M J Lee: D I Ridpath crime thriller series (Books 1 – 3)

The case was closed. Until people started dying…

Book blurb

DI Thomas Ridpath was on the up in the Manchester CID: a promising detective who captured a notorious serial killer. But ten years later he’s recovering from a serious illness and on the brink of being forced out of the police. Then the murders began, in an uncanny echo of his first case.

As the death count grows, old records, and bodies, go missing. Caught in a turf war between the police and the coroner’s office, Ridpath is in a race against time. A race to save his career, his marriage, and innocent lives.

When a detective disappears everything is on the line. Can Ridpath save his colleague?

Pre-thoughts note

I’ve read M J Lee before one of his Inspector Danilov stories which I really enjoyed. So when I saw that there was a series set in modern day Manchester I was intrigued and quickly accepted an invitation to read, via NetGalley, Where The Truth Lies.

For some reason I didn’t immediately read it and so it sat on my TBR list (and subsequently the next two books – one bought, one again from Canelo via NetGalley)! What was I thinking? Who knows!

This year’s 20BookofSummer20 (see below) made me think and I was determined to read all three and, well folks, that’s exactly what I’ve done! So that’s thanks to Cathy’s wonderful challenge and a big ✅ next to three books for me.

Ahh that’s all well and done you might say but what did I think about them? Well let’s find out, shall we?

My thoughts

The first in the series and we meet D I Ridpath returning to work after an extended period in which he was being treated for cancer. He’s now in remission and eager to return to the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) MIT unit. He had been quite the rising star and a valued member of the team especially after he was responsible for the capture of a serial killer. However, his bosses are cautious of bringing him back into a unit which is a highly pressured area. They don’t want to have any issues with his health especially if they might be considered the cause! So they send him off to the Coroner’s Office.

Ridpath now has two bosses – his DCI, Charlie Whitworth, in the GMP MIT unit and the Coroner – it’s not easy as there is something of a rift between two and he’s not really happy about being sidelined.

As he settles in he finds that the work is quite interesting. He goes through police reports and checks them out along with the autopsy reports. He attends autopsies on behalf of the Coroner’s office. He then advises the Coroner on the appropriate way forward. In the majority of cases it’s straightforward but now and then there’s an anomaly to point out and look into.

It is one such case which Ridpath comes across. it takes him back to when he had his ‘big break’ as a young police officer. Now, with a murder, there are questions about whether the right man was caught and imprisoned. The more Ridpath looks into it the more he is troubled by it.

While Ridpath is investigating a police officer is kidnapped. The chase is on and the pace, which was pretty good anyway, is turned up high. Will they find their colleague? Will Ridpath find the evidence to get the murderer?

Along with all this Ridpath’s marriage is at breaking point as his wife wants him to slow down, even quit the Force! Once he’s on the track of killer though Ridpath is almost obsessive and consequences will take their toll on a personal level.

I found this really interesting and a new (to me) point of view from which to write crime fiction. Well paced, well written and a cracking story set in and around Manchester kept me gripped throughout.

One chance encounter, one street side murder, will change everything.

Book blurb

DI Ridpath is in the process of getting his life back together when everything goes wrong.

Driving to meet his daughter, he is caught in a gruesome motorway accident, in which a near-naked man is rundown by a lorry, while fleeing from a lone gunman. As Ridpath closes Manchester’s road network in search of the assailant, one question remains: why did nobody else see him?

Ridpath’s investigations soon unearth a number of inconsistencies, which pulls the police force itself into question, and hint at something sinister to come.

For Manchester is on the brink of a fresh surge of violence unlike anything it has seen in decades, and Ridpath must battle this unprecedented conflict along with his own demons. One thing is for sure. There will be blood on the streets…

My thoughts

With his marriage on the rocks Ridpath is juggling with trying to get his family back together, his job with the Coroner’s office and his loyalty to the GMP Major Incident Team. He’s driving over to see his daughter when a near naked man runs onto the M60 right in front of his car.

The police think it’s a drug fuelled accident. Even his beloved MIT think it’s an accident. Still something’s not right. Ridpath is sure he saw someone else at the side of the motorway but there’s no trace.

