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Book Review: ‘Hold Your Tongue’ by Deborah Masson (DI Eve Hunter #1)

Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! Today I’m posting my review of Deborah Masson’s debut crime novel, ‘Hold Your Tongue’! I really enjoyed this book, and can’t wait for the rest of the series. Keep reading to discover my thoughts…




In the run up to Christmas, a serial killer stalks the streets of Aberdeen . . .

A brutal murder.
A young woman’s body is discovered with horrifying injuries, a recent newspaper cutting pinned to her clothing.
A detective with everything to prove.
This is her only chance to redeem herself.
A serial killer with nothing to lose.
He’s waited years, and his reign of terror has only just begun . . .

** TRIGGER WARNING ** Features explicit scenes detailing gruesome murders and physical injuries. Details a horrific car crash and subsequent life-changing injuries. Explores the theme of trauma, specifically PTSD, anxiety and issues surrounding guilt. Makes reference to substance abuse, specifically drug use and alcoholism. 


‘Hold Your Tongue’ is Deborah Masson’s debut novel, and is the first book in the DI Eve Hunter series. Masson was born and bred in Aberdeen, Scotland. She has worked in several jobs including secretarial, marketing, reporting for the city’s freebie newspaper and a stint as a postie, to name but a few. She completed online writing courses with Professional Writing Academy and Faber Academy, before going on to publish her debut.

The novel has received rave reviews from fellow authors such as David Jackson: “A cracking police procedural with enough gruesome deaths to satisfy even the darkest appetite”, Emma Curtis: “Deborah Masson’s debut is terrifying, edge-of-your-seat stuff”, Lisa Hall: “With complex, layered characters and a tension-fuelled plot, this is one of my favourite debuts of the year” and Lauren North: “Gritty, gruesome and NOT to be missed!!”

‘Hold Your Tongue’ follows DI Eve Hunter (who has just returned to work after a 6-month absence) and team, as they are faced with a series of gruesome murders. The murders are barbaric and truly evil – will the team stop him, before it’s too late?

The narrative is told from the third-person, focusing mostly on DI Eve Hunter but also on her colleagues, as they attempt to solve the murders. The narrator is omniscient and all-knowing, and the reader is given a distanced, balanced narration. The story is told in the present tense, giving a sense of immediacy to the action. There are also some sections written in the past which detail the murderer’s actions. The narrative is easy to follow, yet still very effective.

My favourite character in the novel is DI Eve Hunter. She has recently returned to work after a six-month period of absence, due to a horrific car crash in which she was involved; causing both physical and psychological injuries. She is an extremely hard-working, dedicated detective, and will stop at nothing to catch this evil killer. However, her sense of judgement is not always particularly good, and she often makes rash decisions and mistakes. In my opinion, this makes her an extremely realistic character – she certainly has her imperfections. Hunter is a very well-written, three-dimensional character.

DC Jo Mearns is the new detective at the station, and immediately develops a rivalry of sorts with Hunter. Mearns is jealous of Hunter, and cannot understand why everybody likes and respects her so much. She forms an immediate opinion of Hunter from the start, and finds it very difficult to shake this. However, as they start to spend more time together, it appears that Mearns and Hunter have more in common than they first thought. They must learn to put their differences aside and work together in order to catch the killer. I enjoyed reading about Mearns and Hunter’s relationship, and the ways in which this evolved throughout the course of the novel.

DS Nicola Sanders was Hunter’s previous partner, and was also involved in the car accident. Sanders is left paralysed after the accident, and spends her days in a hospital/rehabilitation centre. She blames Hunter for the accident for a long time, and understandably hates her life now that she is bed-bound. Sanders is angry and bitter, and is extremely cold towards Hunter. However, Sanders’ character progresses and grows throughout the novel, and she slowly learns to deal with her life-changing injuries. Sanders is another well-written character.

Other characters in the novel include: DC Scott Ferguson, DS Mark Cooper and other fellow detectives, the murder victims and their families, possible suspects, and various other members of the police/medical teams. The cast is reasonably-sized, but all characters bring something fresh and exciting to the novel.

** TRIGGER WARNING ** (I apologise for any spoilers here.) This novel features explicit descriptions of brutal murders and gruesome physical injuries. The murders are explored in great detail, with no stone left unturned. The novel also details a horrific car crash and subsequent life-changing injuries, including both mental and physical injuries (paralysis). The theme of trauma and mental illness is explored in great detail, specifically PTSD, anxiety and issues surrounding guilt. Finally, the novel also makes reference to substance abuse, specifically drug use and alcoholism. These issues are all explored with appropriate sensitivity – but if you feel that any of these may trigger a negative response, I suggest you skip this book.

As the narrative motors onwards, the serial killer commits more and more murders. The detectives must all work together, around the clock, in order to successfully catch the killer. But is their investigation leading them down the right path? Will they catch the killer before its too late?

So, let’s talk about the ending! There’s a dramatic end scene, jam-packed full of action and suspense. Both sides finally come face-to-face, and they must fight for survival. The end scene is extremely tense – I physically couldn’t tear my eyes away from the page! The events of the novel are finally resolved, and there is a sense of closure. I was really satisfied with the way in which the novel ended.

Overall, I highly recommend this novel to those of you who enjoy crime fiction, particularly if you like gory murders and serial killers. I really enjoyed this book and felt that it was excellently written, and I especially loved the characterisation of the protagonist, DI Eve Hunter. Personally, the novel was a bit too gory and graphic for my liking, and I did feel quite uncomfortable reading some scenes. However, if you have a strong stomach, this book is for you! I will definitely be reading the next book in the series.








Happy reading 🙂

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