A shooting at a remote farmhouse on Christmas Eve launches DCI Mackenzie Jones and her team on a murder investigation. On the face of it, the culprit seems all too obvious—a murder/suicide by an unstable sibling leaves estranged son Ralph Mallender mourning the deaths of not only his parents, but his younger brother and sister too.
But DCI ‘Mack’ Jones isn’t so sure and soon discovers reasons to put the surviving son firmly in the frame for murder. Meanwhile, the accused man’s wife doesn’t believe her husband could be guilty and seeks help from former cop-turned-private-investigator Atticus Priest. Can Priest unearth the truth behind the murders, or is the case simply what it appears to be—a greedy son murdering his family for money?
This is the second Mark Dawson novel I’ve read (the first being The Cleaner), and it’s an interesting read. Having said that, my first impressions were not favourable. Firstly, the plot screamed similarities to the true-life White House Farm murders, and for a while it was difficult to focus on anything else. Then it was the author’s ridiculous overuse of the word ‘that’—there are whole passages where the word stands out like the proverbial sore thumb in almost every sentence.
Once I got into it, I was gripped. The plot is clever and realistic and even the court scenes (which so many authors simply can’t write) are well-crafted and entertaining. The plot twists are also nicely done and don’t come over as convoluted or exaggerated but work very well within the confines of the story. The main characters of Atticus and Mack and their bit of ‘history’ are entirely believable and left me hungry for more.
Nice one, Marky.
Some interesting comments on the writing style, Colin. Thanks for sharing your review.