The past never stays buried for long...
Detective Chief Inspector Ryan believes he has put his turbulent history behind him. Then, in the early hours of the summer solstice, the skeleton of a young woman is found inside the Roman Wall at Sycamore Gap. She has lain undiscovered for ten years and it is Ryan's job to piece together her past.
Enquiry lines cross and merge as Ryan is forced to face his own demons and enter into a deadly game of cat and mouse with a killer who seems unstoppable.
The events in Sycamore Gap take place a few months after those of 'Holy Island'. This murder mystery can be read as a standalone but in the story we have some character development and references to the case in Holy Island, so I would suggest readers to read the books in the correct order.
I love this author's way of setting her crime stories in (and link them to) historical locations - places that exude an almost mystic aura. You know that horrible deeds have been carried out in these places and you can almost feel evil lurking there. In Holy Island events took place on the small island of Lindisfarne with its ancient derelict priory. In this book we have the famous Hadrian Wall in the scene. And it's exactly here where the story starts to unfold with the accidental discovery of a skeleton entombed inside the wall.
"...Ryan's unique skill for putting himself into the mind of a killer..."
From the prologue, we know who the dead person is: a young girl named Amy. From the remains it's evident that the girl has been murdered and so Ryan and his team lose no time and start their investigation. When did this girl die? Who killed her? And why? But Amy won't be the only victim. However with a tangled web of evil both inside and outside the police department, this won't be an easy case for Ryan to crack. And an unforgiving enemy is after him and everything he holds dear and has vowed to destroy him. Who will get the upper hand by the end? Well...
In this book the author weaves yet another intricate plot around strong, believable characters, both likeable and hateful. The dialogue is so realistic. I particularly liked Phillips and MacKenzie - they are so funny but at the same time brilliant cops who add that sparkle to the story.
The author's descriptions are so vivid that I felt as if I was there in a dark street or in the incident room following the case. In one particular scene I realised that I was clutching my shirt's collar and holding my breath. I wanted to read fast and turn the pages to see what will happen next but at the same time I felt anxious and fearful because I didn't want to know that what I thought was going to happen would actually take place.
With suspense throughout, but also with a dash of humour and romance thrown in from time to time, this is an engaging, gripping book. As in the previous one, the ending is not short of revelations and surprises. Now I can't wait to lay my hands on Heavenfield the third book in the series to be published soon.
With thanks to the author for a review copy of this book.
Born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, LJ Ross graduated from King's College London with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Law and continued her studies in Paris and Florence. After working in the City as a regulatory lawyer for a number of years, she realised it was high time for a change. The catalyst was the birth of her son, which forced her to take a break from the legal world and find time for some of the detective stories which had been percolating for a while and finally demanded to be written. She lives with her husband and young son in the south of England, but will always be a northern girl at heart.