Savage Moon by Chris Simms

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Savage Moon by Chris Simms

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: The fourth book to feature DI Jon Spicer, the Manchester-based detective demonstrates that Chris Simms is one of the best crime writers around. It's an excellent story, well told and with quite a few twists before the very satisfying solution. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: September 2007
Publisher: Orion
ISBN: 978-0752889306

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Saddleworth Moor has long been notorious because of its connection with the Moors murderers, Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, back in the nineteen sixties, but it looks very much as though there's now another killer at large on the moor. This time it seems to be a large, black cat - probably a panther. The first victim is a farmer's wife and she's found with her throat ripped out and panther hairs under her fingernails.

DI Jon Spicer is investigating a man who was apparently the victim of an attack at a well-known gay meeting place and he's drawn in to the panther murder when the man he's investigating is murdered. There's a lot of evidence to suggest that the panther has claimed his second victim. The cat is getting closer to the centre of Manchester and the city starts to panic. DI Spicer finds it difficult to cope with the demands of the investigation, a wife with post-natal depression and the fact that an officer in the local C.I.D. isn't telling everything that he knows.

There's a hiatus in crime fiction at the moment. Ruth Rendell and PD James particularly are not what they were. Ian Rankin has just retired Inspector Rebus and Michael Dibdin died earlier this year. Until I started Savage Moon I thought it was impossible to say who would be stepping into the limelight: there were plenty of middle rankers, but no one I thought had star quality. I think that has just changed. Chris Simms is definitely the one to watch.

The plot is built, layer upon layer. The atmosphere is perfect, from the blustery and rugged moorland, through the gay meeting places to the panic of a frightened city where the flames of fear are being fanned by the media. You can smell the dirty nappy which Spicer's depressed wife leaves lying around whilst she escapes her reality to research the unreported civilian deaths in Iraq. You feel for Spicer as he wonders if he will ever bond with his tiny daughter and you can hear the scratch of his conscience as he knows that he will not readily give up this investigation even though he's aware of the effect it's having on his wife.

The characters are compelling. Spicer is likeable but with an aggression that's barely hidden at times. It was a relief to find a hero whose relationship with his immediate superior wasn't completely soured. I think Spicer will mature as a character in the future but this isn't a book with just the one main character - victims, villains and supporting cast all come fully-fleshed.

There's a real depth to the story and the answer to the mystery is complex but very satisfying. There are some neat twists and not a few red herrings along the way. The clues were all there but I didn't spot them at all and towards the end I simply couldn't turn the pages fast enough to find out what happened next. Superb.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending this book to the Bookbag.

If this type of book appeals to you then you might also enjoy Exit Music - the last Rebus story - by Ian Rankin.

Buy Savage Moon by Chris Simms at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Savage Moon by Chris Simms at

Buy Savage Moon by Chris Simms at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Savage Moon by Chris Simms at


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