The Hangman’s Hold

The Hangman’s HoldThe Hangman’s Hold (DCI Matilda Darke Series, Book 4) by Michael Wood
on January 1st 1970
ISBN: 0008311625
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Matilda Darke and her team have a new killer on their hands. A killer who seems to know how and where to locate his victims. He’s smart, he’s patient and lies in wait at the victim’s home waiting to serve as their executioner. You see, he feels that his victims have not paid enough for their crimes. He is a vigilante who has sentenced those he feels have not paid enough by death by hanging. This killer leaves no forensic evidence behind. and further taunts the police by contacting DCI Matilda Darke and a local journalist, Danny Hansen, who is more than eager to write about the murders using the information given to him by the vigilante.

Matilda is deeply drawn into the case as her best friend, Adele, had just gone on a date with the first victim of the Vigilante killer. Adele had a lovely time on her date and was shocked to learn that the man she had dinner with was a criminal who was found murdered in his home after their date. As the body count rises, Matilda struggles not only with solving the case but with a growing attraction to the expert hired to help provide a profile of the killer.

This book does have a lot of characters ranging from the many victims and their family members to new members on Matilda’s team. I found it easy to keep track of them and did not feel that they bogged down the story. I found this to be very realistic. With any investigation, the police are going to need to speak to many people, so this rang very true and felt authentic.

When the profiler mentions that the killer may be someone that Matilda knows, the tension mounts. I liked how the detectives were torn with looking at their fellow officers with doubt and distrust. I like how they want to trust and believe in each other. They need to, they are each other’s backup and trusting each other may make the difference between life and death.

I also liked the character development of Matilda as she struggles with feeling attracted to someone since the death of her husband and her inner turmoil over what that might mean. Her struggles over moving on and perhaps dating again.

Another thing I appreciated about this book was how it showed the dangers of vigilante justice. How people can get caught up in seeing people “get what they deserve”. How quickly people will react especially in a group with the group mentality of “get him” I am specifically talking about a scene in the book where a crowd of people attack someone they are told is a killer who is in fact not a killer but they choose to believe a stranger and attack and beat without giving any second thought. What happens when you are wrong? What happens if innocent people get hurt? What gives someone the right to act as judge, jury and executioner?

This book also examines public opinion and how people can turn on those in their lives just for being associated with a criminal. A relative may be a heinous criminal but that does not make you one but now you have become a pariah when your connection to someone becomes known. This book shows the sad and heartbreaking ways, people treat others and the impact such treatment can have on an individual’s life.

I thought this book was a nice addition to the series, but it did lack a little bit of the page turning appeal of the previous books. There was just that little bit of magic missing that the previous books had. Usually while reading this series I-am-on-the-edge-of-my-seat-in-a-I-can’t-put-this-book-down mode. While this book started and ended very strong, it did lag a little in the middle. I teetered between a 3.5 and 4-star rating but pushed my rating up to a 4 as I appreciate how Michael Wood tackled so many subjects – vigilante justice, judging others, police brotherhood, friendship, moving on after the loss of a loved one, friendship, etc.

Plus, the last couple of sentences in the book!!!!! I can’t wait for the next book in the series, again the last sentences……..WHAT!?!

Thank you to Harper Impulse and Killer Reads and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

A Room Full of Killers

A Room Full of KillersA Room Full of Killers (DCI Matilda Darke, #3) by Michael Wood
on January 1st 1970
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Eight Killers. One House. Oh baby!

Starling House is home to some of the most notorious teenage killers in Britain. Things seem to be running smoothing at Starling house, until their newest arrival, Ryan Asher has been found murdered. He has been at Starling House less than twenty-four hours, why would someone want to kill him?

DCI Matilda Darke and her team have been called in to investigate Ryan Asher’s murder. At first the case seems cut and dry. The prisoners are locked in their cells at night and released the next morning for breakfast. The deadly teens have no way of leaving their cells at night. But then the investigation shows the security system has been sabotaged. Making matters worse, the homes director is both hostile and falling apart due to the stress. The inmates and staff alike are not very trustworthy and many within Starling house have secrets.

The only thing that Matilda knows is that one of the boy’s in Starling House is innocent. It’s a gut feeling but she doesn’t believe he belongs there. If this young man is innocent, then who committed the crime for which he was convicted? As usual, DCI Darke will stick her neck out to try and solve two mysteries at once -the murder and why an innocent teen has been locked up.

This is a very well written and crafted series. It’s one that I highly recommend and strongly suggest that readers begin with the first book in the series, Yes, this book will work very well as a stand-alone novel, but don’t sell yourself short, this is a very captivating series so enjoy it from the beginning! Plus, with each book the reader gets to learn a little more about Matilda Darke, her team, and friends!

DCI Darke is a captivating and complex leading lady. She has her flaws and is still coping with the loss of her husband but remains dedicated to her job. She is strong, intelligent, and can hold her own against the deadliest of criminals. I appreciate how the Author shows that as a female officer in a place of authority, DCI Darke, must maintain a strong poker face even when she wants to cry or show her emotions. I think he does a good job showing what a female officer is up against and that shedding a tear in frustration or pain would be looked down upon and seen as weakness.

Starling house is the perfect location for a crime. It’s unwanted by the local community, it’s not a warm place, its dreary outside and the rain and darkness add to the atmosphere. These elements add to the chilly atmosphere of the place plus there may be a killer there waiting to possibly kill again.

This book, like the others, was a real page turner for me. I was captivated from page one and didn’t want to stop reading until the last page. Michael Wood has created a very captivating and intelligent series.

Another great addition to the series which has me waiting for the next one!


For Reasons Unknown

For Reasons UnknownFor Reasons Unknown (DCI Matilda Darke, #1) by Michael Wood
Published by HarperCollins on October 1st 2015
Pages: 244
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4.5 stars

For Reasons Unknown, I did not know this series existed until recently, and now I am hooked!!!! I’ll be devouring the following books in this series as fast as I can get my hands on them!

DCI Matilda Darke has returned to work after a 9-month absence. She is disappointed to lean she will not be returning quite yet to her former position but will be re-opening a cold case. DCI Darke, is a complex and flawed woman. She is battling some demons and after some time away from her job, is attempting to get back to work. The cold case she is given is that of the Harkness family murders. Twenty years ago, Miranda and Stefan Harkness, were brutally murdered in their home. Their son, Jonathan, was home at the time, but too traumatized to speak. Now the home where the family lived is being demolished, the police have decided to look at his case one last time. DCI Darke’s interest in the cold case has some characters in this book nervous.

Jonathan, the sole survivor from that murderous night, is now living alone and working in a bookstore. He has formed a friendship with his neighbor, Maun Barrington but otherwise he is quiet and keeps to himself. He is content to live a quiet life, but now that his former home has been demolished and his parent’s murder case has been re-opened, he is finally forced to talk to officials about his past. Then a dead body is found – a body which may have ties to the Harkness murders. Aaaah the plot thickens!

This book is full of interesting characters – some with secrets, some hidden agendas, etc. This is a police procedural with a female protagonist dealing with her own personal issues, a hostile co-worker, the investigation of a cold case all the while being prodded by her friend to get her act together. There are several twists, turns and revelations which kept me turning the pages. I loved that there was never a dull moment, which kept the pace up and me guessing as to what happened in the home that night. Who had motive? Who had it in for this family?

I also liked how certain “truths” about other minor characters came to life in this book. I always love putting on my super sleuth hat and trying to figure out whodunit.

Well written, captivating with complex characters, this book was a I-can’t-put-this-book-down for me!