Michael Wood

For Reasons Unknown

""I expect great things from the dark imagination of Michael Wood." "


Twenty years ago in 1994 a couple were savagely killed in their own home. The only possible witness to these murders was their eleven year-old son, Jonathan who was found sitting at the top of the stairs, his hands covered in their blood. The boy could not give a statement as the shock of the horror was to strike him dumb for eighteen months after the tragedy. With their key witness in a mental shutdown and his elder brother missing for three days, the trail went cold very quickly. These two professionals were pillars of their community – who could ever wish to harm them in such a violent manner?

Twenty years later and after a long leave of absence, DCI Matilda Darke is back at work, but she has to earn her spurs and isn't going to be given her old role of head of M.I.T. (Murder Investigation Team) the moment she steps through the door. Oh no. Matilda finds herself in an office the size of a broom cupboard looking in to a case that is so cold you could freeze a body in it. The reason for re-investigating the case is because the scene of crime is due to be demolished within days. Feeling brittle and lacklustre at her treatment, Matilda goes through the motions. Then a body is found dead in an alley in the city centre and quickly the case goes from freezing cold to boiling hot and Matilda is determined to break the case – but Matilda has her own personal demons to deal with before she can deal with anybody else's…

Purchase the book from Amazon.


I admit now that the very first sentence of Wood's grim beginning pulled me in and gripped me. From there, I simply fell into Wood's story. Part police procedural, part psychological thriller, Wood entices us with a number of false leads and blind alleyways. What I loved here was Wood's characterisation. His main protagonist, DCI Matilda Darke felt fully-formed from the start, but Wood brings fresh meat to her story so that she was three-dimensional by the end. I felt her pain brought on by a spectacular fall from grace which coincided with the death of a loved one. Her life had been turned inside-out as well as upside-down – but you could feel that despite her defeatist attitude, Matilda was a fighter. But this is not only Matilda's story. The investigation is shared with the murder team and we are introduced to some very interesting characters who I am sure are going to take their own place in the spotlight in future books. Where Wood excels is with Jonathan Harkness, the man who was found in the house with his murdered parents. With great empathy, Wood describes the solitary life Jonathan leads. His books are his only solace as he cuts off any emotional ties from the outside world. Jonathan's retreat from the world is brought into sharp focus by Wood's sensitive prose. As with Matilda, Wood holds a mirror at two people who have been affected by tragedy and its aftermath – one recently and one in the past. 'For Reasons Unknown' is a stunningly strong debut. As Wood delves in to the depths of his characters psyche, such was his fine prose, I began to wonder if these people were in fact real, they were all so well-rounded. I read 'For Reasons Unknown' in two sittings, I was that entranced by his story. I am already looking forward to how Matilda Darke copes with her next case. I expect great things from the dark imagination of Michael Wood.

Reviewed By: