An Unfamiliar Murder – Jane Isaac

Published by Jane Isaac


1 March 2016

Arriving home from a routine day at work, Anna Cottrell has no idea that her life is about to change forever. But discovering the stabbed body of a stranger in her flat, then becoming prime suspect in a murder inquiry is only the beginning. Her persistent claims of innocence start to crumble when new evidence links her irrevocably with the victim… 


Leading her first murder investigation, DCI Helen Lavery unravels a trail of deception, family secrets and betrayal. When people close to the Cottrell family start to disappear, Lavery is forced into a race against time. Can she catch the killer before he executes his ultimate victim?






This is a cracker of a crime thriller and had me hooked from the beginning. Anna Cottrell arrives home at her flat from work, expecting just to have a quick change of clothes before going to her parent’s 30th wedding anniversary celebrations. Instead she finds a dead body in her lounge and is then arrested and questioned for murder. 


DCI Helen Lavery is the senior officer in charge. This is her first murder case and she has to prove herself, not least to her boss, who is getting impatient for results and wants to bring in someone more experienced ‘to assist’. As well as hunting for the killer, she also now has the added pressure that she may be taken off the case if she doesn’t get a quick enough result.


As much as I love psychological thrillers, I do enjoy a good solid police procedural crime story. This one has some excellent characters and Helen Lavery stands out. A widow, with two teenage boys and her mother at home, she not only has to cope with a murder enquiry, and one colleague in particular being particularly awkward and obstructive, but teenage angst too. Unlike many, she has live in help from her mum, but she is nonetheless forever trying to achieve that impossible work/life balance that comes with a demanding job.  Although focussed and ambitious she instinctively knows when to show compassion as demonstrated in some scenes with Anna.  She is also astute enough to pick her battles wisely, particularly with the aforementioned colleague! 


Anna was someone I had great empathy for – she certainly has a lot to deal with (besides being a murder suspect) and considering the emotional turmoil she faces, she appeared to be a strong character. There were times however when I was exasperated with her, particularly when she seemed to ignore common sense and took risks that could place her in danger.  At times I found myself silently shouting at the pages ‘noooo DON’T do that’! 


I don’t want to give away any of the plot but this was a taut and well written crime thriller with a suspenseful storyline that kept me wondering about certain characters throughout; I was never quite sure who could be trusted – no doubt this was the author’s intention and if so, she certainly succeeded.  

An Unfamiliar Murder is the author’s first book and was originally released in 2012. After having been published in the US it is now being re-issued in the UK. 

This was a very enjoyable read and I will be reading more from Jane Isaac. I do already have the second book on my Kindle to read, The Truth Will Out (which again features Helen Lavery), as well as book number 3, ‘Before It’s Too Late’ (featuring a different detective). Her fourth book, Beneath the Ashes is due to be published later this year. 


My thanks to THE Book Club on Facebook for the e-copy to review.


About the author:


Jane Isaac lives with her husband, daughter and dog, Bollo, in rural Northamptonshire, UK. Her debut novel, An Unfamiliar Murder, was nominated as best mystery in the ‘eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook awards 2013.’  The Truth Will Out was nominated as ‘Thriller of the Month – April 2014’ by E- thriller.com and winner of ‘Noveltunity book club selection – May 2014’.  Jane’s latest title, Before It’s Too Late, was published by Legend Press on 1st June 2015 and marks the start of a new series featuring DI Will Jackman, set in Stratford upon Avon. The second in the series, Beneath The Ashes will be published by Legend Press on 1st November 2016.

Jane loves to hear from readers and writers. Visit her website at www.janeisaac.co.uk, where you can email her through the contacts page or peruse her blog, ‘Caffeine’s Not a Crime’.

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