Saturday, January 17, 2009

a review of The Dead

The Dead by Ingrid Black

A Dublin newspaper, in the person of the rather sleazy writer Nick Elliott, has received a letter from someone purporting to be Ed Fagan. Mr. Fagan was believed to be a murderer, a serial killer, but after his release from custody due to some police transgression some five years before, has never been heard from again. Now, with this letter, and soon, with the discovery of the body of yet another dead prostitute, many believe that The Night Hunter is back.

Saxon (we never discover her first name) has her own very strong reasons for not believing that this killer, whoever he may be, is Fagan. She is a former FBI agent who gained a bit of fame and success writing several books about serial killers and she was in Ireland, in the process of writing one about The Night Hunter when he disappeared. The newspapers, the public, and even many in the police seem to except the killer and his letters to the press at his word. He says he will kill five women in the next seven days and seems to delight in taunting the murder squad, including Saxon's friend Detective Chief Superintendent Grace Fitzgerald, by recreating the previous murders. But Saxon, called in as in special advisor because of her knowledge of Fagan, must not only help to solve the murders but not allow the police to be distracted by the belief that The Night Hunter has returned.

The novel takes place at Christmastime and the gray, damp, rainy weather of Dublin in winter, and Saxon's love/hate relationship with the city, is almost like another character in the story. A realistically portrayed character, I can tell you, because there is nowhere quite as damp and gray as Dublin in the winter..and I say this as someone who loves both winter and Ireland. But even the city, with her many historic building and the ever present bridges and grand river, is not as good a character as Saxon. She is smart and clever..and often has a very bad attitude, which is great fun for the reader. And in The Dead, she is just one of a fascinating cast of characters, one of whom may just be our killer.

As a blurb on the back cover of the book, from the UK's Sunday Independent, says “I defy anyone to guess the identity of the killer or to put this book down.” Well, I did guess the identity of the killer! Wrongly, twice, and I was not able to put the book down until, at the very end, the truth is revealed. When it was revealed, I saw how I had been misdirected and yet, quite fairly, how a number of times clues were given that could have led me to the killer. If I had picked up on them that is. Clever yet fair; signs of a good, solid mystery book.

The Dead is the first in a series by Ingrid Black (actually a Belfast based husband and wife writing team) that is followed by The Dark Eye, The Judas Heart and most recently, Circle of the Dead. If you enjoy The Dead as much as I did, you will be forced to catch up with the rest....which is a pleasant prospect for a mystery lover!

Available from Amazon


  1. I like a good solid mystery like that - give me clues, but don't make it too obvious. Thanks for the review.

  2. I love a mystery where you feel like slapping your forehead at the end wondering "why didn't I think of that?". I'll have to check these out!


please speak up, I LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!!