Title: The Santa Killer (DI Barton #6)
Author: Ross Greenwood
Published on: 12 September 2022
Genre: Mystery and Thrillers | Police Procedural
The Santa Killer is the sixth book in Ross Greenwood’s DI Barton series.
Inga is doing some last minute Christmas shopping. She cannot wait to reach home and surprise her loved ones with special gifts. She’s near her car when she feels there’s someone behind her. Before she could react, she attacked. She opens her eyes to a stranger’s voice asking if she’s okay and they have called her an ambulance.
Four years later, another woman is attacked in front of her house. Two weeks until Christmas and it is supposed to be the time for goodwill, but there’s an attacker prowling on the streets. When another woman is attacked, DI Barton wonders if they have a serial killer/attacker on prowl.
I haven’t read the previous books of this series but I am looking forward to catching up. Though this book can be read as a standalone, I felt I should have read the previous installments to get a better picture of the recurring characters and their side stories. Also, The Santa Killer is the final installment in this series.
The story begins with Inga looking forward to spending a memorable Christmas with her family. But her dreams are cut short when she’s attacked by an unknown assailant in the car park. Four years later, the attacker is now preying on his next victim, Maggie. He sees her visit the gym with her bestie/co-worker Anne-Marie.
Maggie is attacked in front of her house and her autistic daughter witnesses the incident. Maggie is a widow and spends most of her time either at work or with her daughter Pippa. Maggie’s mum usually comes over to babysit Pippa when Maggie goes to gym – she found her daughter lying in a pool of blood and dialed 999. DI Barton is in charge of the case and he gets chatty with the mother. A few days later, she rings him to say Pippa has drawn a picture of the attack. When the girl is asked who is the person with the weapon (in the picture), she says Bad Santa.
An RJ of a local radio receives a letter from the attacker. It says “The Santa Killer. Coming to Town.” When Barton is informed of this letter, he tells the RJ to keep on eye on any more letters but not announce it to the public. But when the second attack happens, it is quite obvious that the letter was sent by the Santa Killer, announcing his arrival to the city.
Barton has a long list of suspects. Maggie’s coworkers make it to the list and so does her boss and the handsome gym trainer. As Barton starts to question each one of them, he learns some of them are not being honest. They have something to hide.
The story is divided into three PoVs: Barton, The Santa Killer and victims(Maggie and Ann-Marie). As the story proceeds, the identity of the killer becomes a tad confusing… wait, that’s only because the Santa Killer isn’t… um, no spoilers. 😉
I loved the first half of the story. The mystery behind the Santa Killer stalking his victims, sending a threatening letter to the local radio and Barton trying to find a clue piqued my curiosity. But as the story proceeded further, it did seem a bit dragged. Maggie and Anne-Marie’s attack had two PoVs – same case, same stalker… or not? I cannot reveal much without making this review a spoiler but I can say this: this particular twist wasn’t up to my liking.
This did feel like a long read. The story just went on and on and I was like, please find the killer already. Well, it is 437 pages long so… *shrugs* The ending was good and the identity of the Santa Killer was a shocker. Having said that, I really don’t understand the need for the plot twist (mentioned in the previous paragraph) – it was a red herring alright, but I don’t suppose there was a need to drag it.
Like I said before, this is the final book in the series. The recurring characters have moved ahead in life – when compared to the beginning of the series. So, I couldn’t follow their side stories as much as I wanted to – the loss of a child, temporary transfers, previous cases (Barton’s), etc.
Though a bit dragged at times, The Santa Killer by Ross Greenwood was an enjoyable and gripping read.
I received an ARC from Boldwood Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion.