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Saturday 18 November 2023

‘The Night Before Christmas’ by Alex Pine

Published by Avon,
26 October 2023.
ISBN: 978-0-00-862102-5 (PB)

It’s Christmas Eve and DCI James Walker is looking forward to going home to his wife Annie and their young daughter Bella.  The weather in their Cumbrian village of Kirkby Abbey is pretty bad. Although the gritters and snow ploughs have done a thorough job, the winds are ferocious and temperatures sub-zero. But a call from control puts paid to an early exit for James.

Maria Payne is worried that her husband has not returned from a hike he and three of his friends went on that morning. She was expecting them back in the afternoon and  she cannot reach any of them on their mobiles.  In view of the worsening weather James knows they need to move fast and co-ordinate a search and rescue operation.

As the group set out from a farm owned by Mr Ted Rycroft, they make that their first port of call. So, James sets off with DC Foley. On arrival they find the farm in darkness and ominously silent. Four vehicles all have their windows smashed. The front door to the house is open, and the house has been thoroughly trashed, and everything vandalised. And on one of the walls hangs a picture of a group of red-coated fox hunters and scrawled across it the word Murderers.

As the search for the missing men goes on and more things come to light, James realises that this may not just be a case of missing men caught in a blizzard. And several hours later they find the first body brutally murdered.

Slowly as the hours pass more information comes to light. Old grudges that have festered over the years.

Gripping and disturbing, this is a chilling tale of the animosity between foxhunters and those who are directly opposed to it.  Alex Pine has again woven a fascinating and tragic tale.  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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