Warning! Contains spoilers about previous DCI Ryan stories in the series.
Cragside, the 6th instalment in the DCI Ryan series, begins in the aftermath of the violent demise of Kier Edwards, AKA ‘The Hacker’. Denise Mackenzie, having narrowly escaped his clutches in ‘High Force’, is finding her return to normal life somewhat difficult. She has yet to return to work and is experiencing terrifying panic attacks. Part of the story focuses on her struggle to get back to normality after her ordeal and the efforts of colleagues and friends to help her to do so.
Ryan and Anna attend a murder mystery evening at nearby stately home; Cragside. Naturally, the murder shifts from fiction to reality when a member of staff is found dead – seemingly from an accidental fall when the power fails. Of course, Ryan is not so sure…
Before writing this review, I took a look at what others had written on Amazon reviews etc. (4.5 🌟 from over 900 Reviews in case you were wondering). Cragside has a different feel to it than its predecessors, and I was particularly interested in the not-so-glowing Reviews. A common thread seems to be that the story had a slower pace, primarily because ‘The Hacker’ is no longer a constant threat to Ryan and his loved ones.
Now, whilst I agree that the pace is slower in ‘Cragside’, I disagree with those who see this as a negative. I thoroughly enjoyed the books in which DCI Ryan and his team endured the constant threat from convict Kier Edwards. It made for fast-paced, high-stakes scenes that kept me reading late into the night. However, I think Ross made the right decision in killing off Edwards in High Force. After all, he’d already committed his crimes, been imprisoned, encouraged copy cat killers from his cell and finally escaped, allowing him to kill again as well as kidnap Mackenzie from under Ryan’s nose. Surely, anyone would think that using the same antagonist again would have been pushing it slightly? Similarly, putting Ryan and his team straight in to another situation where they are personally at risk from the criminal would have been too unbelievable. The crime at Cragside allows readers a chance to see a different side to the characters. I think that they become more rounded as a result of this comparably ‘mundane’ murder investigation.
So… yes, ‘ Cragside’ offers a different type of story. I for one believe that this was a good move by the author, allowing the characters to settle down instead of becoming almost like charicatures of themselves. It offers a different feel to previous instalments, but’ I think, just as brilliant.