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Detective Chief Inspector Ryan retreats to Holy Island seeking sanctuary when he is forced to take sabbatical leave from his duties as a homicide detective. A few days before Christmas, his peace is shattered and he is thrust back into the murky world of murder when a young woman is found dead amongst the ancient ruins of the nearby Priory. When former local girl Dr Anna Ta Detective Chief Inspector Ryan retreats to Holy Island seeking sanctuary when he is forced to take sabbatical leave from his duties as a homicide detective. A few days before Christmas, his peace is shattered and he is thrust back into the murky world of murder when a young woman is found dead amongst the ancient ruins of the nearby Priory. When former local girl Dr Anna Taylor arrives back on the island as a police consultant, old memories swim to the surface making her confront her difficult past. She and Ryan struggle to work together to hunt a killer who hides in plain sight, while pagan ritual and small-town politics muddy the waters of their investigation.


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Detective Chief Inspector Ryan retreats to Holy Island seeking sanctuary when he is forced to take sabbatical leave from his duties as a homicide detective. A few days before Christmas, his peace is shattered and he is thrust back into the murky world of murder when a young woman is found dead amongst the ancient ruins of the nearby Priory. When former local girl Dr Anna Ta Detective Chief Inspector Ryan retreats to Holy Island seeking sanctuary when he is forced to take sabbatical leave from his duties as a homicide detective. A few days before Christmas, his peace is shattered and he is thrust back into the murky world of murder when a young woman is found dead amongst the ancient ruins of the nearby Priory. When former local girl Dr Anna Taylor arrives back on the island as a police consultant, old memories swim to the surface making her confront her difficult past. She and Ryan struggle to work together to hunt a killer who hides in plain sight, while pagan ritual and small-town politics muddy the waters of their investigation.

30 review for Holy Island

  1. 5 out of 5

    Geraldine

    There's a half decent book struggling to get out of this but it's so riddled with faults, of so many different varieties, and with a story that is just entirely implausible. It's so very bad that you feel sort of obliged to say something positive about it. Well, it has a clear beginning, middle and end, and is written in a prose style that is grammatically correct, syntactically reasonable and is easily readable without being over-simplified. And don't take those comments as facetious, because th There's a half decent book struggling to get out of this but it's so riddled with faults, of so many different varieties, and with a story that is just entirely implausible. It's so very bad that you feel sort of obliged to say something positive about it. Well, it has a clear beginning, middle and end, and is written in a prose style that is grammatically correct, syntactically reasonable and is easily readable without being over-simplified. And don't take those comments as facetious, because they are clear signs that the author is talented and has the potential to write a good book. But this isn't it. Numerous examples of stylistic clumsiness. I picked one fraction of a chapter and noted - unnecessary mundane detail; use of cliché; sentences that made no sense "He stalked around Cuthbert's saintly effigy" (later we're told that Cuthbert wasn't made a saint until after he'd died); wordiness- restating something that had also been (actually quite stylishly) explained in the previous sentence; hair described as a 'black waterfall'; someone observing their estranged sister 'dispassionately'; someone entering the pub instantly; overuse of 'supplied' as a synonym for 'said' and repeated use of 'pertaining'. Not to mention the incongruous Americanisms elsewhere - people's weight expressed in pounds, not either stones or kilogrammes; a 'high school graduation' photograph. The explaining that Teesside is a county to the South. (Actually, it isn't; it was a county borough prior to 1974. Police forces lying south of Northumbria are Durham and Cleveland). This passage ended with Ryan utterly refusing to accept that an academic with the title Dr could possibly be an almost 30yo attractive woman. This was greater than just a stylistic irritant but something that made me wonder what century this book was set in. It was one of a few things that made me assume it was set in the 90s. Ryan's rented cottage had a fax machines, the crime scene photos were processed by the only photo lab on the island (yeah, you'd definitely send pictures of a bloodied corpse to Snappy Snaps, wouldn't you!). But the victim had an iphone and it later turned out that 15 years had elapsed since 1999. The general sense of time was all wrong. Whether it was sunlight streaming into the church soon after 6 am on 22 December or a school party in the Heritage Centre on 23 December, composed of pupils from the island's secondary school. This island has a total resident population of 180. And a village First School of 4 pupils who travel to their mother school on the Mainland when tides permit. http://www.lowickholyislandschools.or... There's very easy travel for police officers between the island and Morpeth. Google maps puts that as an hour's drive without traffic. Personal experience suggests longer. I'm surprised they didn't use officers from Berwick or Alnwick, although I concede there may be administrative reasons why. Anna appeared from Durham in the blink of an eye, which is quite impressive, bypassing the Newcastle rush hour and the pre-Christmas Metro Centre crowds just like that! In fact, she was called with indecent haste (sort of explained in the epilogue). Oh Anna. We get a lot of insight into Anna. Her thoughts, emotions and reactions. Except, we don't. She offers a few bland explanations, which a first year undergraduate or keen amateur historian would know. We know she has had a troubled - violent - childhood but we are left assuming that she is psychologically balanced and totally unaffected. We are given the impression she has a glittering academic career (established in just 8 years since leaving school) but we know absolutely nothing about her everyday life - does she have a flat, a pet, friends, hobbies. Nada. I'm not even going to mention the romance aspect. The fact that it was inappropriate and unprofessional doesn't make it impossible, but given the various circumstances, it simply didn't ring true, and happened way too fast, at a time when both of them would be pre-occupied with the murders. The sex scenes seemed out of place, adding nothing to the storyline and being devoid of anything erotic. Some sane reviewers have referred to it negatively as 'Mills and Boon'! You have ridiculous scenarios, not least Ryan's boat journey. I just don't have words for how unlikely this is, and how insulting it is to the reader. It is unlikely he could have navigated the journey in calm daylight. And why get a boat from Budle, when Seahouses would be the logical place (fishing vessels, trips to the Farnes...I think there might be cruises to Lindisfarne as well)? But all of this would be forgivable if the basic premise of the story held any water at all. It didn't. (view spoiler)[It was premised on there being a critical mass of people being so brainwashed while on a much weaker version of LSD that they happily accepted cold blooded murder. This isn't credible. I will accept the actions of an isolated psychopath; I will accept group action in the heat of the moment. But I will not accept that a group of people will collude repeatedly with psychopathic actions, without any remorse, compassion or thoughts about not being found out. Especially when these weren't a group of people assembled as being of like minds, but people who happened to have roots and/or a long history in this village. We're told that 90% of the village is Christian, an unlikely figure when compared with barely 50% in the UK - and figures of 2% church attending, maybe up to 4% at Christmas. And yet, that disproportionately Christian population are also pagans and Satanists, simultaneously. None of it adds up. (hide spoiler)] Not only do we do get the frankly preposterous main story, but we then get the Epilogue. My most charitable thought is 'oh, you're over egging this now' but most of my thoughts were about laughing, or calling it hogwash, or something. I suppose it could be seen as using the stuff we know about paedophile rings, official inertia and cover up, and corruption in high places, and transplanting that into a different form of abuse, and I can see the potential in that for a more strategic writer than this one. I think in order to sustain the storyline there needs to be a greater insight into the culprits - the main players and the hangers on. Their motivations, their ways of thinking, their values (or lack of), how they interact in everyday life, past experiences (typically childhood trauma), and allow those characters to push the plot. Otherwise, it's a ridiculous plot with cardboard cut out baddies plonked into it. It's not the worst book I've read, and perhaps I wouldn't have been so harsh in my criticism if it didn't have so many 5 star reviews on here or on Amazon. If those people had been a bit more honest, I wouldn't have bothered adding this to my TBR, and would have just skimmed past it as yet another self-published vanity work in need of an editor. I don't know the motives for the 5 star brigade. I think it's partly the lure of free copies of future books (by other authors) if they big this one up. Maybe they want to suck up to an author for some sort of reflected glory. Look, people are entitled to enjoy any sort of rubbish with no regard to my opinion. In any case tastes vary, and I'm sure there is stuff I enjoy (or have done) that other people could rightly say is rubbish. I could understand a review that said 'I enjoyed it but noticed flaws and it's probably a 3.5 but as it's a debut novel I'll round it up to 4'. But when people award 5 stars and glowing superlatives unqualified by any critical thinking, my reaction is to think: a) you're conning me into buying this under false pretences (albeit only 99p in the Kindle New Year sale) and b) you're exactly the sort of person who votes Tory and then bleats when they take away your tax credits because you're too stupid to realise that an attack on poor people's benefits is aimed exactly at you, being that you're on a form of benefit and thus poor (relatively speaking). So to conclude, it's an achievement to assemble a novel that has a beginning, middle and end, and a coherent narrative and dramatic arc. However, when I buy a book, albeit at 99p, I expect something more than that, and I don't think I got my money's worth. I think the writer clearly has a talent that would benefit from nurturing and an editor. If a proper publisher spots this talent, I would probably try reading her again, but that editor has to be able to challenge several ridiculous premises.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Maxine (Booklover Catlady)

    No wonder this book was a #1 Best Seller on Amazon! Brilliant stuff! I have been talking about the brilliant writers that are coming out of the UK this year. What is even more exciting is the writers that are coming out of the North East of England this year. Local writers. I am so darn proud to see the level of talent from my part of the country. Holy Island is an actual place, also known as Lindisfarne, that sits of the coast of beautiful Northumberland in the North East of England. It's an isl No wonder this book was a #1 Best Seller on Amazon! Brilliant stuff! I have been talking about the brilliant writers that are coming out of the UK this year. What is even more exciting is the writers that are coming out of the North East of England this year. Local writers. I am so darn proud to see the level of talent from my part of the country. Holy Island is an actual place, also known as Lindisfarne, that sits of the coast of beautiful Northumberland in the North East of England. It's an island, accessible to the public by car/foot at certain times when the tides are low enough to let you over from the mainland. It is a place steeped in deep history and is a really special place to visit. Atmospheric and a great backdrop for this awesome book. Our story is set on Holy Island, but there are unholy things going on, or are they? DCI Ryan has been "resting" on Holy Island after a particularly tragic case that disturbed him on a very personal level. He is dragged back into Detective action when a body is found arranged in the strangest of ways upon a stone way up high in the Priory on the Island. This quiet community of only about 200 people suddenly had a killer in it's midst. What could the old stones tell of this terrible murder? I LOVED DCI Ryan as a character, he is kind of the strong silent type and no wonder a strong woman enters the scene as a potential interest to DCI Ryan. In fact every woman on the island quite fancies a piece of him. Get the picture? But he's also a darn good Detective and before long a crack team are swamping the island and the hunt for the killer is underway. The plot is fantastic, L.J. Ross writes so well for a Debut author, no wonder this book went to #1 on the Amazon charts! She weaves in a bit of humour in dialogue here and there that is pulled off so well and I enjoyed the characters she created very much. Every single one of them. The ones I loved to hate even. The pace is great, we have the body found right at the start of the book, I love that, when you don't have to wait for the killing to begin. (Weird I know). It keeps rolling out the action and before long the plot is so much deeper and darker. Some people still practice the old ways, ancient religions on the island, paganism is not dead here, not by a long shot. This religious element weaved into the story was just brilliant. There is many a chilling moment and I for one, could not put this book down. Does DCI Ryan catch the killer before anyone else dies? The twists were fantastic, I got it wrong who the killer way and was SO sure I had it right. So I would love to hear if you worked it out and guessed correctly. I can't recommend this one highly enough, a brilliant new talent and a new author to watch. Before long she will be up there with the best names in British crime and mystery fiction. The sequel to Holy Island is coming along soon and I can't wait to pick up and see what is in store for the lush DCI Ryan and his team. 5 paw prints from Booklover Catlady for this one, don't miss it! I am going to go back to Holy Island soon as it's not far from me and I promise a photo of me with the book in my hand standing right where the killing begins. For more of my reviews, come over and visit my page: https://www.facebook.com/BookloverCat... Follow me on Twitter: @promotethatbook

