Today I am very excited to share my thoughts on Killing Jericho, the brand new novel from William Hussey. It’s a fabulous read with a very unique central protagonist and I absolutely ate it up. My thanks to publishers Zaffre for the early copy via Netgalley. Here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
Scott Jericho thought he’d worked his last case. Fresh out of jail, the disgraced former detective is forced to seek refuge with the fairground family he once rejected.
Then a series of bizarre murders comes to light – deaths that echo a century-old fairground legend. The police can’t connect the victims. But Jericho knows how the legend goes; that more murders are certain to follow.
As Jericho unpicks the deadly mystery, a terrifying question haunts him. As a direct descendant of one of the victims in the legend, is Jericho next on the killer’s list?
From the award-winning author of The Outrage comes Killing Jericho, the gothic, helter-skelter thriller debut that introduces crime fiction’s first ever Traveller detective, Scott Jericho.
Well, hello Scott Jericho. What a character and what a case to introduce him to readers who, if they are anything like me, are just going to eat it/him up. Traveller, disgraced detective, and, if that’s not enough to have about half the population of the UK prejudiced against him, he’s also gay. But more importantly that that, he’s complex, he’s troubled, he’s prone to moments of darkness in which anything can happen, and he is absolutely bloody fascinating. I was drawn in by him right from the off, compelled by his story, wanting to know more about his secrets, and completely and utterly intrigued about where this case was going to lead us all.
William Hussey has created an absolute corker of a character in Scott Jericho, one I am so happy we will see again. It’s a somewhat memorable and perhaps less than auspicious introduction to our hero that opens the book, but it certainly gives you a good flavour of where he is as a character right at that moment in time. Safe to say it’s not a good place and for very good reason. But the more the author explores Scott’s backstory, the more we see of him on the page, the more certain I was that this was a character I was really going to like. There is just something about his personality, spiky as it often is, that was utterly engrossing. A literary loving, tough acting, purveyor of justice … albeit in his own, sometimes violent, style. His actions are never without cause, some might argue often a noble one, and perhaps that’s why those lapses into darkness are easily forgivable. But beneath the hard exterior, there is a man who cares deeply for people and who is completely and utterly drawn in by mystery. And, as mysteries go, this is a fairly big one.
This is a serial killer story. Three murders, different MO, different locations, not clear link between victims, but with aspects that, to someone, draw parallels with a part of Scott’s family history. The build up of the case if perfectly pitched, scratching an itch that Scott did not know he had, and pulling me in as a reader too. Each murder was set up in a kind of grim tableau, but one that would mean little to anyone who didn’t understand the significance. But as that significance is explored, as all the various players in the story are brought to our attention, it really did spark that curiosity, in both our protagonist and me as the reader. So many people to be wary of, so many coincidences, and plenty to draw our attention away from what should have been fairly obvious. I loved the way the author pulled together the various threads, using them to expose more of the backstory and weaving them amongst the echoes of a tragedy that had become almost a folk tale passed on from generation to generation.
Aside from the obvious mad murderer theme, this is also a book which challenges perceptions and highlights the prejudice and hatred which is, sadly, still teeming in our society. Be it preconceived ideas of the traveller community, or the blatant racism that frames the story by way of a Nazi loving child murderer and an anti-mosque demonstration that takes place in the town of Bradbury End, it serves to demonstrate that it has become almost natural to demonise communities who are perceived to be different from the majority, and in Bradbury End it goes without saying that the majority are white. The hate forms a back drop to the story, drawing attention and challenging assertions without preaching. It certainly opens the mind to a different way of thinking about the traveller community, to not accept a few bad headlines as being representative of them as a whole.
The pacing of the book is spot on, the mystery just fascinating and the murders grotesque and twisted, explored in enough detail without being overly gratuitous. There are scenes in the book lend a really emotional edge to the story, one of which is of Scott and the love of his life, the one that got away, Harry. The moments of tenderness between them as they reconnect contrast beautifully with the darkness and the moments of violence which feed through the book. Whether I’ve done the book justice I don’t know (probably not), but I do know that I was hooked from the start and loved every bit of it.
If you are looking for an intrigue laden mystery, a tale of a devious and manipulative murderer, with a very unique and utterly enthralling protagonist then you should read this book. The ending may take you by surprise, but it is very fitting for the book. Is justice served? Well you will have to read to find out, won’t you. Definitely recommended. And it’s getting one of these as I just love Scott Jericho.
About the Author
William Hussey is the award-winning author of over a dozen novels, including the Crime Fest award-nominated Hideous Beauty and The Outrage. Born the son of a travelling showman, he has spent a lifetime absorbing the history, folklore and culture of fairground people, knowledge he has now put to work in his Scott Jericho thrillers. William lives in the seaside town of Skegness with his faithful dog Bucky and a vivid imagination.
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