Crossed Out - Malcolm Hollingdrake - 3D Book Cover
Detective, Mystery & Thriller

Crossed Out – Malcolm Hollingdrake

DCI Cyril Bennett and DS David Owen are back for another murder mystery in Crossed Out – there are crosses found and (scarlet) hair – messages to the world but from whom? When the first murdered body is found, the team know they will have their hands full to find the killer!

The Harrogate Crime Series #6


On the book cover of Crossed Out, it says”Red… Dead… Corrected” and, in fact, this is what the sixth thriller in The Harrogate Crime Series is all about. Just that. Need to know more? Let me tell you about the first of April when the first signs of a dark and disturbed mind are presented to us. There is talk of an offering, of a cross and a buried package. Hair to be dyed to scarlet red colour. Then there is Angie Rose sitting on a bench on The Stray, cutting herself. And this is only the beginning of yet another rainy day in Harrogate…


With a growing feeling of suspense, we watch someone meticulously plan to plant wooden crosses. What is the meaning of it? Meanwhile, DS David Owen fills yet another mug of tea for himself and of course, spills it on DCI Cyril Bennett’s desk. Nothing changes, you might think. But you are wrong! Owen is definitely growing in his role as Bennett’s right hand and he appears more confident. Which is good because this case will be hard to crack and Owen will need all his wits about him.

For now, they have to visit a rather unusual scene: a house collapsed into the earth revealing a hidden body, presumably murdered, in the process. The owners are an old couple too shaken to form any coherent sentences let alone be questioned by the police. All that is left for the police, is to secure the building and get in touch with the daughter of the couple. Somehow, that offers rather remarkable and shocking insights into the old couple’s lives.

Another member of Bennett’s team, DC Shakti Misra, discovers, after eighteen months, a possible lead on a since then missing girl, Tracy Phillips. It is a rather mysterious message deliberately left on Montpellier Hill, saying: “She’s not gone anywhere. She’s just stopped walking these streets, a shadow of her former self…” Did concerned citizen Graham Baker do well to bring it in or is it just a hoax? The discovery of another wooden cross, attached to a bag with red hair sets off alarm bells: it is the fourth one and each cross appears to have a number on it.

So many questions for Bennett and his team to answer and to get to the bottom of. A good thing DC April Richmond is seconded to the team because soon she proves her worth. How to link the ostensibly loose events? Are they even connected? To complicate matters a vicious attack takes place. And that at a time, where Bennett receives a message from the past – a past he is reluctant to confront…

My Thoughts

I love Crossed Out! To me, the Harrogate Crime Series just gets better – in Crossed Out, the plot is intricate and you can hardly keep up with all the events happening – are they connected and if so, how? The various plotlines are well-crafted and draw you right in, one of the reasons this excellently written thriller with its beautiful descriptive sentences is captivating and intriguing.

What also becomes clear is how well the team works together – I love the introduction of DC April Richmond, her presence adds to the team’s dynamic, making it complete again. Somehow, this also shows off Owen’s character, he feels more rounded and grown in confidence both personally and as a DS, now in all aspects truly Cyril Bennett’s right hand. In Only the Dead, Owen headed towards this role but somewhere along the way, he seemed a bit insecure – from Game Point on, however, he definitely is the experienced DS able to lead the team, under DCI Bennett, of course!

Seeing Owen spill the tea made me smile and it felt like reconnecting with old friends; their special relationship based on trust, affection and respect is at the heart of the DCI Bennett series and you just feel the love of the author for his protagonists in the way he writes about them. Crossed Out had me stuck to the pages – unable to close the book until I had reached the last page – the various plotlines kept spinning in my head as I tried to make sense of it all and figure out how one would relate to the other.

As it turns out … no, sorry I will not disclose it. One last thing though, I am delighted with the insights this book provides us with – into Cyril Bennett’s background and more… Again, not telling! You will have to read Crossed Out for yourself and I am sure you will love it as much as I do!

Every book in the exciting Harrogate Crime Series comes highly recommended and can be read as a stand-alone. Although for Crossed Out, having read the previous books is not a necessity I still strongly recommend reading them in order because you would miss out on so much! The development of characters, the relationships…

Starting with the first book, Only the Dead, and moving on from there will definitely be worth your while. You are hooked before you know it!

*Watch the Crossed Out trailer on
Caroline Vincent’s YouTube channel*

Books by Malcolm Hollingdrake

Bridging the Gulf

The Harrogate Crime Series:
#1 Only the Dead – my review
#2 Hell’s Gate – my review
#3 Flesh Evidence – my review
#4 Game Point  my review
#5 Dying Art  – my review
#6 Crossed Out
#7 The Third Breath – my review

#8 Treble Clef

About Malcolm Hollingdrake

Malcolm Hollingdrake Author Image

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. Malcolm Hollingdrake has written a number of successful short stories and has six books now available, as well as Only the Dead and Hell’s Gate in Audiobook format. Presently, he is concentrating on a series of crime novels set in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

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 DCI Bennett series, set in and around Harrogate.

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