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Wednesday 3 August 2022

‘The Ash Lake Murders’ by Helen H. Durrant

Published by Joffe Books,
24 March, 2022.
 978-1-80405151-1 (PB)

The Ash Lake Murders may be the first in the Detective Alice Rossi books, but with 5 books in her Detective Rachael King series, 4 in her DCI Grecco series, 11 in the Calladine & Bayliss Mysteries, 2 in the Detective Matt Brindle books and 2 in her Detectives Lennox & Wilde series, Helen Durrant is no beginner in the art of superb mystery writing. She is indeed one of the most popular and highly acclaimed writers in her particular niche of detective fiction. The Ash Lake Murders will meet the expectations of her many fans.

The action takes place within a close-knit community of well-to-do retirees and luxury holiday cottages in a remote area of the Peak District. The 24-year-old son of one of the residents goes missing but his mother fails to get the police to take much interest. Only when a body of one of the other residents turns up in Ash Lake and the police receive tweets from someone calling themselves ‘Mad Hatter,’ do they begin to realise that a female serial killer is again at work.

DCI Alice Rossi and the killer have a history. Discovering the connection between the two is part of the novel’s intrigue that keeps the reader turning the page. The plot moves along at a great pace with plenty of action. Tension crackles from the pages.

Since her abusive husband’s death six years ago, Alice has been preoccupied with her work and the prospect of retirement is not something she is looking forward to. Like all the characters in Durrant’s novel, Alice is well-drawn. For years, she hid her unhappy marriage from all around her including her son. She is a complex but compelling character who the reader wants to succeed not only in catching the serial killer but in exorcizing her demons.

A great novel with which to start a series.

Reviewer: Judith Cranswick  

Helen H. Durrant writes gritty police procedurals and is published by Joffe Books. Until six years ago she hadn’t written a word, now she has sixteen titles out there and counting. Her novels are set in the Pennine villages outside Manchester. Writing was a dormant ambition. It was retirement that gave her the opportunity to have a go. The success of her books came as a huge surprise, now she can’t stop!


Judith Cranswick was born and brought up in Norwich. Apart from writing, Judith’s great passions are travel and history. Both have influenced her two series of mystery novels. Tour Manager, Fiona Mason takes coach parties throughout Europe, and historian Aunt Jessica is the guest lecturer accompanying tour groups visiting more exotic destinations aided by her nephew Harry. Her published novels also include several award-winning standalone psychological thrillers. She wrote her first novel (now languishing in the back of a drawer somewhere) when her two children were toddlers, but there was little time for writing when she returned to her teaching career. Now retired, she is able to indulge her love of writing and has begun a life of crime! ‘Writers are told to write what they know about, but I can assure you, I've never committed a murder. I'm an ex-convent school headmistress for goodness sake!’ Judith latest book is Peril in Persia.

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