Blurb: Samantha Jaynes took her life in the cold lake. Now Rosie Trimble has done the same. Both claimed they had seen an angel. And they’re not the only ones.
A spate of teenage suicides rattles the rural community of Kirkdale, in England’s Lake District. Before they died, each of the girls talked about seeing an angel. Is this collective hallucination, or is something more sinister leading these young girls to their deaths?
That’s a question for Dr Alex Ripley, the so-called Miracle Detective. Brought in to help the police, she finds a community rooted in fear and suspicion, bound by their strange faith, unwilling to help, unable to forgive.
Because the people of Kirkdale have buried their dark past once, and they’re not about to let Ripley dig it up again.
The Cuckoo Wood is instantly gripping and plunges the reader straight into the oppressive menace of a closed society with some dark secrets.
This is a classic psychological mystery thriller, with just a touch of the paranormal to add an occult flavour to events. The atmosphere is dark and brooding; not scary like a horror story, but more wreathed in a fog of fear and mistrust (think Hound of the Baskervilles, The Woman in White, or Rebecca).
Ripley makes a fascinating and relatable main character, and the side characters are well-defined, with the focus on the psychology of why people behave the way they do, particularly when it comes to group/mob behaviours.
The plot plunges you straight in, then twists and turns, back and forth from the present to the past and back, keeping a tight grip on the reader’s attention. Also, despite giving us inside information from the perspective of the victims in the case, Coleman manages to keep the reader in the dark as to what is really going on, and what happened in the past, right up until the final twist.
The Cuckoo Wood is an accomplished mystery, packed with suspense and the introduction of Ripley sets up a promising premise for future novels in the series. I’ll be following this author avidly, and look forward to bringing you my review of Book 2 later this month!
“It’s all a bit tenuous for now,” she said. “But we’ve had two almost identical teenage suicides, local girls, in the space of four months.”
“That’s not good,” replied Ripley.
“Both from a tiny and very religious farming community. The word sin is being bandied about a lot. And no one will talk about their deaths, let alone discuss why they might have drowned themselves.”
“Suicide is a tough one in any faith,” Ripley agreed.
“Well, there are a few things that make me wonder whether there’s not someone or something else involved.”
“What kind of things?” Ripley sat forward, intrigued.
“Well, for one, there’s been talk of an angel.”
– M. Sean Coleman, The Cuckoo Wood
The Cuckoo Wood is available on Amazon right now!
Don’t forget to pop back here on 22nd November for my thoughts on the sequel: A Hollow Sky!