In the tradition of Ruth Rendell, Lynda la Plante, Frances Fyfield and Barbara Vine, Cut Short is a gripping psychological thriller that introduces D.I. Geraldine Steel, a woman whose past is threatening to collide with her future.
When D.I. Geraldine Steel relocates to the quiet rural town of Woolsmarsh, she expects to find her new home to be somewhere where nothing much ever happens; a space where she can battle her demons in private. But when she finds herself pitted against a twisted killer preying on local young women she quickly discovers how wrong she is...
By day, the park is a place for children's games, for people walking their dogs or taking a short cut to avoid the streets. But in the shadows a predator prowls, hunting for a fresh victim. When an unwitting bystander comes forward as a witness she quickly becomes the next object of his murderous obsessions - someone whom the killer must stop at all costs.
D.I. Geraldine Steel is locked into a race against time, determined to find the killer before they discover yet another naked corpse . But can she save the lives of the town's young women - or will Geraldine herself become the killer's ultimate trophy?
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'Cut Short is a stylish, top-of-the-line crime tale, a seamless blending of psychological sophistication and gritty police procedure. And you're just plain going to love DI Geraldine Steel.'
- Jeffery Deaver
'Russell paints a careful and intriguing portrait of a small British community while developing a compassionate and complex heroine who's sure to win fans.'
- Publisher's Weekly [read the full review]
'an excellent debut'
- Mark Campbell, Crime Time [read the full review]
''It's an easy read with the strength of the story at its core.......If you want to be swept along with the story above all else, Cut Short is certainly a novel for you'.'
- crimeficreader, itsacrime.typepad.com [read the full review]
'Simply awesome! This debut novel by Leigh Russell will take your breath away'
- Amanda C M Gillies, eurocrime.co.uk [read the full review]
'an excellent book...Truly a great start for new mystery author Leigh Russell. '
- Michael Lipkin, New York Journal of Books [read the full review]
'CUT SHORT is a book I had to read in one sitting... excellent new series'
- Beth, Murder by Type [read the full review]
'a surefire hit - a taut, slick, easy to read thriller '
- Melanie Dakin, Watford Observer [read the full review]
'a pretty fine police procedural, with a convincing if disconcerting feel of contemporary Britain.'
- PPO Kane, The Compulsive Reader [read the full review]
'Cut Short featured in one of Eurocrime's reviewers' Top Reads for 2009'
- Amanda Gillies, Eurocrime [read the full review]
'Cut Short is not a comfortable read, but it is a compelling and important one. Highly recommended.'
- Radmila May, Mystery Women [read the full review]
Poor, sad lonely Jim – learning difficulties, speech impediment. Delusional paranoid schizophrenic, all right so long as he keeps taking his pills. But when he stops taking them, his only friend – a voice in his head called Miss Elsie – talks to him, urges him to keep clean, not to be dirty. But when he sees girls with long blonde hair he thinks dirty thoughts so he has to kill them to keep himself clean. First one girl, then another, then a third, their bodies placed in the local park.
The whole town of Woolsmarsh is paralysed while the local Murder Investigation Team searches for the killer. Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel, newly arrived in Woolsmarsh after the break up of a long relationship, is part of the team. She finds it difficult to settle in with new colleagues, particularly her acid-tongued boss Chief Detective Inspector Kathryn Grayson, who criticises Geraldine’s tendency to trust her own instincts which lead her to feel that vital clues are being overlooked and the investigation is on the wrong track. Meanwhile, Geraldine herself is the target of a stalker who points malicious graffiti around her flat. Eventually Geraldine’s instincts result in the identification of the killer before – but only just before – he kills again.
Much of this story is a detailed and meticulous procedural account of the police search for the killer, interspersed with Jim’s thoughts as he wanders the streets lost in the dreadful world of his own mind. It is this last which lifts Cut Short above the usual run of serial killer stories. Leigh Russell, whose first story this is, is a teacher working with pupils with Specific Learning Difficulties, and her own obvious knowledge of this area leads us to be aware not only of the tragedy of the murdered girls, their lives so dreadfully cut short, but of the tragedy of Jim himself with his child’s mind in the body of a strong young man, subject to urges he can neither understand nor control.
Cut Short is not a comfortable read, but it is a compelling and important one. Highly recommended.
Radmila May, Mystery Women
'well written debut psychological thriller'
- stopyourekillingme.com [read the full review]
'gritty and totally addictive debut novel'
- Sam Millar, New York Journal of Books
'If you’re a real fan of police procedurals, you’ll probably enjoy this read'
- Claudette C. Smith, Sacramento Book Review [read the full review]
Leigh Russell’s debut novel, Cut Short, introduces D.I. Geraldine Steel. Steel, newly promoted and relocated to Woolsmarsh, is plunged into the investigation of the death of a young woman. It is soon apparent that the killer has killed again, and again–and will keep on killing until found.
As a police procedural, this is a solidly crafted work; but the characters are cardboard, inconsistent, and uninteresting. One is left wondering how in the world someone of Steel’s apparent lack of maturity (at age 37) could have managed to be promoted to a position of responsibility.
If you’re a real fan of police procedurals, you’ll probably enjoy this read. If you are a fan of complex, well-drawn characters, solid writing, action, and attention, you’d do better to save your money. However, as a debut effort, the author shows promise; perhaps the next installment will show D.I. Steel acquiring insight and maturity.
Claudette C. Smith, Sacramento Book Review
''I found Cut Short to be a fantastic read, taking me only days to finish. I thought it to be well-written and well-paced, with a fresh batch of intriguing characters to go along with a fresh tight plot.''
- James Garcia Jr., Dance on Fire [read the full review]
'A book I had to read in one sitting...'
- Beth, Murder by Type [read the full review]
'an excellent story, skilfully built and well told'
- Sue Magee, www.thebookbag.co.uk [read the full review]
'intelligently written, gripping crime fiction'
- Helen M. Hunt, Bookersatz Blogspot [read the full review]
'I look forward to the second book in the series'
- Nayu's Reading Corner [read the full review]
'a very excellent book!'
- The Book Buff Blog [read the full review]
'a wonderful series'
- Clarissa Draper, clarissadraper.blogspot.com [read the full review]
'difficult to put down'
- Calum, The Secret Writer [read the full review]
'Leigh Russell is building up a solid body of work featuring her resourceful Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel' - Brian Ritterspak, Crime Time [read the full review]