‘Can I make you a cup of tea?’ she asked, turning back to face him.

Without answering, he raised his arm and struck her a powerful blow in the middle of her chest. He felt the blade slide in and stop as it hit bone. Her blue eyes widened in shock and her mouth gaped open ready to scream, as he drew the knife out.”


There’s something rather comforting about reading truly good crime – I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling this. It’s perhaps because, in the vast majority of cases, good will out and, in a world gone mad, that’s very reassuring. With this in mind, Class Murder, Leigh Russell’s new book and Detective Geraldine Steel’s tenth outing, is an absolute delight. Add to that the fact that I’ve never read Russell before – and quite how that’s happened, I don’t know – and really, my joy is absolute.

The book opens with Steel newly relocated from London’s Metropolitan Police to York’s Major Investigation Team. She’s just discovered her senior officer is Inspector Ian Peterson, a former colleague and junior, and she’s struggling to settle in while trying to solve a case that, at first, seems a bit too straightforward from the initial crime scene. Of course, nothing is but what is not. And it’s murder, bloody murder, but murder done well, and delivered to us beautifully, with a practiced and accomplished hand.

I was trying to work out what it is that makes certain books work – I think tone is key. We, the reader, have to believe in the characters, in what they’re doing, their actions, their motivations, whether good or bad. Russell delivers on every front.

From the very first page, she carefully sets the scene, building up the characters and plot; she hands us a great deal of information about the crimes, the perpetrator, police procedure, but this is all done in a seemingly easy, yet confident manner. That’s all to do with tone. Certainly, it makes the book highly readable. It also makes me want to go out and buy other Russell titles. And that’s surely a sign of a good writer? Someone who leaves the reader wanting to venture further into his or her imagined worlds.

The fact that Russell’s also part of the No Exit Press stable, a publisher with which I have a longstanding love affair, from the days of Jonathan Latimer and its white-jacketed vintage crime list, of course doesn’t hurt at all. Oh no


Class Murder | Leigh Russell | No Exit Press | 29 March 2018 | paperback | £7.99 | Detective Geraldine Steel series, no. 10


Suggested soundtracks:‘This mess we’re in’, PJ Harvey/Thom Yorke;Nobody loves me’, Portishead (Dummy); ‘Stranger’, Goldfrapp (Tales of Us);Human’, Rag’n’Bone Man


Suggested food: a lot of black coffee and vending machine food


Acknowledgements: Quoted text from Class Murder, page 20 © Leigh Russell 2018. Thank you to Anne Cater for arranging the book blog tour and to the publisher for supplying the book and publicity material. All views expressed are our own. Image © The Literary Shed 2018.


Also of interest:The not-so-invisible woman‘; ‘Beauty in Translation – Roxanne Bouchard’s Canadian noir’; ‘Finlay’s last stand – Matt Johnson’s End Game‘; ‘We should all be feminists‘; ‘Force of Nature–aka where’s Alice Russell?‘; ‘Jane Harper’s stylish debut – The Dry‘; ‘Mallory an old-style hero – It Happens in the Dark by Carol O’Connell’; ‘The long road – John Fairfax’s Summary Justice‘; ‘Nora Roberts’ Come Sundown – a tale of strong women‘; How Penguin learned to fly – Allen Lane and the Original Penguin Ten‘; ‘Book covers we love – Dorothy L. Sayer’s Busman’s Holiday‘.


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