Book Review - The Harrogate Crime Series - Malcolm Hollingdrake (Crime, British Detective)

Jon & Caroline | Ink-Stained Hearts
The Harrogate Crime Series by Malcolm HollingdrakePhoto byJon & Caroline | Ink-Stained Hearts


The Harrogate Crime Series offers the perfect mix of police procedural and investigation entwined with the personal lives of all those involved. There are cold-blooded serial killers and colleagues in danger, set against the beautiful town of Harrogate. All written in Malcolm Hollingdrake’s unique, sometimes poetic but always eloquent, writing style we’ve come to love.

The Stories

Each of the thirteen books features Cyril Bennett at the head of his team, including David Owen, plus the pathologist, Dr Julie Pritchett. The reader follows their struggles and feels their indignation at yet another horrific death.

Although the series does not need to be read in order, the experience will be so much better for the reader who starts with book one and follows through. Where Only the Dead (#1) takes us back to the trenches of Flanders’ fields during WWI, Hell’s Gate (#2) covers the harrowing topic of human trafficking. Truly shocking. After reading Flesh Evidence (#3), you might not want to touch honey and Game Point (#4) … we’re not sure you will keep your eyes dry. Dying Art (#5) deals with a murder in the world of art and you will miss out if you start the series with this fifth book, is all we say. In Crossed Out (#6), there’s something with the colour red… but there are also crosses and the presence of a dark and disturbed mind.

The Third Breath (#7) has a thrilling new case and a cold-blooded murderer but also reflects on previous investigations and haunting memories of the past. Treble Clef (#8) involves a murderous game of cat-and-mouse and in Threadbare (#9), you think you know the culprit but oh boy, are you mistaken… twists and turns galore. Are the accidents in Fragments (#10) really accidents or do we have another serial killer on our hands? Uncertainty of Reason (#11) sees Cyril Bennett in a more managerial role, but even if the grey cells are a match, Bennett is no Hercule Poirot; he wants to be involved in the case, the hunt for a violent sociopath on a dark and gruesome path.

Missing persons, a web of uncertainty and confusion, drugs and murder: The Damascene Moment (#12) has it all. In Trapped Secrets (#13), to our delight, we see Cyril Bennett engaged in a murder-mystery evening at Goldsborough Hall. A delightful little discourse, but as any fan of the crime series will know, it’s soon back to reality with missing persons and bodies found.

Our Thoughts

Each book in the series is a delight and draws the reader into the world of dark crimes, tormented killers, and horrific crimes. Each book shows us a bit more of Harrogate, and with Bennett and his team, we walk the streets to the police station, to his favourite pub, to the auction house to purchase paintings and art of his favourite artists. We decide to avoid some of Harrogate’s darkest places, especially after nightfall. Even for those who have never been to Harrogate, it will soon become a town you feel you recognise because Malcolm Hollingdrake has taken you by the hand and showed you the lovely Yorkshire town.

We cannot dive into the supporting characters too much as we want you to explore them and their relations from the beginning, grow with them throughout book one to thirteen. We’re sure you’ll soon start to love them, and feel personally involved with what they are experiencing. Malcolm Hollingdrake delivers with the series, the books. What sets this crime series apart, is that it is never ‘just’ about the crimes and solving them. There is another layer in each book, the cadence of the writing and extensive descriptions that betray the author’s love for art and creativeness. No wonder Cyril Bennett is portrayed as a lover of art, who can immerse himself in the world of Northern painters.

The Harrogate Crime Series: exciting, enticing, engrossing.

About the Author
Malcolm HollingdrakePhoto byGoodreads

You could say that the writing was clearly written on the wall for anyone born in a library that they might aspire to be an author but to get to that point, Malcolm Hollingdrake has travelled a circuitous route. The author worked in education for many years, even teaching for a period in Cairo before he started writing, a challenge he had longed to tackle for more years than he cares to remember.

Born in Bradford and spending three years in Ripon, Malcolm Hollingdrake has never lost his love for his home county, a passion reflected in the settings for all his novels.

Malcolm has enjoyed many hobbies including collecting works by Northern artists; the art auctions offer a degree of excitement when both buying and certainly when selling. It is a hobby he has bestowed on DCI Cyril Bennett, the protagonist of the Harrogate Crime Series.

Malcolm Hollingdrake on Goodreads.

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