Mark's Reviews > Path of Needles
Path of Needles
When the body of a young girl is discovered in local woods, the peculiar way the corpse has been arranged reminds PC Cate Corbin of a fairytale. Quickly being drafted onto the investigation team, she contacts Alice Hyland, a lecturer in folk tales at a nearby university, to see if she can shed any light on her suspicions. Then another body turns up, similarly adhering to the imagery of a fairy tale and it becomes clear that there is a serial killer operating in the small Yorkshire town. I loved Alison’s previous novel “A Cold Season”, a spooky, ghostly tale set in a snowbound Yorkshire and was keen to read this follow-up, trying to get to it knowing as little as possible beforehand. I’m glad I did. Branching off into a whole new direction - vaguely supernatural in a couple of key elements but mainly a police procedural/crime thriller - but highlighting her innate grasp of suspense and beautiful writing, “Path Of Needles” works very well indeed. The story works because of the unusual concept (with Sarah Pinborough’s earlier ‘Poison’, I haven’t had as much contact with fairy tales since I was a kid) and Alison’s research serves the plot and characters well, keeping the reader guessing and throwing in plenty of red herrings (and some clever uses of nature) before the climax slots into place and we fear for the leads. The pace is brisk (it’s a quick read), the writing is fluid and elegant, even in the brutal sequences and she never shys away from the grim reality of this kind of thing, as a result making them all the more powerful. Interestingly, the characterisation is very broadbrush - we know virtually nothing of Cate out of uniform and although you get the sense that Alice is more flightly, the only thing we really know is that she has a dementia-riddled mother, a situation that is perhaps pushing her further into her beloved fairy stories - but it works perfectly in context. A great crime-thriller, “Path Of Needles” shows Alison Littlewood as a first class writer who - if she continues the level of quality and skill she’s so far shown - will go a long, long way and I, for one, couldn’t be happier to see that. Beautifully written, this is an excellent read and highly recommended.
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