The Killer in the Snow by Alex Pine is set between Christmas and New Year in the Lake District (rapidly becoming a favourite setting for murders in books I have read recently). It is the second in a series featuring Detective James Walker who is a recent incomer to the area having moved away from London where he and his wife were under threat from a villain he had arrested. Reference is made a lot in this book to a big crime with which Walker was involved very recently in what was obviously book one of the series but not having read it doesn’t impede your understanding of this second volume.
Three bodies are found in a farmhouse – a father, mother and daughter. They have been there since Christmas Eve and have been killed brutally. It looks at first as though the farmer, facing the loss of his farm and bankruptcy, has killed his wife and daughter and then himself. After investigation, however, it seems that someone else has been involved and the girl’s boyfriend is missing. Local inhabitants realise that the murder is almost an exact replica of what happened to another family in the same farmhouse about twenty years before – is this coincidence ? Then the investigators find evidence that the crime may have been witnessed by yet another person.
This is a clever start to a novel and as the story unwinds there are more and more twists and turns. By the time you reach the end there is a feeling that some of it is a bit unlikely but the story is well written and I wanted to read more. Walker and his colleagues are well developed characters with less of the maverick/self-destructive tendencies of other investigative teams. There is a sub-plot involving the London part of Walker’s past which I thought was a bit undeveloped and a bit unnecessary but it didn’t get in the way.
Having now read this book I would search out the other two in the series because this one was entertaining and engaging.