Wychwood – George Mann
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.
My thanks to Phillipa at Titan Books for my review copy and the chance to join the blog tour
Yesterday evening I made myself a cup of coffee and sat down to start reading Wychwood. Two hours later I finally looked up from my book, it was well past midnight, my coffee was stone cold and I was contemplating “just a few more chapters” before bed. This is a good’un.
Journalist Elspeth Reeves leaves London to return home to her mother in the small village of Wilsby-under-Wychwood. Elspeth needs some familiar comfort as she has lost her job and her marriage has ended but as she nears her mother’s home she has to endure the ordeal of a huge traffic jam – roads into the village are locked down while the police investigate “an incident”.
Elspeth’s family home backs onto the local woods – the police have sealed off access but Elspeth jumps the wall and goes for a snoop. She is shocked to spot the body of a woman – the corpse is carefully laid out on the forest floor and adorned in a cape of swan feathers, head surrounded by dead birds. More shocking for Elspeth is that she recognises the image, this body has been displayed to depict an image from a local myth…that of the Carrion King.
Before she can get away from the body she is discovered by a policeman. DS Peter Shaw was a school-friend of Elspeth and he keeps her presence at the murder scene a secret from his boss. However when Elspeth turns up at the police station the next day with a book on local myths and shows Shaw an image which appears to mirror the staging of his murder victim he agrees to pool information with Elspeth to track down a killer.
The first body we see is not the only death in the village and there is a sinister killer at work. The small village setting gives the book a suitably sinister/creepy feel which would have been lost in a larger setting. The historic overtures and the suggestion of witchcraft or dark forces at work made this particularly engaging reading. Elspeth and Shaw are engaging lead characters and I enjoyed their relaxed and companionable relationship.
I am a big fan of George Mann’s writing style, incredibly readable and perfectly paced to keep me flicking the pages. Wychwood is creepy and very entertaining – I liked it a lot.
Wychwood is available in paperback and digital format and can be ordered here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wychwood-1-George-Mann/dp/1783294094/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1505771716&sr=1-2