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    HOLY ISLAND by L.J. Ross is a debut murder mystery that is set on the U.K.’s Holy Island of Lindisfarne in the North Sea, an island which really exists. Detective Chief Inspector Ryan is staying on Holy Island, taking a leave from his duties as a homicide detective, after the death of his sister. And then a few days before Christmas, his leave is suddenly cancelled when a young woman is found dead amongst the ancient ruins. Former local girl Dr. Anna Taylor arrives back on the island as a police c HOLY ISLAND by L.J. Ross is a debut murder mystery that is set on the U.K.’s Holy Island of Lindisfarne in the North Sea, an island which really exists. Detective Chief Inspector Ryan is staying on Holy Island, taking a leave from his duties as a homicide detective, after the death of his sister. And then a few days before Christmas, his leave is suddenly cancelled when a young woman is found dead amongst the ancient ruins. Former local girl Dr. Anna Taylor arrives back on the island as a police consultant. Here she must come to terms with her old memories and confront her difficult past. She and Ryan work together to hunt a killer, while fighting their attraction to one another. When Anna’s sister is murdered, it appears to be a ritual killing. The characters of Ryan and Anna each come with their own flaws, but come together and complement each other providing the reader with some humor along the way. It is quite apparent the extensive research that went into the preparation of this novel. This was a well-developed book, with characters that come alive as you read each small detail unfolding. The imagery is vivid and enables you to sense the atmosphere of the setting. I was unable to figure out the “Who”, a tribute to the spectacular writing skills of the author. I wish to thank the author and Booklover Catlady Publicity for furnishing the digital copy of Holy Island, and look forward to reading the next book in the series; SYCAMORE GAP.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Erth

    There are so many wonderful detective series that are well-written and rewarding but this is not one of them. Please spare me the impossibly good looking detective who immediately falls in love with the impossibly good looking potential victim in the middle of ridiculous melodrama and kinky rituals. So sorry I purchased this.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kenneth

    This book tries to be both a murder Mystery novel and a Mills and Boon bodice ripper and sadly it falls between the two stools. The characters are well used stereotypes. To find The Holy Island that I know and love peopled only by beautiful people came as a surprise to me. I thought i'd stumbled into Brookside takes a holiday. The author tried to write a story using proper police procedures and this causes some problems as it vastly increases the number of characters.This can make things confusi This book tries to be both a murder Mystery novel and a Mills and Boon bodice ripper and sadly it falls between the two stools. The characters are well used stereotypes. To find The Holy Island that I know and love peopled only by beautiful people came as a surprise to me. I thought i'd stumbled into Brookside takes a holiday. The author tried to write a story using proper police procedures and this causes some problems as it vastly increases the number of characters.This can make things confusing for the reader. The glaring mistake for me was when the author referred to a detectives "badge Number." This is a US term UK police would refer to a warrant Number, ID number, or even a collar number but detectives don't carry badges and don't have badge numbers. The ending was somewhat predictable where the plot got a little thin you could feel the structure showing through. The end was well written and did provide the required peak of excitement but once more the hackneyed old cliche's were rolled out. We didn't get miss marple bringing everyone together in the library instead we had the boasting perpetrator. As a first attempt it's not bad, I've read a lot worse. I hope in the next book the author does away with the "he loved the way her eyes flared out her anger" and settles for a detective novel.

  6. 5 out of 5

    PattyMacDotComma

    4★ “She thought that her eyes were open, but couldn’t be sure. It was so dark.” This is book 1 of a series, and I will definitely be reading book 2. I could stop there, but. . . I’ll give you the opening scene: “Winter was an unforgiving time on Holy Island. Harsh winds from the North Sea whipped through the cobbled streets and wove through the squat, stone cottages which huddled together as if for warmth. Above the village the Priory loomed, crippled but still standing after a thousand years. Insi 4★ “She thought that her eyes were open, but couldn’t be sure. It was so dark.” This is book 1 of a series, and I will definitely be reading book 2. I could stop there, but. . . I’ll give you the opening scene: “Winter was an unforgiving time on Holy Island. Harsh winds from the North Sea whipped through the cobbled streets and wove through the squat, stone cottages which huddled together as if for warmth. Above the village the Priory loomed, crippled but still standing after a thousand years. Inside it, Lucy lay shivering, her skin exposed and helpless to temperatures which had fallen well below zero. Now and then her body jerked, a spasm of pain which racked her slim form as she rested beneath a sky that was littered with stars.” Everyone knows who everyone is on the island, so when a lady walking her dog stumbles on a dead girl, apparently sacrificed on some garish altar, she goes immediately to the best person she can think of for help – our TDH hero (tall, dark, and handsome, as one of the character refers to him). On leave and recovering on the island after a personal tragedy (case gone wrong), DCI Ryan is living alone and disconnected. But this is a community where everyone is connected whether they like it or not. Access to the island is dependent on the tides, as the causeway is covered much of the time. Early in the piece, time of death is determined to have taken place while the island was cut off from the mainland, so in true Agatha Christie fashion, we have a limited pool of potential murderers. His boss puts Ryan back on active duty and insists on sending a specialist in ancient beliefs and practices to consult. Dr Taylor turns out to be a gorgeous young woman who grew up on the island and has an equally gorgeous, flirtatious sister, so we know there will be sparks somewhere (and there are). And more mysterious ‘sacrifices’ to investigate. It’s an interesting page-turner with a unique setting and plenty of historic background on the area and the rituals to fill it out satisfyingly. The ending certainly left plenty of material for more stories. I didn’t give it a full 5 stars because I had a few niggles about some of the chick-lit references (“plundering her mouth” and Anna’s description of Ryan as having “slashed cheekbones”), but what the heck. It was fun! Thanks to BookLover CatLady Publicity and the author for my review copy. I’m looking forward to the next one, Sycamore Gap: A DCI Ryan Mystery.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jackie

    I very rarely give one star reviews as I try to see the positive in the books I read but really... A 70's era sexist main character, so many unrealistic events, geographical inaccuracies, other general inaccuracies, female characters that came from central casting, character stereotypes (troubled back stories etc), REALLY BAD ROMANTIC SCENES (actually laughed out loud). I realise that being a first novel hopefully in future there will be some improvement in some of the above areas. I think the I very rarely give one star reviews as I try to see the positive in the books I read but really... A 70's era sexist main character, so many unrealistic events, geographical inaccuracies, other general inaccuracies, female characters that came from central casting, character stereotypes (troubled back stories etc), REALLY BAD ROMANTIC SCENES (actually laughed out loud). I realise that being a first novel hopefully in future there will be some improvement in some of the above areas. I think the author has to decide -romance or detective , or maybe both but not in the same book. I did actually think I was going to enjoy it when I started reading it. Based near where I live, & the first chapters were ok, not brilliant, but enough to keep me reading after the sample. After that it was more of a chore. I think my mouth actually dropped open when the lead charater 'snarled' & then became so sexist & arrogant I did think it was maybe done intentionally as a joke & then as I kept reading I realised the author was serious. It has been a grim task ploughing on to the end & I only kept reading because so many of the reviewers had mentioned the epilogue that I wanted to see if it magically sent the book soaring up my ratings . However ... the epilogue while adding slightly to the story read like a bad horror film, after the hero has escaped the house of horror, the camera pans back for the coup de grace. Maybe the author is in expectation of this novel being made into a film/series but I wouldn't be watching it if that's the case. I cannot believe all the 5 star reviews. That was one of the reasons I read it in the first place. I wish I had read more of the not so positive reviews. Luckily I got it on Kindle Unlimited so I didnt waste any money & I could delete it quickly. It has taken me slightly longer to forget the awful cliched 'romance' but I have managed to stop laughing about it now.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cora Tea Party Princess

    5 Words: Murder, ritual, family, isolation, religion. What. A. Read. It was inevitable that I would pick this book one day. It's exactly my cup of tea. It's set locally, has a sizzling hint of romance, there's some nasty goings-on and it's completely unpredictable... Prefect formula. This book definitely made me smile, and it got my heart racing in more ways than one. The chemistry between Ryan and Anna is almost explosive. There were so many twists and turns that I just couldn't guess who did it, a 5 Words: Murder, ritual, family, isolation, religion. What. A. Read. It was inevitable that I would pick this book one day. It's exactly my cup of tea. It's set locally, has a sizzling hint of romance, there's some nasty goings-on and it's completely unpredictable... Prefect formula. This book definitely made me smile, and it got my heart racing in more ways than one. The chemistry between Ryan and Anna is almost explosive. There were so many twists and turns that I just couldn't guess who did it, and I got a surprise at the end when it was revealed. I think it's safe to say I'm addicted. Gimme more! A copy of this was provided by Booklover Catlady Publicity for review. ETA: Three months on and I already want to reread it!

  9. 4 out of 5

    BookwormDH

    I've been eager to read this series for a long time. Eventually, I've made a start with the first encounter with DCI Ryan - Holy Island. This is a classicly written piece of crime fiction/mystery. Set in Northumberland, the setting itself gives a perfect backdrop to a fantastic story. The author creates a great atmosphere which drew me in. The book grabbed me from the beginning and had me hooked all the way through. Holy Island manages to keep a nice balance between gruesome and cosy crime. It's I've been eager to read this series for a long time. Eventually, I've made a start with the first encounter with DCI Ryan - Holy Island. This is a classicly written piece of crime fiction/mystery. Set in Northumberland, the setting itself gives a perfect backdrop to a fantastic story. The author creates a great atmosphere which drew me in. The book grabbed me from the beginning and had me hooked all the way through. Holy Island manages to keep a nice balance between gruesome and cosy crime. It's very easy to read as the writing is brilliant. The characters are interesting and believable and I'll be looking forward to the next encounter in this promising series. Highly recommended.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Cavernelis

    Was interested because this book is top of the kindle bestsellers but battled to finish. Thought it was a police procedural but it seems to be a mills and boon with a detective main character. points of view change rather oddly, characters have far too much emotion being conveyed through their eyes and are also constantly thinking about how hot the main detective is, and less about the deaths on their tiny rather scary sounding island.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ingrid

    I loved this book. I didn't see that end coming (I admit I hardly ever do), it had a nice twist.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Helena Aarons

    It was as though two people had written this novel. One loved dramatic and stereotyped romance in the style of Mills and Boone and the other wrote a detective novel. The romantic part of the novel was really inappropriate....brooding and troubled dark eyed hero detective comes to tell heroine something bad has happened (don't want to add any spoilers) and ends up kissing her! So many five star ratings for this novel both on Goodreads and Amazon, I just don't understand.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lexie Conyngham

