A Wash of Black by Chris McDonald @cmacwritescrime @RedDogTweets #BookReview #DIErikaPiper #Giveaway #BlogTour

Posted February 11, 2020 by Zoé in Book Reviews / 4 Comments

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A Wash of Black by Chris McDonald @cmacwritescrime @RedDogTweets   #BookReview #DIErikaPiper #Giveaway #BlogTourA Wash of Black by Chris McDonald
Series: DI Erika Piper #1
Published by Red Dog on February 4 2020
Pages: 233

"Clever, chilling and absolutely addictive..." – Noelle Holten, author of Dead Inside

IT'S NOT LIFE THAT IMITATES ART. IT'S DEATH. Anna Symons. Famous. Talented. Dead.

When the body of a famous actress is found mutilated on an ice rink in Manchester, recreating a scene from a blockbuster film she starred in years ago, DI Erika Piper must find the culprit; the media-dubbed ‘Blood Ice Killer.’

Having recently returned to work after suffering a near fatal attack herself, she must once again prove her worth. But when another body is found, and the killer issues a personal threat, Erika must put her demons aside and crack the case, or suffer the deadly consequences.

My Review

This is a debut book and just wow! What a strong start to Chris’ writing career! I was lucky enough to do a tiny bit of beta reading for Chris with what seems a long time ago but it was only August/September and along with Danielle and Sarah, we have seen this awesome journey he’s having. However, don’t think I will be biased in my review and to be honest, I am not sure I can find the right words either!!!!

Here we meet DI Erika Piper, first day back in the job and she’s gone and caught a doozy of a case! A famous actress murdered in an ice rink the same as the film she starred in! Be warned some scenes might not be to everyone’s taste, me, on the other hand, I think I am pretty much desensitised so I found it more fascinating to read..don’t worry I am not going on any killing spree!! However, the recreation of the murders hit a little bit close to home at some points for Erika and all I will say is I never want to go to the premiere of a film again!

What I loved about Erika is she is such a well-rounded and likeable character. She has feelings, she cries and can be quite emotional but she’s determined and she is trying to overcome her past and nail the person who is killing people. Her past is uncovered slowly, teasing it out to the reader and although not all the details are fully disclosed you learn enough to know what happens and man it’s harsh! However, she does not one to let it hinder her working the case, where it has done in her personal life. She is tenacious and leaves no stone unturned. She follows the clues and it was only because of something she said whilst watching Netflix that had me screaming at her about one crime scene!!

Her partnership with Liam is one to enjoy. They know how to work with each other and act like an old married couple. So at ease and no tension, no acts of bravado they work as a unit. Solving the clues together but working in their own ways. I love this duo so much, they have each other back, they would die for each other and you can feel that through the pages. Although, I do hope it does NOT come to that at any point!!

I can see this series going from strength to strength with McDonald’s confidence growing with the series. His writing flows and he knows that by writing short chapters he will keep you hooked with just one more chapter!! I don’t feel any part of the book was unnecessary everything has its place and adds to the story, not detracts from it. The reveal is clever and hand on heart I didn’t see coming until Erika had her ‘Eureka’ moment. and boy when she did, it just all hit the fan! I do love a book that can do that to me. The research that has gone into this book is amazing and it shines through, from the terminology and even the smallest things like a walkthrough of a scene or the possessiveness of a forensic team.

I am looking forward to seeing what Erika gets embroiled into next time…hopefully nothing too gruesome like this case!! But from what I hear it that might just be the case……

Until next time xxx

Be sure to check out the Giveaway after the blogger recap (Keep scrolling)

Oh and check out the other fabulous posts today by Lacy Ace Book Reviews and the Legends at Red Dog Press

What fab things did the bloggers say on the tour (in case you missed it!) (Click on the blog name to read their full review!)

The Reading Closet says:- A Wash of Black ticked all my crime fiction boxes, from being a tension filled, warped and addictive read, to a cat and mouse chase to catch a sadistic antagonist before it’s too late. An adrenaline read that snowballs with every chapter, each one with raise your levels more than the previous. This novel, the writing blew me away, left me breathless and hoping that book two in the series will be coming soon (no pressure Chris!)

