Outside Looking In – Michael Wood

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Published by Killer Reads

ebook: 26 May 2016

The second book in Michael Wood’s darkly compelling new crime series featuring DCI Matilda Darke. Perfect for fans of Stuart MacBride, Mark Billingham and Val McDermid.

When elderly George Rainsford goes to investigate a suspicious noise one night, the last thing he expects to find is a bloodbath. A man has been killed and a woman brutally beaten, left for dead.

The victims are Lois Craven and Kevin Hardaker – both married, but not to each other. Their spouses swear they knew nothing of the affair and, besides, they both have alibis for the attack. With nothing else to link the victims, the investigation hits a dead end.

The pressure is on for investigating officer, DCI Matilda Darke: there’s a violent killer on the loose, and it looks like her team members are the new targets. With no leads and no suspects, it’s going to take all Matilda’s wits to catch him, before he strikes again.

outside looking in

I read and very much enjoyed the first book in the series For Reasons Unknown but with this, the second in the Matilda Darke series, the writing has gone up several notches. Michael Wood is clearly an extremely talented crime writer and definitely one to look out for.

Our introduction to DCI Matilda Darke in book 1 was to an emotionally broken woman, grieving for her husband and finding it difficult to function without alcohol and pills. Matilda still has her demons to face but she is slowly improving; the events of this story are set a couple of months after the end of book 1. I really do like Matilda as a character. She acts on gut instinct and is not afraid to go against the rules if needs be; with her it’s a case of ‘act first, explain later’.

It doesn’t help that coinciding with the first anniversary of her husband’s death, is the first anniversary of the disappearance of a young boy, Carl Meagan. His family hold Matilda responsible and someone is making sure she doesn’t forget that. An ambitious young local reporter is also on her back, intent on making life very difficult for her.

There is no gentle introduction to this story. The action begins straight away with a brutal murder and vicious attack in a quiet suburban lane late at night. There is no obvious motive for the attack however Matilda and her Murder Investigation Team are under pressure to provide a fast resolution especially as alongside the murder, the CID team are investigating a stream of vicious burglaries. The public need reassurance that they are safe and with the press on their back, the perpetrators need to be caught and quickly. However this is not so easy with budget cuts taking place from which even the MIT are not immune.

I’m not going to suggest that you can read this as a standalone. I would strongly advise that you read For Reasons Unknown first. Mainly, because events are mentioned here which could spoil book 1 for you if you intend to read it but also you would get so much more out of the story, especially with Matilda’s background. Book 1 alludes to a previous case of Matilda’s causing her to take time out and this story expands on that.

Outside Looking In is a much darker and disturbing read involving some brutal crimes and if you like your crime thrillers dark and twisted then this definitely the book for you. Many of the same friends and colleagues around Matilda feature, along with some new ones but there is something reassuring in meeting again with familiar characters. As you would expect in a quality crime thriller, the story twists and turns all the way through.

Outside Looking In grabs you from the first page and is such an addictive read – I didn’t want to put it down and read it at every opportunity.  With believable dialogue and expertly drawn characters, some of whom will make you shudder, this was a 5* read for me and another series that I will just have to follow. Well done Mr Wood. You’ve nailed it!

Source: My own purchased copy.


About the author:

michael woodMichael Wood is a proofreader and former journalist in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. His first novel featuring DCI Matilda Darke, For Reasons Unknown, was released in the autumn of 2015. The follow-up, Outside Looking In, was released in May 2016 in ebook format by Killer Reads at HarperCollins.


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