Book review: Monument to Murder by Mari Hannah

The wild, windswept sands below imposing Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland throw up dark deeds from the past in Mari Hannah’s gripping new thriller.
Monument to Murder by Mari HannahMonument to Murder by Mari Hannah
Monument to Murder by Mari Hannah

Monument to Murder is the fourth book in the DCI Kate Daniels crime mystery series and prize-winning northern writer Hannah has certainly not lost the plot.

In an electrifying storyline that weaves between a high-stakes murder investigation and a terrifying cat-and-mouse jail game involving a cold-blooded sex offender, Hannah’s straight-talking detective faces one of her most complex cases so far.

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When a female skeleton is found in the sand dunes beneath the fortified walls of rugged Bamburgh Castle, DCI Kate Daniels calls on a forensic anthropologist to help identify the corpse.

The remains appear to have been carefully placed and are relatively recent but with no detailed physical description of the victim to go on, Kate knows this will not be an easy case.

And when further disturbing discoveries are made at the desolate crime scene, this difficult case looks set to run and run.

Meanwhile, newly widowed Northumberland prison psychologist Emily McCann is taking the first tentative steps back to work and a return to some kind of normality.

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At home, her problems have been compounded by the angry mood swings of her 19-year-old daughter Rachel whose life has fallen apart since her father’s death and who is using her mother as an emotional punchbag.

One of the prisoners in Emily’s care is Walter Fearon, a young man who ‘makes Hannibal Lecter look like a charity worker.’

Fearon is coming to the end of a seven-year sentence for raping a woman old enough to be his grandmother but he is stronger and more dangerous than when he first arrived at the prison and he has developed a dangerous obsession with the unsuspecting Emily.

As his mind games become more and more intense, is it possible that Kate’s case has something to do with his murderous past and with his release imminent, what exactly does he have in mind for Emily?

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Hannah, a former probation officer whose partner is an ex-murder detective, has made authentic police procedural, down-to-earth dialogue, action-packed plots and spine-tingling psychological suspense her trusty trademarks.

Her leading lady is the stuff of dreams for any TV crime series… a feisty, forthright detective with a sharp mind, quick wit and an appealing vulnerability that comes from being gay.

With the added impetus of Kate’s love life conundrum in the mystery mix, Hannah draws together the strands of her multi-faceted storyline and sets them on a spectacular collision course in a dramatic and deadly dénouement.

Monument to Murder is testament to a writer growing in confidence and skill with each book in this clever, compelling series.

The northern tradition of top-class crime writing remains in good hands…

(Macmillan, hardback, £16.99)