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Tuesday, 29 March 2016

‘Journey to Death’ by Leigh Russell

Published by Thomas & Mercer,
3 March 2016.
ISBN: 978-1-50395-191-1

The book opens with a chapter long prologue describing events in June 1977 when George Hall, an accountant at the Garden of Eden Hotel, is living and working in the Seychelles. At first unsettled and home-sick, he is contemplating returning to England, until he falls under the spell of the beautiful and mysterious Veronique. When a political coup destroys the peace of the Seychelles, George is forced to leave Veronique and return home.

Thirty years later, George returns to the Seychelles for the holiday of a lifetime, accompanied by his wife, Angela, and their twenty-two-year-old daughter, Lucy. George and Angela are worried about Lucy, who has been devastated by the discovery that her fiancé, Darren, was being unfaithful to her and the consequent breakdown of their relationship. Darren had made all the decisions for both of them and Lucy feels alone and vulnerable, but she is determined not to let her own grief spoil her parents' holiday. On the first evening of their holiday, George is delighted to meet Adrian, a native of the Seychelles, who now has George's old job as the hotel accountant. George and Angela hope that Adrian will befriend Lucy and help her to enjoy her holiday.

At first all is well but then Lucy begins to notice sinister things that happen, which might be accidents but she thinks not: a close-call when she is out swimming and a sudden fall of rocks near where she is walking. She realises that Adrian thinks she is imagining things and that she is an emotionally and mentally fragile young woman. Lucy is unsure of herself and desperate not to worry her parents, so she accepts that she is mistaken, although the uneasiness lingers. Lucy and her father go out for the day, leaving her mother at the hotel, but when they return they find something has happened that plunges them into a nightmare and threatens to destroy their family. Lucy has to muster all her newly discovered independence and courage to save them all.

This is the first in a series of romantic suspense books by Leigh Russell, who is best known for her Police Procedural series. Lucy is an attractive and likeable protagonist and it is a pleasure to watch her grow in confidence and maturity. The suspense builds up nicely and the reader really wants things to turn out well for the Hall family. The Seychelles setting is beautifully described and the island with its exotic loveliness and lurking menace plays a crucial part in the story. Journey to Death makes the subtle point that those who appear fragile and vulnerable often have unexpected resources of strength and resilience. It is a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Reviewer:  Carol Westron

Leigh Russell studied at the University of Kent gaining a Masters degree in English and American literature. Formerly a secondary school English teacher, with the success of her Geraldine Steel series, Leigh now writes full-time. Her debut novel, Cut Short, was published in 2009 by No Exit Press in the UK, followed by Road Closed, Dead End, Death Bed, Stop Dead, Fatal Act and Killer Plan, all featuring detective Geraldine Steel, and Murder Ring will be published in 2016. Leigh also writes a spinoff series for Geraldine's sergeant, Ian Peterson. Cold Sacrifice and Race to Death are already published, to be followed by Blood Axe in late 2015. Leigh recently signed a three book deal with Thomas and Mercer for a new series featuring Lucy Hall. The first two titles in this series will be published in 2016. Leigh Russell is married with two daughters and lives in Middlesex.

Carol Westron is a successful short story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.  She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  The Terminal Velocity of Cats is the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published July 2013. Her second book About the Children was published in May 2014.

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