When I discover a new author that has eluded my radar until they have a few
books to their credit, I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I’m embarrassed
that it’s taken me so long to discover this new writer. On the other
hand, I can at least console myself with the fact that there is plenty of
new talent out there just waiting for me to discover it.
With that in mind, I decided this issue to do what I’m calling a Backlist
Review, featuring an author that has titles to their credit, and that I’ve
finally caught up to. My hope is to highlight some of the incredible talent
out there that readers may have, like me, missed until now.
John’s debut novel, Winter’s End, introduces the character of
Alex Rourke, a PI who is heading back to his hometown for the first time since
the death of his parents years before. He’s been called in to consult
on a murder investigation and the process of proving the murderer guilty will
force Alex to confront things from his past he avoided, as well as learn some
harsh truths about his family.
One of the reasons Winter’s End stands out amongst debuts is the ingenious
premise of the story. The woman’s body is found with the presumed killer
standing over her, knives in his hands, but a driving rain has washed away
the blood and the police can’t find any evidence of how they got to
the spot on the road where they were discovered, nor do they have any concrete
physical evidence to prove the man is the killer.
And he has refused to answer any questions from the police, making it almost
impossible for them to close the investigation.
The elements of the story were expertly woven with the skill of a seasoned
professional crime writer, and the talent John displayed in his debut novel
was matched, if not surpassed, in the follow-up, The Touch of Ghosts.
By the time I started The Touch of Ghosts I’d already developed a deep
emotional attachment to the main character, and reading this book at times
made me feel I’d been kicked in the stomach. The alliteration is delicious,
the way the words flowed so smoothly made me go back and re-read passages,
just to enjoy the phrasing all over again.
Again, I don’t want to offer spoilers to the plot, but I will say this.
With The Touch of Ghosts I was expertly fooled. This is a mystery with a triple-twist,
and it keeps you on the edge of your seat until the very end.
John Rickards is likely one of the most under-appreciated rising stars in
the crime fiction scene, and I believe that he will follow up The Touch of
Ghosts with a book that will put him on the radar of every reviewer and crime
fiction reader out there. The only thing that is keeping John from being an
international best-seller is that people haven’t heard how good he is.
There’s something about the way John writes that gets under your skin,
pulls you into his world convincingly. The writing permeated the senses to
the point where I could smell and touch and feel along with Alex Rourke.
And the ending of The Touch of Ghosts… So powerful and moving. It has
to be read to be appreciated.
John’s third novel, The Darkness Inside, will be available in late summer.
For more information about John Rickards, visit his website
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Sandra Ruttan has just signed a deal for the release
of her first novel, Suspicious Circumstances, in November 2006. A
to Spinetingler Magazine, her work can also be found in the May/June
and July/August issues of CrimeSpree
For more information about Sandra visit her
website or her blog