'The Snowdonia Killings' by Simon McCleave – mini review.

A small town murder. A big city detective.

The Blurb:

Detective Inspector Ruth Hunter lives with the pain of her partner’s mysterious and unsolved disappearance. About to hit fifty, the veteran police officer trades in the crime-ridden streets of London for a more peaceful life in rural North Wales. But Ruth has barely settled into her new position in North Wales Police, when the body of a brutally murdered woman is discovered…with strange symbols carved into her skin. Teaming up with an obstinate deputy, Ruth struggles to eliminate anyone from a long line of suspects. When another slain victim is discovered with the same cryptic markings, she’s forced to re-think the investigation.

Has Ruth got what it takes to solve the case before the murderer attacks again?

‘The Snowdonia Killings’ is the first book in the DI Ruth Hunter Crime Thriller series and set against the majestic backdrop of Snowdonia, a timeless land of Arthurian legend, folklore and myth.

My thoughts…

This is a character driven crime novel, predominantly set in the Snowdonia region, and it’s the author’s debut. It’s the story of Ruth, AKA Detective Inspector Ruth Hunter, who transfers at the start of the novel from London’s Metropolitan Police to the contrasting world of Wales and the desire for a more peaceful life. However, she is soon heading up the disturbing murder of a local school deputy and she finds not all is peaceful in the valleys and mountains of Wales.

It seems clear that there’s a long character arc in place for our lead detective; there’s also a tragic journey she is on with her private life that is haunting her daily one. It’s the development of the character threads that are really important in book series; McCleave has constructed protagonists with great potential in Ruth, and also in the character of Nick, her Detective Sergeant. Nick is, initially, the reader’s challenge – he’s a frustrating read at times because he’s battling with alcoholism. What’s important is Nick’s POV enables a glimpse into the world of an alcoholic and how much it’s ingrained into the person, rather than a choice. By the mid-point of the novel, I really was rooting for him, and loved the banter between himself and Ruth. They evolve into a great duo, and I’m certainly interested in following their development beyond this book.

The landscape is also becoming a character, and you can tell how fascinated and loved it is by the author. I enjoyed the descriptions of the natural world, this adds a depth to the writing and an understanding for the reader of the communities living there. We also get little snippets of stories and myths from the surrounding areas, which build the backdrop. I would prefer these to be blended into the storytelling more, rather than having the slight feel of inserts, but this is a minor thought.

The central crime and mystery was tightly plotted, there’re enough suspects to drive the narrative and whodunit genre forward; this is the book’s strength.

There are also several more books on the way for DI Ruth Hunter, so this could grow into an interesting series… for a first debut novel, there’s a lot of potential for the series and the writer’s development.

A huge thank you to Simon for asking me to read his book in exchange for an honest review; it’s been a pleasure.

The Author

Simon McCleave was born in South London. When leaving University, he worked in television and film development. He was a Script Editor at the BBC, a producer at Channel 4 before working as a Story Analyst in Los Angeles. He worked on films such as ‘The Full Monty’ and television series such as ‘Our Friends In The North’.

Simon then became a script writer for television and film. He wrote on series such as Silent Witness, Murder In Suburbia, Teachers, Attachments, The Bill, Eastenders and many more. His film, ‘Out of the Game’ for Channel 4 was critically acclaimed – ‘An unflinching portrayal of male friendship.’ (Time Out)

‘The Snowdonia Killings’ is his first novel.

Simon lives in North Wales with his wife and two children.

Simon can be contacted at simonmccleave.com and contact @simonmccleave.com.