Behind Closed Doors (2014) by Kerry Wilkinson

Detective Sergeant Jessica Daniel’s life has fallen apart and she has been living in near isolation for the past few months following a life-destroying tragedy. But her old DCI hasn’t given up on her and sees a chance for her to turn things around.

A community lives in a grand isolated house in the middle of nowhere, bringing the unloved and unwanted under the wing of the charismatic leader, Moses. When a young man, known to be part of the cult, turns up dead, miles away from the house, it is decided that the best approach is to send in an undercover officer to find out the truth.

With minimal contact with the outside world and no allies inside, Jessica finds her life in danger – but does she even want to save herself?

Fairly early on in my blogging history, I came across Locked In by Kerry Wilkinson, and really enjoyed it. I read the next five books over the next couple of years and then… stopped. I’ve absolutely no idea why – this book has been sitting on my Kindle for years – so this seemed an ideal candidate for this year’s reading challenge.

The draw of this series is two-fold. First, the character of Jessica, who has a nice line in dry humour (admittedly, not so much in this one) and secondly the general writing and plotting. Despite the majority of the action taking place in a single location with a small circle of characters interacting with Jessica (apart from a few flashbacks detailing the trials and tribulations that she has been through), the story keeps moving forward with some interesting twists in the plot. This is less of a mystery that some of the earlier books – given the nature of the plot, there aren’t exactly that many conclusions that would make sense, but the author does a good job of misdirection as the conclusion approaches.

Overall, this was a very entertaining read, so much so that I’ve started on the next one on the series already…

The Knoxometer – well, I did say that all of my modern reads this year would be subjected to the Knoxometer to see how many rules from Ronald Knox’s Decalogue, the benchmark for classic mysteries, did the book abide by?

Pretty good, actually. There isn’t really a Watson character here, so I can’t count that one, and I think it breaks the “No accident can help the sleuth” one, mainly because this is one of those books where the hero realises why they should have spotted the villain just after they try to kill them. The clues are there, but I’m going to interpret the rule that way. And, to be honest, the mystery of who’s behind it and what’s going on isn’t really deep enough to satisfy the Ellery Queen fanatics out there. But even so, it’s still well worth your time.

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