Detective Chief Inspector Ryan retreats to Holy Island seeking sanctuary when he is forced to take sabbatical leave from his duties as a homicide detective. A few days before Christmas, his peace is shattered and he is thrust back into the murky world of murder when a young woman is found dead amongst the ancient ruins of the nearby Priory.
When former local girl Dr Anna Taylor arrives back on the island as a police consultant, old memories swim to the surface making her confront her difficult past. She and Ryan struggle to work together to hunt a killer who hides in plain sight, while pagan ritual and small-town politics muddy the waters of their investigation.
Murder and mystery are peppered with a sprinkling of romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunnit set on the spectacular Northumbrian island of Lindisfarne, cut off from the English mainland by a tidal causeway.
Firstly, what a start to the series, why has it taken me so long to get started on these!!! LJ Ross contacted me in late 2017 to review the latest book in the series which I jumped at the chance to. However, there was a niggle in the back of my mind about starting a series mid-way through (I like completeness and things in order!) – although I could have read it as a standalone, I’d heard so many good things about the series (and had them all waiting patiently on the kindle!) that I decided to start at the beginning…my review of Cragside will come 🙂
Right, enough waffle about how I came to read Holy Island when I should have been reading Cragside! Holy Island (as you’ve probably guess from my preamble!) is the first book in the DCI Ryan series which, to date, 7 books and counting. Homicide detective, DCI Ryan ends up on Holy Island when he is forced to take a sabbatical from his duties.
Lying just a few miles off the Northumberland coast, Holy Island as seen on Robson Green’s Tales from Northumberland is cut off twice-daily from the rest of the world by fast-moving tides. Both an island and a picturesque village, Holy Island carries a wealth of history within its tidal walls. (https://www.visitnorthumberland.com/holy-island)
With it leading up to Christmas, this should have been the perfect place and opportunity for Ryan to kick back and relax however the Island has other ideas when a body is found upon a stone in the Priory, and for an added level of complexity, it has been arranged in a peculiar way rather than just being dumped.
I’m not going to go into the plot as it is most definitely one that needs to unravel itself to the reader – suffice to say, this is a complex investigation whereby there are red herrings and confusion in leaps and bounds. This book certainly will keep the most experienced crime reader on their toes and the edge of their seat. It is hard to believe that this is a debut – the writing is astounding and has an experienced tone and construction to it.
I loved the characterisation of Ryan, he is flawed and grumpy but exceptionally passionate and good at his job. He is joined by Dr Anna Taylor who is a pagan expert to help decipher the meaning of the body placement. Anna and Ryan are like chalk and cheese but Anna compliments Ryan’s personality and shows a different side to him.
The pacing of the book is spot on and the build up to the finale is fabulous – this book is brilliant from start to end, be prepared to read in one sitting!
LJ Ross is the author of the international #1 bestselling series of DCI Ryan mystery novels. Her debut, Holy Island, was released in January 2015 and reached number one in the Amazon Kindle UK best sellers chart.
Its sequels, Sycamore Gap, Heavenfield, Angel and High Force were all top five UK best sellers and she recently hit the top of the charts again with her sixth book, Cragside, which was number one in the UK on pre-orders alone.
The novels are all available to purchase in e-book, paperback and audiobook formats on the Amazon store, as well as in selected independent bookshops. Holy Island is also available in German translation.
Now, she writes full time and lives with her husband and son in Bath. She enjoys reading all manner of books, travelling and spending time with family and friends.
If you would like to connect with LJ Ross, she would be very happy to hear from you: