Tuesday 17 March 2015

Review: Black Wood by SJI Holliday

Black Wood by SJI Holliday
Publisher: Black and White Publishing
Release date: 19 March 2015
Rating: *****
Back cover blurb: He spots the two girls through the cracked screen of beech, sycamore and leg-scratching gorse: a flash of red skirt and a unison of giggles… 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.. contd.

Black Wood is Susi Holliday's debut novel, but you wouldn't know it. A truly gripping read from start to finish, Black Wood is one of the best debuts I've read in a while.

Black Wood is set in a small claustrophic Scottish town, where everyone knows everyone (and their business), and some very unpleasant things have happened. Think Broadchurch crossed with Taggart and you're almost there.

Black Wood is the setting of life changing events for Jo and Claire that neither of them are able to really move away from even years later. Affected in different ways both physically and mentally, Jo and Claire although still friends, are bound together by their past.

Whilst Claire would be happy to forget what happened that fateful day in Black Wood, Jo is slightly more reluctant to let go, convinced that a man who has recently returned to Black Wood had something to do with what happened. So convinced is Jo of this persons involvement that she enrols the help of the local police Sergeant, Davie Gray.

Sergeant Davie Gray is a thoroughly likeable character which puts him at odds with quite a few of the other characters in Holliday's debut. A few of whom are thoroughly unpleasant. But this helps to make Black Wood the atmospheric novel that it is.

Davie, although wanting to help Jo, has other concerns. A masked suspect has been seen in the Black Wood area. frightening and attacking young girls. Is it the same man that Jo has been so concerned about, or is it something even more sinister? Something that no one in Black Wood, least of all Jo or Claire, could ever have imagined?

Black Wood without a doubt has to be one of my favourite ever crime debuts, and I urge you to read it. You won't be disappointed!

Black Wood is available from 19 March 2015. You can pre-order it now from Amazon online.
You can read my Black Wood blog tour Q and A with SJI Holliday here.
Don't forget to visit crimethirllergirl.com tomorrow for the next blog tour installment!   

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Huge thanks to Liz Wilkins for sending me a copy of the novel and allowing me to take part in Susi's blog tour.

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