February 28, 2021

A Wash of Black – Chris McDonald

Anna Symons. Famous. Talented. Dead.

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, having only recently returned to work after suffering a near-fatal attack herself, finds she must once again prove her worth as the hunt for the media-dubbed ‘Blood Ice Killer’ intensifies.

But when another body is found and, this time, the killer issues a personal threat, Erika must do more than put aside her demons to crack the case, or suffer the deadly consequences.

Online Blanket Fort Review

With thanks to Red Dog Press for asking me to be a part of their Blog Tour and also for sending me a copy of the book to review. If you have never heard of or dealt with Red Dog then I urge you to keep reading to the end of this post where there is a chance to win a copy of this book. Or just go to their web shop and buy something, if only for the wrapping and presentation of the book that will drop through your letterbox – beauty for books!

The blurb issued with this book states: “If you like Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Cara Hunter, you will love this.” and it’s quite true. I adore Ian Rankin and thoroughly enjoyed Chris McDonald’s novel ‘A Wash of Black’.

The story is the first in the DI Ericka Piper series. When I realised it was the first of a series of police procedurals I must admit my first thought was WHAT – ANOTHER SERIES?

I was expecting the usual stock fictional police officer:

  • drink problem
  • problems in their personal life
  • abrasive
  • rude
  • not exactly a people person


DI Piper is actually, dare I say it, fairly normal and LIKABLE! Yes, she has the troubling back story that you would expect (a near fatal stabbing) and, as this is the first in a series there is a lot of scene setting and character building to get through. That aside Ericka is normal, human and perfectly pleasant, if anything she is perhaps a bit too nice. It takes until page 223 for her to finally lose her temper! How refreshing, how did she become a DI? All other police crime novels I’ve read with a female lead have had complete ball-breakers battling to get to where they are? Who knows? Who cares? I like DI Ericka Piper. I like her a lot.

A Wash of Black opens with the particularly gruesome murder of actress Anna Symons. She is found dead on a local ice rink and it appears that she has been murdered to the exact script of a scene from her movie ‘Blood Ice’. The description of her murder is graphic, very graphic. So graphic it put me in mind of Tess Gerritsen’s style of writing. Everything and nothing is left to your imagination. Chris knows how to paint a picture using only words and it would seem he’s a bit of a fan of some good old fashioned slasher gore. The descriptions of the murders don’t get any tamer as the story goes on, if anything he ramps it up as the novel continues1.

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!

1 There is a really graphic hanging scene that I found particularly difficult to read.

Buy Links

I’m giving you no other link to buy this book other than from Red Dog Press. Why? Simply because when you buy a book from them you are supporting not only the author but also an independent publisher. AND the packaging for their books is nothing short of BEAUTIFUL! So here it is: www.reddogpress.co.uk/shop

Or if you fancy your chances, you could enter the GIVEAWAY!

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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 Red Dog Press will announce the randomly chosen winner on the evening of the 11th Feb (GMT)

Enter here! Good luck!

Author Bio

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.


Publisher @RedDogTweets
Author @cmacwritescrime


Publisher @red_dog_press


Publisher Red Dog

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