“The countdown has begun. Who will die next?
A shocking crime scene…
DCI Adam Bishop has never seen anything like it. Five murder victims – all with numbers written above. And the spray-painted daubs reveal a horrific truth: the killer is counting down…
A case that twists and turns…
When Dr Romilly Cole learns of the murders, they trigger memories of a traumatic past she has tried hard to forget. But getting involved with the case is a bad idea. She and Bishop have history – and working together could never end well.
A race against time to stop a killer…
Adam and Romilly soon realise the truth lies in a decades-old case, and only Romilly holds the key. But they must act quickly, because with every passing day, there are more victims. And as the numbers edge toward zero, the murders get closer to home…”
Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Twenty by Sam Holland. The Twenty will be published by HarperCollins later this week (on Thursday 11th May 2023) in hardback, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow later in the year. I chose to read a free eARC of The Twenty but that has in no way influenced my review.
If you’ve been following damppebbles for any length of time you will probably know that we’re all about crime fiction here (and psychological thrillers, suspense, a little bit of horror…but mainly crime fiction!). Favourites being police procedurals and serial killer thrillers. Of which, of course, there are plenty of options to choose from out there. But when you find a corker, one that stands out from the crowd, then that is a moment to remember. As soon as I saw the cover and read the blurb of The Twenty, I knew I had to read it. And what an incredible book it is! A strong contender for my books of the year list, without a doubt.
When DCI Adam Bishop and DS Jamie Hoxton are called to a grisly discovery on a construction site, they don’t initially fully comprehend what has been unearthed. Their one victim suddenly becomes two victims. Then three, four and five. Five bodies in different states of decomposition surround them. Each with a number daubed in green paint above it. They have a serial killer on their hands and the condition of the bodies gives a very clear message. Their killer is counting down and they have a long way to go before their horrific spree is over…
The Twenty is a thrilling, gruesome, full-on crime thriller which I found impossible to put down and ended up reading in two sittings (on average it’s taking me a week and a half to read a 330 page book at the moment – just for context!). It was enticing and perfectly plotted with outstanding characters and a gritty, grimy setting which only added to the overall darkness of the book. I do love a serial killer thriller but this one had something extra, it felt original and totally unpredictable. I loved it! The three main characters were all believable and well-drawn. DCI Adam Bishop is a man with a past. He’s flawed but has the drive and the determination to get the job done. Perhaps his reasons for doing so are more selfish than altruistic at times but he’s solving the tough cases. Will this be the case that sends his career skyrocketing, or the case that breaks him? Alongside Bishop is his DS, Jamie Hoxton. Bishop and Hoxton complement each other perfectly. There’s a connection between the two that really worked. And finally, Dr Romilly Cole whose traumatic past and history with Bishop means she should steer well clear of the investigation. But she can’t. And she won’t. I loved the backstory, the history and the whole set up of the book.
The Twenty is a thrilling, gruesome read which made even my tummy turn a couple of times whilst reading (and I read a lot of dark, gory books!). The plot is well paced with lots of exciting, edge of your seat moments mixed perfectly with the slower, operational, ‘police procedurally type’ scenes. It’s a highly compelling book which gets under the readers skin and doesn’t let go. I couldn’t tear myself away from this one. Nor did I want to. I became fully immersed in the lives of the characters and their mission to catch a crazed and sadistic killer.
Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Twenty is the best serial killer thriller I have read this year. I loved every suspense laden, thrilling second of it and I hope we get to see more of these characters again in the future. What I don’t think I’ve mentioned yet is that The Twenty is actually the second book in the Major Crimes Series by Sam Holland. The first book, The Echo Man, was a huge success last year and mentioned on many a ‘top books of the year list’. However, The Twenty can easily be read as a standalone as it features a completely different team of characters in a different police station. The Echo Man case is mentioned and referred to but not in any detail and DCI Cara Elliot (who was in charge of The Echo Man case) does make a fleeting cameo in this latest books but that’s it. All in all I loved everything about The Twenty. The dark and twisted concept, and the excellent delivery far outweigh others in the crime fiction genre. Holland is a very talented writer and if you have the stomach for a little blood-shed, then you MUST get yourself a copy of this book. Highly recommended.
I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Twenty. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.
The Twenty by Sam Holland was published in the UK by HarperCollins on 11th May 2023 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop | damppebbles amazon.co.uk shop | damppebbles amazon.com shop |
Having always been fascinated with the dark and macabre, Sam Holland studied psychology at university then spent the next few years working in HR, before quitting for a full-time career in writing. A self-confessed serial killer nerd, her debut novel, The Echo Man, shocked and enthralled readers and reviewers alike with its sinister depiction of a serial killer copying notorious real-life murderers of the past. The Twenty is her second novel and will be out in May 23.
Sam can be found on Twitter and Instagram at @samhollandbooks