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Ragged Alice

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  207 ratings  ·  54 reviews
In Gareth L. Powell's Ragged Alice a detective in a small Welsh town can literally see the evil in people's souls.

Orphaned at an early age, DCI Holly Craig grew up in the small Welsh coastal town of Pontyrhudd. As soon as she was old enough, she ran away to London and joined the police. Now, fifteen years later, she’s back in her old hometown to investigate what seems at f
Paperback, 208 pages
Published April 23rd 2019 by
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3.53  · 
Rating details
 ·  207 ratings  ·  54 reviews

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If an evening's worth of whiskey kept her from killing herself, it was the next morning's tea that truly kept her alive.

I'm truly torn on the rating for this one, because it has so much potential, and it got a lot of things right. The Welsh setting is fantastic, and used well - all mountains and sheep and lonely coastlines - there's even a decent smattering of Welsh throughout. It's decently creepy, too, which is always a plus on the scale.

But there's just a little too much here that didn't work
Caidyn (SEMI-HIATUS; BW Reviews; he/him/his)
This review can also be found on my blog!

I received this ARC from Tor in exchange for an honest review!

CW: death, murder, gore/gruesome deaths, and parental death

Over the weekend, I had a weird craving for books. I wanted something super creepy because it was dark out. I swear, I watched three seasons of Ghost Adventures, a show I will always mock, because it fit my mood. And, this book did it too.

I loved it. Seriously. It fit the mood I needed and it stayed good.

DCI Holly Craig is born and rais
Holly (The Grimdragon)
"That was the thing about death, though. It affected different people in different ways, and you could never really predict how anyone was going to react to a mangled corpse. In her time, she'd seen strapping six-foot coppers go weak at the knees while attending their first RTA. Others fell apart afterwards, when all the mess had been cleaned away and their minds started chewing over the horrors they'd seen. You'd have to be made of stone not to let that part of the job get to you. Sometimes fli ...more
May 01, 2019 rated it liked it
2.5 stars -- I would try again with this author, but I don't think this one came together particularly well. A lot of good ideas, but it needed to be shorter/more focused, longer/more expansive, or have a better pay off in the ending. The atmosphere it painted was very well executed & I was intrigued by the characters (enough to finish the book), but it didn't work fully as a mystery nor as speculative fiction
It was... fine. I enjoyed the writing and the setting (seriously, it gets all the stars for being set in Wales with Welsh characters occasionally speaking Welsh with NO translations). I thought the characters were okay, if a little cliched at times.

But I think the book falls victim to its length (it's around 200 pages but definitely needed more imo) and the possibility that it's book 1 in a series. There's a lot of set-up but not equal payoff. Plot holes that left me scratching my head. Convenie
Mayar El Mahdy
Jun 07, 2019 rated it liked it

I liked the characters, they would make a great detective series, but I don't think it is in the meantime.

Scott was lovely, I really liked him even if he didn't show up a lot.

(I'll give it an actual review after the exams. I hope so.)
Originally posted to I Should Read That

I hadn’t read anything by Powell before, but he just won the British Science Fiction Award for his full-length space opera Embers of War. I wanted to give him a try, and Ragged Alice look great! It is a totally different kind of book from his space opera, but it showcases his excellent writing. Ragged Alice follows DCI Holly Craig as she returns to her hometown in Wales to investigate gruesome murders. The catch? Holly can essentially see people’s souls and
In this fast paranormal crime novel, we meet Holly Craig, London Detective, who travels back to her sleepy coastal home town in Wales. She is here to take a breather from a big job back in London, and this crime seems like an easy open shut case- a woman is hit and her partner was seen following her after a dispute. Should be a walk in the park, but there is something larger and more sinister at work here, that is going to go back into Holly's own history, a past she has spent her whole life run ...more
Mike Finn
Ragged Alice is a smooth blend of police procedural and supernatural thriller with an authentic Welsh setting and lyrical descriptions.

I consumed the 202 pages of "Ragged Alice" in a single sitting, partly because I needed to know where Gareth Powell would take the story and partly because I was beguiled by the language.

"Ragged Alice" is the start of a new series featuring DCI Holly Craig, No, don't groan and say "not another one?" True she's a police officer who drinks too much and has poor soc
Jun 27, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to Netgalley for providing a copy of this book for review.

I wanted to read this novella because I'd heard good things about the author's Ack-Ack Macaque series, and this didn't seem like a huge time investment. Plus I like paranormal detectives. And Wales.

Unfortunately, this book wasn't especially memorable. Holly Craig seemed like she should be an interesting character- she can see the stains of evil deeds past on people's souls! However, this ability really didn't come into play in any
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was fine. I enjoyed the writing and the setting. I really liked the descriptions of the different places and could picture the surroundings very easily. I also like the premise, having the ability to see the evil in someone and using that to solve crimes, sounds pretty interesting to me.

However there were a lot of inconsistencies with the characters, particularly with Holly. I felt the way she was described in the text was at odds with the way she acted, and I thought her handling of the ca
May 30, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting, and promising for a potential sequel, though quite rushed at the end.
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More, please.
Apr 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting short novella about horror in a small town
Jul 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novella
Urban Fantasy set in small town Wales, with a series of deaths being investigated by a hard-bitten police office returning to her roots after a traumatic time in London. Oh, and she can see into people’s souls. Interesting stuff, and evoked a really good sense of place, but if you write in the mode of gritty police procedural you need to get things right, and the lack of intervention from above given an ongoing sequence of enough deaths to be making national news really wasn’t plausible.
Jun 28, 2018 marked it as to-read-so-bad-it-hurts  ·  review of another edition
If you 'can literally see the evil in people’s souls,' you'd obviously become a detective. Amazing.

