Christopher Galt Novels

Book: Blood Eagle Craig Russell

SHOTS, The Crime and Mystery Magazine
Reviewed by Ayo Onatade

Craig Russell's novel Blood Eagle, is the first in a series set in Hamburg, and introduces the reader to Hauptkommissar Jan Fabel of the Hamburg murder squad who is very much a loner. He is inaccurately nicknamed der englische Kommissar (the English Detective) by his colleagues due to his heritage - his mother is Scottish; his father Frisian and part of his education took place in the UK.

Told in four parts and as a daily log interspersed with a time line as well, the story starts with the discovery of a rather gruesome ritualistic killing followed by an e-mail sent by the killer to Fabel taunting him and promising many more. The killings are religiously motivated. Not only does Fabel have a serial killer to catch but he also has to deal with a gang warfare that is about to explode between the immigrant Turks and Ukrainians gangs who are competing for the lucrative prostitution market. There is layer upon layer of intrigue, which builds into a tremendous dénouement that is without doubt worth waiting for.

This is no tame police procedural. Blood Eagle is a highly tense, taut debut novel with the same intensity one has come to expect from such authors as Val McDermid, Karin Slaughter, and Mo Hayder. Compelling and sinister it is exceptionally well written and crafted with sharply drawn characters and strong plotting with a sense of place that makes you feel as if you are walking along the streets of Hamburg. Furthermore, it is gripping, gritty, and mesmerising and an atmospheric page-turner of the highest degree.

Blood Eagle is one of the best novels I have read in a long time and Craig Russell is certainly not letting the side down. He is a most welcome addition to the list of other luminary Scottish crime writers that grace us with their excellent work. I await Brother Grimm with bated breath and blatant longing.

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