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Book Review: A Body in the Lakes by Graham Smith

I have just devoured yet another Advance Reader Copy, this time of A Body in the Lakes by Graham Smith.

It’s available for preorder NOW on Amazon – with a release date of 15th March 2019. 

A Body in the Lakes by Graham Smith

Genre: Fiction/Crime Fiction/Crime, Thriller & Mystery

BUG Rating: 4.5/5

Overall: Well paced book, with a lot going for it! The storyline, set in Cumbria, follows Detective Beth Young and her colleagues at Force Major Investigation Team (FMIT) as they discover the body of an old woman, who has been disturbingly sexually assaulted, strangled and discarded, naked, by the lakes. The case also flags up cold cases in the same area with a similar MO – the killer never having been found. Beth is determined to resolve the puzzles of the past and present murders in order to bring peace to the victims and their families. Multiple storylines (some quite grisly) going on in this book, which all tie together perfectly, whilst allowing us to explore the great set of characters Graham has given us. If I was to sum up in 3 words: Exciting, Spine Tingling and Unpredictable. It had me on the edge of my seat at times, especially when we got a glimse into the killer’s mind, and it literally kept me guessing until the very end who they were!

Her books were Felicia’s escape route. She’d avoid her own dark thoughts and live the characters’ lives in her mind.


The woman’s limbs were so thin; the skin on her arms as translucent as tracing paper. Around her neck lay a faint string of purple bruises. In one so frail, darker, angrier marks might be expected but Beth knew the bruising would have stopped the moment her heart stopped beating.

When a walker finds the body of a woman by the shores of Lake Ullswater, the police are put on high alert. Felicia Evans was known to be a tough character, but who would have strangled her?

Detective Beth Young quickly spots the links to three cold cases. Three women strangled and discarded in the stunning, wild hills of the Lake District.

As Beth begins tracking down witnesses, the team receives an anonymous letter claiming the charming mayor of Carlisle is behind the murders. There’s pressure from the top to clear his name. But Beth is determined to find the truth no matter whose feathers she ruffles in the process.

Beth knows the clock is ticking. The killer is hunting again. And it’s down toher to find who’s responsible before another woman becomes his prey…

I was first drawn to this book by the location- I have always wanted to go to Cumbria, and it’s on my bucket list of places I must go to .. So I was already hooked at the thought of being able to discover and immerse myself into the ‘Lakes’ setting.

I’ll admit, I’d never heard of Graham Smith before stumbling upon the novel available for advance review. I hadn’t realised, until half way through – and this is the second time this has happened to me this week, that this is the second book in his series (kicks herself).

To be honest, it didn’t affect my ability to follow the story, or the characters, but I am curious to find out how the characters have developed from the first to the second book, so I will be going back to read Death in the Lakes in the very near future. 

The plot focuses on DC Beth Young as she starts a new case, an old lady’s naked body has been uncovered by the lakes with nothing but an invitation to a party and the Mayor’s credit card as clues left behind.

Beth quickly discovers that the crime bares similarities to a cold case from a few years back. 

From there the rollercoaster truly begins as they uncover more related cases, the race is now on to apprehend the ‘Lakeland Ripper’, a sexually motivated and dangerous predator. Beth and team dive between past and present cases identifying common links, missed evidence and profiling the mystery killer.

The book takes many twists and turns and you really do not know which way you are going next. The chapters were a perfect length for me, I like to have somewhere I can ‘pause’ to reflect and take a few notes, so the length was ideal to be able to still remember the salient points.

There’s a few intertwining story lines, which is also something I love, it keeps me engaged and I enjoy trying to follow the different ideas – putting the puzzle together myself throughout the book. 

Without going into too much detail, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone! Along with the cases the sub-plots centre around the Mayor and Beth, Beth’s past, in terms of her ‘warrior’ marks, and her present desires as a single woman. I did find there was some repetition about some of these storylines, which is what contributed towards it’s half a star lost. The time could have been used to thrill me a bit more with additional gruesome crime scene descriptions or more expansion on the twisted desires of the killer.

In terms of characters, Graham has really given us an awesome cast to love: 

Obviously, there is DC Beth Young, who, strangely I also saw a lot of myself in, which was freaky, but yet made the character even more real and relatable. 

Beth is extremely layered, and I believe we are only just starting to scratch the surface into who she really is. She’s definitely smart, meticulous, organised, loves a puzzle (and spreadsheets!) and beautiful, despite her scar which tells a whole other story about her strength and character. She wears it proudly with little regard for what others might think. Beth is very driven, she wants to solve the case, she wants to do right and get justice for her victims. Every case is personal to her. She’s described by her parents as a warrior and a force to be reckoned with, and I definitely couldn’t agree more. I look forward to learning piecing together more of her character in the future.

Another key character is that of Beth’s superior, DI Zoe O’Dowd. Beth and O’Dowd make a fierce duo, often playing the good cop/bad cop down to a T. They have such good chemistry together, making the book even more of a good read. O’Dowd’s main strengths lie elsewhere then Beth’s for sure, which is probably why they work so well together. O’Dowd trusts Beth, her instincts, she’s very hands on too for a superior, but also reminds the team of political/public appearance throughout the book, it’s definitely obvious she is the one in charge.

As mentioned, there is a sub-plot that focuses heavily around the Mayor, so it’s only right he gets a quick mention – I loved his character. He’s an utter sleezeball with a huge ego, always wanting what he can’t have. This is actually his driver to work even harder to get it. Whenever we were deep in the Mayor’s thoughts, I always had a tingle down my spine, he was really carved out well.

There are also two other members of the FMIT – Force Major Investigation. Working alongside Beth and O’Dowd; Thompson and Unthank. I didn’t feel I connected too much with these characters in this book, at this time. Unthank was slightly funny and Thompson is going through some stuff. They definitely have potential, and I hope they have a bigger part in a next instalment. Oh, I nearly forgot, a super quick mention on Hewson – the pathologist. I liked where his character’s heading … He’s very smart, the perfect match for Beth, professionally, and has a wit about him. He was a great addition to the cast!

I really can’t wait to see how these individuals continue to evolve in a next instalment. 

I received a free advanced copy of this book from NetGalley / Bookouture in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. All opinions are my own. 


  • Lauriane
    February 4, 2019 at 6:19 am

    Great post. I need to read more of this genre.

  • Lena Mistry
    February 4, 2019 at 10:52 am

    oooh this is a great review! – sounds like a really good book.
    also your blog is so lovely – love the minimalist and easy to read look 🙂

    great work
    -Lena x

    • admin
      February 4, 2019 at 8:21 pm

      Thank you Lena!


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