory and Bill have that same kind of camaraderie that you see in the DCI Ryan books, and Ryan does get a name drop in this book too, but it is a very different tone to the series that made the author’s name. Whilst Ryan is unapologetic in his love of his family and friends, Gregory shares that same sense of loyalty but is far more aloof and perhaps vulnerable, behind his steely, focused no nonsense persona.
One thing that never changes is the darkness surrounding her villains, and this time is no exception. It leads to quite a bit of misdirection and whilst you may think you have a handle on what is happening, think again. There is more to this book than meets the eye, as Gregory soon works out, and and undulating sense of threat which culminates in a kind of Eastenders, duh-duh-duh ending that has left me ready for more. Another fab read. Recommended.
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 7 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 twenty two novels, all of which have been top three global bestsellers and most of which have been UK #1 bestsellers. Louise has garnered an army of loyal readers through her storytelling and, thanks to them, most 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.
In addition to her DCI Ryan series, Louise has created a new series of thriller novels based around the central character of ‘Dr Alexander Gregory’, whose work as a psychological profiler takes him around the world. The first three books (Impostor, Hysteria and Bedlam) were #1 bestsellers and the fourth book was released in March 2022 (Mania). They were narrated in audio by the actors Hugh Dancy (Impostor & Hysteria) and Richard Armitage (Bedlam & Mania).
ouise 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 family Northumberland, where she enjoys reading all manner of books, travelling and spending time with family and friends.