Wednesday 18 November 2015

Reviewed: Blood Axe by Leigh Russell

Blood Axe will be published in paperback by No Exit Press on November 26, 2015. The ebook was published on August 10.

Thanks to No Exit Press for sending me a copy of this book to review.

I read my first Leigh Russell novel, Race to Death, back in October last year and have been hooked on her writing ever since. This meant I couldn’t resist the chance to read the next book in the Ian Peterson Murder Investigation series and Blood Axe did not disappoint. With a brutal axe murderer, sinister twists and a whodunit difficult to predict, Blood Axe has become my favourite book in the series and I am once again left craving more from this exciting author.

An axe goes missing at the JORVIK Viking Festival in York but little are the residents of the city to know that it will become the weapon of choice for some pretty gruesome murders. The book early on takes us to the scene of the murder of a sixteen year old girl. It’s bloody and pretty graphic and sends shockwaves throughout York. From the start, even though any obvious suspects are limited and discovering the murderer feels almost an impossible task, it’s made all the more fun for guessing at and I always love following the murders along with Leigh’s books and trying to predict the next twist because she always writes them so finely – the entertainment for me is in knowing that I’m not going to have things figured out. Leigh will always spring another surprise or two.

The narrative is crisp and clear – the various police procedures were delivered to feel very well researched but also appear uncomplicated and easy for the reader to sink their teeth into. This was also helped by the brief glossary of acronyms at the beginning of the book which helps rid any possible confusion at some of the police terms. What I love about Leigh’s books and in particular the DI Ian Peterson series is how as a reader, I always feel like a real life witness to the investigation and the back and forth of eliminating suspects and eventually reaching the correct conclusion. Thankfully for the people involved in this novel, Ian and his team are better at solving the mysteries than I am and the particular resolution to the whodunit in Blood Axe was one I hadn’t been expecting.

Ian is a likeable character in this series and I like him more with each book, despite him not being the most vocal of characters or the best with his words when he uses them. He does appear a bit awkward at times, especially early on when he seems like he doesn’t really know how to speak to young women at all, or even women of any age given his distant relationship with his wife Bev. But that is kind of his charm as he feels genuine and realistic – working on his cases with a refreshing honesty and very capable at his job too. Though Bev’s motives were the one aspect of Blood Axe not hard to see, I liked the change in dynamics between the two of them and found the way things worked out between them highly satisfying.

I loved the mystery in this novel and found it even more interesting than the previous books – though I was a big fan of those too! The style Blood Axe is told in meant in between a few chapters of the investigation, we got to read a bit of the murderer and their thought processes and they were a fascinating, if not weird, character to hear from. It was very chilling hearing from such an original character and seeing the way they were thinking, and constantly plotting. These chapters were perfectly interspersed between the investigation chapters and made the plot multi-dimensional and captivating. Whilst I found the second book in this series, Race to Death, a bit of a slow-burner, my attention was grabbed right from the beginning of Blood Axe and it did not let me go – I started and finished the book in one go.

I left Blood Axe very, very eager for the next book in this series and have already prepared myself to be virtually clueless the whole way through. Blood Axe was edgy and intriguing and the pacing kept me on my toes throughout, always in anticipation of a little bit more information and something to help me work the mystery out, or steer me well off track. This series has fast become one of my favourite crime series and I can no longer think of York without thinking of Leigh Russell’s gripping, atmospheric novels. Blood Axe was faultlessly entertaining and I can’t wait to see what’s to come next…

The best book in the series so far...

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