The Crossing by Christina James

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The Crossing by Christina James

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Category: Crime
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: A seemingly straightforward case upends a termites' nest for DI Tim Yates. Riveting, thrilling and with that trademark Christina James shock at the end. Cracking crime writing at its best.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: November 2015
Publisher: Salt Publishing
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1784630416

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When DI Tim Yates is called to investigate a tragic collision between a train and a council lorry on a level crossing, he expects it to be a straightforward investigation. However, he soon realises there's nothing straightforward about it.

British crime author Christina James brings DI Tim Yates and his team out again, a year after the events at Sausage Hall. Tim and his wife Katrin are balancing the demands of new born Sophia with the demands of Superintendent Thornton. DC Julia Armstrong has recovered from her spell in hospital and is developing a new interest in local folklore as well as a new friendship. (By the way, I promise no spoilers for either novel as this book works well as a standalone as well as a next in series.) Meanwhile talking of friends, DC Andy Carstairs is following a hopeful lead on the friend front - a quiet drink with his sister's friend.

Christina sets these domestic niceties against something that's quite the opposite. In fact it's as hellish as the book blurb suggests. Yes, more hellish than a fatal train collision and that's saying something!

We get initial clues from sparsely interspersed first person narrative chapters scattered among the third person main story. Just a page or two here and there; not enough to put off those with an aversion to first person story telling but enough to pique our interest. We're then plunged into a different problem from the rail crash and slowly come to realise that the main event has nothing to do with trains, demonstrating Christina's writing talent and dark imagination.

How dark are we talking? Well, this isn't Scarpetta bloody or graphic although it does play with our psyche enough for it not to be one for the kiddies.

This is where it gets difficult for a reviewer as I don't want to give away more than is on the book cover synopsis regarding the surprise story line. Shall we just say that train crossing attendant Ruby Grummett and her family have a lot to hide? We also encounter the Bricklayers, neither a pub nor anyone in the building trade but definitely sinister. (Not that I'm saying builders are sinister… oh you know what I meant!)

Once again Christina treats us as grown-ups with active minds. She realises that we will start putting two and two together at some stage so our own musings and guesses are used to build the tension. Then, when we're pretty sure we have the whole picture and are reflecting on the roller coaster nail biter of a journey as the end approaches, the author punches us in the stomach. Once again we're treated to a big last minute shock in the same way she shook us in Sausage Hall. At that time it was a pleasurable surprise (or perhaps I'm just twisted). Is it a pleasurable surprise this time? I shall leave that to you to find out.

(A huge thank you to the folk at Salt for providing us with a copy for review.)

Further Reading: It goes without saying that if you enjoy this and haven't read it already, do try Sausage Hall. If you have read that or would prefer to branch out, we also highly recommend Even Dogs in the Wild by Ian Rankin.

Christina James' DI Yates novels in chronological order

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Buy The Crossing by Christina James at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Crossing by Christina James at


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