Black Wood, by S J I Holliday

Black Wood

Crime story, filled with dark secrets and suspense…

Publisher: Black & White Publishing | Published: 24th February 2015 | Version: Kindle (own copy)

Set in the quiet Scottish town of Banktoun, it’s not difficult to know everyone’s business. But despite the gossips, it soon becomes clear that the locals don’t really know the real truth about each other and this town is a perfect breeding ground for a few secrets…

The story’s timeline flicks backwards and forwards between the past and the present. Childhood friends Jo and Claire have been through much together, although an incident in the Black Wood some twenty years earlier has affected them in different ways; Jo is not fully recovered psychologically and although Claire’s trying to get on with life, her wheelchair is a constant reminder of that day.

Soon, Jo’s already troubled life is turned upside down in more ways than one when she is convinced she has recognised someone from her past. Everyone tells her to forget it, including Claire, but Jo can’t walk away from this new arrival in town.

More tension is added to the story when ladies walking alone are being targeted by a menacing presence ski mask / balaclava. The small, local police force is struggling to track the offender down and local chief, Davie Gray, is making slow progress with his enquiries.

The story builds slowly to quite a crescendo before taking quite a sinister turn. And all the time Jo is close to snapping the fragile bonds with her closest allies. Still, she is determined to confront the past that’s returned to haunt her, in more ways than one and regardless of the consequences.

It appears the writer has endeavoured to torment Jo throughout this story and I so desperately wanted to discover what had caused this fictional character to behave like she did. It may sound harsh, but despite everything that happened to the poor girl I still had such a hard time liking her!

As I found myself striding deeper into the book it was clear more things than meet the eye have happened in the Black Wood over time. Subtle clues are littered throughout the story at intervals but I didn’t spot them all. In fact, I didn’t know who to trust right up to the end, as most of the town seemed to be hiding something!

It has atmosphere, suspense and kept me in the dark.  Good stuff.

Rating: 4/5 for atmosphere | 3/5 characters | 5/5 for the ending = overall 4/5

You can follow the author on Twitter: @SJIHolliday


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