Also, this is a 'tale of horror set in the Welsh valleys' and I'M HERE FOR IT \O/

Another win for, TBH
The Unseen Librarian
Convincing me to request an ARC of Gareth Powell’s Ragged Alice was easy. It took just one line of the blurb;

“A detective in a small Welsh town can literally see the evil in people's souls.”

Unfortunately, blurb can be misleading.

Following a police investigation into a series of murders in a small, coastal town in Wales, Ragged Alice draws you in with a whole host of different plot lines and narratives. There’s the purported corruption within the local government, secretive military experiments,
Realms & Robots
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ragged Alice is a murder mystery with a supernatural twist, following a detective as she tries to solve a number of gruesome murders in her sleepy hometown. The book follows a whodunnit approach, revealing past ties from our protagonist and the shady dealings of the town’s past military base. It’s entertaining from start to finish, filled with strange townsfolk who see ghosts, speak strange premonitions, and are constantly up in everyone’s business.

I’m a huge fan of Powell and his writing contin
Liz (Quirky Cat)
May 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-reads
(view spoiler) ...more
May 13, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Laura Newsholme
Oh how I wish this book was longer because there is a lot to explore here that was fascinating, but the action just felt incredibly rushed, particularly the ending! This tells the story of Holly Craig, a DCI who must return to her home town to investigate a murder. Holly has a lot of history in the town and can also see the evil lurking in a person's soul, so naturally she is not thrilled at the prospect of a homecoming. The premise here is so intriguing but it just wasn't explored in enough dep ...more
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gareth Powell's new novella is a police procedural with a paranormal twist: DCI Holly Craig has the ability to see a person's soul, which comes in handy when you've got a string of grisly murders to solve, but not so much when you've got to return to the small coastal village you were only too happy to put behind you years before.

The author has created a strong character with the prerequisite flaws for a good detective; a troubled past which left her emotionally unavailable and a unique way of l
E.J. Dawson
May 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the things I love most about reading Gareth Powell's characters is how he writes female strengths and weaknesses. I was captivated by Holly and her demons, something about the rough edged detective and her thought processes kept me turning the pages of this book, I devoured it in less than two hours. It was aided by an intriguing and twisted plot, as well as Holly's offsiders made it a fantastically engaging read. My only disappointment lay in the final ending, which I felt could have bee ...more
Powell has a great writing style. He has an excellent flair for detailed settings and atmosphere. For all the care he puts into his descriptions, though, the plot moves far too quickly. We get pages of detail and then paragraphs of plot. I feel like this is a novel-length idea crammed into a novella.

It's also interesting to read this story while also reading Ben Aaronovitch's Peter Grant series, since Holly, the main character who is a Detective Constable in Wales, has an ability that seems to b
Apr 08, 2019 rated it liked it
DCI Holly Craig has a gift and a curse. On the one hand, her ability to sense the darkness inside people can make her job as a detective a little easier. She knows when people are lying. The problem is that she can never turn it off and, consequently, can’t really trust anyone. In Ragged Alice, Gareth L. Powell, Holly and her gift/curse return to the Welsh town of Pontyrhudd to escape a case gone wrong in London. As soon as she arrives, people start dying and Holly has to wonder if she made the ...more
Jul 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really hope this turns into a series. I liked so much of it. The Welsh setting is great—eerie, beautiful, close-knit and isolating. The main character is damaged in fascinating ways. There are other solid, interesting characters with loads of potential. The odd elements (seeing the light of a soul, ghosts, etc.) are treated like a matter-of-fact and it won my heart. I was sucked into the story and it flew by.

But it felt too short to stand alone and it didn’t quite fulfill its promise. There w
I started reading this because I like a crime thriller and I like the supernatural - a detective who can see peoples souls - sounded great. In this respect the book was disappointing as she may as well as not had that gift - it wasn't mentioned much and she didn't really use it. The detective also didn't do a lot of detecting - just pondering in front of a white board. A few interviews with friends/family members may have stirred up some red herrings but there was't any of that either. I appreci ...more
John Rennie
May 02, 2019 rated it liked it
This was OK but only OK.

The story plays heavily on the local colour of a small and rather run down Welsh coastal town. If you're unfamiliar with Wales this may well give an exotic feeling that makes it interesting. Since I've been to several towns like that the local colour aspect wasn't of interest, and that leaves the plot and the characters. Sadly neither of those aspects of the book are great. It's not an awful book, but there are books that deserve your limited reading time more.
Michael T Bradley
Really enjoyable little murder mystery. As Paul Cornell's cover blurb says, it's Twin Peaks in Wales. There are a lot of hints of hidden mysteries that could be expanded upon later, but I'll be honest, the way the book ended seemed totally appropriate, but left things at a place that I have no interest in following. Still, glad I read this. Hell, if *I* was able to finish it in two days, I think most people would view this as an afternoon read.
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nothing super original in here -- it's really more of a remix of supernatural/paranormal tropes, but it's done very well. Mr. Powell certainly has a gift with words, and I thought the atmosphere was very convincing. I didn't find it scary (my local library has it stamped with a 'horror' sticker), but I thought it was a good ghost story and an excellent study in small town character dynamics. I loved DCI Craig the most when she was reflecting on her relationship with place.
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Gareth L. Powell is an award-winning author from the UK. His alternate history thriller, Ack-Ack Macaque won the 2013 BSFA Award for Best Novel, spawned two sequels, and was shortlisted in the Best Translated Novel category for the 2016 Seiun Awards in Japan. His short fiction has appeared in a host of magazines and anthologies, including Interzone, Solaris Rising 3, and The Year’s Best Science Fi ...more
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