Book review: The Murder Wall by Mari Hannah

Ever wondered what it’s like to be part of a high-profile murder investigation team?

The nearest most of us will probably come is to take a seat and open up debut author Mari Hannah’s classy and compelling crime thriller which delivers on every level.

Brilliant plotting and scene setting, an outspoken, reckless and determined woman chief inspector, a carefully crafted supporting cast and police procedural detail so real that it’s like being a fly on the wall make this an outstanding first novel.

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Based in Northumberland, Hannah is a former probation officer and with knowledge no doubt gleaned from her partner, an ex-murder detective, she has put together a fast-paced, confidently written and seamlessly flowing murder mystery fraught with sexual tensions and naked ambition.

Set in the busy streets of Newcastle and the scenic countryside around the old Roman town of Corbridge, The Murder Wall’s stylish and complex female lead, terrifying faceless killer, air of menace and intriguing twists and turns are the stuff of whodunit heaven.

Eleven months after discovering a shocking double murder in her sleepy Northumbrian home town, Detective Chief Inspector Kate Daniels is still haunted by her failure to find the killer.

The problem was that she knew both the victims, and their deaths helped her to see murder for what it was – not the adrenalin rush of another case but something cruel, brutal, nauseating and, now, personal.

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When a man is found shot in the head in his upmarket flat on Newcastle’s Quayside, his murder presents Daniels with another chance to get it right because this is her first case as Senior Investigating Officer.

However, Daniels knows the dead man and in an attempt to cover for a colleague she is very close to, she fails to disclose the fact. It’s a risky move, one that could threaten her so-far exemplary 15-year career in the police force, and before long her personal life is swerving dangerously into her professional life.

But much worse for Daniels, she is now being watched and as she steps closer to finding the killer, there is only one breath between herself and the next victim…

Kate Daniels is a superb character, and one that we will be meeting again when Hannah’s second novel, Settled Blood, is published later this year.

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Edgy, stubborn, intensely private, fiercely loyal, a born maverick but still remarkably sensitive to the emotions of the bereaved, the enigmatic Daniels has a promising future both as a police chief and as a literary leading lady.

(Pan, paperback, £6.99)