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Survivor’s Guilt by Michael Wood

Title: Survivor’s Guilt (DCI Matilda Drake #8)

Author: Michael Wood

Published on: 28th October 2021

Genre: Mystery and Thrillers | Police Procedural

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

You’re a survivor, aren’t you, Matilda?

Nine months ago, DCI Matilda Darke was shot in the head. She survived but half of her team was wiped out in the carnage. The shooter went ahead and killed innocent civilians and attacked a school where Matilda’s best friend Adele’s son Chris worked. Chris put himself between the shooter and the children, getting himself killed.

Matilda had a tough recovery and is still adjusting to her new life. Her sleep is marred by nightmares and sometimes, the PTSD gets the better of her. Still, she is and will always be a Survivor. She’s ready to get back to work and her teammates are eager to see how their boss is going to adjust to work after a traumatic experience.

A prostitute is found murdered in the woods. The way she was killed matches a couple more murders dating back to 2016. Is there a serial killer at play? If yes, why is he targeting prostitutes? The killings stopped 13 months ago and the recent murder suggests he’s back in the game. But what happened in those 13 months? Was he arrested for a smaller crime and let off a year later?

Survivor’s Guilt is the eight book in Michael Wood’s DCI Matilda Darke series. I have read the previous book in this series – Time is Running Out – and boy, it was nothing less than a blood bath! Bodies everywhere, the killer was on one heck of a spree. Matilda was fighting for her life while half of her team was wiped out in a minute!

In Survivor’s Guilt, Matilda is learning to be comfortable with the scars the carnage left her with. Physical wounds might heal and leave a scar but some emotional wounds never heal. Many a time, Matilda wished the killer had killed her, ending her grief forever. Her best friend and Medical Examiner Adele lost her only son; Adele and Matilda never spoke to each other since the incident.

The story begins with a kidnapping of a young boy. Carl’s parents were out that day and his gran was looking after him when kidnappers barged into their house posing as police officers, killed the gran (not intentionally) and kidnapped the boy. The ransom exchange went sideways when Matilda reached the wrong venue. Carl’s mother blamed Matilda for the mix-up, wrote a book on her grief and painted Matilda in a very not-so-good picture. Four years later, Matilda, retired police officer Pat and Matilda’s sister Harriet (who moved in with Matilda soon after the shooting + she’s filed for divorce from her husband of many years) are on their way to the airport to receive Carl… He was found in Sweden, well-looked after by a childless couple.

Meanwhile, back at Sheffield, a killer is on prowl. A young woman’s body is found in the woods. The M.O matches that of the previous few murders. The news reporters are on the scent and question the police about a possible serial killer at play. The police officers do not give a definitive – though they know it is a serial killer, they do not want the civilians to freak out.

The main question is, the murders started in 2016 and after 2018, the killer paused for 13 months. Why? Was he arrested for a petty crime and spent a year behind bars? Or, was it something else that kept him away from murdering prostitutes? Soon, the body count increases – bodies of some of the missing women are found buried in the woods. Also, the M.O has changed a tad – he initially buried the bodies but leaves them out in the open now. Are the police looking for one killer or two different killers?

A tad gory but DCI Matilda Darke series is slowing making its way to my list of favorite police procedurals. I absolutely love Michael Wood’s storytelling. The story kept me guessing till the end and the identity of the killer was .. GOSH! I was like, What The… when Matilda announced the name of the killer. It’s been nine months since the shooting and we get a glimpse of how the recurring characters are slowing adjusting to their new lives. They have moved to a different suite at work – the old one reminds them of their lost colleagues. Matilda is fighting the demons that give her nightmares. And those colleagues who lost their loved ones aren’t finding it easier to move on. It never is easy to move on from a trauma that leaves an emotional scar in our lives, isn’t it?

Survivor’s Guilt by Michael Wood is an engrossing, riveting, gripping and a must-read thriller of the year! If you love police procedurals that keep you guessing till the end, do not miss to read this mind-blowing, marvelous installment of the DCI Matilda Darke series!


I received an ARC from One More Chapter and NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion.

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