My Chestnut Reading Tree says:- Chris McDonald has written a gutsy and gruesome crime thriller with so many twists and turns I had no idea who the killer was or their motives for the shocking ways in which they dispatched their victims. The local settings were used to great effect especially The Trafford Centre cinema which will never be the same again for me after what happens there!

Hina Loves to Read says :- The structure of the novel was  well formed with the characters showing more dimensions to them as the story progressed despite it all being from the perspective of just one character….To end with, I’d say that whenever book 2 comes out, I am definitely reading it because I want to see Tom following up on what his last words have been in this book. Nope, not telling anything about those words or the context.

The Book Magnet says:- I think I was starting to get a little oversaturated and bored with crime writing but Chris McDonald has made me fall back in love with the genre with his perfectly plotted and highly original debut.  This is a cracking piece of crime fiction and I know I’m going to be recommending A Wash of Black for a long time to come.  Seriously, you really don’t want to miss this one!

Check out Linda’s Book Bag as she is staying in with Chris. Where you will find out who he would love to cast as DI Erika Piper…among other things

Chapter in my Life says:- A pacy plot that moves the story forward; like Hansel and Gretel, the reader follows the breadcrumbs carefully placed by the author, teasing and tricking you all the way through, introducing you to potential suspects before pulling the rug under your feet and putting it right back down again for you! Dark and chilling, this is an addictive debut from a new voice in the world of crime fiction and what I hope is the first of many books featuring DI Piper.

Check out Books by Bindu as she has a Q&A with Chris!

Varietats says:- But what makes this book so addictive is how the author has created so many interesting characters and subplots without the reader noticing the complexity of the story, it simply flows and drags the reader to the core of the story.
I don’t want to make any spoilers, but I really can’t wait to read the new book with DI Erika Piper, I hope it will be soon, very soon…
Original, addictive and gripping, A Wash Of Black is the case you need to read today, close the tv and start reading!

Loves Books Reads Books says:- It’s an easy read, well paced and confidently written. A cracking story. This is the first of a series and that feels right. It’ll be good to find out how Erika moves on, deals with her DCI, how things work out with Tom, with family and, especially, with work. So hopefully, or should I say no doubt, we’ll be treated to more dark stories such as this terrific first novel from Chris McDonald.

Babydolls and Razorblades says:- What a fantastic, gripping read, from start to finish. A Wash of Black was a wonderfully chilling read. I dont want to say too much as I don’t want to give the story away but this was so well written that it didn’t feel as though it was a debut novel. I enjoyed the story but I also enjoyed how the characters were portrayed, they felt real. This was such a captivating read that I had to force myself to put down to get some sleep. I look forward to see what else happens in the DI Erika series but also what else Chris has to offer.

The Bookwormery says:- With many suspects and a twisty plot, this really keeps you guessing. It’s a fast paced thriller with a strong and yet vulnerable too, character in Erika, this will keep you on tenterhooks from start to the breathless ending. An incredible debut thriller from Chris McDonald and I’m hoping there will be more in the series.

Bookmark That says:- A fantastic debut and I can’t wait to see more by this author – I’m delighted to hear that there may be more DI Erika Piper books.I’m going to leave you with this quote from the opening pages, as it’s fitting with the book – “A painter should begin every canvas with a wash of black, because all things in nature are dark except where exposed by the light.”

Mrs Bloggs’ Books says:- Well developed, believable characters with interesting but fascinating back stories of their own that can lead you down one path and take it up another. Great plot. Holds the interest of the this reader and others too, so I hear on the grapevine. Novel idea – literally!

Check out Chris in the spotlight over at Shaz’s Book Blog

By The Letter Book Reviews says:- A Wash of Black is not only a cracker of a start to a series but also a highly commendable debut. The gripping story line and the increase in pace had me tearing through the pages. There was enough to excite and thrill me of which has left me very much looking forward to more from this author.

