River of Darkness by Rennie Airth was published ten years ago to huge acclaim. I read it at the time, and very much enjoyed it. But a lot has happened since then, and my recollection of the detail of the story had faded by the time I acquired an audio version of the book. So I listened to it whilst commuting and enjoyed it all over again.
The story is set in 1921. The bodies of Colonel Fletcher, his wife, and two staff members are found – they have been the victims of a frenzied killer. Detective Inspector Madden from Scotland Yard is called in. He is a war survivor, and his experiences in battle have scarred him – but he is a very human character, and we are pleased for him when he falls for a sexy doctor, Helen Blackwell. But although he is a very good detective, he is unable to stop the body count from rising.
The reading is by Nathaniel Parker, aka Inspector Lynley, and he did a very good job. This story is not a whodunit – the identity of the culprit is revealed at a relatively early stage, although the mystery as to his precise motivation (which clearly has deep and disturbing roots) is preserved until almost the end of the tale. For at least half of the audio version, the focus was on a manhunt – the forces of law and order in pursuit of a desperate but resourceful bad guy. Gripping stuff.