Saddleworth Moor and Rose Sutton, the wife of a local farmer, is found with her throat ripped out. She was patrolling the moor, looking for an animal that she feared was preying on the sheep, but it seems that the creature has a taste for something new.
As the local press begins to bubble with stories of an ABC (Alien Big Cat), DI Jon Spicer isn’t convinced – is it possible that the killer is rather more human? But when panther hairs are identified as being on the first body, and the “beast” strikes again, this time closer to the city, is it possible the police are hunting a wild animal? Is it a human killer? Or is it a bit of both? It seems that the sins of the past are never truly forgotten or forgiven.
Another review of a book from a member of The Murder Squad and the second from Chris Simms. It might seem an odd choice after being disappointed with Killing The Beasts, the first in the series. But Chris seems to be in excellent company in The Murder Squad, so I presumed that the books improved as they went on. And when Sarah Ward (fellow blogger at Crime Pieces and author of the excellent In Bitter Chill) recommended this one, I figured I’d jump ahead a book and try it.
It’s a vast improvement over the first one – that one didn’t really have a whodunit aspect to the plot – whereas here the structure is much more like the traditional police procedural (so not a classic clued mystery), and it’s all the stronger for it. Spicer is the focus for much of the book this time and his troubles in the investigation, coupled with his troubles at home as his wife struggles with her role as a new mother, brings to life a character who is refreshing free of self-imposed personal issues (apart from a mild cigarette addiction) but still dealing with plenty of real-world problems.
The tale keeps moving forward, keeping itself fresh as the investigation keeps changing its focus. There are some distinctly unpleasant characters here and one particular graphic (but brief) description of an act of violence, but it never feels unnecessary, unlike in some books that I could think of.
On top of this, Simms manages to make the tale of a brutal killer pretending to be a panther make sense. In fact, the final chapters, where we discover the motivations behind the crimes, are extremely powerful and stay with you long after you’ve finished the book.
However, I must have a niggle at the ebook version – it’s terribly formatted. A number of times, sentences jump to a new line halfway through and similarly, a number of mid-chapter scene changes, which you’d expect to be indicated by a double line space, just carry on as if nothing happened – at least twice, I initially didn’t notice and had to go back to check things. Oh, and it’s called “Savage Moon”, not “Savage Moon: Some won’t see the morning”. That’s just the slogan on the cover, Amazon and Goodreads. Idiots.
So, try and find a paper copy if you can – it’ll be well worth it. And if you’ve got an ebook, just be patient. It’s worth the effort.