Book Review: A Killer in the Family

 What might a family do to protect or expose a serial killer in its midst?

Gytha Lodge ~ A Killer in the Family


When the police found the first body, left on a bonfire in the fields, they worried it had the hallmarks of a serial killer.

Now, as they find the second, they know for sure.

Panic about the “bonfire killer” quickly spreads through the sedate, suburban area of Southampton. Women are urged not to travel alone at night, and constant vigilance is encouraged among the local residents. But single mom Aisling Cooley has a lot to distract her: two beloved teenage sons and a quest to find her long-lost father, whom she hasn’t seen since she was a teenager growing up in Ireland.

After much debate she decides to upload her DNA to an ancestry website, and when she gets a match she is filled with an anxious excitement, that her questions about her father’s disappearance from her life might finally be answered.

But to her horror, it’s not her father who’s found her. It’s a detective.

And they say her DNA is a close match for the bonfire killer…


Well, I could not put this down.

A Killer in the Family is the latest in the DCI Jonah Sheens series and has an explosive start that makes you instantly nervous and excited.

Having spent most of my summers in and around the New Forest, a lot of the places were familiar, which really helped to bring the story to life as I could visualise everything clearly.

This book is quite gruesome, but not at all glorified and ultimately it’s the storytelling that is memorable. The concept of the ancestry website was unique and added a layer of complexity that was also fascinating. There are a lot of twists in this one, plus a few clues to help (and confuse) readers. There are also a few storylines going on with multiple characters to keep it interesting and provide extra details about recurring characters to link all the books together.

And the characters are brilliant. What I love about Gytha’s writing is how vivid the characters are, so that you know them all really well, despite their fleeting appearance in the series as a whole. This helps with empathy, as you follow their journeys, hoping they’re not guilty / going to be a victim, because you care for them.

Some of the small details – like the weird pizza toppings – really add to the enjoyment as it again makes the characters seem real. The conclusion in this one is fantastic, and I like how all characters’ endings are included so we aren’t left wondering.

Another brilliant episode in this fab detective series.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Thanks to Penguin Michael Joseph for my copy. Opinions my own.

Other books by Gytha Lodge:

Little Sister

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