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Hannah, Mari - 'The Murder Wall'
Paperback: 420 pages (Apr. 2012) Publisher: Pan ISBN: 0330539930

Kate Daniels is a DCI who lives and works in Northumberland. The murder of a priest and a young girl that she discovered in a church has remained unsolved and haunts Kate. She is called out to the body of a man discovered dead in his upmarket waterside flat by his wife. Since the body of a murdered child has also been discovered that night, her boss, Superintendent Bright has appointed Kate as Senior Investigating Officer. This is her first chance at sole responsibility to lead the murder team and a good step in her career path.

When Kate arrives at the murder scene, she recognises the victim as the ex-husband of her ex-lover Jo Soulsby, the Criminal Profiler that works with the murder team. Jo and Kate's relationship had been kept a secret which, together with the fact that Kate will not admit publicly that she is gay, lead to their break-up.

Kate and her team try to contact Jo, but she isn't answering her phone. Jo has her own problems, ones that she knows she should report to the police but she chooses to hide her bruises and just get on with her job. However, a momentary lack of concentration causes her to lose control of her car and she ends up in hospital with amnesia.

Slowly evidence stacks up and points to Jo as the murderer. Kate cannot believe it and continues to search for evidence to suggest an alternative suspect. Other murders seemingly unconnected happen and Kate begins to see a pattern. She believes there is a serial killer and that the murder of Jo's husband is linked. She is hampered by the fact that she will not admit her personal knowledge of Jo's character and the violence of her friend's previous marriage.

THE MURDER WALL is a strong first novel. The police procedure reads authentically as does the detailing of the impact of the job on police-officers' private lives. I like to care about characters in books I read and in this book I found myself interested in all the main characters but also in the lives of those on the periphery of the story. The sense of place - Northumberland - is well written. I could track the journeys in my mind's eye even with my limited knowledge of the area and this contributed to my enjoyment.

A fast paced read by a first time novelist - an author to watch.

Susan White, England
May 2012

More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 19/05/2012 15:28