Angie Farrell is a worried woman. Her daughter didn’t come home last night. She then opens a parcel and finds a bottle of blood stopped with a toe wearing a distinctive pale orange nail varnish. Pretty soon a body is found, minus a toe and grasping a mirror. It’s like something from a particularly grim fairy tale. The CID team looking for clues are stumped, but PC Cate Corbin makes the connection and brings literature professor Alice Hyland into the investigation.
Alice’s observations reveal a disturbing similarity to an obscure Italian version of Snow White. Then another body turns up, one wearing a red cape and Alice finds herself the object of the investigation…
This second novel by Alison Littlewood is a cracking police procedural, with just a hint of the supernatural. Littlewood strikes up a believable narrative between the two main characters of Cate and Alice and her painstaking research into police procedures has paid off with some pretty convincing descriptions of behaviour at crime scenes and incident rooms. The idea of serial killer working to a theme isn’t exactly new, but there is something quite fun about taking fairy tales as the killer’s choice, especially when you learn just how gruesome some of the source material is (thinks: must look into that further).
A well written taut thriller, with good characterisation, believable plot and the odd red herring to keep you on your toes I give it a 666.
Path of Needles is available now from Jo Fletcher Books.
Littlewood’s first novel A Cold Season was selected as a 2012 Richard and Judy Book Club Pick
Follow Alison Littlewood on twitter at @Ali_L. Read her blog.
I think my favourite thematic serial killer has to be Edward Lionheart played by a marvellously camp Vincent Price in Theatre of Blood (1973): his performances savaged by a circle of critics Lionheart sets about murdering them in many creative ways derived from the plays of Shakespeare. A very funny film with a stellar supporting cast including: Harry Andrews, Coral Browne (later Mrs Price) , Diana Dors, Jack Hawkins, Arthur Lowe, Robert Morley, Diana Rigg and Eric Sykes plus Hothouse Editor’s teenage crush Madeline Smith.
Review by Simon Ball
Connect with Simon: @RealShipsCook or here.