Deadly Hush: A Mesmerizing Crime Thriller That…

This is a review by, of my latest crime thriller Deadly Hush which is the third in the Det. Inspector Todd “Ratso” Holtom series.

A mesmerizing crime thriller that deftly explores high society’s dark underbelly. Highly recommended. 

The third instalment in Douglas Stewart’s Detective Ratso series opens in Switzerland as a killer, who is obsessed with rigid adherence to schedules as well as numerical synchronicity, stalks his prey. While careful not to reveal the killers’ identity too early, we understand that he is OCD, highly intelligent and deliciously dark.

He also loves his work. The murder of the sixty-one-year-old financier, who manages investments for a family of Ukrainian billionaires, is executed with Swiss precision. The killer soon surfaces again in London, where he targets Dermot Doyle, a beloved UK TV personality and gay icon.

Enter newly promoted Detective Chief Inspector Todd “Ratso” Holtom, who initially dismisses the idea that Doyle’s death is a hate crime because it was “far too professional.” The murder comes after a previous case in which local police were accused of indifference while investigating the murder of three LGBTQ+ victims. As Ratso’s investigation takes him deeper into a world of private clubs and high finance, he’s also forced to juggle potentially catastrophic personal issues. His boss is an “oily” homophobe who intends to make Ratso’s life difficult. Meanwhile, skilled hitman Hysen Koa – the nephew of an Albanian drug baron that Ratso helped put in jail – is closing in.

Writing in the close third person, Stewart is a master at using immersive inner dialogue to create tension. Characters routinely coach themselves through dicey situations and high anxiety, a technique that rings true and is highly effective. Stewart’s style works especially well in chapters that reveal the perspective of Ratso’s adversaries, revealing fascinatingly intimate personal habits and methods.

As the story leaves the UK and heads to the Caribbean, Stewart’s gift for vivid detail renders historical backstory all the richer (“an eighteen-metre tidal surge that had smashed and trashed the yellow, green and purple wooden shacks with their corrugated iron roofs”). Simultaneously, Stewart offers a believable police procedural, juxtaposing the mundane with the spectacular. In Stewart’s hands, even energy management has never been so riveting.

Deadly Hush works well as a stand-alone novel and can easily serve as the entry point to the series.


The first two novels in the Ratso Series

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