Dog Rose Dirt by Jen Williams @RandomTTours

What if your mother had been writing to a serial killer?

A convicted murderer with a story to tell
Serial killer Michael Reave – known as The Red Wolf – has been locked in Belmarsh Prison for over 20 years for the brutal and ritualistic murders of countless women.
A grieving daughter with a secret to unearth
Ex-journalist Heather Evans returns to her childhood home after her mother’s inexplicable suicide and discovers something chilling – hundreds of letters between her mother and Reave, dating back decades.
A hunt for a killer ready to strike again

When the body of a woman is found decorated with flowers, just like his victims, Reave is the only person alive who could help. After years of silence, he will speak to Heather, and only Heather.

If she wants to unearth the truth and stop further bloodshed, she’ll have to confront a monster

Dog Rose Dirt has a dark and brooding storyline that reads like an adult fairy tale, rather like the disturbing tales that are woven within the narrative. I found myself getting goosebumps very early as we first meet Michael Reave as a young child and I wondered what on earth could have happened to this young boy for him to have become a vicious serial killer with the nickname of “The Red Wolf”. Was he born with evil inside of him or has his upbringing and subsequent life delivered events that have changed his perspective on life and women in particular.

When Heather Evans has to return home due to her mother’s suicide, she finds some unexpected things in her mother’s home. Books of dark, gruesome fairytales, a suicide note that doesn’t make total sense and letters from a convicted murderer. Why was her mother corresponding with Michael Reave and how can she find out what her mother wrote in reply to the letters she found from him? They obviously had some sort of connection but what? Being a journalist means that Heather is unable to leave these questions and ends up contacting the police. They are very interested in the letters especially as there have been some recent copycat murders of young women and they help Heather to meet Michael at Belmarsh prison where he is serving his sentence for murder.

Michael is a complex character at odds with the man Heather expects him to be. He talks of fairytales with gruesome endings but seems like a normal person and not the psychopath that murdered and removed the hearts from numerous victims. Why would her mother have befriended such a man? Although it’s a well documented fact that the meaner the man, the more pen pals he gets when in prison! There are comparisons with Ted Bundy throughout who was as famous and as popular with the ladies as a rock star after his conviction! The attraction seems bizarre for most of us but it happens more that we realise. So Heather has to dig into the past and try to work out connections between her mother and this man she doesn’t understand.

Dog Rose Dirt is a gripping book that I wanted to read from behind a cushion! It was a harrowing read at times with its disturbing storyline and it had the feel of a nightmare at times as Heather delved deeper into the mystery of her mother’s connection with the perpetrator of some heinous crimes. It’s slow burning build up continued to give me goosebumps until the shocking truth became clear.

Highly recommended!

Jen Williams lives in London with her partner and their small ridiculous cat. Having been a fan of grisly fairy tales from a young age, these days Jen writes dark unsettling thrillers with strong female leads, as well as character-driven fantasy novels with plenty of adventure and magic. She has twice won the British Fantasy Award for her Winnowing Flame trilogy, and when she’s not writing books she works as a bookseller and a freelance copywriter

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I am a Norfolk girl living in leafy Cheshire with my grumpy Scotsman. A mum and nana who lives for my family but who is also addicted to reading (and Marmite!) I will read almost anything but my preferred genres to review are psychological thrillers, crime procedural novels or women's fiction. My kindle is my life but I also have a substantial bookshelf in my cosy reading room where I can go to escape the stresses of family life with plenty of tea and chocolate. I am a member of netgalley and bookbridg. I review on Amazon, where I'm a Top 500 reviewer, and Goodreads. You can always find me over on Twitter @jocatrobertson for any review requests.

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