As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Head of Zeus, 13 August 2015. ISBN: 978-0-78408288-8 (HB)
Think of Liverpool, and the kind of crime that comes to mind is a
pitched battle between Anfield and Goodison fans, or thieving at the docks. One
hopes that entire families ritually slaughtered in their beds, driving snow and
a psychotic mass murderer locked up in a high-security hospital are very much
the stuff of fiction.
It’s all the stuff of the
first in Dagger-nominated Mark Roberts’s new Red River City series, featuring
DCI Eve Clay, a woman with an obscure past and an enviable track record. In the
opening chapter Eve is called out in the middle of a blizzard to a house in a
middle-class suburb, where three generations of a family have been brutally
murdered – and that’s only the beginning.
More horrific incidents
follow, and a strange phone call makes Eve suspect the murderer is seeking her
personal attention; a few years earlier she put away the Baptist, a serial
killer with a twisted quasi-religious mission, and it soon becomes clear that
the latest murders are in some way connected to him.
Mark Roberts builds his case
from a series of scenes and vignettes which horrify and fascinate in equal
measure. As Eve and her team pick a convoluted path through a complex code of
clues, the link with Eve’s early life in care grows stronger, as do her fears
for her own beloved husband and toddler son.
There’s a strongly drawn cast
of characters, both good and evil: fiercely intelligent and analytical
policemen and desperate family members of victims, evil shining from the eyes
of deranged killers.And behind it all
lies a kind of anti-religious imagery which is reflected and intensified by natural
conditions evocatively brought to life: extreme weather, bringing about colours
in the sky which reflect the Baptist’s chilling declarations.
From that shocking opening
chapter right through to the appalling climax in a network of tunnels under
Liverpool’s Edge Hill region, the tension builds relentlessly. It’s not a
comfortable read by any means; I found I had to put the book down from time to
time to get my breath back and clear my mind of the depths of depravity it
depicts. But it’s compelling all the same; it was never long before I had to
pick it up again.
Eve Clay is a satisfying
protagonist, and there is more than a hint towards the end that the Baptist
isn’t done with her, that the series will include a substantial element of
heroine versus nemesis. If this is the author’s intention, he has made a
striking and memorable start.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
Mark Roberts was
born and raised in Liverpool and was educated
at St. Francis Xavier's College. He was a teacher for twenty years and for the
last ten years has worked as a special school teacher. He received a Manchester
Evening News Theatre Award for best new play of the year. The Sixth Soul was his first novel for adults.
Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen,
and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but
never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher
for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now
burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with
books, about half of them crime fiction.