A Generation of Vipers
Book 4 in the Dr. Nell Ward mystery series
by Sarah Yarwood-Lovett
A killer is hiding in plain sight, like a snake in the long grass… When Dr Nell Ward stumbles across a woman’s body amongst the purple heather on Furze Heath, she was on the lookout for nests of poisonous adders. But something is lurking out here far more dangerous than vipers. A cold-blooded killer is on the loose and this is not his first victim. As DI James Clark begins to investigate, a pattern emerges pointing towards this being the work of a serial killer. Every victim shares the same physical characteristics – all of which are a match to Nell herself. As Nell is pulled into a tightly coiled mystery, she can’t help feeling someone is tracking her every move… Can she unmask the murderer before they strike again? A completely gripping and page-turning cozy mystery, perfect for fans of Richard Osman, Janice Hallett and Robert Thorogood.
Before reading A Generation of Vipers, I read the first three books, A Murder of Crows, A Cast of Falcons, A Mischief of Rats, in the series. While it isn’t necessary to read the first three, I recommend it. You’ll get a better understanding of the characters, their relationships to each other, and how they change throughout the series. I also have to mention the titles—all of them use collective nouns for the specific animal in the title. In other words, a group of crows is called a murder, a group of falcons is called a cast, rats are referred to as a mischief, and vipers are a den. The next two books in the series are titled the same way. Clever, but not surprising considering Sarah Yarwood-Lovett was an ecologist for 18 years prior to becoming an author. That experience comes through in A Generation of Vipers. Yarwood-Lovett has used that experience to create strong characters, especially Dr. Nell Ward. Nell is an ecologist, working for a company that conducts surveys of potentially ecologically valuable sites for clients. This career draws on knowledge of environmental concerns, but not in an over-bearing way. But as Nell goes about her job, this time conducting surveys on a construction site, she stumbles across a body and finds herself involved in another murder investigation. A scientist, Nell is smart and has an inquisitive mind. Qualities that also serve her well in murder investigations. But in A Generation of Vipers, Nell is in the crosshairs of a murderer, and her smarts may not be enough to save her. Some of the tropes present in the story are the English countryside/village, amateur female sleuth, friendship and tension with the local constabulary, and a tight community of people she can depend on when needed. The mystery kept me guessing all the way to the reveal. Yarwood-Lovett excels at planting red herrings and misdirection. At one point, early on, I was sure I had the mystery solved. But doubts set in as I kept reading, and when the killer was finally revealed I wasn’t even close, and I’m fine with that. Her characters are well-rounded and include several members of the local police department and her co-workers. Yarwood-Lovett also included a section at the end called “The Nature of the Crime.” In this part of the book, she talks a bit about her writing process. She also draws upon her extensive experience as an ecologist, explaining more about the methods and species included in the book. I’m glad she included it because I liked reading it. I enjoyed reading all the books in the series so far, and I’m looking forward to reading the next two books.
Thanks to #NetGalley and Embla book for a copy of #AGenerationOfVipers in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.