when a homeless man is found strangled to death, DS Geraldine Steel is caught off guard by the cold blooded nature of the crime. A second murder suggests the existence of a killer whose motive is as elusive as he is dangerous.

In an investigation plagued by police scepticism, only Geraldine is relentless in her pursuit of the truth. As she is forced down unexpected avenues into the lives of three people caught in a toxic triangle of love and deceit, she discovers there is more to this case than any of them could have imagined.


This is the 13th book in the Geraldine Steel novels. This is the first one I have read by this author, may have to go back to the first books in the series. Although this can be read as a stand alone novel.

Geraldine Steel has been demoted from DI to DS in the serious crime unit in York. She is back working with her old Sergeant Ian Peterson. The roles have been reversed but Geraldine had no other choice but to take the demotion in order to stay in the job. The relationship between the two officers isn’t as good as Geraldine had hoped it would be, as Peterson is trying to distance himself from her as much as he can. We also see her boss Eileen and her team mate and friend Ariadne. The team don’t feel great but this could be down to Geraldines demotion or the fact that she has just moved to York.

A homeless man is found strangled in York City centre, initially Geraldine was annoyed that the case was not being taken seriously, mainly because it was a homeless man, so it gave the impression of what does it matter. But Geraldine was determined to get justice for this man regardless of his statues. But when investigating, going to homeless shelters, someone confessed to the murder, in the team’s eyes that’s it crime solved, but Geraldine is not buying it. A week later another homeless man in murdered in the same way, meaning the person who confessed couldn’t have been telling the truth. A third body is then found in a van which had been stolen and found abandoned in a car park. At first it looks like this person was homeless as well, but it turns out it is the body of a music teacher Mark Routledge. But are these killings linked?

The story is told through different points of view, Geraldine as she is investigating, the killer/watcher leading to the first kill then planning the next, and of a family Ann, David and Mark, and the complex relationship going on there.

I enjoyed the story, there are a number of red herrings thrown in, to distract you. I realise I am missing quite a bit of back story which I did feel, I enjoyed the police procedural parts, showing the way they try to pull all the pieces together. It’s also good the way the writer highlights the perils of being homeless, because so many people just walk by, it’s like they are invisible people, if you ignore it it will just go away. When of course in reality it’s not as sim-led as that. So many things can lead to homelessness, breakdown in a marriage, loss of job and income, addictions, being thrown out of your home, abuse. Homelessness is not always a choice. So I like the fact it was addressed in this story.

There were a couple of bits I didn’t get, why they were there, like Molly, who had witnessed one of the murders, but it looked into her homelessness and how, but she then just seemed to be gone, I couldn’t work out why this was. Thinking it was going to be more than her being a witness. It just feel like padding as it didn’t really add or detract from the story.

I would like to thank #netgalley and #Oldcastlebooks for an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest, fair and unbiased review.


Leigh Russell is the author of the DI Geraldine Steel series, which has sold over a million copies worldwide. She is chair of the CWA’s Debut Dagger Award judging panel and is a Royal Literary Fellow.

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