The Cellar, by John Nicholl

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to John Nicholl for providing me with a copy of this novel, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

When approached by John Nicholl to read his latest novel, I was pleased and cleared my schedule. Nicholl is known for his succinct and yet terrifyingly realistic depictions of the depravity that the world can produce. With short chapters and a punchy plot, the story flows well and keeps the reader enthused until all is revealed.

Marcus Gove has had issues for many years, something that has been whispered about by those who spend time with him. However, he’s never been caught and keeps some of his deepest secrets to himself. He captures women and stores them in his cellar, particularly those who will not be missed. He enjoys sick forms of torture, dismembering his victims and ensuring their parts are found by others.

After Gove, who refers to himself as Moloch in public, tries to entice a young Lucy Williams to come paint him home, she is intrigued. The daughter of the local Member of Parliament, Williams is pleased to see her artistic talents are being noticed by those in West Wales. When Lucy is lured to Moloch’s home, she soon realises that she’s in way over her head. Being held captive, she will have to hope that someone notices she’s gone missing.

When Lucy’s father calls on the police to help with his disappearance, the West Wales force begin their investigation. Part of that includes calling DI Laura Kesey back from holiday. Working with the few clues at her disposal, DI Kesey begins learning a little more about this Moloch and how serious things could get for Lucy if she’d not found soon. It’s a race against time with a ruthless murderer hiding in the shadows. Nicholl does it again with an impactful novel sure to chill all readers.

John Nicholl is one author I can be sure will entertain me with his stories. Set in Wales, the novels offer that wonderful flavouring, while also tapping into some great storytelling of the darker side of society. Nicholl is back to present a piece about a sadistic killer who is on the hunt for more victims, with a police force ready to delve in and keep the peace. I enjoyed this one again and hope there are more to come soon.

Nicholl knows how to spin a tale, using a strong narrative base to provide the reader with something easy to follow, Adding a handful of strong characters who are able to flesh out the narrative foundation, Nicholl adds another element that keeps things moving. With a plot similar to some of his past pieces, Nicholl must try to make this piece stand out. He did so, while also using the traditional ‘police hunt’ tactic that many novels in the genre tend to prefer. While everything seemed to go really well, I was a little disappointed with what appeared to be a quick resolution. A swift act within the cellar and the police come rushing in, then the story ties itself up in a few more pages. I would have liked something a tad more suspenseful and developing in the climax.

Kudos, Mr. Nicholl, for another winner. I am always happy to see when one of your books lands in my inbox.