Print Length: 276 pages
Publisher:  Joffe Books (March 24, 2022)

From Goodreads.com:  A female serial killer with a deadly agenda. The detective who must stop her. Luxury holiday lodges in the stunning Peak District. The game begins . . .

Callum is lured to an isolated boathouse by an attractive older woman. When she gets him alone, she knocks him out with a single blow. As he wakes up, her voice comes out of the darkness, “You’re a sprat to catch a mackerel.”

Surrounded by hills and lakes, Still Waters is home to a close-knit community of wealthy retirees. It’s an unlikely setting for violence. The police don’t take Callum’s disappearance seriously: he’s 24-years-old, after all. But Callum’s mother, a Still Waters resident, knows that something is very wrong.

Then a body is discovered floating in the lake. Head bashed in. But it’s not Callum.

And someone tweets:Come out to play one last time, Alice. Still Waters run deep. #MadHatter.

That’s when DCI Alice Rossi is called in. She’s back.

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My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

I had two MAJOR problems with this one. 

The first one being that DCI Alice is close to retirement and has had a long-running feud (for lack of a better word) with this Mad Hatter character, and yet this is the FIRST we hear of it. I would have LOVED to have read other stories with these two characters so that the build-up felt more realistic. I get it, Alice was unable to solve any other murder that was attributed to the Mad Hatter before now, but that doesn't mean the character/murders couldn't have featured in prior stories. To make the final showdown happen in book one felt a bit like a cheat to be honest (even though I see where it will probably be used as a jumping off point for the series). 

My second issue with this (and again I can see where this might be used in future novels), is that the "major twist" was something so unbelievably inconviceable that it just pissed me off. Unfortunately, I can't give anything away without ruining it, but I can say that when you look at things as a whole it left some gaping holes in an otherwise solid plot. 

HOWEVER. Despite those issues, this was still a well-written police procedural that kept me up late reading just "one more chapter" so I could try and guess just who our killer was.  I was thrown off a couple of times not just where the killer with involved, but where other pieces of the story fit in as well. And I think that the author did a nice job of setting up future novels in this series both in her expertise as a DCI and in the aspects of her personal life. 

I would definitely read more of this series! 

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

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                                    The Ash Lake Murders  is available from Amazon.com 
                                          (for free if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited)