Two Book Reviews: ‘Blood Axe’ and ‘Murder Ring’, both by Leigh Russell

Ah, after two blogs on real life and one on travel, here are two book reviews.  I hope the people who read my blog for the first time for my India post are not too disappointed.  I love reading.  Reading has always been a huge part of my life.  No, not always.  For a few years in my teens, I decided that what I was reading was overly-influencing what I was writing, so therefore I MUST NOT READ.  I was an arrogant bitch in those days.

Leigh Russell writes about two detectives:  Geraldine Steel and Ian Peterson, who used to be Geraldine’s second-in-command but has now moved to York.  Leigh has also commenced a new series, featuring Lucy Hall (released in February, which I haven’t read yet).  Leigh has a sure touch, content well researched and with watertight plot lines, and detectives who you enjoy reading about.

Blood Axe (Ian Peterson)

The first person we meet is the murderer, who is a Viking, navigating up and down the River Ouse in a long boat, carrying an axe and invoking the blessing of Viking gods.  Is Leigh writing historical these days?  Or fantasy?  Or is the murderer the genuine Nordic article?  The murders are brutal and gory, including a decapitation, bu

Creative Commons. Wikipedia.org
Creative Commons. Wikipedia.org

t they, and the coins (not paper notes, the reader observes) stolen from victims, will earn the murderer a place in Valhalla – or so the murderer believes.

There are a lot of characters, as you would expect in a crime novel, many of them featuring intensively for a few chapters then departing from the pages, as the story moves on, which reflects what would happen in a crime investigation.  The prevailing characters are Ian Peterson himself, now promoted to Detective Inspector, his assistant, Detective Sergeant Ted Birling, and Ian’s wife, Bev.  Ian is torn between wanting to go after the next lead in his murder investigation and being there for his wife.  The Ian and Bev story judders to a terrible climax in the final chapters, and the only person able to offer Ian any constructive support is Geraldine Steele herself, but this sub-plot finishes on a tantalising cliff-hanger.  I guess I will have to read the next book, when it appears.

Murder Ring (Geraldine Steele)

Creative Commons. Wikimedia.org
Creative Commons. Wikimedia.org

The first person we meet in this book is the victim, and, after reading the initial pages, I wanted to murder him too.  The greed surrounding a diamond solitaire engagement, which two women believed themselves to be entitled, is breathtakingly shocking.  This is a complex and devious story, taking place in central London, featuring several groups of arrogant and thoroughly unpleasant villains without redeeming features.   The identity of the real murderers took me by surprise, and I was actually quite disappointed not to see one of the other suspects locked up.

Even characters as tough as Geraldine, who is as tough as her name, should have a vulnerability, and hers is being adopted.  Again, Geraldine struggles between the compelling demands of a murder investigation and family life, with the murder investigation winning, but (without giving too much away) Leigh has left the plot door open again.

Both books can be obtained from Leigh Russell’s website.  If you like crime fiction, read them both.

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4 thoughts on “Two Book Reviews: ‘Blood Axe’ and ‘Murder Ring’, both by Leigh Russell

  1. You make both stories sound intriguing. The only thing that puts me off is the gore — as an ex-nurse, can cope with it in reality but struggle with it in fiction (ridiculous, I know) — and decapitation is is the worst kind for me. Perhaps I was Anne Boleyn in a former life.

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