    A below-average police procedural set in the close-knit community on Lindisfarne. The book for me was marred by several things including a number of randomly used Americanisms; some rather odd inconsistencies in the plot; constant and irritating changes in point-of-view; and most of all the Mills & Boon style romance between two of the lead characters which looked very much like the author writing out her own fantasy world. I’m all in favour of a bit of love interest in a crime novel, but this w A below-average police procedural set in the close-knit community on Lindisfarne. The book for me was marred by several things including a number of randomly used Americanisms; some rather odd inconsistencies in the plot; constant and irritating changes in point-of-view; and most of all the Mills & Boon style romance between two of the lead characters which looked very much like the author writing out her own fantasy world. I’m all in favour of a bit of love interest in a crime novel, but this was not one that was well done. At one point the hero ‘plundered her mouth’, which made me think he was stealing her fillings. Having said all that, it was a fairly entertaining if completely implausible read – I just wondered why it had merited quite so many five-star reviews on Amazon and apparently made it to No.1 slot, but there we are – one of the mysteries of the book world. Unfortunately I’ve bought the next one – perhaps she will have learned from her mistakes.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    Holy Island by L.J. Ross is a 3-D delight: devilishly dark and dangerous. Set on the U.K.’s Holy Island of Lindisfarne in the North Sea, the events that occur in this sparsely populated isle are definitely unholy. When the body of 21-year-old Lucy Mathieson is discovered laid out in ritualistic fashion, Detective Chief Inspector Maxwell Ryan is suddenly reinstated from his leave-of-absence following the case of a brutal serial murderer in which his own sister was a victim. Now he is about to find Holy Island by L.J. Ross is a 3-D delight: devilishly dark and dangerous. Set on the U.K.’s Holy Island of Lindisfarne in the North Sea, the events that occur in this sparsely populated isle are definitely unholy. When the body of 21-year-old Lucy Mathieson is discovered laid out in ritualistic fashion, Detective Chief Inspector Maxwell Ryan is suddenly reinstated from his leave-of-absence following the case of a brutal serial murderer in which his own sister was a victim. Now he is about to find out if he is ready to take on a similar challenge. A beautiful young woman has been sadistically slain. Not long after Lucy’s body is found, Ryan’s boss calls in an expert in “pagan” traditions and rites, Dr. Taylor. Expecting a middle-aged man, Ryan complains, but he is in for a pleasant surprise. Dr. Taylor turns out to be a female named Anna, and she happens to be both intelligent and gorgeous. A native of the island, she left to pursue her education and to attempt to leave her ghosts behind her. When she returns, she finds trouble. She also finds DCI Ryan, himself a single man who is easy on the eyes. Their relationship adds romance and humor to an otherwise sinister, foreboding mood that envelops the book. Is it unprofessional? Certainly. Like any relationship, it is not perfect, and I did find it enjoyable, and even believable, to a certain extent. There are numerous characters, many of them suspects. Is there anyone who is trustworthy? Ross provides shadowy figures, and I never knew for certain who was speaking, since this was deliberately concealed. Just when I thought I might be onto something, there would be a new wrinkle. The pagan theme was often confusing. At some points, the group seemed to be practicing paganism, which is not the same as devil worship. However, the High Priest has definitely changed the game into something much more malevolent. Not only that, but who is in his secret circle? It could be anyone. I was able to suspend belief, somewhat, to accept the motive for the killings; Holy Island has a population of around 200 people in 2011, so it is unfathomable to me that so many of its inhabitants could be involved in a cult and get away with murder. I will say this: I was quite surprised by the twist at the end. Well – partially surprised. I actually suspected one of them. All in all, Holy Island kept me entertained. The island setting, with the ancient priory, the contrast of the old Christian legends of St. Cuthbert against the gloom of impending peril and death, and a touch of romance made for a satisfying debut tale, I feel. Ms. Ross already has a second DCI Ryan novel published, and I look forward to digging into that as well. I wish to sincerely thank the author and Booklover Catlady Publicity for furnishing the digital copy of Holy Island in exchange for my honest, unbiased review. 4 stars

  15. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    I have arrived late in finding the work of L.J. Ross. Not for want of great reviews has my interest wavered just the space and time to slot in a new series into my growing list of books to read. Having spent a brief holiday in Northumberland last year and seen Holy Island and walked to Sycamore Gap the meeting of books to reader almost seemed inevitable. Add to the mix that Holy Island is set just before Christmas, it was opportune that I should read this book during this holiday period. Holy Isla I have arrived late in finding the work of L.J. Ross. Not for want of great reviews has my interest wavered just the space and time to slot in a new series into my growing list of books to read. Having spent a brief holiday in Northumberland last year and seen Holy Island and walked to Sycamore Gap the meeting of books to reader almost seemed inevitable. Add to the mix that Holy Island is set just before Christmas, it was opportune that I should read this book during this holiday period. Holy Island is a perfect setting for a murder mystery; cut off from the main land twice a day when the tidal waters cover the causeway. When a murder at high tide happens it has to have been committed by someone still on the island. Fortunately although there is no standing police presence there a detective is on hand to handle the case. DCI Ryan has been recuperating in a local cottage for the past 3 months following a particularly difficult end to a murder investigation. So he feels both obligated and ideally placed knowing the island and many of its inhabitants already. I like police procedurals and this one has a unique feel as DCI Ryan sets up his base in the front room of his holiday let. The other aspect of Lindisfarne as a setting is its historical significance in the spread of Christianity to the British Isles and this novel introduces ritualistic and ceremonial aspects to it that mean an expert from Durham university is seconded to the team as a civillian consultant, knowledgable in all things religious and pagan. Dr Taylor has the other advantage of having grown up on Lindisfarne but has some personal issues there having left to go to university and not returned in over 8 years. A stunning debut that is relentless in its mystery and mayhem; indeed the early body count would do little to encourage tourism other than the rubberneckers and lovers of the macabre. The pressure grows on Ryan as senior investigating officer as he still has nightmares over his last case and the death he couldn't prevent. There is more going on in this idyllic setting that no B&B visitor would wish to know. The writing draws the reader in and leaves one breathless as the police seem unable to break the closing ranks of the communiuty. A book that is difficult to put down and more difficult to set aside without searching for book 2 in this series. Marvellous in its conception and impressive as it hurries to its dreadful conclusion with the dark drama as gravity and the lack of brakes when all hope seems lost. If you feel all will be well once Christmas Day arrives don't read the epilogue as this terrific author has more ideas than the average fan can manage in one sitting.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Hans

    I really liked DCI Ryan from the very start. I also don't mind a decent romance in s series. The end for DCI Ryan was a happy one and at the same time a very unsuspected one.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Alan Cotterell

    Superb Can't believe it has taken me so long to discover this author. This has everything you could want in a story. Beautiful but harsh island, lot of history mixed with modern technology. Very strong characters on both sides. All combined with an ending that I hadn't seen coming. Can't wait to read book 2.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    What a fabulous setting for a crime novel! I have to say I totally fell in love with Holy Island, although dead bodies turning up probably doesn’t make it the most sought after area to live. It actually reminded me slightly of Midsomer Murders as they both have idyllic settings and have that small community feel to them. DCI Ryan, I was drawn to straight away. I was intrigued as to why he had been on a sabbatical and was worried whether he would be up to the job of taking on a case like this one. What a fabulous setting for a crime novel! I have to say I totally fell in love with Holy Island, although dead bodies turning up probably doesn’t make it the most sought after area to live. It actually reminded me slightly of Midsomer Murders as they both have idyllic settings and have that small community feel to them. DCI Ryan, I was drawn to straight away. I was intrigued as to why he had been on a sabbatical and was worried whether he would be up to the job of taking on a case like this one. I didn’t need to fear though as he didn’t let any personal issues get in the way of tracking down the culprits. His head does slightly get turned by the lovely Anna though and I enjoyed the growing relationship between the two of them. Anna seems to have had just as much go off in her past which she has tried to put behind her and move on by leaving the island. Obviously coming back to the island brings a lot of stuff that she had pushed far back in her mind back again, but I think that the murders and Ryan are a good distraction for her until it suddenly gets a bit to close for comfort. This was a very steady read and kept me guessing throughout. I have to say the ending was pretty spectacular. I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be so tense and exhilarating and it left me on a total high after finishing it. Holy Island without a doubt has everything that you would expect from a crime novel. It is full of mystery and suspense and overall a gripping read. With a strong start and finish, the author has left me desperate for more.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Petra

    I started this the other day simply because I love listening to Jonathan Keeble, the narrator of the audio book. I got quickly pulled into this crime story and have since gone straight on to the second book in this series. The setting on Holy Island in the North East of Britain was atmospheric and the plot involving ceremonial rituals was interesting and a bit different. The only thing that put me off for a bit was the introduction of the romance between DCI Ryan and Anna, a civilian specialist, I started this the other day simply because I love listening to Jonathan Keeble, the narrator of the audio book. I got quickly pulled into this crime story and have since gone straight on to the second book in this series. The setting on Holy Island in the North East of Britain was atmospheric and the plot involving ceremonial rituals was interesting and a bit different. The only thing that put me off for a bit was the introduction of the romance between DCI Ryan and Anna, a civilian specialist, who is initially asked to consult but quite quickly becomes personally involved in the case. I love reading romantic suspense stories, but this was pretty cheesy to start with. However, it improved as the story progressed and I really liked both characters. The lighthearted banter between Ryan and his colleague Phillips was fun. There is a good twist at the end, which convinced me to go on to Sycamore Gap: A DCI Ryan Mystery straightaway.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    I thought that this book was rather far fetched! I'm not sure what the good people of Lindisfarne think of how they were portrayed! Three gruesome murders in as many days - I think there would have been a greater police presence than the story had, I'm sure police would have been drafted in from the whole area, (despite the twist in the tale at the end of the book - which again was a bit far fetched for me!!) ~ Another oddity, one character was described as having her hair coloured every week, I' I thought that this book was rather far fetched! I'm not sure what the good people of Lindisfarne think of how they were portrayed! Three gruesome murders in as many days - I think there would have been a greater police presence than the story had, I'm sure police would have been drafted in from the whole area, (despite the twist in the tale at the end of the book - which again was a bit far fetched for me!!) ~ Another oddity, one character was described as having her hair coloured every week, I'm surprised she had any hair left to colour, sloppy editing? Lots of holes in the plot. The detective in charge getting up close and personal with the sister of one of the victims, who also happened to be the expert called in to advise??? I sometimes think that authors have a bit of a panic and think that they must put some sex in somewhere! Possibly to hide the rather poor plot.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Pat

    There are a number of series that I noticed others were really loving and yet I knew nothing about them. So I finally read the first Armand Gamache book by Louise Penny (review is on Goodreads) and here we are having read the first DCI Ryan book by L.J. Ross. I was very pleasantly surprised. The book got straight into the action, the characters were very relatable. I particularly liked Ryan’s sergeant (I forget his name right now). The story was quite gripping and the corrupt members of the circ There are a number of series that I noticed others were really loving and yet I knew nothing about them. So I finally read the first Armand Gamache book by Louise Penny (review is on Goodreads) and here we are having read the first DCI Ryan book by L.J. Ross. I was very pleasantly surprised. The book got straight into the action, the characters were very relatable. I particularly liked Ryan’s sergeant (I forget his name right now). The story was quite gripping and the corrupt members of the circle were suitably devious and nasty. I can see that this thread is to be continued in a future book so quite looking forward to that. All in all I’m very pleased I picked this up.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sebastien Castell