Ridpath rubs everyone up the wrong way in this one but he’s determined to find out what really happened. In the midst of a possible turf war of Manchester gangs Ridpath ploughs his own furrow to find out what is really happening and how he can solve this case.

Well written, fast paced this is another cracking read from M J Lee.

Play with fire, and you’re going to get burned.

Book blurb

In Manchester, a block of flats is burning. The only victim is a middle-aged man, sat watching TV. Are the fire and the man’s death an accident or is something more frightening at work?

Meanwhile, DI Ridpath is back with his wife and enjoying work at the Coroner’s Office, his myeloma still in remission. But the quiet life is soon shattered by a new threat.

More corpses start appearing; charred, burnt, silent bodies, strewn in the streets and lodged in buildings. Next to each one is a chilling message sprayed in orange ink.

Fighting on all fronts, Ridapth will be drawn into the dark past of his city and the youth football clubs of the 1990s. He must find the link before any more people die. Before the flames come close to home…

My thoughts

With horrible deaths by fire we are once again in Manchester Ridpath’s life is looking good his family back together, his cancer still in remission and work is going well. Or so he thought!

Attending the death of a man in a fire in his flat Ridpath seems to agree that it’s a terrible accident but then there are more deaths which only Ridpath seems to link. Can he solve the puzzle? Are these deaths connected and, if so, how?

Alongside this is Charlie Whitworth after what happened in the last book Ridpath visits him. He’s drinking – heavily – and his wife is away. There doesn’t seem to be much Ridpath can do. When Charlie goes missing Ridpath fears for his life.

I am really enjoying these books. I like the point of view being a bit different with Ridpath being a Coroner’s Officer and yet still paid for by the GMP. It gives Ridpath some interesting dilemmas and makes for interesting cases. I enjoy reading about the coroner’s office and the way in which they work. I like the Coroner – who gives Ridpath a private investigation to look into in this book – she’s no nonsense but caring, honest, intelligent and wants the truth to come out. I also like Ridpath’s new assistant, who is a breath of fresh air, along with the rest of the Coroner’s team. There’s plenty of interaction with the police so you still get lot’s of insight into the investigations from their side.

This is becoming a good series and I’m looking forward to reading the next two books.


My grateful thanks go to Canelo for inviting me to read and providing eCopies of two of the D I Ridpath series (#1 & #3) via NetGalley.

The 2nd book was purchased.

All thoughts are my own and no payment has been received for these reviews.

These are my 16, 17 & 18th books in the #20BooksofSummer20 so just 2 to go! After changing my original list a little (it’s allowed) I’ve now managed 18 books and so I’m much happier believing that with actually quite a bit of time to go I’ll manage the full 20!

You can find out more about this challenge by popping over to Cathy’s blog – you’ll find lot’s of other wonderful book stuff there, too!


Publisher: Canelo


Purchase: Your local bookshop |AmazonSmileUK |Waterstones

Author: M J Lee has spent most of his adult life writing in one form or another. As a university researcher in history, he wrote pages of notes on reams of obscure topics. As a social worker with Vietnamese refugees, he wrote memoranda. And, as the creative director of an advertising agency, he has written print and press ads, TV commercials, short films and innumerable backs of cornflake packets and hotel websites.

He has spent 25 years of his life working outside the north of England, in London, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok and Shanghai, winning advertising awards from Cannes, One Show, D&AD, New York and the United Nations. 

While working in Shanghai, he loved walking through the old quarters of that amazing city, developing the idea behind a series of crime novels featuring Inspector Pyotr Danilov, set in the 1920s.

When he’s not writing, he splits his time between the UK and Asia, taking pleasure in playing with his daughter, practising downhill ironing, single-handedly solving the problem of the French wine lake, and wishing he were George Clooney.

M J Lee website|@WriterMJLee


M J Lee has written two other series Jayne Sinclair Genealogical Mysteries (7 books) and Inspector Danilov Crime Thrillers (4 books)

D I Ridpath Series

Book 4 came out in March 2020 and Book 5 will arrive in September 2020.

One Comment on “M J Lee: D I Ridpath crime thriller series (Books 1 – 3)

  1. Pingback: A roundup of my #20BooksofSummer20 – Love Books, Read Books


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