Thursday 22 August 2013

Stop Dead by Leigh Russell

Stop Dead by Leigh Russell is the fifth in a series featuring Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel and was published in paperback by No Exit Press in May 2013.

I always enjoy a well constructed police procedural story, and Stop Dead is certainly that.  I'll admit that I haven't read the first four books in the DI Steel series, and did worry that this may hamper my enjoyment of Stop Dead.  It didn't.  Leigh Russell takes time to explain Geraldine's current situation and a little of her background, without overwhelming a new reader with too much detail, but enabling us to get a feel for her main character.

Set in central London, this is a tight and well written police thriller.  What starts out as an investigation into the murder of a local businessman, soon turns into a hunt for a suspected serial killer.   It is clear to DI Steel and her team that these four murders are connected, the method used by the killer is brutal and horrific and no details have been released - this is no 'copy-cat' killer.   

Leigh Russell writes well, not just in her plotting and her characterisation, but in her structuring of the novel.  Fairly short chapters, made up of short, sharp paragraphs really hook the reader's attention and made me want to carry on reading - she almost tempts the reader with snippets of information thrown into the mix.   Unlike DI Steel, the reader does know a little about the murderer - not a lot, not the identity, or the reason, but enough to tantalise and taunt.

I was really impressed by this story, I like Geraldine Steel, she's a strong character, with her flaws and a little bit of her own baggage.  Steel's colleagues are also well-drawn and interesting, especially Sam, her closest colleague and Nick who shares her office - he's definitely got a back-story that I will be interested to see develop.

A great whodunit, some fabulous characters and more importantly for me, I didn't work out the conclusion before I got to the end.   I'll certainly be on the look out for the next in the DI Steel series.

My thanks to Real Readers who sent my copy of Stop Dead for review.

Leigh Russell studied at the University of Kent gaining a Masters degree in English and American
literature.  A secondary school teacher, specialising in supporting pupils with Specific Learning Difficulties as well as teaching English, Leigh Russell is married with two daughters and lives in Hertfordshire.  Her first novel, Cut Short, was published in 2009, followed by Road Closed in 2010, Dead End in 2011 and Death Bed in 2012.
For more information about Leigh Russell, her books and upcoming events, visit her website, she also has a Twitter account.

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