    I was curious about this book after finding out that it was both an Amazon #1 bestseller in the UK and that its author, L.J. Ross, had become one of the very top selling crime writers in the UK – no small achievement for a self-published author. What I found reading Holy Island was a somewhat by-the-numbers mystery novel that I suspect the author has long surpassed in quality with the subsequent thirteen books in the series. Holy Island hits all the conventional police detective beats of yesterye I was curious about this book after finding out that it was both an Amazon #1 bestseller in the UK and that its author, L.J. Ross, had become one of the very top selling crime writers in the UK – no small achievement for a self-published author. What I found reading Holy Island was a somewhat by-the-numbers mystery novel that I suspect the author has long surpassed in quality with the subsequent thirteen books in the series. Holy Island hits all the conventional police detective beats of yesteryear. There's an exceptionally handsome, skilled, and hard-nosed chief inspector, an exceptionally beautiful, intelligent, and caring love interest, along with a cast of secondary characters who seem like they could be lifted from any number of other detective novels or television shows. This isn't a criticism, really – I'm getting the sense more and more lately that the larger readership for mystery novels wants this same cast to appear over and over. Different names, the occasional character quirks, but the same basic formulation. The middle act of mystery novels is often where I get a bit lost. It makes perfect sense that the detective needs to interrogate witnesses, search for clues, and run down false leads. But in no other genre is one so forcefully reminded that nothing you encounter is going to really change things until the end. That guy they're chasing halfway through? He's not the killer. You know this because the book is screaming at you that the real killer will only be revealed at the end. For this reason, drama and intrigue have to come from other places – from troubling personal relationships, unexpected plot twists, and the unveiling of themes that make one question the underlying meaning of what's going on. Maybe some of that was present in Holy Island for other readers, but I didn't get much of it, and found myself often skimming. It's not a bad book, though. The story delivers on all the promises of the genre, and I particularly liked the epilogue that gives the reader reason to want to continue with the series. As I said at the start, I didn't enjoy this book as much as I'd've liked, but it did make me suspect the later books in the series get better and that those readers who stick with LJ Ross's Northumberland mysteries will be rewarded for doing so.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Natalie M

    I was looking for a new series and all 15 books have four or more stars in GR...so away I went and maybe I was overly optimistic? The setting was unique and interesting, the plot was different but at times a little implausible and from a police POV unprofessional, which isn’t necessarily a bad aspect given the sacrificial nature of the crimes, and some literary leeway. On those fronts, a good read. Issues for me were the condescending, chauvinistic demeanour of DCI Ryan. He patronises co-workers, I was looking for a new series and all 15 books have four or more stars in GR...so away I went and maybe I was overly optimistic? The setting was unique and interesting, the plot was different but at times a little implausible and from a police POV unprofessional, which isn’t necessarily a bad aspect given the sacrificial nature of the crimes, and some literary leeway. On those fronts, a good read. Issues for me were the condescending, chauvinistic demeanour of DCI Ryan. He patronises co-workers, denigrates female characters, all of the while stating how fair he is. Hi m no fundamentalist on these issues but they were blatant and endless. I’ll give book #2 a try...hopefully the writing style changes a little (and I know I’m in the minority on this view...thank goodness for GR reviews) and see how it goes.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Linda Strong

    Detective Chief Inspector Ryan is staying on Holy Island seeking when he is forced to take leave from his duties as a homicide detective, following his last case, when his sister was murdered. When a young woman is found dead among the ancient ruins, his leave is officially over. Former local girl Dr Anna Taylor arrives back on the island as a police consultant on the local customs . She and Ryan work together to hunt a killer while fighting their attraction to each other. And when Anna's sister Detective Chief Inspector Ryan is staying on Holy Island seeking when he is forced to take leave from his duties as a homicide detective, following his last case, when his sister was murdered. When a young woman is found dead among the ancient ruins, his leave is officially over. Former local girl Dr Anna Taylor arrives back on the island as a police consultant on the local customs . She and Ryan work together to hunt a killer while fighting their attraction to each other. And when Anna's sister is murdered, it looks like a ritual killing. This is a great murder mystery, made so believable in that Holy Island actually does exist. https://www.lindisfarne.org.uk/ The Holy Island of Lindisfarne Website I loved how Ryan and Anna interact with each other. They both carry some baggage and have some issues but there is still a lot of humor between them. He has the need to be protective and she has a need for independence. It's fun watching them meet in the middle. There are lots of secondary characters who all are suspects at one time or another, so although I had an idea of the why... I couldn't figure out the who. And the ending really surprised me. I gave it 5 stars ... the book is very well written and I liked learning about Holy Island. The author definitely did extensive research. The mystery held my attention from the first page and i look forward to reading the second book in this series : SYCAMORE GAP. My thanks to the author / Booklover Catlady Publicity who furnished a digital copy in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I've decided to stop being a baby and reading heaps of novellas in an effort to put off making a full length selection. Here's to hoping that this'll be a great new series!:) I was hoping for a solid romantic suspense novel and this book delivered. The romance was just right, not quite instalove and sweet and surprisingly angst free. I loved that this wasn't erotica. Thank you, L.J. Ross for writing a book where I didn't have to skim scenes at a time. The closed door intimacy was just right by me I've decided to stop being a baby and reading heaps of novellas in an effort to put off making a full length selection. Here's to hoping that this'll be a great new series!:) I was hoping for a solid romantic suspense novel and this book delivered. The romance was just right, not quite instalove and sweet and surprisingly angst free. I loved that this wasn't erotica. Thank you, L.J. Ross for writing a book where I didn't have to skim scenes at a time. The closed door intimacy was just right by me, thanks. There was no OP drama and the H didn't come across as a manho. I hope that stays true for the rest of the series. The mystery/suspense of this story was great. I wasn't too scared to go to bed at night or walk along dark hallways or anything like that, but it was definitely just the right amount of creepiness. The trail of breadcrumbs left at a good rate to keep me engaged and made me want to keep reading late into the night. The only reason there aren't more stars is that I'm not really into the whole occult/paganism theme. It makes me a bit uncomfortable, to be honest, but there weren't too many graphic details given about their rituals, so I was borderline alright with that aspect of the story. Plus the island community in which this story takes place seems awful. It just so happened that probably one tenth of the island is something horrible (view spoiler)[ pedophile, philanderer, murderer, cheater (hide spoiler)] that I would never want to live there. Poor them.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Terry

