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When the Past Kills by M.J. Lee

Title: When the Past Kills (DI Ridpath #5)

Author: M.J. Lee

Published on: 24th September 2020

Genre: Mystery and Thrillers

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A scream breaks the air in the Coroner’s office. An execution is being broadcast live on the internet. An old case has begun to haunt DI Ridpath and the MIT.

As days pass by, people start dropping dead – most of them are killed in the most horrendous way one could ever imagine. And these executions are broadcast live on the internet.

Time is running out for DI Ridpath. His life is at stake too…

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When the Past Kills is the fifth book in DI Ridpath police procedural series. Though the fifth in the series, this is my first read by M.J. Lee and I am bowled over by this fast-paced thriller.

The story is set in Feb 2020 and there is a mention of ‘a new decease’ in China. There are talks on the radio about how would the government officials handle if it spreads to UK. Val McDermid’s Still Life was another book in which the current global pandemic was mentioned. Mentioning the current scenario makes the readers feel they are somehow a part of the story. Like you know, years later, we can always tell the younger gen – hey did you read about the pandemic in that story? yeah? I survived it.

The story starts with a scream. Quite literally because Ridpath is in the coroner’s office and there’s a live telecast of an execution. Meanwhile, Ridpath’s ex-boss’s dogs are hanged to death in a shed. Ridpath is sent to investigate the case. Ridpath’s new boss is being a pain in the backside but Ridpath doesn’t want to fall into his wolfish plans.

Without divulging the plot further and making this review a spoiler, I would say, as the title says, The Past starts to kill – the killer believes the people involved did not live up to his expectations. A little trigger warning here – the killings are gory. But the story inclines towards Ridpath and the other coppers digging their way through the clues and identifying the killer.

DI Ridpath is an interesting character. He was diagnosed with cancer two years ago and he had to leave the MIT. He joined the Coroner’s office instead – a demotion in the post but he still has a job… We also get to see the familial side of Ridpath – the times he spends with his wife and daughter. There’s a twist as the story ends – maybe a little cliffhanger here and I am curious to see how the author is going to proceed with this angle in the next book.

Emily Parkinson assists Ridpath in the investigations. The story alternates between the police looking into the case and the killer preying on his next victim. At the beginning of the story, we see Emily and the killer’s paths cross. I wish this was explored further as the story proceeded. * SPOILER ALERT* Even when the killer is identified, it is nowhere mentioned Emily met them. I certainly wished to see Emily say “Hey, I met his fella…” *END OF SPOILER*

The above-mentioned niggle aside, When the Past Kills is a solid, action-packed and riveting police-procedural. Well-maintained suspense and well-portrayed characters. The story keeps you on the edge of the seat. If you are looking for a page-turner, When the Past Kills by M.J Lee must be on your to-be-read list.


Many thanks to Canelo and NetGalley for the ARC. This is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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