‘She’d cycled this way hundreds of times before, every twist and turn familiar.
She didn’t know this would be the last’
– The Midnight Killing
[ About the Book ]
When the body of local architect James McCallum is found hanging in the grounds of his former school one cold, dark night, DI Danny Stowe and forensic psychologist Rose Lainey suspect foul play behind his apparent suicide.
To their astonishment, the trail leads to a 20-year-old cold case of a missing girl, and a teenage party. But what was James’ fascination with the case and how is it linked to his death?
Secrets don’t stay buried forever… but the real killer will stop at nothing to hide theirs…
Perfect for fans of Patricia Gibney, Val McDermid and Rachel Caine.
[ My Review ]
The Midnight Killing by Sharon Dempsey published February 17th with Avon Books and is described as ‘an absolutely gripping and totally unputdownable crime thriller that will keep you up all night!‘ The second book in the Stowe & Lainey Series, following on from the haunting and engaging Who Took Eden Mulligan (read my review HERE), The Midnight Killing sees the return of Belfast duo, DI Danny Stowe and forensic psychologist Rose Lainey.
Stowe and Lainey never knew each other in their early years but, when both went to college in England, they crossed paths and a friendship was formed. Rose Lainey has demons relating to her mother, and her family, that are permanently shadowing her. She walked away from Belfast years previously establishing her career in England but Danny Stowe made a life for himself in Belfast after college. He worked his way up through the ranks of the PSNI until his life imploded somewhat. Now he is struggling on a personal level. When Rose returned to Belfast on family business, she unwittingly found herself caught up in a case working alongside Danny (book 1, Who Took Eden Mulligan) and now, on temporary secondment to the PSNI, the pair team up again in another complex and perplexing investigation.
A local and successful businessman, James McCallum, is found hanging in the grounds of his old school. What is initially presumed suicide soon develops into a murder investigation. With no obvious enemies, the team are left frustrated. Everybody who has a connection to James McCallum can see no reason why anyone would murder him in such a shocking and brutal fashion. Yet something feels off, someone is hiding a secret, but who is it and why?
Lainey and Stowe accidentally stumble upon a 20-year-old cold case of a missing girl in Donegal that is under the remit of the Irish police force, An Garda Síochána. One day a little girl never came home, her body was never discovered and any leads drew a blank. The investigation slowed down over time until eventually it was relegated as an unsolved file but the family of this little girl never gave up. Now there appears to be a link to James McCallum so the team need to dig deep to uncover the secrets of the past and how they are connected to this recent murder?
Danny Stowe and Rose Lainey have a very ‘will-they-won’t-they’ relationship. Their history ties them together but, it is only in recent times that Danny is getting more of a picture of the family life that Rose was escaping from. He unearthed some information about her mother that threw her very much off-kilter and now that she has committed to remaining in Belfast for a bit longer, she intends to uncover her mother’s true story and to reconnect with her brothers and sister, siblings that she walked away from when she left home many years previously. With Danny’s marriage now in tatters, he is trying to put one foot in front of the other but his mind is a mess and he can’t really see a bright future ahead of him.
The story of the murder of James McCallum runs in parallel with the personal lives of Danny Stowe and Rose Lainey which I really enjoyed. As a partnership they work very well together, batting ideas and being there for each other. Getting an insight into their backstory and their headspace adds a very authentic layer to the story. Danny and Rose are real people with their own issues. They do not always come to the job with their ducks in a row. They are not perfect.
The Midnight Killing is a great addition to this series. Sharon Dempsey is growing her characters and I am intrigued to see how their relationship develops. The mystery as to who killed James McCallum is well built with plenty of red-herrings to confuse and disorientate the reader.
With short chapters, The Midnight Killing, moves along at a swift pace keeping the attention at all times. Leading into the story is a really powerful and disturbing prologue which I am delighted to tell you that you can read HERE. I hope this whets your appetite!
Tense, twisty and tragic The Midnight Killing is, like book 1, strong on location with the relationship between Lainey and Stowe developing nicely. A gratifying read and one I am very happy to recommend (although I must add that reading book 1 in the series, Who Took Eden Mulligan, would definitely be beneficial to get the bigger picture!)
[ Bio ]
Sharon Dempsey is a PhD candidate at Queen’s University, exploring class and gender in crime fiction. She was a journalist and health writer before turning to writing crime fiction and has written for a variety of publications and newspapers, including the Irish Times. Sharon also facilitates creative writing classes for people affected by cancer and other health challenges.
Twitter ~ @svjdempz