Reviewed by Kevin J. Hallock
4.5, rounded up to 5. Dead Wood was a fast-paced murder mystery that kept me guessing throughout the story. The main characters were well-drawn, with histories, personal ambitions, likes, dislikes, and all operating in the gray ethical areas that make characters interesting. I like the way the murderer was handled throughout the story, and the crimes themselves were different from typical mysteries. All around, a fun read that I would recommend to people who enjoy mysteries.
A minor quibble was the number of point-of-view characters. There were too many for my personal tastes. But it is just a quibble. I thoroughly enjoyed the book.
I received this book free from Awesome Indies Books in return for an honest review.
Reviewed by Adan Ramie
Dead Wood by Chris Longmuir is a crime thriller centered around a serial killer whose orders come from a forest haunted by memories of victims past. It’s book #2 of the Dundee Crime series, but it works pretty well as a standalone.
Longmuir’s story is bleak. Most of the characters are sleazy, immoral, or downright evil, and there are A LOT of characters. One of my complaints about Dead Wood is the number of point-of-view characters whose personalities aren’t unique enough to differentiate them. It was confusing at first, and I didn’t really get interested in how the story would turn out until over halfway in.
Although I had problems getting into Dead Wood, I did enjoy the last third of the story. It was gripping, powerful, and kept me reading until the end. The conclusion, however, took some of the wind out of my sails; it was abrupt, and I thought some of the character reactions were unbelievable.
I gave Dead Wood three out of five stars; the story itself was a good one, despite its faults.
July 28, 2013
The (fictional) subject of grooming and targeting girls on the internet for sex is getting dangerously close to cliché, unfortunately. There’s hardly a TV thriller any more than doesn’t hinge on some form of child abuse, and – important subject though it is – it can feel just a wee bit hackneyed.
So when I started Chris Longmuir’s Missing Believed Dead, and entered the world of a mysterious, creepy man driving his van from Manchester to Scotland to meet ‘Jade’ for a cyber date, I must confess my heart sank a little – for the wrong reasons. Despite the taut scene setting and the quality of the writing, I feared I was in for yet another harrowing but essentially unsurprising trawl through the expected.
Wrong. Jade was indeed a victim, and white van man sure as hell hadn’t arranged to meet her to have a chat about any problems she might be having at school. His vehicle was bursting with the required gear. Mattress, eye-bolts welded to the floor, black-out, the lot.
And when both the innocent young lady and the dirty old man ended up together in the back, something very nasty did indeed happen. There was a corpse, with beads jammed into the eye sockets. Jade beads. Jammed in with violence and intent. Jammed in by Jade, though, not the man.
Next day however – next moment for the reader – the boot is suddenly on other foot, the more usual one. This girl is called Megan, and she is young, blonde, beautiful. She is laid out on a rug on a floor of dirt, and part of her ponytail has escaped and spread across her face. The worst is about to happen. As it had happened to another girl, another victim of this man.
This book, set in Dundee, in Scotland, is many things, and proceeds in several interlinked strands. By chapter three it has turned into a police procedural, with officers struggling to unravel the startling mystery at its heart. But it is also about families, and appalling loss, and it is not afraid to delve into the misery that crimes like this, and the revenge that follows, must bring.
There is another book about the same detectives, Kate Rawlings and Bill Murphy, and I hope there will be more. It is gripping, thoughtful stuff.
Review by Jan Needle
June 12, 2014
I particularly enjoyed reading about one of Scotland’s pioneer policewomen in this first of a new series by Chris Longmuir. Towards the end of 1919, Kirsty Campbell moves from London to Dundee at the request of the Chief Constable, literally into uncharted territory as far as female police officers were concerned. Kirsty leaves behind a group of supportive friends in London, and a situation in which, if policewomen weren’t actually accepted, there were enough of them to band together and give each other strength. The fact that her family, from whom she has been estranged for a decade, lives in Dundee, is both a pull towards the city, and an additional source of anxiety for Kirsty.
A historical note at the end of the novel is useful in outlining the relationships between the suffrage movement and women entering the police force in the British Isles, and it’s no accident that Kirsty has been a suffragette. I found the historical details fascinating, from the uniform, which included knee-length army boots, to the duties women were considered capable of carrying out. They were often referred to as ‘statement takers’ though they were trained in jujitsu as a form of self-defense.
Kirsty’s relationship with her superior officer, Inspector Brewster, is well developed as the story unfolds, with Brewster ambivalent towards her, not knowing what to do with her, yet grudgingly admiring as well. The constables Kirsty has to work with are more inclined to mock than to give her a chance, and her father, when she plucks up the courage to visit him, is adamant that she should give up her foolish notions of independence. Her relationship with her parents is complicated by her relationship with her ‘sister’, Ailsa, who becomes a central figure in a plot involving missing girls.
I found the working out of this mystery less satisfying than other aspects of the novel, a mystery containing sexual predation, abuse and murder, spiraling around an orphanage and its staff, and the family of a man whom Kirsty knows from her former life in Dundee. Both the mystery and its resolution lacked depth, in my opinion. There was too much action and not enough reflection – the teasing out of possibilities and the weighing up of alternatives which can make a crime novel so enjoyable to read. It seemed inconceivable that Kirsty, given her intelligence, was gullible and blind where the main perpetrator was concerned.
That reservation aside, I enjoyed the historical setting and the characters and I would certainly be interested in reading the next book in the series.
I have given the book 4 stars.