Rennie Airth






Pan Books, Dec 2005
Reviewed by Sally Roddom

Murder Mystery. England

The sequel to RIVER OF DARKNESS has finally arrived after a five year wait. Set in the year 1932, John Madden is now an ex-Scotland Yard Detective Inspector, and has settled down to married bliss with Helen, whom he met in the first book.

Ten years later Helen and Madden have two children and a farm in Surry. As the book opens John and Helen Madden are travelling back from a function when they get drawn into the search for a 12 year old girl. Madden finds the body, her face brutally bashed beyond recognition, and she has been raped. The local police are almost immediately certain that the murderer is a tramp who was known to be in the area at the time. Madden is not convinced. He has a horrible feeling that the young girl may not be the first of the killer's victims. When a second body is found, and a third, Madden's instinct is confirmed. There is a vicious, heartless serial killer at large.

Some of Madden's old Scotland Yard associates convince him to informally assist in the case, against the wishes of his anxious wife. Madden’s insights into the personality of the man they are seeking are soon proved right. This psychopath, who has been covering his tracks for many years, is a master of reinvention. There is a string of bodies going back years with his crimes even reaching into Europe.

So is the book, THE BLOOD-DIMMED TIDE, worth the wait? The simple answer is yes. Many of the characters in the first book have returned, and lots of new ones are introduced. But if you haven't read the RIVER OF DARKNESS you will not feel left out in this book; it can, I believe, be read as a standalone. The description I have given sounds simple but it is in reality a very complex story with quite a few different threads that are all gradually brought together. Author Rennie Airth builds the tension very slowly.  As the reader I was increasingly made aware of what was going to happen but was powerless to stop it.  I could do nothing but silently shout to Madden to hurry up and catch the killer.  I knew where he was, so why didn't Madden figure it out?

First Published on Murder and Mayhem
Revised Version Dec 2005


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