    Alright Not much character development. Hard to keep so many people straight. Had to keep flipping back to figure out who was who. Weird amount of "love at first sight" going on. All in all, I'd have usually quit reading about five chapters in, but boredom kept me going back to just finish it. So many tropes...Had fun identifying them more than anything else.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kate~Bibliophile Book Club

    Thanks to Maxine at Booklover Catlady and LJ Ross for my copy of Holy Island to review. I hadn't heard of this book before I read it, but I won't forget it in a hurry! Holy Island does not begin gently, it starts with the murder of Lucy Matheison and the discovery of her body at the Lindisfarne Priory. Amazon describes it as follows- Detective Chief Inspector Ryan retreats to Holy Island seeking sanctuary when he is forced to take sabbatical leave from his duties as a homicide detective. A few days Thanks to Maxine at Booklover Catlady and LJ Ross for my copy of Holy Island to review. I hadn't heard of this book before I read it, but I won't forget it in a hurry! Holy Island does not begin gently, it starts with the murder of Lucy Matheison and the discovery of her body at the Lindisfarne Priory. Amazon describes it as follows- Detective Chief Inspector Ryan retreats to Holy Island seeking sanctuary when he is forced to take sabbatical leave from his duties as a homicide detective. A few days before Christmas, his peace is shattered and he is thrust back into the murky world of murder when a young woman is found dead amongst the ancient ruins of the nearby Priory. When former local girl Dr Anna Taylor arrives back on the island as a police consultant, old memories swim to the surface making her confront her difficult past. She and Ryan struggle to work together to hunt a killer who hides in plain sight, while pagan ritual and small-town politics muddy the waters of their investigation. This description doesn't do it proper justice! Holy Island is an excellent book, well plotted with very little of the predictable crime formulae to be found! More than once I thought I had sussed the killer, and every time I was wrong!!! The killings are described brutally, the locations are described beautifully! It's the perfect juxtaposition! DCI Ryan is a great character, flawed in his own way, with demons in his past. It was very easy to be rooting for him all through the book. Dr. Taylor is also a strong character, doesn't suffer fools and very intelligent. Predictably, they begin a relationship, but it blends into the whole story. There are twists and turns aplenty, but I have to say, the ending was my favourite part. It ends with a genuine shocker!! Which makes me want to read book 2 Sycamore Gap as soon as possible!!! Well played Miss Ross! ;) I gave Holy Island 4 stars on Goodreads! I would highly recommend this book! It was absolutely brilliant!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    HOLY ISLAND is the first in a series of crime/thriller novels featuring DCI Ryan. On a personal sabbatical following his last case, Ryan is living on Holy Island--a small island community of about 200, where everybody knows everyone else. Six months into his "break", Ryan is confronted by a villager who runs to tell him about a dead body--that of 21 year old Lucy Mathiesan--which she has seen in the Priory. After a call to his supervisor, Ryan finds himself back to work in an official capacity. D HOLY ISLAND is the first in a series of crime/thriller novels featuring DCI Ryan. On a personal sabbatical following his last case, Ryan is living on Holy Island--a small island community of about 200, where everybody knows everyone else. Six months into his "break", Ryan is confronted by a villager who runs to tell him about a dead body--that of 21 year old Lucy Mathiesan--which she has seen in the Priory. After a call to his supervisor, Ryan finds himself back to work in an official capacity. Due to the ritualistic nature of the murder, a former island native with knowledge of this type of history, Dr. Anna Taylor, is also called in--marking her first return to her former island home in eight years. The intensity quickly ramps up as the body count rises. In small community where everybody feels they know their neighbors, people will soon learn how many secrets there are seething underneath the social facade presented. One of DCI Ryan's thoughts on the matter really stuck out: "He didn't know which was worse; hunting a killer who acted without moral boundaries, almost at his whim, or hunting one who acted under false pretenses." I really enjoyed the character of DCI Ryan and the police procedures of his team. The Islanders with their sense of community were also illustrated well, including the family strife, loyalties, and such. There were a few instances where I felt some information was a bit "too" far-fetched given what we knew of the characters and situation, but was overall able to gloss over those issues and enjoy the natural unveiling of the plot line. L.J. Ross has created a great new character in Ryan, and I look forward to the next book featuring him. Recommended! *I received a copy of this novel from the publicist in exchange for an honest review.*

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    Kept reading because I wanted to give DCI Ryan some time, but this "Holy" Island is more like Hell Island....will not continue the string of pagan ritual murders that had somehow not been noticed over the years that will be picked up in the next book I shall return unread. And then there's the sleazy romance(?) factor to stay away from as well. Not for me. -available on Kindle Unlimited -

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Picked this up after finishing L.J. Ross's new Alexander Gregory's series. Thought that since the new series was so good her DCI Ryan series must be good also. I found this book was just okay, very predictable, and the ending was unsatisfactory to me. Have already purchased books 2 and 3 on sale so keeping fingers crossed this series gets better.

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