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Russell, Leigh - 'Cut Short'
Paperback: 352 pages (July 2009) Publisher: No Exit Press ISBN: 1842432710

Simply awesome! This debut novel by Leigh Russell will take your breath away. The heroine, DI Geraldine Steel, is attractive, sassy and confident, yet intriguingly vulnerable and a welcome change from the usual male detective. Well-written and captivating, it is entirely possible to complete CUT SHORT in a single sitting: perfect for a miserable Saturday in November.

Somebody, a paranoid schizophrenic named Jim, is killing blonde-haired women in Woolsmarsh Park. He is fixated on doing as Miss Elsie, one of his old school teachers, tells him and purging the area of women that make him have dirty thoughts. Being a rather backward character, he thinks he is being clever by burying his victims under leaves in the park but is nearly foiled one morning when an older, less pretty, lady stops him to ask for directions as he is walking away from a body. He decides to kill her as well, to make his life easier, but the police are closing in around him.

Meanwhile, we have already been introduced to the investigating police team and watch in restless fascination as they edge slowly towards their goal. Geraldine, our main character, is a stickler for detail and doing very well in her police career. She has a reputation for remembering the smallest details and solving riddles, so is rather frustrated when the case starts to focus on the wrongpeople while her opinions go unheeded. With sheer hard work and grim determination she gets to the bottom of things and manages to track down Jim - almost to her own cost.

I love the way the reader can see both sides of the story at the same time. Tension is built to a crescendo by the author's fantastic writing style and the marvelous little twist at the end, that is almost a throw-away comment from one of the characters, leaves you gaping in surprise at how things are all connected.

CUT SHORT is delightfully creepy and impossible to ignore. Read it, if you dare, only try not to look over your shoulder when you walk alone outside in the darků

Amanda C M Gillies, Scotland
November 2009

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 16/07/2010 19:10