Locked In by Kerry Wilkinson

Locked InA house in Manchester contains a surprise for Jessica Daniel. Not the dead body – she’s a Detective Sergeant, she’s used to that sort of thing. It’s the fact that the house was completely locked up, with all of the keys either on the inside or in the possession of people with no motive and perfect alibis. And it’s not the first such house that she’ll visit before the end of the book…

This is another one of those books that crept onto my Kindle without me realising it. I probably bought it when half-asleep. It’s only a couple of quid and the notion of a locked-room police procedural appealed to me – something a little different. As it transpires, Locked In is one of the best-selling ebooks on Amazon, apparently. So what’s it like?

There’s a lot to like here. The notion of a locked room mystery without having a Gideon Fell-type on the scene is an intriguing one – indeed, before reading this book, it was on my unwritten list of plots for my great unwritten novel. But I’ll get to the plot in a minute.

The other almost-novelty is that the protagonist doesn’t have any major hang-ups, past secrets, addictions or personality disorders. She’s pretty normal, really, which feels like a pleasant change. Jessica is the main focus of the book – there are a few sections from someone else’s point of view, notably a journalist who seems to know more than he should about the case – but she’s pleasant company and the story progresses along with the main plot never far from the forefront of the narrative. There are a couple of sub-plots, one involving Jessica’s ex-boss which doesn’t really go anywhere, but the main plot keeps moving forward as more and more developments unfold.

Right, let’s get this clear first of all. I really enjoyed this book, it’s a bright and breezy read and it comes recommended. But…

As with every murder mystery book ever written, what I’m looking for is to be fooled. Or to catch the author out at the last minute with a solution that makes me feel clever that I thought of it. Now I can’t speak for anyone else, but I thought the solution to this – in particular the locked house – was screamingly obvious. At one point, there is a discovery made by the police regarding… something (spoiler-free, remember) and my immediate thought was, on hearing this, was that I knew exactly how the locked house worked. And I was right. Unfortunately, this was about 30% of the way through the book… But I didn’t feel that I was being clever – just that the solution was seemingly handed to me on a plate. And it was so obvious that I had trouble believing that no-one in the police team thought of it…

There is a clever bit to the solution regarding the identity of the murderer which I missed completely – a very simple sort-of misdirection that worked well – but there is part of the resolution that some people might find a bit of a stretch. Can’t say more without giving too much of a hint.

But despite my niggles, I’ll be back for more – there are three other books and a novella in the series – and this is a fairly clued modern day locked room mystery, Exactly what this blog is looking for. It might be a bit on the easy side, but it’s a good read and I think the series has a lot of potential. Looking forward to the next one… Recommended.

18 comments

  1. Hi Les. There’s a different publisher in the US. I thought it was May, but perhaps it has slipped. You *should* have the Jess books released one every few months fairly quickly to catch back up to the UK. Thanks. Kerry

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