Title: The Christmas Killer
Author: Alex Pine
Series: DI James Walker #1
As the snow begins to fall, the body count begins to climb…
DI James Walker is ready for a quiet family Christmas in the sleepy village of Kirkby Abbey.
But when he opens an early Christmas present left on his doorstep, he soon realises it is no gift. Inside is a gruesome surprise, and a promise – twelve days, twelve murders. Not long after, the first body is found, half frozen in the snow.
As the blizzards descend, panic spreads through the remote Cumbrian village – there’s a killer amongst them, and with eleven more victims to go, anyone could be next….
Can James stop the killer before they strike again?
I liked this Christmas Mystery. The pacing was a little slow especially to begin with but I will put that down to this book setting up the background to a new detective series. It also allowed us the reader to get to know the village and start thinking about who of all the people we meet might be a suspect. It is however almost a quarter of the way into the book before we even get our first death even though the initial set up to the mystery is done quite quickly.
It also became a little repetitive. As it is more of a police procedural instead of a mystery/thriller, there ended up being a lot of scenes where the same suspects were being interviewed and re-interviewed and this did slow the pace a lot too. I felt it lost a bit of the suspense as we went round and round suspecting the same people over and over. This is probably more authentic to how investigations actually go but dulled the entertainment factor a little.
There were plenty of suspects, all with interesting backstories which did have me second guessing at points as to who the culprit might be. Some lines of the story I could easily predict or guess at the reasoning behind that persons behaviour that made them a suspect. Others were a lot more subtle and did have me wondering if they could possibly be the murderer, so I was kept on my toes right up to the reveal
One aspect I particularly liked is there was a perspective shift each time a murder was committed where we switched to the perspective of the victim just as they were attacked. What I liked about these sections is that we learnt some private thoughts of the victim without actually learning who they were in that scene. They were subtly structured enough that those internal monologues could of been from any number of people in the village we had learnt about and that was the bit that created the most suspense for me.
Overall this delivers on the modern Christmas themed murder mystery vibes, with just enough stakes to keep you reading but still mellow on the tension, verging on the cosy mystery. I really enjoyed DI James Walker as a character so would happily continue on in the series.