Sunday, April 9

Backlist Review: Sandra Ruttan looks at the published works by John Rickards

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.


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