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A locked-room mystery challenges Inverness detectives in JD Kirk's Halloween thriller

By Margaret Chrystall

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Perfectly-timed for the season, this week’s Star Read, A Dead Man Walking by JD Kirk (Zertex, (9.99) stages a Halloween murder for Detective Chief Inspector Jack Logan and his Inverness-based team.

JD Kirk – the pen name of Fort William-based writer Barry Hutchison – is having a lot of fun from the start, as Logan’s day starts with a small werewolf in his fridge and Storm Agatha on its way for the detectives to battle with on their way to the crime scene.

The victim is a not-very-nice billionaire who is found with “the hilt of what looked to be a kitchen knife stuck out from his forehead like a unicorn’s horn”.

The body is found in a locked room… And the suspects include the TV team behind “that ghastly programme” Ghost Spotters, complete with fake spiritualist medium Marcus Doyle, who at least admits … he’s a fake! But he challenges Jack with the offer of help should the Inverness detective's skills run dry.

Enjoy the crazy characters injected into the puzzle for a kind of over-the-top horror-based Cluedo. So meet Donatello Liberace: “His face was a gallery of tribal tattoos and Chinese symbols that spread from one cheek to the other, covering his mouth like a grin. A pair of eyes had been tattooed on his cheeks, right below the real ones, though these didn’t share the same artificial colour of his actual irises... across the bridge of his nose and up his forehead he’d somehow affixed a series of stubby golden spikes that reminded Logan of a dinosaur.”

For Jack, he has his own personal worries after he receives some bad news on the phone, before they set off for the gothic Highland castle where Montgomery McQuarrie has been found. Before a bridge collapses underneath them.

Before they find they are marooned when all helicopters are grounded by the gales.

If Jack and his detectives are up against it, it only tests their considerable powers in a way that makes the latest case a guaranteed page-turner.

A Dead Man Walking by JD Kirk (Zertex, (£9.99) is out now.

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