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by Ruth Newman
Pocket , February 2010
384 pages
6.99 GBP
ISBN: 1847392482

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Forget Cambridge and its august reputation… It's a risky place to be if you're a student, particularly one at the mythical Ariel College. The headless body of a female undergraduate is found in her blood-soaked room – and other violent and twisted murders follow.

Forensic psychiatrist Matthew Denison is called in by his police mate DCI Stephen Weathers to try to unravel the bizarre goings-on. Student Olivia Corscadden seems to hold the key to the murders, but she's badly traumatised and in a mental hospital. Matthew has to work with her to find out who the killer is in the close university community.

TWISTED WING is a highly assured and ambitious debut from Ruth Newman, a former Cambridge student herself. It's an unusual slant on the serial killer side of the genre – one where jaded reviewers reckon they've seen it all and just occasionally enjoy being shown that they haven't!

By far the strongest and most convincing scenes in the book are those featuring the small group of students affected most directly by the murders. They're not particularly easy to like, riven as they are by arrogance, secrets, lies and squabbles. But they leap off the page as real people.

Newman doesn't fare quite so well with Denison or Weathers, both of whom remain underdeveloped all through, which is a slight problem when she appears to want the psychiatrist to be her pivotal character. Several days after finishing the book, I could recall all the students, but was struggling to remember anything much about the two authority figures.

The quality of the supporting cast and the imaginative plotting and fluent writing means, though, that this is less of a problem than it might have been. But if Newman's intending to use Denison and Weathers again, she's going to have to flesh them out considerably if they're to carry a book by themselves.

TWISTED WING, though, is dark, scary and gripping, with a switchback of a plot. It's definitely one to read and Newman is a writer to watch.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, February 2010

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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