Thursday 30 June 2016

Outside Looking In (DCI Matilda Darke, Book 2) - Michael Wood

The second book in Michael Wood’s darkly compelling new crime series featuring DCI Matilda Darke. Perfect for fans of Stuart MacBride, Mark Billingham and Val McDermid.
When elderly George Rainsford goes to investigate a suspicious noise one night, the last thing he expects to find is a bloodbath. A man has been killed and a woman brutally beaten, left for dead.
The victims are Lois Craven and Kevin Hardaker – both married, but not to each other. Their spouses swear they knew nothing of the affair and, besides, they both have alibis for the attack. With nothing else to link the victims, the investigation hits a dead end.
The pressure is on for investigating officer, DCI Matilda Darke: there’s a violent killer on the loose, and it looks like her team members are the new targets. With no leads and no suspects, it’s going to take all Matilda’s wits to catch him, before he strikes again.

What did I think?

Michael Wood is certainly picking up quite a following with his DCI Matilda Darke series and I can completely understand why – both books are gripping page turners that had me reading late into the night as my eyes raced to the end of the book before my brain told me I needed to sleep.  Matilda Darke is a tremendous main character - she’s a bit like a boiled egg; she might have a hard exterior but she’s surprisingly fragile.

You could read Outside Looking In as a standalone but you really don’t want to do that!  Once you have read the first book, For Reasons Unknown, I can guarantee that you will be racing to Amazon to buy this one.  Michael Wood has really brought Matilda Darke to life; her thoughts, fears and vulnerabilities are there for us to see, and us alone, as she doesn’t want to show any sign of weakness to her colleagues.

This book starts with a bang as an elderly couple, Mr & Mrs Rainsford, are on their way up to bed with their night time cup of tea.  I knew I was going to love the book when I read that, as I rarely go up to bed without a cuppa (except on a Friday when I might take up a wee dram of something a bit stronger).  As they settle down for the night they hear a car horn in their quiet neighbourhood (aptly named Quiet Lane); then as they listen a bit more closely they realise that it resembles an SOS.  So Mr Rainsford bravely goes out to investigate and he finds a horrifying murder scene: a man lying shot dead beside the road and a woman, barely alive, but religiously pumping out the SOS on the car horn.  As DCI Matilda Darke is called in to investigate, I couldn’t read fast enough to untangle the threads of this mysterious and tragic couple’s story.

I loved the link to For Reasons Unknown as we were reminded of Jonathan Harkness’s love of books.  Matilda seems to revere books almost as much as Jonathan (and all of us bookworms) and I think all books should be printed with Matilda’s warning of ‘..don’t break the spines, fold over the corners or rest your coffee on it.’

Superbly written and full of amazing twists, I did more than gasp out loud at the ending; I not only gasped in shock, but I think I held my breath for longer than I thought possible.  Why Mr Wood, what an intriguing web you weave!  It was well worth every penny of the £1.99 I paid for it from Amazon.

I am happy to release my review as part of the Outside Looking In blog tour.

My rating:

Buy Outside Looking In from Amazon
Buy For Reasons Unknown from Amazon

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