From Belgium with Book Love says:- A Wash of Black is such a fun quick read, I absolutely flew through it. Despite its limited number of pages (my e-copy knocks off at 208), it’s a well-rounded story with fleshed-out characters. It has everything you need from a crime thriller / police procedural: intrigue and mystery, gruesome crimes, multiple suspects to muddy the waters, and a kick-ass yet vulnerable heroine. As far as debuts go, this is definitely an impressive one, and I think that Chris McDonald is at the start of a very promising new career! I for one am eager to find out what troubles might await Erika Piper in the next instalment. If A Wash of Black is anything to go by, 2020 is looking mighty good for Red Dog Press!

Chocolate ‘n’ Waffles says:- The balance between the investigation and the world building, as this is the first instalment in a series, is strong enough to keep the reader entertained and involved in the case. More death and a list of suspects which would totally fit a movie cast kept me on my toes. Tension builds up as the book to movie to life adaptations grow chillier and deadlier with each chapter, and I tremendously enjoyed the dark and dangerous atmosphere.

Jackie’s Reading Corner says:- Wow, I loved this book! I pre ordered back at the end of 2019, sat patiently waiting for the book to arrive, well maybe not quite that patiently. But when it arrived, I dived straight on in. HOOKED from page one. You would never know that it is a debut novel. It’s flawlessly written, the story just flows off the page, the characters are three dimensional, relatable, believable. There’s never a dull moment. I whizzed through unable to put it down. You feel like you know them right from the start. Mr McDonald didn’t spend lots of time setting up descriptive scenes, it wasn’t necessary. He dives straight into the story, which I loved. As you read, you get little insights into the characters. I have a feeling that DI Erika Piper will be around for a while.

Literative Liv says:- Chris McDonald writes with such confidence and imagination that it is hard to believe he is a debut author. His characterisation of Erika is particularly striking, and the strong cast of characters will carry his next book, and any subsequent books in this series, very well. Chilling, fast-paced and immersive, this is the perfect book for lovers of crime everywhere. An addictive read which kept me guessing about the killer’s true identity until Erika’s lightbulb moment towards the end.

Check out an exclusive excerpt over at A Lover of Books to whet your appetite (If these reviews are not doing it for you!!!)

Grab This Book says:- Piper has to contend with multiple challenging and uncooperative suspects. This is not helped by the fact she is just returning to work after a period of convalescence and her confidence has taken a battering. Watching her find her feet while simultaneously being wrong-footed by the investigation made for fun reading…A Wash of Black is a very promising start to this new series and as a fan of dark thrillers (could you tell?) I will keenly await the next book. Murder, movies and malevolence – what more do you need?

Live Many Lives says:- I have been reading a lot of crime novels recently but A Wash of Black still felt fresh and vibrant. The setting is as well written and developed as the characters and it really felt like this was the beginning of something I wanted to further explore. Confident writing, an engaging leading character, a gritty city location and a chilling murder investigation add up to a very accomplished debut and Chris McDonald is an author for crime fans to watch very closely.

The Coy Caterpillar Reads says:- That opening chapter had me holding my kindle in a death grip.  The words jumped from my screen, danced in a rhythmic beat and created threatening shadows that sealed the deal.  The tension could have torn through the page like a knife.  My eyes and my brain couldn’t keep up with each other.  My brain was conjuring images before my eyes took in the final word.  Chris McDonald knows just how to get you by the jugular and keep you gasping for any morsel of breath that he allows you to have. 

Books by Bindu says:- The way Chris spins his characters is delightful, it entices you into the narrative and then you are unable to escape. You want to, no need to find out more, until you realise it is 2am and you haven’t moved in hours!

What Do I Read Now? says:- I really enjoyed A Wash Of Black and cant wait to see what Chris surprises with next time. He’s one to watch and I am certain, for him too, this is only the beginning – I look forward to reading more of DI Erica Piper’s next catches. One to Watch, gripping and superbly plotted.

