books, reviews

Book Review: Slaughterhouse Farm – T. Orr Munro

A family secret worth killing for…

In the dead of night, 72-year-old Miriam Narracott is found wandering on Exmoor, holding a knife and covered in blood. Inside the family farmhouse lies the body of her adult son, Gabe.

CSI Ally Dymond is on compassionate leave, but when approached by the new DI, recently arrived from London and eager to have Ally’s keen eye and local knowledge on the case, she finds herself being drawn back in.

With their only suspect Miriam unwilling – or unable – to talk, the team must dig into the family’s history to uncover a motive. Instead they find evidence that Gabe was involved with a criminal network, suggesting a completely different chain of events. But if Miriam isn’t the killer – then who is?

The gripping second novel in the CSI Ally Dymond series.

T. Orr Munro was born in Hampshire to an English mother and a Greek-Armenian father who later moved to Devon. After university she trained as a CSI, then became a secondary school teacher. She changed career at 33 to become a police and crime journalist. She has since returned with her family to live in North Devon, the setting for Breakneck Point. Her time as a CSI provided much of the inspiration for the novel, shining a light on what happens behind the crime scene tape.

My thoughts: I know bits of North Devon fairly well, my Grandma came from there and some of my family live there now but this series takes you into the bits you won’t see on the travel shows. And I like it for that. Dark Devon like Nordic Noir in a way.

The farm of the title gets its name from one of the uses its outhouse was put to. Farming is pretty and blood is part of raising animals for food. But the blood this time is from the murdered body of the man running it, Gabe Narracott. Far from the angelic inspiration behind his given name, he’s a man with dark secrets and criminal friends.

His mother, refusing to speak, looks like the culprit. But Ally digs into the evidence and the local knowledge she’s been asked to provide. Something else is going on at the Narracott farm.

Ally also has worries of her own, her relationship with her daughter Megan is struggling, Ally is struggling too, with her own demons and fears. Her refuge at Penny’s holiday site isn’t as safe as it once was. She’s worried about Jay, Megan’s friend, who needs help and she’s sort of started a relationship with Kit Narracott, Gabe’s brother. Which could get awkward.

Interwoven with the case is Miriam’s story, something Ally looks into, and it’s sad, dark and tragic. But it gives some of the answers the team investigating at the farm need to explain everything that’s happened. Dark Devon indeed.

This series gets better and better, Breakneck Point was great but this is more assured, more complex storytelling, with multiple narratives and more detailed character work, creating depth and realism even at the most outlandish, shocking moments. Cracking stuff. The book is out now to buy from all good bookshops.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for a review but all opinions remain my own.

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