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Chris High books reviewed

Ritual - Mo Hayder

Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Bantam Press (10 Mar 2008)
ISBN-10: 0593056418
ISBN-13: 978-0593056417

Image: Front cover of the book 'Ritual'.


It’s been two years since Mo Hayder wrote the astonishing Pig Island, the fourth novel of her brilliant writing career and the third following her introduction of Jack Caffery in the unforgettable Birdman. Now Jack is back in Ritual and this dark, mesmerising thriller is guaranteed to have readers reaching for the lights in the wee small hours.


Just after lunch on a Tuesday in April, nine feet under water, police diver Flea Marley closes her gloved fingers around a human hand. The fact that there's no body attached is disturbing enough. Yet more disturbing is the discovery, a day later, of the matching hand. Both have been recently amputated, and the indications are that the victim was still alive when they were removed. DI Jack Caffery has been newly seconded to the Major Crime Investigation Unit in Bristol. He and Flea soon establish that the hands belong to a boy who has recently disappeared. Their search for him - and for his abductor - lead them into the darkest recesses of Bristol's underworld, where drug addiction is rife, where street-kids sell themselves for a hit and where an ancient evil lurks; an evil that feeds off the blood - and flesh - of others.

This is totally fabulous, intensely disturbing stuff. Cast iron description bring the original and credible scenarios to life whereas the internal turmoil of both Caffrey and Marley are given such a free rein, readers are allowed to open up the Pandora’s box of delights and take a peek into the psyche’s of two very emotionally challenged individuals and discover for themselves a little of what makes them both tick.

Yes the subject matter is difficult to handle and, yes, the graphic nature of the writing is at times disturbing. But this is Mo Hayder not Agatha Christie and, as great as AC was as a writer, if you can be sure of one thing with a Mo Hayder novel it is a total absence of Aunt Gemima’s missing tea-sets and pearls.

Dark, gut wrenching and gloriously readable, Ritual is a welcome return for a character who has been gone too long and for an author who has once again pushed back the boundaries of Crime Fiction.



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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
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