Dead Man Walking, by Paul Finch (DS Mark Heckenhurg 4)

Publisher: Avon | Publication date: 20th November 2014 | Edition: Paperback

He was vaguely visible – an apelike silhouette crouched on top of the boulder on their left. His huge misshapen head, almost certainly hooded, was inclined toward them…


Dead Man Walking by Paul Finch

A DS Heckenburg thriller

Isolated locations provide the perfect assistance to serial killers, and what better setting than the Lake District? What about the Lake District in a blanket of eerie and dense fog? Yes, that’s much better…After a break of ten years since The Stranger’s first appearance in Dartmoor, the menace has retuned to challenge the poor folks in the Lakes.

It’s November. Two ill-prepared, yet feisty young women are hiking, that is until reports that they are missing are received. As the fog thickens and settles for some time, all rescue parties are hindered leaving the local police to try to locate the ladies’ whereabouts themselves.

With just a seasoned cop from London recently transferred to this location for personal reasons, with hardly any backup, it soon becomes apparent that The Stranger has chosen this place wisely; it’s very remote, and whilst carelessness will hinder most people, it strengthens The Stranger’s cause. With all that determination, nothing can prevent a killer feeding off people’s fear – in this sort of environment, you have to ask yourself: is ANYONE safe? And that’s just the beginning…

This is a book in the ‘DS Heckenburg series’ yet it’s the first I’ve read. Whilst I was riding out the brutal storm with the small population, it’s clear there’s some history between the main characters, DS Mark “Heck” Heckenburg (the seasoned London cop) and Detective Superintendent Gemma Piper (still based in London cop). Yet at no time did I feel that I missed anything crucial to the background of their partnership, nor did this hinder the rest of story. So I’d say it’s fine to read this as a stand-alone book if you want.

Personally, I loved the detailed, atmospheric descriptions, as these gave an eerie credence to both the story and the setting: everyday simple hazards in the Lakes like slate slipping under foot when you’re already tired, sheer drops into ice cold water, zero visibility etc. This presented LOTS of thrills and action throughout to maintain your interest, and even when I thought certain thrills were not entirely convincing it still made for a damned fine read.

Other reviewers who have read Paul Finch before say this was not his best. I’m afraid I can’t provide this comparison, but I did love the writing style and would be tempted to read this author again, as he can certainly conjure a scene with his words.

If you like your crime thrillers gritty, with a helping of disturbed-creepiness on the side, then you can’t go far wrong with ‘Dead Man Walking’ – unless you’re an ill-prepared hiker of course…

Rating: 4/5

(My thanks to CrimeFix (Avon / Harper Collins) for providing a copy of this book, won in a Twitter competition.)

Your can follow the author on Twitter: @paulfinchauthor