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Monday 5 November 2018

Down To The Woods by M.J. Arlidge

Published by Penguin Michael Joseph,
20 September 2018.
ISBN: 978-0-718-18367-5 (HB)

Melanie and Tom were camping in the New Forest when Melanie woke in the middle of the night to find Tom missing from the tent. She waited a while and when he failed to return, she frantically searched the camp site but he was nowhere to be found.

Early the next morning a call comes into Southampton Central police station reporting that a forestry worker has discovered a man's body in a remote part of the New Forest. To Detective Inspector Helen Grace's horror, he has been strung up by his ankles and hanged from a tree. He had been shot by three crossbow bolts and left to bleed out.

Suspicion falls on a Nathaniel Martin, thought to be living rough in the Forest. Evidence is uncovered showing he is fanatic about saving the Forest from any developments and is against the building of camp sites. He has served sentences for hate crimes and aggravated assault.

However, when a pony is found shot also with crossbow bolts, Helen wonders if they are seeking the wrong man. Martin is intent on protecting the Forest and everything in it, why would he kill a pony? When another body is found in similar circumstances as the first it is feared the police may be hunting a serial killer. A warning goes out to the general public to avoid camping in the New Forest until the culprit is caught, but some people take no notice. Will there be another death?

Helen and her team are baffled as to the seemingly unconnected murders, the victims were taken from different sites miles apart. Could they have known each other at some time, perhaps years ago? The team wonder if something happened in the past, but what could have triggered the killings now? They seem thwarted at every turn, coming to one dead end after another. It is obviously imperative that they solve the case before there are any more murders, but is it possible?

What a deliciously creepy good read! The author is brilliant at describing the panic felt by the victims as they are stalked through the Forest.  I have actually camped in the New Forest some years ago, would I again?!
Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Tricia Chappell

Matthew Arlidge was born 10 October 1974. He is an English author of crime novels starring DI Helen Grace. He has also worked in television for the last fifteen years specializing in high-end drama production.

Tricia Chappell. I have a great love of books and reading, especially crime and thrillers. I play the occasional game of golf (when I am not reading). My great love is cruising especially to far flung places, when there are long days at sea for plenty more reading! I am really enjoying reviewing books and have found lots of great new authors.

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