When three dead bodies are discovered in quick succession on his home patch in Kent, DS Ian Peterson
becomes too embroiled in a complex murder investigation to worry about his forthcoming promotion or the
state of his marriage. The first victim is a middle class housewife, stabbed to death in a park. Her
husband is in the clear until the prostitute who provided him with an alibi is murdered. While the police
are busy gathering evidence, a second prostitute is killed. Ian and a young female constable, Polly,
struggle to make sense of the case and find the elusive killer, before he strikes again. By the time Ian
realises the truth, it may be too late to save Polly.
Leigh Russell has written numerous crime fiction books and her debut novel Cut Short was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger Award. She followed that up with books such as Road Closed and Dead End. Cold Sacrifice is the first book in the Ian Peterson series.
Leigh Russell’s Cold Sacrifice introduces us to DS Ian Peterson’s first solo outing. Those familiar with the author’s work will recall him from her popular Geraldine Steel series. In this police procedural Peterson investigates the murder of a woman found on a park bench, which leads him straight to her husband Henry, a character that often threatens to be smarter than he actually is. Henry offers up a touch of arrogance mixed with relief that his wife is not around to annoy him anymore, which soon makes him a suspect. He also has a son Mark and they both deal with their grief in different ways.
A measured approach is taken to Peterson’s investigation to the point of which, he never threatens to become bigger than the case yet he is the glue that holds the story together. Prostitutes are thrown into the mix, alongside a mysterious cult, as well as a young lad desperate to defend himself against bullies. All of these elements tie into the overall plot and we even get a memorable and grubby strip club manager in the shape of Jimmy.
There are familiar locations around Kent highlighted in the book such as Herne Bay and Margate, which Peterson covers alongside his colleague Polly. He’s an officer that is focused on his job and promotion, hence leaving his own marriage woes with his wife Bev shunted to the back of his mind, but only for so long. He wants to do right by her but the job or bad timing, always gets in the way and her frustrations, publicly defending her husband while secretly feeling ignored, are played out pretty well.
The characters are carefully constructed and Russell’s storytelling was strong enough to keep me enticed right through to the very end as the net closed in on the perpetrator and more awful killings occurred.
Leigh Russell’s Cold Sacrifice serves as a skilful delivery from a writer that indubitably understands her characters, leaving me to wonder, just what Ian Peterson and his gang will be up against next.
Cold Sacrifice by Leigh Russell is published in September by No Exit Press, £7.99.