I’ve had this book on my shelf for quite a while, so a winter read seemed very appropriate. I enjoyed book one in the series, although I’m really starting to think that Cumbria is now a safe place to visit around Christmas … Here’s what the book is all about:
About the Book
The first fall of snow can be fatal…
A year has passed since DI James Walker cracked his biggest case yet, and he’s hoping for peace and quiet this festive season.
But across the fells, a local farmer returns home on Christmas Eve to find footsteps in the fresh snow that lead down to his unused basement – and no footsteps leading away. Days later, his body is found, alongside those of his wife and daughter.
Without a neighbour for miles, there are no witnesses and little evidence. And the crime scene has strange echoes of another terrible murder committed at the farmhouse, twenty years earlier…
James knows that to catch this killer, he needs to solve a case that has long since gone cold…
Perfect for fans of smash-hit TV series Whitehouse Farm, Simon McCleave’s The Snowdonia Killings and Catherine Cooper’s The Chalet.
If you ever get invited to spend Christmas in Cumbria, you may want to think twice before saying yes, especially if you live in the world of DI James Walker. Talk about a bad new magnet … In fairness, it’s not his fault, but the village he lives in, and its surrounds, seem to be a pretty deadly place. In some respects, this latest festive tragedy does seem to be a fairly straightforward case of murder suicide – perhaps a family pushed to the edge by the pressure of the festive season and a business in ruins. But if it was as simple as that, it would be a very short book, and Walker and his team don’t know what readers know, having been treated to a very ominous opening chapter that sets up a sense of threat and mystery that will lead us through the snow covered trails of the story.
I won’t lie. There was a particular thread in this story which was pretty easy to work out quite early on. I’m not going to post a spoiler here, but I think. most savvy readers will guess where that particular element of the story is leading and probably won’t be wrong. But that is only part of the mystery and really doesn’t answer the question of what happened up at the Bateman farm on that fateful – and very deadly – night. There are a lot of suspects and quite a bit of misdirection, as well as a few disturbing revelations that are enough to keep readers hooked and entertained top the very end. There is a kind of tragic inevitability about what came to pass, and a certain amount of melancholy over one aspect of the case, but this is offset by some great characters and a wonderful relationship between Walker and both his team and his wife.
There is an additional element of threat that infuses the narrative, one that readers of book one would be aware of. There is a reason why a seasoned former Met Police Detective is now working up in Cumbria, and after two winters of absolute carnage, it’s clearly not for the easy life! That history comes back to haunt in this book, bringing the thread to what I presume to be its natural conclusion. I would like to have seen it play out a little bit more, it feeling like a bit more of an irritant than a definite threat to life, and the confrontation was not quite as expected, but I am sure readers will be happy it played out as it did.
Overall an entertaining read, one with quite a few questions to be explored and answered and that kept me engaged to the end. I like the characters and the setting, and whilst not quite sitting in the cosy crime genre due to the dark themes contained within, it’s certainly an accessible read for those who like their crime novels on the shady side, character driven, without any kind of gratuitous brutality attached. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next.
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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