This gripping thriller is set in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and chronicles the dramatic events when a former detective, Joseph Carter, sets out to gain redemption from the consequences of an old case that cost him everything.
Carter is still haunted by the murders of his niece and brother-in-law at the hands of a serial killer he was trying to track down. One year on, the killer has returned and Carter, now a disgraced detective gone private, launches a personal vendetta to catch him this time around.
Northern Irish novelist, Paul McCracken was born 16th January 1991 in the Ulster hospital, Dundonald, just outside of Belfast. He grew up in the Castlereagh area of east Belfast where he also went to school.
Ever since he could hold a pencil, he wanted to be an artist and no-one, not even the school career advisor could tell him otherwise. He left education with only three GCSE’s and an Art diploma. He tried to make it as a fine artist whilst also trying to find any work to support himself financially. However, the more he learned about the commercial art world, the more he wanted no part in it.
In spring 2011, he enrolled in a five day film making course through the Prince’s Trust charity. He always had a passion for storytelling. During the course, he impressed the owner of the studio at which the course was being held, through the raw creativity he displayed. The studio owner was the first to encourage Paul to write his own material, that material being screenplays. After leaving the course with new found confidence and ambition, Paul started to learn the craft of screenwriting and got to work writing his very first feature film.
After securing full time work later that year, he found a renewed inspiration to write again and wrote a full length film script in the space of a week. Paul kept on writing other projects as well as continually editing the first script, but he kept the fact he was writing close to himself as he didn’t want to face any negativity if he were to tell anyone. The script would go on to score highly in an international screenplay competition, based out of Los Angeles. It would then place in the quarter-finals of the same competition for the next two years in a row, accompanied by another screenplay that Paul wrote next.
Years later, after entering competitions, pitching, submitting and doing some occasional freelance scriptwriting, Paul wanted to find a way to get his work into the public eye. Writing a novel was a challenge that seemed daunting but also exciting. Having first thought of converting his best script into a novel, he decided to come up with a completely original story. In 2018, he self published his debut novel, Layla’s Song. In 2020 he secured two book deals with two different English publishers. The Conrad Press and PM Books (Imprint of Holland House Books). The first of these books was Where Crows Land, a detective thriller set in Belfast and published by The Conrad Press. His other novel, The Last Rains Of Winter is due out early 2021 with PM Books.
My thoughts: this was a dark and gripping thriller exploring revenge, greed and corruption.
After his niece is kidnapped and killed, and he botches her rescue, Carter is sacked from the police and becomes a PI. A year later he’s still haunted by the case and it seems the killer has returned.
It was refreshing to read a crime story set in Northern Ireland that wasn’t related to the Troubles. I can understand why so many writers are drawn to those terrible years and events but obviously crime doesn’t begin and end there. The killings in this book are something completely separate and recent.
Carter is an interesting character, a man full of anger and self recrimination. His sister wants nothing to do with him, the police have abandoned him, he has few friends and manages to anger them too. But he’s also dogged and determined, he will get to the bottom of this case, whatever it costs him.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.