Dog Rose Dirt – Jen Williams

What if your mother had been writing to a serial killer?

When prodigal daughter Heather Evans returns to her family home after her mother’s baffling suicide, she makes an alarming discovery: stacks and stacks of carefully preserved letters from notorious serial killer Michael Reave. The “Red Wolf,” as he was dubbed by the press, has been in prison for over twenty years, serving a life sentence for the gruesome and ritualistic murders of several women across the country, although he has always protested his innocence. The police have had no reason to listen, yet Heather isn’t the only one to have cause to re-examine the murders. The body of a young woman has just been found, dismembered and placed inside a tree, the corpse planted with flowers. Just as the Red Wolf once did.

What did Heather’s mother know? Why did she kill herself? And with the monstrous Red Wolf safely locked inside a maximum security prison, who is stalking young women now? Teaming up with DI Ben Parker, Heather hopes to get some answers for herself and for the newest victims of this depraved murderer. Yet to do that, she must speak to Michael Reave herself, and expose herself to truths she may not be ready to face. Something dark is walking in the woods, and it knows her all too well. a killer ready to strike again

Book Information: Published by HarperCollins 22 July 2021 – Print Length: 357 pages

My Review:

The description of this book really intrigued me: disgraced Journalist Heather, returns to her childhood home after her mother’s suicide and discovers a box of letters written over decades to a notorious, violent serial killer known as “The Red Wolf” who has been in prison for over 20 years. As Heather was estranged from her mother since she was 16 and they had an uneasy and volatile relationship the suicide has forced Heather to look into her mother’s past and re-examine everything she thought she knew.

At the same time as Heather’s mother’s suicide, a spate of “copy cat” Red Wolf killings are occuring and the police are desperate to prevent any more murders. When Heather realises the connection between her mother and The Red Wolf she contacts the police and they arrange for her to meet him in prison to help catch the killer and learn about her mother’s past.

I found this book a real slow burner and it wasn’t until over half-way through that the pace began to pick up slightly. The storyline has a dual timeline, present day and “before” when Michael Reave began his spree of killings. I found the chapters “before” disturbing and uncomfortable and the more the reader learns about Reave’s background and childhood, the darker the book becomes.

As a seasoned “armchair” detective I figured out some of the twists early on and the pace was a little too slow for my liking, however I did enjoy the references to the original Grimm Fairytales and did find the book creepy in places.

I’m not sure what genre Dog Rose Dirt falls under as it’s part horror, part fantasy and a little twist of supernatural on top but it was an interesting book and I’d like to thank Anne Cater for the invitation to join the blogtour.

About the Author:

Jen Williams lives in London with her partner and their small ridiculous cat. Having been a fan of grisly fairy tales from a young age, these days Jen writes dark unsettling thrillers with strong female leads, as well as character-driven fantasy novels with plenty of adventure and magic. She has twice won the British Fantasy Award for her Winnowing Flame trilogy, and when she’s not writing books she works as a bookseller and a freelance copywriter.

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