(A D.I. Barton mystery)
The book begins with Inga, four years previously, in Stevenage. As is often the case, first chapters of crime books don’t often feature characters who live very far into the book and Inga is the same. But it always takes us straight into the action to witness a murder!
A more unusual literary device is employed in this book though, when we have chapters written from the viewpoint of the murderer – this time known as The Santa Killer from the book’s title. This chapter is set in Peterborough in the present day. We discover that the person has been following someone called Maggie, who appears to have a privileged life which the killer is envious of. I really enjoyed reading the killer’s thoughts and trying to find little clues to their identity. You are able to follow their story and see what makes them tick, reading about key incidents in their past.
The next chapter is from Maggie’s point of view, which cleverly shows us what her life is really like and it isn’t the perfect dream-like world that the killer thinks she inhabits. She is 38 and lives with her daughter Pippa (10). As we are able to see into her life and circumstances, we warm to her quickly and want her to be okay.
We also follow the police, with Detective Inspector John Barton being the lead figure in these novels. I haven’t read any of the books previously, but this is part of a series which began with The Snow Killer. I certainly didn’t feel disadvantaged reading The Santa Killer first, it works fine as a standalone.
Barton works in a police station in Peterborough along with his team DS Shawn Zander (who is dating fellow police officer DS Kelly Strange), Zelensky, Malik, DC Leicester and new recruit Hoffman. Barton is married to Holly and they have three children (Lawrence, Luke and Layla) and a greyhound called Gizmo.
I loved the dialogue in the book and there’s a lot of wit and humour. Even little cameo roles are memorable. I also liked that it was mentioned that police officers need the loo! I have often read fast-paced crime thrillers wondering when on earth they get chance for a wee! (Maybe that’s just me.)
I like the length of the chapters here, they are perfect – sometimes just a couple of pages if a brief scene, but usually around five pages on the e-book. I also enjoyed the different viewpoints. I think if you know what a murderer is thinking and feeling, they seem more believable and you have some sympathy for them, even though they are committing a horrible crime. I liked that the novel was set recently and mentioned things like lockdown and face masks, which grounded it well and made it feel real.
Overall, there’s not much to criticise in this book. It was really well-paced, I loved the characters (especially Barton), the writing is clever and the story fascinating. I’m happy to recommend this and I’d love to read the rest of the series.
The Santa Killer
The Santa Killer is coming to town…
One night less than two weeks before Christmas, a single mother is violently assaulted. It’s a brutal crime at the time of year when there should be goodwill to all. When DI Barton begins his investigation, he’s surprised to find the victim is a woman with nothing to hide and no reason for anyone to hurt her.
A few days later, the mother of the woman attacked rings the police station. Her granddaughter has drawn a shocking picture. It seems she was looking out of the window when her mother was attacked. And when her grandmother asks the young girl who the person with the weapon is, she whispers two words.
The rumours start spreading, and none of the city’s women feel safe – which one of them will be next?
He’s got a list. It’s quite precise. It won’t matter even if you’re nice.
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Author Bio –
Ross Greenwood is the author of crime thrillers. Before becoming a full-time writer he was most recently a prison officer and so worked everyday with murderers, rapists and thieves for four years. He lives in Peterborough.
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