Written by Leigh Russell — Dead End is the third book in the Geraldine Steel series from writer Leigh Russell. With Russell’s first book Cut Short being nominated for a CWA Dagger in 2010, I was looking forward to reading her work for the first time.
The plot centres on the murder of Abigail Kirby, a headmistress found in a park. On discovering that the victim’s tongue has been removed, DI Steel and her partner Peterson are tasked with catching a possibly sadistic murderer. Steel is coping with the aftermath of finding out she was adopted and pressure to not only catch a killer but also be a ‘good’ sister and friend, leads her into a burgeoning relationship with the pathologist who is working on the case. To complicate matters further, the victim’s daughter goes missing after accusing her father of killing her mother and she, the only potential witness, is found dead. It’s a race against time to put the pieces together and find a killer who is hell-bent on seeing through with his murderous plans.
This was my first entry into the world of Geraldine Steel and I was quite excited about reading Leigh Russell’s creation, after hearing glowing reviews of her previous work. With expectations high, I delved into the book expecting possibly far too much. Were my expectations met? Almost.
There are some great scenes of police investigation, and some excellent characters and nice interplay between them. The tale always feels like it is going somewhere; there’s no real downtime in the story. It’s always moving forward, revealing plot strands effortlessly through the storytelling. As I may have stated elsewhere, I’m a real sucker for a great female protagonist and Geraldine Steel is a really good example of one. It contains some well-crafted moments of suspense and some sinister scenes which will intrigue.
Negative points. There are some glaring clues to the supposed twist which I can’t imagine will escape many people’s attention. This wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t so far before the end of the novel. There’s also a couple of instances of stilted dialogue, which don’t really read true. The whole reaction to the mother’s death is a little forced and not very well executed. All minor issues, which don’t really take away from the good reading experience you’ll have with Dead End, with a plot twist being almost inconsequential when the characters are this well written.
Overall though, this was a really good book. I’ll be picking up the first two in the series and looking forward to the next instalment. Dead End is sharp, intelligent and well plotted. An enjoyable read, with some excellent moments within. I’d heartily recommend this to other crime fiction readers. You can currently get it for 99p for Kindle by clicking here
No Exit Press
CFL Rating: 4 Stars