*I received a free copy of this book with thanks to the author and Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources blog tours. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: A series of copycat suicides, prompted by a mysterious online blogger, causes DCI Jude Satterthwaite more problems than usual, intensifying his concerns about his troublesome younger brother, Mikey. Along with his partner, Ashleigh O’Halloran, and a local
psychiatrist, Vanessa Wood, Jude struggles to find the identity of the malicious troll gaslighting young people to their deaths.
The investigation stirs grievances both old and new. What is the connection with the hippies camped near the Long Meg stone circle? Could these suicides have any connection with a decades old cold case? And, for Jude, the most crucial question of all. Is it personal — and could Mikey be the final target?
This is the sixth in Jo Allen’s DCI Satterthwaite mystery series, set in the Lake District, and it is the third one I have read in the series. It can theoretically be read as a standalone story, but I feel that I have got much more from the stories since I have been reading them in order, so I fully intend to go back and catch up on books 1-3 as soon as I get the chance! There is a lot going on with the relationships between the characters, that build and develop across the series.
Of the three books I have read, this one is definitely my favourite – and the others were very good! I am always fascinated by psychologically-based crime mysteries, so the idea that these might be contagious suicides (like a form of mass hysteria) or that someone could deliberately manipulate others into harming themselves had me totally hooked from the start.
As with previous books, the story is mainly balanced between Jude and Ashleigh’s viewpoints as they investigate the spate of deaths, with some insight into other characters too, like Becca (Jude’s ex), Raven (an elderly traveller) and Izzy (a young Goth). The relationship between the main characters grows ever more tangled, and yet I like how they both remain dignified and mature, and show insight into their own behaviours and motivations. It definitely forms a stark contrast when compared to Jude’s ex-friend and apparent nemesis, Adam, who makes a couple of background cameos here, just being generally annoying. It is clear there is a lot more to come from the animosity between him and Jude, and I – for one – would love to see him finally get his comeuppance!
Some people may find the subject of teen suicides triggering, but Jo Allen’s books never contain gratuitous detail or graphic violence. She explores the human fascination with death and our equal fear of it sensitively here and from different perspectives – natural winding down, accident, suicide, murder and experimenting with the dark side.
What I like most about this series is the way the characters are complex, as are their relationships. Mikey (Jude’s younger brother) comes out of this one better than before, while Jude veers a little too far into mother hen territory and is risking getting his wings clipped by his ruffled sibling. I hope they can come to a balance in future stories because I think Mikey would be a great investigative asset, judging by his people skills.
Well-written and with a gripping plot and believable characters, fans of police procedural mysteries should definitely be reading this series, as it just keeps getting better with each book!
”It looks for all the world like a straightforward suicide.’ Detective Sergeant Ashleigh O’Halloran turned to her boss – and lover – and crinkled her eyes, partly against the sun and partly in sheer puzzlement. ‘One I can understand. But now we have three, and in the space of a couple of months. Does that make it an epidemic?’– Jo Allen, Death in the Woods
Did it? If it didn’t it certainly made it more of a puzzle. Jude Satterthwaite, too, frowned at the scene.’
Death in the Woods is available on Amazon right now.
Don’t forget to stop by the other blogs on this tour (see the poster below for details) for more great content and reviews, and follow this link to see my review of Death at Rainbow Cottage or this link to see my review of Death on the Lake, both by the same author.