09th Apr2015

Book Review – Black Wood

by Lloyd Paige



Something happened to Claire and Jo in Black Wood: something that left Claire paralysed and Jo with deep

mental scars. But with Claire suffering memory loss and no evidence to be found, nobody believes Jo’s

story. Twenty-three years later, a familiar face walks into the bookshop where Jo works, dredging up

painful memories and rekindling her desire for vengeance. And at the same time, Sergeant Davie Gray is

investigating a balaclava-clad man who is attacking women on a disused railway, shocking the sleepy village

of Banktoun. But what is the connection between Jo’s visitor and the masked man? To catch the assailant,

and to give Jo her long-awaited justice, Gray must unravel a tangled web of past secrets, broken friendship

and tainted love. But can he crack the case before Jo finds herself with blood on her hands?

This gripping debut introduces us to the close knit community of Banktoun and a devastating secret. Twenty-

three years ago Jo and Claire were left traumatised by an incident that no one was held accountable for.

Jo has tried to get on with her life, although she’s still scarred from a childhood where her dad didn’t

want her – instead he just wanted her mum, so there’s a sense of loneliness and of course there’s the

incident in Black Wood.

Jo does her best to manage a ropey relationship with her boyfriend Scott who appears to have fallen out of

love with her but she has a friend in Craig and works in his bookshop. The tension ramps up a notch when a

face from the terrible past resurfaces and you can feel the panic engulf Jo. She freezes on the spot and

so begins her quest to right a terrible wrong.

SJI Holliday has made the characters feel real enough for readers to feel empathy towards and

Sergeant Davie Gray is a likeable enough fellow, assured, strong, and wise too. But this whole story is

Jo’s show and it examines the lengths that she’ll go to get justice. Mixed in with that, there’s the disturbing

case of a masked man preying on women near a disused railway, along with the mystery of Jo’s secret lover

and the seemingly murky past of her grandmother.

The story is laid out in a way that makes the reader ache for answers with integrated flashback chapters

entitled The Woods and The Boy.

What did happen to the girls all those years ago?

Who were the ones that inflicted the suffering?

And will Jo get her revenge?

By the thundering end the story answers this and more while making you wonder what else might be around the

corner in the future for the tenacious Jo, unflappable Davie Gray, and of course the other residents of


Black Wood by SJI Holliday

Print Length: 335 pages

Publisher: Black & White Publishing

Language: English


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