Carnal Acts in Northumberland


Set in Northumberland – a fictional village of Corham – Corbridge and Hexham?

Well this is one opener I won’t forget in a hurry….

The first few chapters (about a man called Gaz)  can only be described as a short sharp blow to the head. I would say that I have never read anything like it and wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue. It was raw in the extreme – good writing, no very good writing, I couldn’t deny that. And certainly not what I was expecting. What the hell just happened? I asked myself. Well, that question made me carry on reading, plus the fact that the story of DI Joni Pax was being told in parallel – and Joni, a new policewoman recently transferred to the new police force in North East England seemed interesting character – new to the area, mixed race,  still trying to prove her worth amongst her colleagues etc….

I mean I should have read the blurb more carefully I guess

Carnal Acts explores abuse of many kinds – sexual, psychological and economic -taking the police procedural to places it had never been before.

This is a graphic novel and sometimes a bit too much for me personally.But there was something about what I had just read, so I read on…

DI Joni Pax and her DCI Hector ‘ Heck’ Rutherford are very interesting charcters – flawed in many ways and with many problems of their own. They work together under the Major Crimes Unit that covers rural Northumbria and County Durham.

At an Albanian run brothel, there is a murder and one of the girls goes on the run. Of course early investigations lead nowhere as they come up against a wall of silence. The gang behind the brothel will stop at nothing to protect what is theirs.

The setting –

Hexham Abbey or is this Corham Abbey?
Hexham Abbey or is this Corham Abbey?

The Northumberland setting is Corham is  – 

A town with Roman, medieval and industrial heritage

And the stunning Hexham Abbey seems to be the inspiration for where DI Joni Pax lives –  

Joni Pax was at the window of her flat near Corham Abbey. The street ran behind the ecclesiastical building. Its stone flanks were now even more like honey under floodlights, the square tower surmounted by the yellow and red striped Northumberland flag.


The crux of the matter  – 

But Carnal Acts is after all about the suffering and abuse that one human can inflict on another  – the actions of the gangs for example and what goes on in the brothels is more than shocking. Human trafficking is directly compared to the slave trade. Raw, stark and utterly compelling – this may be hard to read but it has hidden and deeper meaning for us all. Just how easy is it for any of us to ‘look the other way?’


The twists in the plot were another reason to read this novel –  bad guys and good guys are not so clearly defined at times and this makes for some cleverly confusing chapters. Short and snappy adds to the overall confusion and second guessing that Sam Alexander takes his or her readers on.

And that is just it – we don’t even know who this author is. The Who is Sam Alexander campaign is doing the rounds on social media and creating quite a buzz. It’s said to be a ‘highly regarded crime novelist’ but no – one as yet appears to have guessed Sam’s identity.

The publishers -Arcadia -are keeping the true identity a secret for now. It’ll be interesting to discover just who has written Carnal Acts ‘ taking the police procedural to places it has never been before.’

You can try to find out for yourselves when the book is published on June 15th…

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