Book Reviews, Reviews

Early Review: Cold Sacrifice (Leigh Russell)

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Summary (From
When thr
ee dead bodies are discovered in quick succession on his home patch in Kent, DI Ian Peterson becomes too embroiled in a complex murder investigation to worry about his forthcoming promotion or the state of his marriage. The first victim is a middle class housewife, stabbed to death in a park. Her husband is in the clear until the prostitute who provided him with an alibi is murdered. While the police are busy gathering evidence, a second prostitute is killed. Ian and a young female constable, Polly, struggle to make sense of the case and find the elusive killer, before he strikes again. By the time Ian realises the truth, it may be too late to save Polly.

Author: Leigh Russell
Length: 384 pages
Source: Review copy from RealReaders
Publication Date: 26th September 2013, by No Exit Press

Plot: ★★
Characters: ★
Readability: ★★
Overall: ★★

My opinion:

Cold Sacrifice and I just did not click. The novel follows DI Ian Peterson as he struggles to figure out who killed three women in quick succession.  The intense investigation puts his already difficult marriage under further strain, and isn’t helping his chances of getting the promotion he applied for either.

The characters in Cold Sacrifice felt one dimensional and I didn’t feel any of them grew as the book went on. I didn’t particularly like Ian, which may explain a large part of my disconnect with the book. Ian felt unsympathetic to his wife and both overly interested in everyone and everything at work. A struggling marriage is not a new concept in crime fiction – police officers do have to work long, unsociable hours, bring home work stress and be available at a quick phone call. Having said that, the struggling marriage between Ian and his wife felt forced – like an additional plot thrown in because the author felt it should be there. The struggles didn’t feel believable, and for a lot of the book it didn’t feel like either character was making more than a token effort.

The plot had the potential to be really interesting, but it just fell flat for me. I figured out who did it early on, and the more interesting aspect of why is only briefly explained, without enough to context in the wider story.  The climax was similarly intriguing but more brief than I would have liked.  The overarching plot is something I was really intrigued by, and enjoyed reading about, but it just wasn’t touched on enough. I felt like Russell was trying to leave you curious enough to read the next book, but honestly, it just left me frustrated.

This didn’t have me burning to find out who did it, and there was no real tension, so I was quite happy to put it down and walk away for a while – even mid-chapter, which is never a good sign!  I could have lived with that, if the book had been otherwise very enjoyable.  A lot of Criminal Minds and other shows explicitly show you the crime and who did it at the beginning, but you don’t mind because watching the teams figure it out is still gripping. I didn’t find that to be the case for Cold Sacrifice.

It was an easy enough read, but not a particularly gripping one. I finished it in a few days, but more because I was in the house with not much else to do than because I was dying to finish it.  Personally, there wasn’t enough in this I liked to have me coming back for the rest of the series. Plenty of other reviewers loved Cold Sacrifice, so if you’re a crime fan, give this a go – it seems a bit like Marmite; you might love it or you might hate it, but there’s only one way to find out!

Buy it? A borrow for me, but if you’re into crime the 99p kindle version might be worth a gamble.
In a nutshell: A pretty straight-forward crime novel – good potential but overall just okay.

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