Alex J Books says:- This is a very accomplished, well written and easy to pick up murder mystery that feels like it’s from a seasoned writer. So for me the fact it’s a first time author just shows how good Chris McDonald is likely to be…This book feels like a story where the author enjoyed himself, and it’s a strong entry onto the crime thriller scene…It’s a gripping, page turning tale. A great read and I would Highly Recommended to all crime fiction fans.

BookWorm Hole says:- One surprising thing about A Wash of Black is the level of descriptive detail. Erika doesn’t just get her laptop out, she finds a convenient plug socket and lifts the lid. She doesn’t open her door without us knowing which pocket she took her key from. There are at least two sequences of police officers having trouble finding parking spaces. It feels almost cinematic, walking the reader carefully through scenes as we would see it on screen rather than taking literary shortcuts. This is also carried through in the detailed descriptions of characters’ appearances and clothing. It fits well with the film-based murdering in the book…A Wash of Black is a great detective versus killer novel, with an intriguing set-up and exciting payoff.

It’s an Indie Book blog says:- And its clear that Chris has no intention of this being the last of our encounters with Erika, we get to know her personally as well as professionally as the story moves along. There are beginnings of world building here, and I can see the jumping off point for a series of books.

Locky Loves Books says:- A Wash of Black is a superb read and I flew through it in a matter of hours, frantically turning the pages to see how everything was going to be resolved! There were several twists and turns and red herrings. The clues were well littered throughout the book but there were enough suspects to flummox me and I didn’t guess who the killer was!

Supermum… says:- A brilliant debut! I loved it. I whizzed through this. Dark and chilling this is a real page turner.  A great story and cant wait for next in the series . Cleverly written !

Online Blanket Fort says :- The story is a thoroughly enjoyable read and I definitely want to see how Chris proceeds with the series. For his first novel – Chris came up with the story idea while feeding his baby daughter of all things – I believe A Wash of Black is an absolute triumph. Chris has managed to write a truly gripping, gory and grotesque crime thriller. More please!

Books are my Cwtches says:-  It is a story that keep me gripped, but didn’t insult my intelligence by making it all too obvious. I even sat up a few times, and said “omg, I didn’t see that coming” and genuinely I didn’t. He had me hook line and sinker, snuggled up in bed, reading like a fiend, and wishing I didn’t have to work the next day, so I could finish this book.

Book Reviews by Shalini says:- The story moved fast, the chapters short and snappy. The writing gave powerful imagery with its words, the scenes had the right atmosphere needed to draw me in further into the story. Having read a lot of police procedural, I tried being a Detective to solve the crime before Erika. Unfortunately, the author was quite crafty and hid the killer well. I couldn’t guess it. I promise to do better in the next book!!

Cheryl M-M’s Blog says:- This is a solid beginning for a debut novel and crime series. Going forward I hope McDonald trusts in his own talent to give the readers a great story. Open the doors and let loose. There is a lot more in there and I want to read it.

Wow that is a lot of feedback!!!!! Phew!! Now do you believe me?

And now it’s a giveaway time!!!

Note from Red Dog :

The prize is a signed Hardback edition of A Wash of Black, along with a Go Away I’m Reading Tote Bag and a Luxury Bookmark.

The giveaway runs from 28th Jan to 11th Feb, and we (Red Dog Press) will announce the randomly chosen winner on the evening of the 11th Feb (GMT)

Routes to entry are all on the giveaway link, but basically, sign up to Red Dog Press Reader’s Club (which also gets you discounts in our store, a free eBook, and latest news from us), following us on twitter. Entrants who tweet our promo tweet get two bonus entries.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Check out the other posts from the tour

Thanks to Dylan at Red Dog Press for the tour invite and the author for a copy of the book in return for my honest and unbiased review.

Click on the picture to meet Erika

About Chris McDonald

Originally hailing from the north coast of Northern Ireland and now residing in South Manchester, Chris McDonald has always been a reader. At primary school, The Hardy Boys inspired his love of adventure, before his reading world was opened up by Chuck Palahniuk and the gritty world of crime.

He’s a fan of 5-a-side football, has an eclectic taste in music ranging from Damien Rice to Slayer and loves dogs.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:



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