Title: The Christmas Killer (DI James Walker #1)
Author: Alex Pine
Published on: 29th October 2020
Genre: Mystery and Thrillers
After the release of a convicted gang leader Andrew Sullivan, DI James Walker and his wife Annie move from London to Kirkby Abbey, Cumbria. James had testified against Andrew and the gangster’s release meant he might come after James and family.
Kirkby Abbey is where Annie grew up. Annie inherited her parents’ house after her mother’s death. The inheritance caused a few tiffs between Annie and her Uncle Bill. With Christmas around the corner, Annie and James have invited their relatives home – including Uncle Bill.
James finds a package on the doorstep. He opens it to find a dead bird and a letter claiming 12 days of Christmas will bring 12 murders to the sleepy town of Kirkby Abbey. James initially thinks Andrew is trying to threaten him. The very next day, a local is found murdered.
The blurb on NetGalley (and Goodreads, of course) sounded interesting and I was eagerly waiting to read this book. A thanks is in order to Avon Books for providing me the ARC for review purpose.
The Christmas Killer is not a fast-paced mystery. I think this book falls into the sub-category of Cozy Mystery. A little slow paced and the first murder does not happen until 20% through the story. There are a total of three murders in the story and overall, the story development was a little too slow for my taste.
As much as I liked the main character/sleuth James Walker, I cannot say the same about his wife Annie. Annie seemed a little too emotional and wallowing in self-pity. James and Annie are desperately trying for a baby. There are ‘funny’ moments like – they wake up early one morning and James says it’s not a sex-in-the-morning kinda day. As the story ends (on Christmas Eve), they want to conceive a baby on Christmas Eve so festivity be damned. In my opinion. these inclusions were totally unnecessary.
The mystery behind the murders was pretty good. The identity of the killer was no surprise. I wouldn’t say the character development was very good. All the characters except James were distant, rude and unlikable. I do not care much about the pacing as long the character portrayal is impressive. Sadly, this story fell flat on both accounts.
Overall, The Christmas Killer was an okay read. The story definitely has a lot of scope for improvement. There’s no thrill or the curiosity to know what happens next. Having said that, as a first in the series, I would like to read the next book to know if there is an improvement in the character portrayal and story line.