Leigh Russell, November 2015, 320 pages, No Exit Press, ISBN: 1843445433
Reviewed by Amanda Gillies.
(Read more of Amanda's reviews for Euro Crime here.)
BLOOD AXE is the third Leigh Russell novel to feature her detective DI Ian Peterson and is probably the most chilling one to date. This time the killer is completely insane and believes himself to be a Viking warrior: going out on raids and hacking apparently random targets to death with his axe. He takes his spoils – jewellery and coins - home with him and keeps them in a tin under his bed. The whole of York is in a state of high alert and it seems that no one is safe from this attacker, as he picks anyone who crosses his path when he is out on his raids. The first victim is a teenage girl on her way home from a party, the second a jewellery store manager and the third a well-to-do elderly woman who stops to ask for directions. The killer leaves no clues and it seems that catching him is going to be an impossible task.
DI Ian Peterson is up to the challenge of achieving the impossible. He and his team work late, follow up even the slightest clues and deal with a number of sensitive but annoying teenage girls, who seem to be fabricating evidence and wasting time right left and centre. Ian does his best but, as usual, has his work cut out for him as he also has to fight with himself over feeling guilty for neglecting his demanding wife, Bev, who doesn’t work and moans all the time about being alone. She seems remarkably pleasant in this novel and the reader is instantly suspicious of her motives.
As the body count increases, so does the pressure to find answers and what with the papers calling this man a serial killer, not to mention that the boss is breathing down their necks, time is running out for Ian and his team.
Leigh Russell’s books are simply wonderful. The characters are so real that you feel as if you know them. You either like them enormously and want them to succeed – Ian, for example, who you wish would just get rid of his wife – or dislike them immensely and get extremely annoyed when they interfere.
If you are a fan of books by Peter James, Sophie Hannah and Lynda La Plante then you are going to love books by Leigh Russell too. Her novels are always a relatively quick read, as well as being absorbing and well-written. They also pay a lot of attention to accuracy in terms of procedural details. It is to the author’s credit that she has already won awards for her work. It is high time she was given another one!
Amanda Gillies, February 2016.