The Killer on the Wall by Emma Kavanagh – 4*s @EmmaLK

Killer on the Wall
Purchase from Amazon UK


The first body comes as a shock – The second brings horror – The third signals the beginning of a nightmare

When fifteen-year-old Isla Bell finds three bodies propped against Hadrian’s Wall, her whole world falls apart. In such a close-knit community, everyone knows the victims, and the man who did it.

Twenty years on and Isla has dedicated her life to forensic psychology; studying the brains of serial killers, and even coming face to face with the convicted murderer who turned her world upside down. She is safe after all, with him behind bars.

Then another body appears against the Wall. And another.

As the nightmare returns and the body count rises, everyone in town is a suspect.

Who is the Killer on the Wall?


My Review

Well first of all, the blurb tells you everything you need to know about the basic plot, so no more from me on that score. However what the blurb can’t tell you is how well written and engaging this book is. From a dramatic start with the discovery of 3 bodies and a badly injured 4th victim, to the jaw-dropping end via fear, doubt and mistrust in the middle.

The book is set in Northumberland, in the fictional village of Briganton, somewhere close to Hadrian’s wall. Using the setting of a small close-knit community, serves to heighten the horror of what happens as everyone is under suspicion, and it’s evident that the killer is one of their own. While Isla Bell may have discovered the bodies, it was her father now Detective Sergeant Eric Bell who was responsible for tracking down and arresting Heath McGowan for the murders.

Twenty years later, and Isla is now married to Ramsey, the badly injured 4th victim, who also lost his brother to the killer. Now working as a forensic psychologist Isla’s is researching  what makes a person do what they do, and her study  has now brought her face to face with Heath McGowan.

This meeting proves fatal for some, as it’s the catalyst for the killings to start again. The village is once more engulfed by dread and panic as the unthinkable happens. Still on the case is DS Eric Bell but he’s now been joined by DC Mina Arian, an incomer from London. Mina has her own baggage, which makes her an interesting character, but she also has her own mind, and her theories about the killings are not well received by DS Bell.

The fact that Heath McGowan, was safely locked up inside when the new killings occur, throws up lots of questions about the initial investigation, questions that certain people are not willing to answer. So the quest is on, to discover the truth about the past, before more lives are lost in the present.

I enjoyed this book on several levels. Firstly, as a police procedural (my favourite), I enjoyed following the investigation and piecing the clues and mis-directions. I always enjoy the team relationships and dynamics, and when they are amiss, as in this case it adds to the complications.  Secondly, the characters, they were all well drawn, even the minor characters, and this latter really added to the pathos, when that character was the partner of a murder victim – you’ll know when you there.  Thirdly, the setting – almost a character in itself. The brooding, almost claustrophobic pall that envelops the town when the killings start again is indicative of a close-knit community already bearing the scars from the past. Finally, there is an interesting sub thread running through that looks at the nature of families, via sibling and parent/child relationships.

The big question with any thriller is did I guess the who was the culprit? Well despite having someone firmly in mind, I’ll have to admit no I didn’t, which really added to the shock, when they were finally revealed. So overall a thoroughly engaging read, with a satisfactory outcome.

I received an ecopy via NetGalley to enable this review.


  1. Great review! I’ve just ordered a copy of this book today so I’m looking forward to it arriving even more now I’ve read your post. I love it when I can’t work out whodunnit so I’m interested to see whether I figure it out or not now. I think when you read a lot of crime and thriller books it becomes easier to work out where the plot is going so it’s always brilliant when the ending comes as a shock.

    Liked by 1 person

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