A Room Full of Killers - Michael Woods

Genre: Thriller
Synopsis: Eight killers. One house. And the almost perfect murder… Feared by the people of Sheffield, Starling House is home to some of Britain’s deadliest teenagers, still too young for prison. Now the building’s latest arrival, Ryan Asher, has been found brutally murdered – stabbed twelve times, left in a pool of blood. When DCI Matilda Darke and her team investigate, they uncover the secrets of a house tainted by evil. Kate Moloney, the prison’s manager, is falling apart, the security system has been sabotaged, and neither the staff nor the inmates can be trusted. There’s only one person Matilda believes is innocent, and he’s facing prison for the rest of his life. With time running out, she must solve the unsolvable to save a young man from his fate. And find a murderer in a house full of killers…


Review: Having loved the two previous installments in this series, I couldn't wait to start what was the most excitingly-premised one yet. I've read a good few other thrillers between the second Matilda Darke book and this one, and it was nice to come back to familiar characters I know and love.

Everything I loved about the previous two books holds up in this one, except, unfortunately, the plot development. It might be because I had just finished reading a long, fairly graphic book, but I felt like A Room Full of Killers was undeveloped and very glossed over. Each of the boys in Starling House is a murderer, and the back story of each book is revealed in a single short chapter per boy. This told me what crime they committed, but I still felt I had no real insight into the boys. As I progressed through the novel I honestly couldn't even tell them apart, apart from Lee, whose effeminate look and disposition was noted on several occasions. I felt the same about the house and its employees - they all, house included, had the potential to be interesting characters, but most of them were hardly mentioned. When the big reveal happened towards the end of the book, naming a character previously mentioned, I literally went, 'who?' That's how little of an impression was left by them.

That said, the premise was fantastic. I loved the idea of the house, the boys, the additional subplot of a potentially innocent boy in Starling House, and the whodunnit twist. It was original, quite gritty in parts, and kept me guessing the whole way through. So it was a genuinely enjoyable book, and I probably sound far more harsh about it than I intend to be - if I do, it's only because I hold Michael Woods to a high standard. Good book, which could have been great with a little more depth.

Rating: 3/5

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