Book Review: Murder Ring by Leigh Russell Published by No Exit Press

Murder Ring by Leigh Russell

Murder Ring by Leigh Russell - Credit: Archant

Hearing footsteps pounding along the street behind him he glanced back, fleetingly worried, then laughed because the street was deserted. All the same, he felt uneasy. Everything looked different in the dark. Then he heard more footsteps approaching, and a hoarse voice called out. Turning his head, he made out a figure hovering in the shadows and as it raised one arm, the barrel of a gun glinted in the moonlight...

This is the eighth book in the DI Geraldine Steel Mystery Series but these books work equally well as stand alone crime thrillers.

Geraldine is an appealing character. She is considered, professional, successful but also human; “she had investigated so many murders...she remembered them all.” She is also in deep emotional turmoil herself following the death of a colleague in the previous novel. There is a contrast between her personal and professional self. She is able to shut off her personal problems and emotions, focusing so wholly on her work that no one suspects how fragile things behind the facade really are.

There is a clever “drip feed” of information about her birth mother - just enough to intrigue the reader but not to distract from the main crime or over complicate the novel with too many contrived subplots. Russell has established a good balance. The reader is empathetic towards her. She appears to be a hard police woman but has her own weakness and vulnerability. She is lonely, a little isolated and struggling to work through her own grief. She generates sympathy but also interest and respect. The reader wants to learn more about her.

There is clearly a back story with Geraldine which has obviously been gradually established over the previous seven books but the reader is brought up to speed quickly and neatly with any necessary details.

The chapters are short, full of pace and deftly switch between the different characters who are either involved in the investigation or a potential suspect. It is impossible not to be drawn straight into the action and finding yourself turning the pages to find out more about the story line you’ve left behind or intrigued by the new developments presented from the range of characters and the various subplots which Russell swiftly sets in motion and effectively controls in a way which ensures tension and suspense are well maintained throughout the whole book.

The ending is good. There is a clear resolution and conclusion but also a few seeds are sown for the next installment. It’s an enjoyable, satisfying, easy read. Russell has clearly researched police procedure well and it is not a gratuitously graphic or violent crime novel. The reader is captivated by the characters - their motivation and deception, the tangled web that people spin through greed and opportunism. It is very readable and written in a very fluent style.