I read this book over Christmas in 2017 and I can still remember the story line vividly and how much I loved it. I was spending the Christmas period in Newcastle and I happened upon this book set along Hadrian’s Wall and it seemed rather apt to have it as my choice of book as I was journeying close to the setting. I was grabbed from the first sentence and honestly enjoyed every page. It’s an easy read, with great tone and flow to keep you gripped throughout. I remember feeling torn between not wanting the story to end and desperately wanting to know the resolution.
This book definitely had an impact on me, it’s not particularly gruesome or scary, but more the realisation that people you trust and love might make bad decisions and it has a larger knock-on effect that ever thought possible. The first timeline in this story is 1996 where Isla Bell finds 3 bodies on her morning run, then as she heads for home to get help she finds a fourth person, but he’s not dead yet. Isla’s dad, Eric Bell, is the policeman who solves the case and puts the serial killer away. We skip forward 20 years to 2016 where Isla is interacting with the convicted “Killer on the Wall” as part of her job, but bodies start to turn up again.
I just loved the suspense, the twists and being entirely captivated by the characters and story. There’s multiple POV’s all written in the 3rd person alternating throughout – mainly Isla, Mina and Ramsey but also Eric. The 2016 portion runs from 21st October to 3rd November, so only a period of 13 days, but I couldn’t put the book down so it felt like it all blurred by a lot quicker and I didn’t feel the benefit of the daily timeline. If you read at a slower pace then the daily chapters will feel very realistic and I almost wish I’d paced myself but I was having too much fun. I liked that each POV was written simulataneously on each day, because the parallels of their lives, jobs and the effect the case has on them is so interesting. They’re all intertwined and the author has a really good way of letting them interact but keep their own part of the story separate so the narratives are definitive. This helps it feel realistic, like maybe more of a family/domestic thriller as the small-village location where everyone knows everyone is a major factor in the plot.
Emma Kavanagh has written 3 other books before this one, and I hadn’t read any of them, but I really enjoyed her writing style and she really made my empathise with certain characters but also question and feel unsure about others. I also thoroughly enjoyed the science aspect in the story, because it’s quite common for serial killers to be called psychopaths but there’s a lot more psychology and testing available now to determine differences. I found Isla’s work as a forensic psychologist fascinating and terrifying! At the end of the book Emma writes an Author’s Note that explains the authenticity and research behind the book and I love how much is true and real! A light-hearted thriller about a truly dark and horrifying topic, but nonetheless will forever be one of my favourite books and I can’t recommend it enough. I do want to purchase other books by the author to see if I enjoy those as much and find another new comfort read… not that I take comfort reading about serial killers… that’s not what I meant… you know what I meant… I hope! – GJ