#BookReview: DOG ROSE DIRT by Jen Williams @sennydreadful @HarperFiction

Publication: 22nd July 2021 – HarperCollins

What if your mother had been writing to a serial killer?

A convicted murderer with a story to tell
Serial killer Michael Reave – known as The Red Wolf – has been locked in Belmarsh Prison for over 20 years for the brutal and ritualistic murders of countless women.
A grieving daughter with a secret to unearth
Ex-journalist Heather Evans returns to her childhood home after her mother’s inexplicable suicide and discovers something chilling – hundreds of letters between her mother and Reave, dating back decades.
A hunt for a killer ready to strike again

When the body of a woman is found decorated with flowers, just like his victims, Reave is the only person alive who could help. After years of silence, he will speak to Heather, and only Heather.

If she wants to unearth the truth and stop further bloodshed, she’ll have to confront a monster.




I read many, many crime/thriller novels (maybe too many) and I mostly enjoy them all, but there are a few that completely capture my attention and that I keep thinking about it, even after I finish reading them, and Dog Rose Dirt is one of them. I read it in one day, absorbed in the story of a dangerous serial killer and the young woman trying to figure the truth about her mother.

Heather is a journalist whose relationship with her mother can be described as difficult and sporadic so she is taken completely by surprise by her mother’s suicide and the confusing note she’s left behind. And she’s even more shocked when she finds out that her mother has been corresponding for years with the notorious serial killer, Red Wolf, who’s been in prison since the 1990s for the gruesome murders of many women. Now, there is a new killer on the loose, committing the same exact murders as the Red Wolf and, as more women keep disappearing, Heather could help the police stop him, since the Red Wolf will talk only to her and shed some truth about her mother’s past.

The story is very well-written and the plot is intriguing and twisty, but what I liked most about the story is the protagonist, Heather, because while the murders and the search for the serial killer is central to the story and narrated in such a suspenseful and chilling way that made me check that the doors were locked at night, Heather’s relationship with her mother is as much as important and interesting. Heather is a flawed, troubled, and complex protagonist. She is one of these heroines who won’t stop until she finds out the truth and that make you scream at the pages while you’re reading – “WHY are you entering an abandoned and dark house in the middle of the night all by yourself?”. After her mother’s death she starts digging into her life, slowly discovering a past, secrets, and lies that make her realize that she didn’t know her at all, while we also get glimpses of their complicated relationship.

Would I recommend Dog Rose Dirt? YES, of course!!! It is dark, chilling, intense and I couldn’t put it down until the very last page.

A huge thank you to HarperCollins and NetGalley for providing me with a proof of the novel.


Jen Williams lives in London with her partner and their small ridiculous cat. Having been a fan of grisly fairy tales from a young age, these days Jen writes dark unsettling thrillers with strong female leads, as well as character-driven fantasy novels with plenty of adventure and magic. She has twice won the British Fantasy Award for her Winnowing Flame trilogy, and when she’s not writing books she works as a bookseller and a freelance copywriter.

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