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Holy Island (DCI Ryan Mysteries, #1)
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Book Club Selection > July 2016 Value Book Read -Holy Island by L.J. Ross

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David Gooch | 4059 comments Mod
Holy Island by L.J. Ross

"Detective Chief Inspector Ryan retreats to Holy Island seeking sanctuary when he is forced to take sabbatical leave from his duties as a homicide detective. A few days before Christmas, his peace is shattered and he is thrust back into the murky world of murder when a young woman is found dead amongst the ancient ruins of the nearby Priory.

When former local girl Dr Anna Taylor arrives back on the island as a police consultant, old memories swim to the surface making her confront her difficult past. She and Ryan struggle to work together to hunt a killer who hides in plain sight, while pagan ritual and small-town politics muddy the waters of their investigation."

Discussion Leader - Bill Kupersmith

Bill Kupersmith | 582 comments Mod
Starting it today.

David Gooch | 4059 comments Mod
If you want more on the author and their books then her website is

Bill Kupersmith | 582 comments Mod
I nominated this book for the setting, the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, off the north-east coast of England. I had the pleasure of visiting there once with a friend who was a priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church & it is indded a very spiritually haunted place, whatever your beliefs. You might want to visit for the history & geography. The abby ruins are of course the most striking feature. As access to the island is by a causeway only available @ low water, tides may figue in finding who did it.

Bill Kupersmith | 582 comments Mod
Lindisfarne or the Holy Island is where Saint Aidan brought Christianity to Northumbria. That it should be the site of murder is shocking, & that the victim should be a young woman apparently killed in a ritualistic manner & left on the altar of the parish church deepens the sacrilege. Because the island is inaccessible except by boat during times of tidal high water, the range of suspects is quite limited. All of which makes for an excellent location for a mystery story.. My take is a bit mixed. Of course, having once visited the site myself in the company of a priest from Kelso - an American Episcopalian & a Scottish Episcopalian @ the holiest place in England - I was eager to read this one & I loved the descriptions of the setting, tho’ disappointed that the CofE vicar proves rather a weak reed.

What I liked; Most definitely the setting. The sense of being on a tight little island came through well, especially at the Christmas season. Tho’ on the audio DCI Ryan speaks pretty much what used to be called Received Pronunciation, most of the other characters speak a Northumberland dialect which is absolutely priceless. Anna the forensic archaeologist was attractive & likeable, tho’ as usual in such stories, has to confront oafish men who won’t take her scholarly expertise seriously. That she would be the sister of Megan the island femme fatale & murcer victim seemed a bit of a stretch for me. I spotted the principal villain early from one clue (which I give away in the spoiler thread for the August Kindle English Mystery Group read). But there were enough suspects & subordinate villains to keep me on edge. Personally I found DCI Ryan a bit of a cliché - officer suffering from PTSD from last case, has he been called in too soon?

What I did not like: The holiest & most ancient Christian foundation in England & there is just about zero Christian spirituality - Celtic or Anglican. (The vicar in the book is a squib as damp as the bottom of the North Sea. I’m sure the real incumbent must do a better job.) Given the general state of spirituality in contemporary England (Christmas is celebrated as an excuse to stay drunk from Christmas Eve till the day after the New Year). Anna, as an expert on neolithic beliefs, objects to using the p-word to refer to how people worshipped before Christianity, but as practised in this story, I had some trouble really believing it. I also found in inconceivable that Ryan, an inexperienced sailor, could have navigated a small boat out to the island in a major storm. At night!

But @ the end of the audio version there is a foretaste of the rest of the series, & tho’ tempted I’ll not go there, many might enjoy the continuations. Given my spiritual expectations, I’ll hold @ three stars, but lots of us would give it four.

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