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River of Darkness by Rennie Airth

In this compelling historical novel, a terrifying tragedy strikes a small English village:  five people are found dead in a stately manor home.  Four have been efficiently executed with a bayonet while the fifth is killed in an extremely gruesome manner.  The family’s young daughter is found cowering under her bed, unable to speak, yet keeps drawing the same image over and over.  Scotland Yard Inspector John Madden, with his own mental demons lurking from World War I, is called in to investigate and sees something much more sinister at play.  His colleagues’ believe that this is just a robbery gone wrong, but Madden is certain they are hunting down a serial killer in the style of Jack the Ripper, whose continued anonymity still casts a shadow over Scotland Yard.  With the help of a local doctor and her psychiatrist friend, Madden builds the profile of a man he believes committed these crimes.  Despite little support from the rest of the police force for his hypothesis, he is sure he is on the right track. And then the killer strikes again.  Perfectly capturing post-war culture in England, this book is  beautifully written and impossible to put down.  Madden is a fascinating main character and definitely leaves you wanting to know more.  Luckily, this is only the first in a series of (so far) five novels!

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