After saying many times I would continue this series really soon ever since I read Black River, I finally manged to do that and now I’m kicking myself for not starting this book sooner. White Horse was engaging, entertaining and brilliantly written whodunit crime fiction.
White Horse (Jess Bridges Mystery #2) by Joss Stirling
Publication Date : October 30th 2020
Publisher : One More Chapter
Genre : Mystery
Pages : 400
3000 years ago Iron Age people carved a White Horse on the Downs near Uffington Castle and now someone has dumped a body there. Laid out like a ceremonial killing, Detective Inspector Leo George isn’t convinced that the murder is what it appears.
He suspects the young female victim may have been a member of the Children of the White Horse, a secretive valley commune, but none of the cult members are talking. That is until he discovers his friend, Jess Bridges, is undercover in the commune, attempting to persuade a wayward young woman to leave the cult.
Leo is confronted by the fact that Jess is heading right into the heart of a mystery that has less to do with ancient gods than it does modern vices, and there is nothing old about spilling blood…
Previous book I read in Series
*** Disclaimer : I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to One More Chapter. ***
White Horse was amazing sequel of Black River that revolved around another missing case Jess was looking into that again got tangled with Leo’s murder case. The story was about impulsive young girl and its worst consequences, cult, power greed, mental health, manipulation, human nature, and friendship.
Writing was captivating, engaging, entertaining and fast paced. I had hard time putting down this book. I finished this in just two sitting. It was written in alternative perspective of Leo and Jess and there was Michael’s POV in between. I liked how two different cases worked with dual perspective and merged seamlessly with the same setting of Uffington, Oxfordshire.
It started with Leo reaching at 3000 years old prehistoric site where body was laid on carved a White Horse on the Downs near Uffington Castle like ceremonial killing. From appearance he suspected victim was member of secretive cult Children of White Horse residing in manor at Kingston Beauchamp. But all commune members didn’t recognize her and were less than cooperative.
At the same time when Jess attended book fair in Frankfurt as plus one of Michael, she was asked to find wayward young woman, Lissette, daughter of one of the authors at this book fair. Coincidentally, Lisette joined the Children of White Horse cult a year and client asked Jess to join this cult undercover, find Lissette and persuade her to leave the cult.
It was interesting to find out who was the girl that died, why she was murdered, what happened to Lisette, if Jess could find her or not, and what she would discover on joining this cult that rumoured to have secret ceremonial rites that also involved orgy.
Jess was amazing. Her knack to get in trouble was still as great as previous book. Only she would join a cult with so much enthusiasm knowing they engaged in orgy. She was lively, crazy, fun, kind, empathetic, and goodhearted person but oh so reckless and impulsive. Her monologues were entertaining and I was really amazed reading how her mind works. But she was no perfect badass heroine. She too had her flaws and was hiding her vulnerability behind humour and sarcasm. Her ADHD was well presented. I so much laughed when she tried to meditate and admired her for making friends in this dangerous place where everyone might be a suspect. I could see the story becoming dark and serious if Jess didn’t give it light humorous touch.
DI Leo George was interesting. His broody and serious nature made him mysterious. We know him a little more than previous book. His passion for garden and field work of his job was admirable. He still was struggling with his team and Harry who never backed from giving him hard time but we also get to know why his boss put him with Harry, his flaws and a bit more about his family. His growing feelings for Jess was lovely to read. They are now on first name bases. It’s clear there was going to be something between him and Jess and how they both felt different in each other’s company but alas, that romantic department still hasn’t progressed much. Maybe in next book!
Michael, like first book, was side character and fast becoming Jess’ best friend. If you don’t know let me tell you he was well known psychologist and Jess’ ex, had accident and have to use wheel chair. He came at Jess’ rescue often and took care of her. It’s clear he still had feelings for her but Jess now only see him as friend. Corry and her kids were my next favourite. I also liked other secondary characters.
Mystery was perfectly written. Like first book I couldn’t guess a thing or see the twist and turns coming. I thought I knew in just first few chapters who the victim was and who might have killed her but this simple looking case was so complicated and I was wrong about everything I guessed until things were revealed. There were so many big and small thought-provoking things hidden under this light-hearted mystery.
I liked the theme of cult and its belief, what makes leader of cult convince people to follow something or even hand over everything they have, even life, that leader might or not follow themselves and how darker it can get. I would like read that article Michael was thinking to write in this book based on this topic. It made me think a lot around this topic as it happens a lot in India.
Another layer I liked was how everyone cope with their life problem differently, some turn to violence, some like Jess wear the armour of humour to hide their real pain, while some like Leo turn off those emotion and are good at compartmentalising.
Finding biological father who was sperm donor was another topic that made me ponder over why is it so important and why mothers can’t be enough for being bother father and mother or vice versa.
Climax was exciting and adrenaline filled with right amount of tension, action, and surprise. I liked how things unfolded after this point and I was quite shocked at reading why the victim was murdered. I can’t believe the reason culprit gave. Such a waste of life for the matter that could be handled differently and easily. End was great with a little surprise. I can’t wait to start next book.
Overall, White Horse was engaging, entertaining and brilliantly written whodunit crime fiction. If you love murder mysteries with layers, interesting characters, and right balance between dark and humorous, plot and characters, I highly recommend this book. But note that it should be read in order.
Quotes from book
‘They call themselves the Children of the White Horse.’ I pulled a face. ‘I hadn’t realises your daughter’s search for a father had gone quite so bestial’.
Many people would run screaming at the idea of joining a sex cult; for me that sounded like a grand idea.
Show me a rulebook of things not to do and I see it as excellent list of suggestions of hat to try next.
Thank you for reading! Let’s Chat…
- What do you think about the book and my review?
- Have you read this book already or any book by the same author?
- Now I’m stealing this from the book – What’s your cult name? Pick sister or Brother, then the next plant/tree you see around you.
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