The Sinner by Martyn Waites

“A chilling and gripping thriller with characters that make you reflect deeply on humanity”

Genre: Crime thriller


Ex-undercover police officer and now in witness protection, Tom Killgannon is recalled to active service by a local police task force, headed by DS Sheridan. His mission: befriend notorious child killer, Noel Cunningham, and find out where he buried the bodies of his final two victims. However, Tom must obtain that information from inside Blackmoor Prison itself. It isn’t long before Tom runs into danger. Convicted gangster, Dean Foley, is also within Blackmoor Prison. He used to run Manchester’s biggest gang, until Tom’s testimony put him away for life. Upon recognising Tom, a cat-and-mouse game ensues as Tom fights for survival before Foley can get his revenge. But why can’t Tom contact DS Sheridan, and what is the real reason he has been sent to Blackmoor Prison?

Why I love it

This book began with a very gripping opening as you are thrown straight into the action that provides the foundations for the main plot. There is also a good amount of contextual background information in the early chapters that explain how Tom ends up undercover in prison, and how Lila came to live with him. Whilst the latter isn’t fully explained, it nevertheless provided intrigue to find out what had happened to her.

Noel Cunningham is just the kind of unhinged, sick-minded serial killer that makes your stomach turn at the comments he makes and the facial expressions he pulls when in conversation with Tom. There was a huge sense of cat-and-mouse when Tom is in prison and discovers the familiar face of Dean Foley, the man he put inside for life. It was such an apprehensive read when I was introduced to Dean, as I was wondering if he was going to get to Tom first or if Tom would manage to avoid him.

This novel is full of twists and turns that I did not see coming, and that just kept me guessing . I felt that I could not trust anyone, even law enforcement characters, and that made me even more eager to read on. Betrayals occur left, right and centre in this book, and you have to stay on your toes as a reader.

I love the relationship that blossomed between Lila and her college friend, Anju. After everything that Lila has been through, it is lovely to see that something good is finally happening to her. She is clearly damaged by past events, and while her history is hinted at or summarised, it did not disrupt my reading experience of this second Tom Killgannon book. If anything, it has made me want to read the first book!

Tom is also traumatised by past events, and it was very moving witnessing his internal conflict in the final few chapters. He is determined to change and become a different person, particularly after everything that has happened both in this book and the previous one. I could not help but admire him for his resolve.

Overall, The Sinner is a chilling and gripping thriller that will reel you in from the very beginning and keep you guessing until the very last sentence. Characters range across the whole of the morality spectrum, which subsequently makes you reflect deeply on humanity.

Why you should read it

If you love crime thrillers that focus on undercover police work, then this is definitely one to add to your reading list.

Rating: 5/5

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