A woman’s body has been found on the moors of Northumberland, brutally murdered and dismembered. Northumbria police enlist the help of unconventional psychologist Jon Atherton, a decision complicated by his personal history with lead investigator, Detective Sergeant Kate Prejean.
As Christmas approaches and pressure mounts on the force, Prejean and Atherton’s personal lives begin to unravel as they find themselves the focus of media attention, and that of the killer known only as ‘Son of Geb.’
‘Lord Of The Dead’ is a gripping, startling piece of modern noir fiction.
As regular readers of my reviews will know, I love a good Thriller. Lord of The Dead had most of the things that I like about them, and I finished it within a few days. There was something about this Thriller that stood out from the others I’ve read, and made it a very enjoyable read.
The protagonist, Atherton, is ever so flawed. I’m a sucker for a flawed character. There were certain things that he did that I despised, and he definitely didn’t do himself any favours sometimes. But I did love his determination to discover what was happening, and overall, I liked him. He also had cerebral palsy, which I wanted to mention as it’s a disorder that two people I know have, and therefore hits close to home. Atherton is the first main character in a book I’ve read that is affected by cerebral palsy, and I thought he was represented well.
I liked Kate. Despite her history with Atherton, she was professional and didn’t disregard his advice, which I found admirable, as I’ll sometimes find female characters that are written by male authors can be represented in a way that I find unrealistic, in my opinion. So I applaud Rippon for writing a strong, mature and likeable female character.
I thought the pace of the plot was just right, too, and it kept me wanting more each chapter. The plot, and search for the serial killer, were very interesting to follow, and no matter how hard I tried, or how many theories I came up with, I just could not figure out who the killer was! That made it even better for me.
The killer (who I am going to refer to using ‘They’ as I don’t want to give anything away), who calls them self ‘Son of Geb’ interested me so much! They wasn’t your typical serial killer, and there were definitely a few twists to them that I did not see coming. There was something that happened at the end that was a little cliche, but other than that, the ending was exciting and dramatic!
Overall, I really enjoyed Lord Of The Dead, and I hope to see some more of Atherton and Kate in the future. The only thing that I will mention is there is a bit of infidelity, so if that’s something you don’t want to read about, I’d give this one a miss. However, it really is only sub-plot, and whilst I don’t condone it, it didn’t bother me as I was too focused on who the hell the Son of Geb was!
I give this book 4.5 stars.
I am lucky enough to have been given the opportunity to interview the author, Richard Rippons, which I was very glad about as there were a few questions I had that I really wanted answers to! I’m also very excited to share this, as it is my first author interview!
1. Where did the inspiration for Lord of The Dead come from?
I’d become obsessed with the Michael Mann film, Manhunter and the Thomas Harris novel, Red Dragon on which it’s based. It’s the first Hannibal Lecter novel, but as brilliant and fascinating this character is, I was always more interested in Will Graham, the FBI profiler with an affinity to the killers he’s hunting. I was also listening to a lot of Nick Cave, and those dark, brooding songs were also an influence. I wanted to write something that had a noirish feel. Something set in the North East, but not parochial or cosy. Something with a big-world, cinematic feel to it.
2. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
“Start now!” Although I enjoyed writing at school, I never felt there was a chance of me making a living as a writer. Instead, I did a science degree and worked in that field. It took a long time for me to realise I’d be happier doing more creative things. I think I should have studied English or maybe Film Studies. However, perhaps when I was younger, I might not have had the patience to write at length, and this is the way it was meant to be.
3. Why do you write about crime?
Good question. Although I like the aforementioned Harris and Val McDermid, I don’t read many crime novels. I do have an interest in real-life serial killers. There’s something fascinating about what drives them to do what they do.
4. What made you want to use social media as a form of communication for the Son of Geb?
I work in social media and spend a lot of time on Twitter. It’s interesting that social media, particularly YouTube and Instagram, is where so many people are finding fame and fortune these days. I though it would be interesting to see how a serial killer might goad the police on Twitter, where the public can also see what he’s writing and develop a following of his own.
5. What was your writing process whilst writing Lord of The Dead?
I wrote mainly on the bus, to and from work. There’s a lot to be said for writers using public transport. It gave me about and hour and a half every day of uninterrupted time to work on it. I’d scribble in notebooks and eventually type it up. It was good, because I’d usually improve on it at that step. Sometimes I’d do longer stints in the shed at the top of the garden. I used Twitter to find experts (a forensics scientist, a historian and someone with cerebral palsy) to help me with various aspects of the book.
(Bit of a spoiler here, but I’m super curious! LOOK AWAY IF YOU’VE NOT READ LORD OF THE DEAD!!!)
6. Why did you have Jon Atherton have an affair with Kate Prejean?
The ‘will they, won’t they?’ aspect always raises tension in a story. At the start of Lord of the Dead, Atherton is enrolled on a police team with Prejean, with whom he’s previously had an adulterous relationship. As the pressure of the case builds, it’s whether or not they’ll give in to that mutual attraction again.
7. What scene did you find the most difficult to write in Lord of The Dead? Why?
The final couple of chapters were probably the most difficult. I wanted to keep the denouement nice and pacy, and for it to have a nice dramatic payoff, but for it not to feel forced. Solving these problems is part of the fun, but it can feel frustrating at times.
8. If you’re able to talk about it, are you working on anything at the moment?
I’m working on ideas for a sequel to Lord of the Dead. The working title is The Life of the Flesh. I’m also collaborating on a really interesting horror screenplay idea with a couple of friends.
So, there we have it! My first author interview, and a review of Lord of The Dead. You can follow Richard Rippon on: