Book Review: Holy Island – A DCI Ryan Mystery (Book 1), by L J Ross

Publication date: 1st January 2015   |   Edition: Kindle (Review copy courtesy of the author)

Holy Island My Review

Holy Island by L J RossA wicked crime will always crave a special location to give it the darkest edge, and a location that is steeped with deep religious significance can only succeed in heaping more mystery on the occasion. In this story, the Holy Island of Lindisfarne ironically proves to be the perfect place for pure evil to thrive.

Following an earlier case that has affected him personally, a moody, troubled detective chooses to stay on the Island to recover. DCI Ryan had no idea he would soon be on hand to investigate the murder of a member of this quiet community. It was a lucky break for the islanders to have his expertise on tap.

T’was the season to be jolly, yet everyone is now looking over their shoulders wondering who could have committed such a heinous crime. Their concerns are amplified, as the tide cuts them off from the mainland at regular intervals and it’s likely that the suspect is still walking among them.

Following the manner in which a young girl met her death, and given the symbolism of Lindisfarne’s historical and religious background, the suggestion of Paganism raises its head. As an invisible menace plagues the daily routines of the islanders, the finger of suspicion is being pointed in all kinds of directions.

The author has certainly worked the setting to its full advantage, being cunning enough to conceal the perpetrator’s identity until the very last. Although, we do get to ‘hear’ from the anonymous menace periodically as they offer their smug thoughts in what is a brilliant, disapproving tone, particularly when considering the manipulation of lesser mortals. I tried to keep an eye on the close-knit community throughout the investigation, but they were all looking pretty shady and I just couldn’t pin the right suspect down!

The crime/mystery side of this book worked exceedingly well. I couldn’t fault it. Alas, things changed for me when Ryan’s supposed love interest was introduced when a consultant and ex-resident of the island is hired to assist with the case, bringing more baggage with her than you’d find in airport. Given their bullish behaviour toward each other I was initially intrigued how life would pan out for them. That was until any relationship they might be heading for started to overshadow the reality of the investigation. I decided to side-step any hint of cheesy sentimentality that was developing to prevent it getting in the way of an otherwise gripping storyline.

Yes, yes, you may think my heart is colder than the brickwork of Lindisfarne Priory. But this, coupled with a touch of ‘cliché cop’ speak in places, is why I’ve agonised for a few days over the rating I would give. (Between a 3.5 to 4).

All-in-all this is a VERY worthy start to a new crime series. For anyone who does like a romantic side to their fiction it’ll kill two birds with one stone, by merging the two results in a sort of ‘cri-rom-combo’, or a ‘crombo’ perhaps? I’d certainly be curious to read the next in the line-up, Sycamore Gap, to discover what is in store for DCI Ryan and co., especially after being left with that rather intriguing ending!

Rating: 4/5

(I must thank the author for kindly providing a free digital copy of this book for review. Thank you for getting in touch via the blog, it’s very much appreciated.)

Holy Island Book Summary

Detective Chief Inspector Ryan retreats to Holy Island seeking sanctuary when he is forced to take sabbatical leave from his duties as a homicide detective. A few days before Christmas, his peace is shattered and he is thrust back into the murky world of murder when a young woman is found dead amongst the ancient ruins of the nearby Priory. When former local girl Dr Anna Taylor arrives back on the island as a police consultant, old memories swim to the surface making her confront her difficult past. She and Ryan struggle to work together to hunt a killer who hides in plain sight, while pagan ritual and small-town politics muddy the waters of their investigation. Murder and mystery are peppered with a sprinkling of romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunnit set on the spectacular Northumbrian island of Lindisfarne, cut off from the English mainland by a tidal causeway.


Holy Island Author Links

Louise Ross

Born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, LJ Ross moved to London where she graduated from King’s College London with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Law. After working in the City as a regulatory lawyer for a number of years, she realised it was high time for a change. The catalyst was the birth of her son, which forced her to take a break from the legal world and find time for some of the detective stories which had been percolating for a while and finally demanded to be written.

She lives with her husband and young son in the south of England, but will always be a northern girl at heart.

Her first book, “Holy Island”, has consistently been listed as an Amazon bestseller since its release in January 2015 and hit the Amazon UK Kindle #1 position in May 2015. Its sequel, “Sycamore Gap” was released on 11th September 2015. She is currently working on the third book in the DCI Ryan series, which should be available in early 2016.

If you would like to connect with LJ Ross, she would be very happy to hear from you:


Books by L J Ross


2 thoughts on “Book Review: Holy Island – A DCI Ryan Mystery (Book 1), by L J Ross

    • This was such a difficult review to write. Although the romance thing didn’t work for me, I can’t deny that the mystery / crime itself was excellent and there was a totally unexpected twist just when I thought it was all over. I would still recommend it based on this alone. I do have book 2 to read now, which I’m hoping will expand on that surprise ending!


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