Sunday 30 March 2014

Fatal Act by Leigh Russell

A glamorous young TV soap star dies in a car crash. 
Returning for her sixth case, Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel is baffled as the driver of the second vehicle miraculously survives - and vanishes. 
Another young actress is murdered and, once again, the killer mysteriously disappears. 
Geraldine unwittingly risks her sergeant's life in their struggle to track down a serial killer who leaves no clues.

Fatal Act was published as ebook by No Exit Press on 12 December 2013, the paperback edition is released on 29 May 2014.

Fatal Act is the sixth DI Geraldine Steel story from Leigh Russell, I reviewed her last book Stop Dead back in August 2013.

I mentioned in my review of Stop Dead that I hadn't read any of the previous novels in the series, but this did not spoil my enjoyment or understanding of the story.  Fatal Act works perfectly well as a stand-alone story too.  The author cleverly updates the reader about Geraldine's past without straying away from the current plot at all.

Geraldine Steel and her colleague Sam are heading up a murder investigation. When the body of a successful young actress is found dead behind the wheel of her powerful sports car, it is assumed that she died from her injuries and that this is a regular, if tragic, road traffic accident. But where is the other driver?  How did they escape unharmed?  It soon becomes clear that this is not an open and shut case, and that this might, in fact, be murder.

As Geraldine and Sam work hard on trying to unravel this mystery, a prime suspect is identified, and although Geraldine has her doubts as to his guilt, her superiors are determined that he is their man.  When another young girl is found murdered, and she too has links to this suspect, it seems that Geraldine may have been wrong after all.

Leigh Russell writes very well. Her short sharp paragraphs within each punchy chapter work so well to keep the story moving at a fast pace. Geraldine is a complex character; lonely but very bright, she often makes decisions about her personal life that are questionable. At times she appears to be very vulnerable, especially when dealing with male colleagues.  However, she is loyal and she is not afraid to put herself in difficult situations, from dealing with her superiors, to facing up to a potential killer.

The murder mystery is well constructed, with a few red herrings planted along the way, enough to keep the reader engaged and guessing until not quite the end in my case, but certainly until the last few chapters.

I enjoyed this well paced, cleverly constructed story, and was pleased to get to know a little more about Geraldine Steel and her colleagues.  I'm certainly watching out for the next in the series.

My thanks to Real Readers who sent my proof copy for review.

Leigh Russell studied at the University of Kent, gaining a Masters degree in English. For many years a secondary school English teacher, she is a creative writing tutor for adults. She is married, has two daughters, and lives in North West London.    Her first novel, Cut Short, was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasy New Blood Dagger Award in 2010.   This was followed by Road Closed, Dead End, Death Bed, Stop Dead and Fatal Act, in the Detective Geraldine Steel series. Cold Sacrifice is the first title in a spin off series featuring Geraldine Steel's sergeant, Ian Peterson.

For more information about Leigh Russell, her books and upcoming events, visit her website,  follow her on Twitter @LeighRussell

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1 comment:

  1. Great review Anne, I also got my copy from RealReaders. I liked it and felt it had a strong opening but for me it went through lulls. I did enjoy it, if enjoy is the appropriate choice of word for a murder book but you know what I mean.