The Christmas Killer (D I James Walker #1) by Alex Pine

The Christmas Killer is a dark, atmospheric crime novel, set in a snowed-in Cumbrian village.

Book blurb

As the snow begins to fall, the body count begins to climb…

DI James Walker is ready for a quiet family Christmas in the sleepy village of Kirkby Abbey.

But when he opens an early Christmas present left on his doorstep, he soon realises it is no gift. Inside is a gruesome surprise, and a promise – twelve days, twelve murders. Not long after, the first body is found, half frozen in the snow.

As the blizzards descend, panic spreads through the remote Cumbrian village – there’s a killer amongst them, and with eleven more victims to go, anyone could be next….

Can James stop the killer before they strike again?

My thoughts

After moving from North London to Cumbria DI James Walker is settling in to what he feels will be a safer and quieter pace of life. Just what he and his wife need after crossing paths with a rather nasty criminal who made it clear he had unfinished business with James.

He is settling into his new posting in Kendal and their new home in Kirkby Abbey. It is the house, the family home his wife, Annie, had inherited from her mother. James’ family are coming up for Christmas and Annie’s uncle is also joining them. Annie is a little apprehensive as she and her uncle had not parted on very good terms at her mother’s funeral.

Still, she and James are looking forward to Christmas and family. Preparations are in full flow when her uncle turns up early and rather than staying with Annie and James he has booked himself into a local pub. Still, perhaps a good thing to reconnect with him and clear the air before the festivities begin.

James is settling into his new posting and trying to smooth some ruffled feathers his appointment has made. All in all it seems like it’s been a good move. Although he does miss the job in London it’s seems all is for the best in this move. That is until he returns home one evening to find an parcel addressed to him on the doorstep. Once inside he opens it only to find a bloody bird and a Christmas card inside. The message sends chills through James – 12 days, 12 murders!

It’s not long before a body turns up. Another card is received – this time by the local priest. Whilst wondering if it may be his old adversary from London he begins his investigation. Then another body and another card appear – this time by a local journalist. Not only that but the weather is getting worse and the forecast is not good. The village is accessed by one road it’s the only way in or out. So, unless the killer has gone without completing their mission which seems highly unlikely, James and his small team are set to be trapped in with the residents of Kirkby Abbey!

This is in the main a police procedural with an interesting variation on the ‘locked room’ or Agatha Christie style mystery as the reader gets drawn into working out ‘whodunnit’. We follow James as he is investigating in very difficult conditions – both geographically with part of the team back in Kendal and weather-wise – and as each of his suspects are ruled out will he be able to get the killer before anyone else is killed?

We also have an anonymous voice who surely is the killer which adds an interesting insight to what is happening – although I’m not sure it’ll help you work out who they are!

With plenty of red herrings, a wonderful December snow storm and some crazy killings and threats that get closer and closer to home for James this book combines two of my favourite things – crime fiction and snow! What can I say? It’s a terrific read and I certainly enjoyed it.

Book: Purchased (on order) | Invite from Publisher

Thanks to Ellie at Avon for the invite to read and providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in return for an honest opinion, all thoughts are my own.

Information

Publisher: Avon (HarperCollins) 29/10/2020

Author: Alex Pine | Paperback | Pages 416 | ISBN: 978-0-00-840264-8

Buy: Local bookstore|AmazonSmileUK – the ‘preorder’ eBook price is just 99p!

Author

Alex Pine was born and raised on a council estate in South London and left school at sixteen. Before long, he embarked on a career in journalism, which took him all over the world – many of the stories he covered were crime-related. Among his favourite hobbies are hiking and water-based activities, so he and his family have spent lots of holidays in the Lake District. He now lives with his wife on a marina close to the New Forest on the South Coast – providing him with the best of both worlds!

2 Comments on “The Christmas Killer (D I James Walker #1) by Alex Pine

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