The Damselfly – SJI Holliday

About The Damselfly

Published: 2nd February 2017 (Black & White Publishing)


An unsolved murder. A community turned against each other. A killer close to home…

Katie Taylor is the perfect student. She s bright and funny, she has a boyfriend who adores her and there are only a few months left of school before she can swap Banktoun for the bright lights of London. Life gets even better when she has an unexpected win on a scratch card. But then Katie s luck runs out.

Her tragic death instead becomes the latest in a series of dark mysteries blighting the small town. The new school counsellor Polly McAllister, who has recently returned to Banktoun to make amends in her own personal life, is thrown in at the deep end as the pupils and staff come to terms with Katie s death. And it s not long before she uncovers a multitude of murky secrets. Did Katie have enemies? Is her boyfriend really so squeaky clean? And who is her brother s mysterious friend?

With Banktoun’s insular community inflamed by gossip and a baying mob stirring itself into a frenzy on social media, DS Davie Gray and DC Louise Jennings must work out who really murdered Katie before someone takes matters into their own hands…

The Damselfly is the latest novel from the bestselling author of Black Wood and Willow Walk set in the small Scottish town of Banktoun. Fans of Rachel Abbott, Angela Marsons and Peter James will love this riveting psychological crime thriller as DS Davie Gray tries to hold together a community once again rocked by tragedy.

My Review

Holliday has done it again with The Damselfly, I loved Willow Walk but I think this one just slightly pips it to the post – a brilliant, compelling murder-mystery that keeps you gripped until the end.

Katie is the perfect student, she is happy in her relationship with Neil and has high hopes to get away from her deadbeat town and family. Katie lives with her mother, her younger sister Brooke (who is just horrid) and brother, Brett who she does have a soft spot for. Following a scratchcard win, Katie and Neil are planning their move to London. However, the plans for a better life does not go according to plan as she is found dead in her bed.

Polly is back in Banktoun, she clearly has unhappy memories of Banktoun so why is she back as the school’s guidance counsellor?! Also, her first day back was not going to be the easy start of ‘flying under the radar’ as she’d have hoped given the news that was announced to the school about Katie.

DS Davie Gray and DC Louise Jennings are tasked with the investigation into Katie’s death and end up unravelling lots of secrets that add more complexity to the muder hunt. I really liked their partnership and how they interacted with oneanother.

Alongside the various first person narratives; we are also privy to Facebook posts  which was a great tool in showing the growing tensions amongst the younger Banktoun generation, and blog posts from an unknown author.

Once again, Holliday has created realistic, well-developed characters who pull you into the plot – I picked up this book to start it and before I knew it I was already 100 pages in. It has short snappy chapters that I love, and is broken down in days which lends itself to ‘just one more chapter’!

Whilst The Damselfly is part of a trilogy, it can be read as a standalone but, if you have opportunity, it is well worth reading the 3 books in order to really get a feel for the town, its inhabitants and past, tragic events.

About SJI Holliday

S.J.I. (Susi) Holliday grew up in East Lothian. A life-long fan of crime and horror, her short stories have been published in various places, and she was shortlisted for the inaugural CWA Margery Allingham prize. She has written three crime novels, a mix of police procedural and psychological thriller, set in the fictional Scottish town of Banktoun. They are: Black Wood, Willow Walk and The Damselfly – all featuring the much loved character, Davie Gray. Susi also works as a pharmaceutical statistician. She is married and lives in London, and you will find her at crime fiction events in the UK and abroad.

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