John Parker is a Graduate-qualified English/Spanish Teacher, owner and director of CHAT ENGLISH, an English Language Centre in Avilés on the north coast of Spain . A voracious reader, he has particularly loved horror fiction for many years.
It began with the bodies. In July, 1996, 15-year-old Isla Bell, while out on a run, discovers three bodies propped up against Hadrian’s Wall. Further along the wall, she discovers a fourth victim but it appears that he has survived.
We jump forward 20 years to find Isla working as a forensic psychologist. She studies the brains of serial killers through magnetic resonance imaging and her latest subject is none other than Heath McGowan, the man convicted of the killings two decades previously.
Coinciding with this study of the criminal mind, another body suddenly appears against the Wall. How is this possible? A copy-cat killing? Into the story comes Eric Bell, Isla’s father and the man who brought McGowan to justice and Detective Constable Mina Arian, a young woman determined to make her mark in her chosen profession.
Kavanagh’s novel is a splendid character study of three principal characters, Mina, Isla and Isla’s husband, Ramsey Aiken, the fortunate survivor of the original killings. Isla, through her work, appears to be searching for answers as to why someone would commit the horrors she witnessed as a child. Ramsey appears to be still trying to come to terms with the past as he is forced to remember what happened to him. Mina, Iraqi-born, looks to prove herself in a world where a young DC like her might easily be overlooked and mistrusted in a 98%-white, post-9/11 rural population like Briganton. Matters become worse when there is a suggestion that Mina could have helped save the life of the first of the latest victims had she been more thorough in her work.
All the other characters, Isla’s assistant Connor, Eric Bell and Mina’s partner Owen amongst others are interesting and well-drawn. As the reader is pulled into the mystery, it becomes a game of whodunit. Who is the killer on the wall? The answer may surprise you. Whatever happens, this novel will entertain you right to the end.