Holy Island by LJ Ross #review @LJRoss_author

I’ve visited Holy Island several times (it’s always baltic!), I’ve admired it from the train and the A1, I’ve admired the covers of this series for ages, I’ve read reviews by fellow bloggers raving about the books and FINALLY I have got around to reading the first book in the DCI Ryan series. I loved this book and am looking forward to catching up with the rest of the series – only 9 more to go!

Lindisfarne is the setting for this novel, an island which as you probably know, is accessible by a coastal causeway which is cut off from the mainland twice a day. So it’s a huge shock to the community when local girl Lucy Mathieson is brutally killed at a time when the tide is in. The murderer must be one of their own. DCI Ryan has been on the island on an extended sabbatical, while he attempts to come to terms with a very traumatic event. The sabbatical is brought to an abrupt end by this murder and he is less than pleased when his superior brings in an expert, Dr Taylor, to help advise. However, far from being the crusty old academic he expects, Ryan is surprised to find that Dr Taylor is a woman, and a rather attractive one at that. Anna Taylor was brought up on the island which, at times, makes it difficult for her to advise since she knows the victim. Soon she has an even more personal connection to the case.

DCI Ryan is just the kind of fictional detective I like. Actually, I think he’s the kind of detective I hope exists in the real world too. He has his demons but  is dedicated, determined and not averse to bending a few rules. Like the best of detectives, he relies a lot on his gut instinct. Anna was also a great character, feisty and a bit stubborn at times with a difficult family background to cope with. The other police characters were an interesting bunch too and I hope they might feature in the others books in the series.

In this close knit island community, the dramatic scenery mirrors the dramatic events. Lindisfarne has long been associated with religious pilgrimage and is an important Christian site.  Despite everyone knowing each other there are plenty secrets to be uncovered involving paganism and ritual sacrifice.  The killer was always going to be someone they knew. The author creates a really tense atmosphere and with tides trapping people on the island, or preventing them coming on, there’s a real claustrophobic feel to the novel. It’s a really fast paced story especially the last few heart-racing chapters.

Holy Island is an enthralling read with an ending I absolutely did not see coming. With the well-written plot, its mixture of danger, mystery and romance, and a brilliant sense of place, it’s a book I did not want to put down and I can’t wait to read the next in the series, Sycamore Gap. I highly recommend this book to any lovers of crime fiction.


Holy Island is available now in paperback, ebook and audiobook formats. You can order a Kindle copy online here: Holy Island

From the back of the book

Detective Chief Inspector Ryan retreats to Holy Island seeking sanctuary when he is forced to take sabbatical leave from his duties as a homicide detective. A few days before Christmas, his peace is shattered and he is thrust back into the murky world of murder when a young woman is found dead amongst the ancient ruins of the nearby Priory. 

When former local girl Dr Anna Taylor arrives back on the island as a police consultant, old memories swim to the surface making her confront her difficult past. She and Ryan struggle to work together to hunt a killer who hides in plain sight, while pagan ritual and small-town politics muddy the waters of their investigation. 

Murder and mystery are peppered with a sprinkling of romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunnit set on the spectacular Northumbrian island of Lindisfarne, cut off from the English mainland by a tidal causeway. 

About the author

L J Ross

LJ Ross is the author of the #1 international bestselling series of DCI Ryan mystery novels and her books have sold more than three million copies since 2015. She has released ten full-length novels, seven of which have reached number one in the Amazon UK Kindle best-sellers chart. They are available to purchase in e-book, print and audiobook narration on the Amazon store. 

Her eleventh novel, ‘The Infirmary’, is a prequel story which will be available in e-book and print on 10th February 2019. It is already available as a major Audible Originals drama starring Tom Bateman, Kevin Whately, Hermione Norris and Alun Armstrong. 

Louise was born in Northumberland, England. She studied undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Law at King’s College London and studied abroad in Paris and Florence. She spent much of her working life in London, where she was a regulatory lawyer for a number of years before taking the decision to change career and pursue her dream to write.

Now, she writes full time and lives with her husband and son in Northumberland. She enjoys reading all manner of books, travelling and spending time with family and friends. 


10 thoughts on “Holy Island by LJ Ross #review @LJRoss_author

  1. I have only been to Lindisfarne once, but loved it. We saw a bride arriving by horse and carriage over the causeway for her wedding at the castle. I always want to read thrillers set on islands, I wonder why writers and readers love such settings?

    Liked by 2 people

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