SJI Holliday has been reading crime fiction since she was able to hold a book. She writes short stories and her debut novel, Black Wood was published in spring 2015. You can find out more at www.sjiholliday.com.
A serial killer is stalking the streets of Liverpool, gruesomely murdering victims as part of a series of infamous unethical and deadly psychological experiments. When it becomes apparent that each victim has ties to the City of Liverpool University, DI David Murphy and DS Laura Rossi realise they're chasing a killer unlike any they've hunted before – one who doesn’t just want his victims’ bodies, but wants their minds too.
The story opens with 'Experiment 2' and an un-named girl locked in the dark... Which begs the obvious question, what was Experiment 1? This is the first of many clever little touches in this book, so expertly plotted that you can scarcely believe it's a debut.
Set in Liverpool, we are thrown into the world of a twisted serial killer who is performing sick psychological experiments, leaving the police with gloating letters and a spattering of cryptic clues.
Cue detectives David Murphy (damaged, full of secrets) and Laura Rossi (young, eager), and a solid procedural tale interspersed with just the right amount of red herrings and kick yourself moments to keep you entertained throughout. There is a satisfying feeling of menace, and I particularly enjoyed the story of Rob - a man whose girlfriend who has been missing for a year, and who seems to be carrying around a few secrets of his own.
Murphy’s backstory, covering the death of his parents and the break-up of his marriage is complex and satisfying; and the close-knit family background that shapes Rossi makes a nice contrast – the two characters complementing each other well.
The scene is nicely set, the characters expertly drawn, and the ending has enough twists and turns to satisfy even the most avid of clue chasers (like me). I particularly enjoyed the Thomas Harris homage...
Top stuff, from a name to watch.
Paperback Released 16th January 2014.