The Santa Killer (DI John Barton #6), by Ross Greenwood

Eight stars

Always eager to get my hands on the writing of Ross Greenwood (and wanting a thriller to fit into my holiday season reading), I turned to this novel. Full of great police work and with some stellar criminal events, Greenwood takes the reader on an adventure like no other during the holiday season. As sharp as the other DI Barton novels, the reader can enjoy this piece and feel as though they are in the middle of it all, chasing a killer who resembles Father Christmas and appears to have multiple, skewed motives. Ross Greenwood impresses once more, providing a holiday gift like no other!

With Christmas only a few weeks away, the town is bursting with lights, busy shoppers, and holiday cheer. However, after a single mother is brutally attacked, things take a distinctive turn. DI John Barton and his team work to piece things together with the crime, but are baffled to discover that the victim has no sordid past and no enemies whatsoever. Could such a personal attack have simply been a random act? The only clue they have is the blurry witness statement by the victim’s special needs daughter, who is sure she saw Father Christmas (Santa) attacking her mom.

When others are attacked in the middle of the investigation, DI Barton can only wonder if there is a specific ‘Naughty and Nice List’ being enacted or if these are all random acts of violence. After someone confesses and is taken into custody, the case is presumed solved, but more people are attacked, with a new and completely different style. Could there be two killers on the loose, working independently or even in tandem? DI Barton will have to crack things side open, as Christmas inches closer.

All hands are on deck for this one, which has the police as baffled as ever. Random notes sent to locals purport to show that they, too, are in danger and could be next. Might this Santa Killer be more than a figment of the imagination, but actually a sharp and ruthless killer? DI Barton had better figure it all out before the magic of the season is lost for good! Ross Greenwood captivates readers with this thriller that pulls on all the strengths he has as as writer.

I found the work of Ross Greenwood years ago and have never looked back. His police procedurals are strong and full of detail, while balancing some humour and insightful sleuthing as well. Great themes and unique plot twists keep the reader unsure what they can expect around the corner, while they are also keen to flip pages well in the night. I can only hope that Greenwood’s next writing project is as addictive and that I can get my hands on an early copy.

Greenwood uses a strong narrative tho guide the reader throughout this well-paced novel. Police work is at the core of it and keeps the reader pushing on, in hopes of cracking the case. Great characters, many of whom receive decent development throughout the series, offer the reader something a little lighthearted throughout the heavy subject matter. A few key plot twits make this novel worth the time to read it, without being too predictive. One can only hope that Ross Greenwood will keep writing strong police procedurals, as he has developed a stellar series with DI Barton at the core.

Kudos, Mr. Greenwood, for another stunning thriller. I hope to see more soon and more killers pushing the limits as to what can be expected.