Review: Dark Truths by A.J. Cross

Title: Dark Truths by A.J. Cross
Will Traynor Series Book One
Publisher: Severn House Publishers
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 240 pages
Book Rating: C+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Introducing criminologist Will Traynor in the first of a gripping new forensic mystery series from an expert in the field.

When a headless body is discovered on a popular jogging trail, Detective Inspector Bernard Watts and his team are plunged headlong into a baffling murder investigation. Why would someone stab to death a young woman on her daily run – and take her head?

When a close examination of the crime scene results in a shocking discovery linking the present murder to a past crime, criminologist Will Traynor is brought in to assist the police. Aware of Traynor’s troubled past and already having to deal with inexperienced rookie PC Chloe Judd on his team, Watts is sceptical that Traynor will bring anything useful to the investigation.

He’s about to be proved very wrong …


The first installment in the Will Traynor series, Dark Truths by A.J. Cross is an intriguing mystery.

With the Unsolved Crimes Unit now disbanded, Detective Inspector Bernard Watts (from the Kate Hanson series) is now the senior investigating officer on the Zoe Roberts murder. He is reluctantly working with young and inexperienced Police Constable Chloe Judd and troubled criminologist Dr. Will Traynor.  The search for Zoe’s killer leads to unexpected and rather gruesome discoveries that suggest the trio is hunting a serial killer. With Will distracted by his wife Claire’s long unsolved disappearance and possible murder,  Chloe jumping to conclusions and making poor decisions in the field, Bernard is frustrated by their lack of progress. With a deadline to solve the murder fast approaching, will Watts and his team find evidence that will lead them to the killer(s)?

DI Watts is gruff and grumpy as he and PC Judd begin their investigation into Zoe’s horrific murder. With scant clues at the scene, they turn to her family in hopes of finding her killer. Her parents are grief-stricken but a lot of their attention is focused on protecting their business in the wake of their daughter’s murder. Her brother Alec is upfront about their troubled childhood, but he is quick to assert they have moved past their issues.  Zoe and her husband are separated but is he their killer?

Judd is quite young and she has strong opinions despite her lack of experience. She is impatient and judgmental and she does not hesitate to offer her theories on the murders. Although Watts is a bit impatient with her, he recognizes Chloe’s potential  and tries to steer her into looking at the evidence they have unearthed.

Will is distracted throughout the investigation after he becomes certain that his wife’s disappearance is connected to their current case. He does offer some important insight but Watts soon grows irritated with Will’s inability to focus on Zoe’s murder and their shocking discoveries at her crime scene.  Will is convinced there is a connection between Zoe’s murder and their other findings but will he, Watts and Judd find the thread that links them together before it is too late?

Dark Truths is a clever mystery but the pacing is a little slow. Watts is a seasoned investigator but he is having trouble adjusting to his newest assignment. Will is quite intelligent and intuitive but his obsession about his tragic loss is a definite hindrance.  Judd is a likable young woman but she is a bit obnoxious due to her lack of experience and immaturity.  A.J. Cross brings the novel to an action-packed but slightly lackluster conclusion. The Will Traynor series is off to a slightly rocky start but it will be interesting to watch Watts, Judd and Traynor settle into a more cohesive unit.

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Filed under AJ Cross, Contemporary, Dark Truths, Mystery, Rated C+, Review, Severn House Publishers, Suspense, Will Traynor Series

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