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Thursday 13 October 2022

‘The Winter Killer’ by Alex Pine

Published by Avon,
13 October 2022.
ISBN: 978-0-00-852026-7 (PB)

It is New Year’s Eve and Jessica Abbott arrives along with her fiancé Sean to stay at the Fells Hotel set on the edge of Cumbria’s Lake Windermere. A beautiful setting for the wedding of Libby Elliot to Greg Murphy, owner of this hotel, and a chain of hotels across Cumbria. No expense has been spared for the dozens of select guests, among which is the sprightly seventy-one-year-old Claire Prescott and her son Ethan, the bride’s parents, Denise and Fraser Elliott, and Libby’s sister Rachel.  All set for a wonderful wedding in a stunning setting.

DI James Walker is at home with his wife Annie and their new baby girl Bella. James has breathed a sigh of relief as Christmas had passed uneventfully unlike the last two Christmases, which had found him chasing killers. But his relief is short lived when he receives a call from DC Jessica Abbott telling him that at the wedding she is attending the bride’s sister has disappeared, and despite the guests doing a search of the hotel and grounds there is no sign of her.

On arrival James establishes that Rachel, Libby’s maid of honour, had left the wedding breakfast before her speech. About which her sister Libby was furious.

James calls in a team to do an extensive and thorough search of the hotel and grounds and sets about interviewing the guests to establish a timeframe around the disappearance.   Before long it becomes clear that despite the idyllic setting there is nothing idyllic about the relationship between the family members and Libby’s new husband Greg Murphy, or Greg’s best man Mark Slade, who both like their own way and don’t hesitate to create a fuss if they don’t get it.  

With so many people in attendance at the wedding floating around drinking champagne it is quite a task trying to place just where everyone was. As the police investigation progresses two things become clear, firstly that from the hotel CCTV not everyone is being truthful about their whereabouts and secondly that Rachel was not overly popular, and so the suspect’s mount.  But who would dislike Rachel enough to kill her?

This is the third book in this series, and I was gripped by the story from start to finish as I was with the two earlier books. Alex Pine weaves a fascinating and intriguing mystery culminating in a surprising ending, I didn’t see coming.Highly recommended

Reviewer: Lizzie Sirett

Alex Pine is the pseudonym of a bestselling author who has also written books under the names Jaime Raven, James Raven and JP Carter. He was born and raised on a council estate in South London and left school at sixteen. Before becoming a full-time writer, he spent a career in journalism as a newspaper reporter and television producer. He was, for a number of years, director of a major UK news division and co-owned a TV production company. He now splits his time between homes in Hampshire and Spain with his wife.

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