The Murder Wall by Mari Hannah is a debut police procedural set in the North East of England.
Living in the North East made me really really want to read this novel especially so I could see and visit the places where it is set. Now granted, this may sound a bit strange for a crime novel but it is a great book so it was not a hard decision. I admit that I haven’t read much crime fiction due to the often brutal content but I can tell you that this book (and the two further books in the series) has made me change my mind. It’s clever and more CSI than simply a book about murder. It’s about the real people involved in an investigation and the hard and brutal challenges they face.
I admit I was shocked at the opening chapter. It certainly makes you sit up and take notice! But it didn’t put me off – I just didn’t read much of it at night!
Two deaths at the beginning of the book happen in a church and a year later they remain unsolved much to the chagrin of Detective Chief Inspector Kate Daniels. Now she is called upon to investigate the murder of Alan Stephens on the Quayside who she recognises but is reluctant to reveal for reasons that become clear later on.
It soon becomes apparent that there is a serial killer stalking victims in and around the North-East of England.
I really felt as if I was central witness sitting in the same room in front of the Murder Wall – the wall where all information and photographs of the crime scene are displayed. I was there sat beside Kate and feeling her frustration and vulnerability. Kate had an interesting backstory and personal story which enhanced the novel as it was so different to other ‘detective’ stories I’ve read.
You only get as much information as the police uncover, with the exception of passages from the killer’s point of view. Very very clever…..
So I decided to walk in Kate’s footsteps and see her investigate the crime through her eyes…
1. The iconic Newcastle Quayside where the murder of Alan Stephens takes place and the Exhibition park where we first meet Jo Soulsby in Chapter two:
The quayside was buzzing with energy. On the south side of the river, the Sage music centre sat like a silver bubble gleaming in the moonlight. To the left of it, the gateshead millennium bridge…page 12
2. Exhibition park….
Jo Soulsby looked down at her feet, hoping the two young women hurrying from the northern exit of Exhibition Park hadn’t noticed her.
Hauling herself from the bench, she moved unsteadily toward the perimeter fence…
Almost immediately, a taxi pulled to the kerb – page 18,19
3. Swan house roundabout
Daniels was stationary at the North end of the Tyne bridge , waiting to gain access to the Swan House roundabout. In the centre of the island, looming high above the city, was a former government block converted to apartments and renamed 55 o North. She stared up at it, wondering why anyone would want to live above a traffic nightmare. – page 58
3. Jesmond – where Kate Daniels lives
The leafy suburb of Jesmond was a cosmopolitan area with good shops, hotels, restaurants and trendy bars. Although it was different to the rural area where Daniels had spent her childhood, she liked the fact that it still retained a villagely feel. – page 58
4. Dene’s deli in Jesmond
‘The best sandwiches around as far as Daniels was concerned.” – 119
I second that. I mean where else can you get a baguette stuffed with bacon and hot mango sauce! I ate this in one hand with my novel in the other. Food for all the senses hehe
5. The Baltic on Newcastle’s Quayside:
Daniels walked to the window and looked out at the Millennium Bridge; a giant curved structure known locally as the ‘blinking eye’. Her won eyes followed a large party of students making their way across the river to the Baltic, a converted flour mill, now a centre of contemporary art, the largest gallery of its type in the world. – page 162
6. The living room on Grey street where she meets her colleague Ron Naylor..
Always the policeman, she knew he’d sit facing facing the door, careful never to turn his back on potential trouble. – 181
Murder Wall is the first in the series of cases for DCI Kate Daniels and I can’t wait to read them next. They are not only fascinating and brilliant insights into police procedures and a well-developed female protagonist but a great way of exploring some lovely areas of Newcastle.
Take the book. Take the bus to Jesmond. Eat at Dene’s Deli and spend time with Kate Daniels on the Quayside. Get into the heart of the story and experience the city that Mari Hannah showcases so well.