Dead Man Walking by Paul Finch (Mark Heckenburg #4)


My Rating: 4/5

Availability: Paperback & Kindle (20.11.14), Kobo (20.11.14), Nook (20.11.14)

Synopsis: Beware the stranger in the night…

Consigned to a remote valley in the Lake District, DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg is getting used to a quieter life – a far cry from the bloodbath of his former division, the Serial Crimes Unit. But wherever Heck goes, trouble is never far behind.

Unknown to Heck, ‘The Stranger’ has returned. Last seen on Dartmoor ten years earlier, this prolific serial killer has found a new home. As a dense, frozen mist descends on the Lakes, The Stranger returns to his old ways, starting with two young women lost high on the hills. Only one girl is ever found – barely alive – but able to confirm Heck’s worst fears.

As The Stranger lays siege to the remote community, Heck helplessly watches as the killer plays his cruel game, letting off his trademark call before viciously picking off his victims.

And with no way to get word out of the valley, Heck has no choice but to play ball…

Lock your doors and bar your windows. Because when the mist descends, you never know who’s watching you…

**Please note, if you plan to read the Heck Books in order, then don’t read this review as it will inevitably contain spoilers**

My Review: I was feeling rather lucky as I got started on the new Heck more than 2 months before publication, however after a few chapters I put it down. What was going on? Heck had relocated to the arse end of nowhere and frankly I was bored. I felt like I had so much description with regards to the area of Cragwood Vale and the local villagers I wondered if the book was even written by Finch! However, it appears Mr Finch had his reasons for this, and as usual they were absolutely correct…more on that later!

Heck seems to be on some sort of mission to extract himself from his friends and colleagues so has taken himself to a very remote village in the Lake District. You almost get the feeling that Heck doesn’t quite know what to do with himself. He has now distanced himself from his old boss Gemma Piper and other colleagues and instead has a new partner Mary-Ellen O’Rourke. There is also the landlady of the local village pub Hazel as well as some other locals who start to make an appearance.

The prologue was an insight into an old case where a killer known as The Stranger appears and it involved Gemma Piper back when she was starting out her career. Before long we realise that there is a killer on the loose who seems remarkably like The Stranger and it gives Heck enough leverage place a to call to Gemma. I was thankful; she re-appeared as I felt like Heck needed her back in his life as he seemed so off kilter.

As usual with a Finch novel, as soon as Gemma re-appears the story starts to ratchet up in tension. With two young girls out hiking and lost, anything could have happened. As soon as Heck, Gemma and Mary-Ellen start to investigate it seems like all hell breaks loose. The second half of the book is where all the action happens and if you heart can take it the last quarter is positively heart stopping.

Depending on the type of reader you are, if you are like me and absorb everything your mind creates your own idea of a place based on the author’s description. This is where it all started to make sense. Paul Finch had spent some time detailing the area and the sheer beauty of it. However throw in some bad weather and you have the perfect setting (in my head) for a fantastic horror movie. Because of this, the last section of the book had me bloody petrified as we see Heck do his usual ‘playing with death’.

I was really unsure at the start of this book, however after the halfway point I didn’t want to put it down and had to keep reading. It was also a book that had my nerves shot to hell! I thoroughly enjoyed it, but sincerely hope we see Heck move away from this area as I don’t think it suits him. This latest book had a different feel to it compared to the others, but certainly didn’t make it any less enjoyable. As always I am left waiting with baited breath to see what is next for Heck and cannot wait! 

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