Eight killers. One house. And the almost perfect murder… Feared by the people of Sheffield, Starling House is home to some of Britain’s deadliest teenagers, still too young for prison. Now the building’s latest arrival, Ryan Asher, has been found brutally murdered – stabbed twelve times, left in a pool of blood. When DCI Matilda Darke and her team investigate, they uncover the secrets of a house tainted by evil. Kate Moloney, the prison’s manager, is falling apart, the security system has been sabotaged, and neither the staff nor the inmates can be trusted. There’s only one person Matilda believes is innocent, and he’s facing prison for the rest of his life. With time running out, she must solve the unsolvable to save a young man from his fate. And find a murderer in a house full of killers…
Confession time: I did read Michael Wood’s first book in the series: For Reasons Unknown. Sadly, I haven’t yet read the second one, but this third installment could easily be read as a standalone (ALTHOUGH, there are spoilers for the first book, so make sure you know where you want to start).
The plot was compelling and intriguing and one of those that immediately catch your attention. One body. Suspects: Seven murderers. The novel is set in a juvenile detention center and while Matilda and her team (I love you Rory!) investigate the mysterious murder, every teenager tells us their personal story in seven very disturbing chapters. Wow.
I’ve read in other reviews that the book was reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s novels and I definitely think the same way. There are only a few suspects and anyone could’ve done it. Honestly, I had no idea who the killer was and while there wasn’t a “big” twist, I wasn’t able to guess what had happened.
The best books are those that stay with you and make you think after you’ve read them. Fortunately, A Room Full of Killers was part of that group. I went to bed last night feeling a bit uneasy because of the ending (which I LOVED) and asking myself which crime was the worst. Surprisingly, I couldn’t decide which kid was scarier. What do you think? Which one of the characters was more evil? Maybe the car kid? The fire one? For me, as they mention in the book, it’s much scarier when there isn’t a motive for the crime. When people kill simply because they feel like to. No need for traumatic childhoods, just a pure desire to kill.
I have only two minor complaints about ARFOK. The “past” crime, the one featured in the first chapter, was, in my opinion, too similar to the one in the first book. Did anyone else notice that? Also, I couldn’t understand how Matilda knew Thomas was innocent after only five minutes with him. Especially given that her instinct isn’t always on point… I still loved that particular storyline, maybe even more than the central one.
Moreover, I really loved the author’s writing and the multiple references. First of all, as a fan of Scream, I found the chapter narrated by Lee both fascinating and extremely creepy. Secondly, Agatha Christie! Who didn’t think of Murder On The Orient Express while reading this novel? And I couldn’t help but feel so identified with Kate, as I always turn to Friends when I’m feeling anxious. Friends is the best medicine.
Anyway, haven’t I convinced you yet?
Netgalley – Harper Collins UK, 2017