After losing her job and her partner in one fell swoop, journalist Elspeth Reeves is back in her mother s house in the sleepy village of Wilsby-under-Wychwood, wondering where it all went wrong. Then a body is found in the neighbouring Wychwoods: a woman ritually slaughtered, with cryptic symbols scattered around her corpse. Elspeth recognizes these from a local myth of the Carrion King, a Saxon magician who once held a malevolent court deep in the forest. As more murders follow, Elspeth joins her childhood friend DS Peter Shaw to investigate, and the two discover sinister village secrets harking back decades.
A small town murder mystery with a healthy dose of the supernatural? Count me in!
Elspeth Reeves is an interesting change to the standard police whodunnit (or in this case, howdidtheydunnit?). She’s a reporter who’s returned home to her little village after losing her job and her partner in short order, only to stumble over a rather gruesome murder scene literally on her back doorstep.
There’s a nice interplay between Elspeth and childhood friend-turned-copper Peter Shaw as they team up to solve the mystery of Carrion King, a figure from local mythology. Plenty of potential suspects, a netful of red herrings and some genuinely quirky murders make this an entertaining, if sometimes a little gory read. I polished it off in a couple of sittings, eager to get to the bottom of who was behind it all!
Wychwood, by George Mann is published by Titan Books and is out now. Many thanks to Phillipa at Titan Books for the review copy.