Blood Axe (DI Ian Peterson 3) – Leigh Russell
Silently dipping his oars in the water he made his escape. It was a weary journey, with few spoils to show for it. Next time he would do better. He looked back over his shoulder. The bridge had disappeared, swallowed up by the darkness. From its walkway he too had become invisible. Only the bloody body of a woman showed he had been roaming the streets that night.
D.I. Ian Peterson investigates a series of gruesome and brutal axe murders in York. As the body count mounts, the case demands all Ian’s ingenuity, because this is a killer who leaves no clues.
My thanks to No Exit Press for my review copy.
DI Ian Peterson returns in Blood Axe, the new thriller from Leigh Russell. Having enjoyed his previous outing (Race to Death) where Peterson and his wife were put through serious trials as the hunt for a murderer unfolded I was keen to see what lay ahead. Suffice to say I was not prepared for an adversary like the ‘Hunter’ that appears in Blood Axe.
I am always keen to avoid spoilers but as the book description (above) refers to ‘a series of brutal axe murders’ I am on reasonably safe ground to discuss a little bit about the murders in Blood Axe. An axe wielding killer is stalking his prey around the city streets, his victims appear random and robbery does not appear to be a motive as money is not taken from a victim’s purse. But the nature of the killings gives the police some major cause for concern – axe attacks are brutal and bloody and this killer seems to have no qualms about unleashing murderous fury on his victims.
With no real leads or clues to pursue the pressure soon descends upon the investigative team, headed up by DI Ian Peterson. We see how Peterson handles working with a younger colleague who he feels is not as committed to the job as Peterson was himself. Added friction is raised when allegations made by a young witness seem unlikely to Peterson but his colleague is more inclined to take the allegations on good faith. Conflict within the investigative team and also for Peterson further problems are arising at home as his wife struggles to adapt to life in York and becomes increasingly frustrated by Peterson’s long working days.
I believe that the success of an ongoing series depends upon a strong supporting cast to back-up the lead character and Leigh Russell is developing exactly that. The interplay between the police characters shows how they struggle to maintain morale when faced with an investigation which seems to be going nowhere. In Blood Axe we also get to ‘ride along’ with the killer as he stalks his next victim, we get an insight into the thought process of the hunt and it is a disturbing distorted reality we see.
I actually visited York a few weeks ago and this added an extra level of enjoyment to my reading of Blood Axe. I could clearly imagine the narrow York streets that the Hunter crept down as he stalked his prey, Leigh Russell captures the feeling of the city brilliantly and it let me immerse myself into the story.
Blood Axe is an entertaining murder mystery with a twist that few will see coming. Fans of Leigh’s previous books will be pleased with a cameo from Peterson’s old boss Geraldine Steel. New readers have an atmospheric read to enjoy and a cast of characters you will want to read more of.
Blood Axe is published by No Exit Press and is available in paperback and digital formats now.