Chain Letter by Claire McNabChain Letter by Claire McNab is the ninth book in the Detective Inspector Carol Ashton Mystery Series.

Strange things have happened in Detective Carol Ashton’s career, but none more bizarre than someone circulating chain mail that promises death to the recipient if the orders in the letter are not obeyed. If that wasn’t bad enough, a police officer is brutally murdered and somehow Carol believes that the chain mail and the officer’s death is linked. But can she prove it? As crazy as all of this sounds, Carol wonders if the chain mail is just a hoax or is it part of a sinister ploy to distract her from solving the case? She dismisses the chain mail until these letters get too close for comfort…

The Characters

I really enjoy the way that Detective Inspector Carol Ashton carries out her investigations. She is so intense and driven to get to the bottom of the murders in the cases she is spearheading. I love the dynamic ideas she employs to solve this case. I also love the fact that she treats her fellow officers as family and she always looks out for them.

Mark Bourke has been Carol’s right-hand man throughout this story. He had the hard task of putting aside his emotions to be an asset to Carol and help her close this case. From the previous books I have always been fond of Mark. I hold him in a much higher regard because he battled against feelings of rage and intense grief over the death of a comrade. Mark found the strength to continue working with Carol in order to bring the perpetrator to justice.

Sybil is Carol’s estranged lover and they have spent a year apart. Sybil’s presence in this story has a profound effect on Carol’s life. Her nurturing, fun-loving and strong-willed personality endeared her to me. Sybil is an animal lover at heart (any woman who loves animals is a sweetheart to me). After Carol and Mark Bourke, she is my next favorite character in this story.

The Writing Style

If there is one thing I can count on in Claire McNab’s books it would be that each story always surprises me with a unique situations that Carol has to face. In this story especially, there was no way I could have predicted what was about to happen during any part of this book and I must say that I was taken completely by surprise by each twist in the plot. Each detail in the story is displayed with a high level of meticulousness and I have come to enjoy this book and the series all the more because of this.

The Pros

I was happy to live vicariously through Carol by enjoying all of the behind the scenes work that detectives do (I am really thankful that I only have a pay sheet or audit query to investigate). I was very intrigued to read about all of the steps that have to be taken when a crime scene is being processed.

The Cons

There are explicit descriptions of murder and child abuse was also mentioned in the story.

The Conclusion

There’s never a dull moment in any of Claire McNab’s books and this can certainly be said about this action-packed story! If you enjoy mysteries/thrillers with a cocktail blend of romantic angst and fever pitched intrigue, have a seat and allow this story to take you for a few wild turns and unexpected bumps along the way. Even though this book can be read as a stand-alone novel, I would suggest that you start at the beginning of the Detective Inspector Carol Ashton Mystery Series in order to fully understand and appreciate this story.

Excerpt from Chain Letter by Claire McNab

Liz Carey, head of the crime scene team, came to stand beside her. “It still amazes me,” she said.

Carol took a deep breath, consciously pushing her grief to one side and assuming her professional role of investigating officer. “What does?”

Liz gestured with a gloved hand. “That peaceful expression, after what’s been done to him. I’ve seen it before, particularly in children who’ve died in sudden, unexpected violence. Maybe it’s that everything happens so quickly. And he died fast.” She indicated a deep cut in his throat. “Looks like the carotid artery’s gone. From that moment, he probably had a minute, tops.”

Carol turned her gaze back to Steve’s face. There was a superficial slash across one cheek, and blood had bubbled out of his mouth to stiffen the new mustache he had recently begun to cultivate. She remembered the good natured ribbing he’d endured about his facial hair last night when they’d all gathered in a pub for after-work drinks.

She looked up as Detective Sergeant Bourke took the veranda steps two at a time. He halted beside them. “Jesus. It is Steve. When I heard the address, I hoped…” He let his breath out with a long sigh. “Anyone told Lauren?”

“Not yet. Would you do that, Mark?”

Unconsciously, he put up his hands and tugged at his cropped brown hair. “Carol… they were getting married next week… I was going to be the best man…”

“Would you rather a stranger told her?”

Her cold voice had the desired effect. He dropped his hands and straightened his shoulders. “Of course not. I’ll do it right now. And I’ll call Pat, so Lauren will have someone with her.” Bourke bent his head. “Jesus, Steve,” he said, almost as if blaming the dead man for the situation.

Liz glanced at him dispassionately, then said to Carol, “Come inside. Now that they’ve pretty well finished with the immediate crime scene, there’re a couple of things you’ll want to see.”

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Bits and Bobs

  • ISBN number: 9781594935923
  • Publisher: Bella Books


Note: I received a free review copy of Chain Letter by Claire McNab. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.