Black Wood by SJI Holliday

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Something happened to Claire and Jo in Black Wood: something that left Claire paralysed and Jo with deep mental scars. But with Claire suffering memory loss and no evidence to be found, nobody believes Jo’s story. Twenty-three years later, a familiar face walks into the bookshop where Jo works, dredging up painful memories and rekindling her desire for vengeance. And at the same time, Sergeant Davie Gray is investigating a balaclava-clad man who is attacking women on a disused railway, shocking the sleepy village of Banktoun. But what is the connection between Jo’s visitor and the masked man? To catch the assailant, and to give Jo her long-awaited justice, Gray must unravel a tangled web of past secrets, broken friendship and tainted love. But can he crack the case before Jo finds herself with blood on her hands?

An intriguing story about what happened to Claire and Jo more than 20 years ago and about what has brought all the tension bubbling to the surface again. I liked the way that the author mixed her chapters between past and present and told them from different characters points of view. It was clever that you didn’t know just who some of the narrators were until near the end. Life in a small town was well portrayed with everyone knowing everyone else’s business – or do they? Coming from nearby Edinburgh, I was trying to figure out exactly which small East Lothian town the author was writing about – although I imagine it was just an amalgam of a few places! There were quite a few red herrings in this story which meant I genuinely didn’t know who had done what and who could be trusted until quite far on in the book. And the final revealing chapter showed that all was not as everyone thought anyway. I liked Sergeant Grey and hope that he may feature in more of SJI Holliday’s future novels.

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