Wednesday 18 September 2019

Book Review: Sycamore Gap by L.J. Ross

Last Updated: 20 September 2021

Sycamore Gap by L.J. Ross book cover

Detective Chief Inspector Ryan believes he has put his turbulent history behind him. Then, in the early hours of the summer solstice, the skeleton of a young woman is found inside the Roman Wall at Sycamore Gap. She has lain undiscovered for ten years and it is Ryan's job to piece together her past. 

Enquiry lines cross and merge as Ryan is forced to face his own demons and enter into a deadly game of cat and mouse with a killer who seems unstoppable.

Murder and mystery are peppered with a sprinkling of romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunnit set amidst the spectacular scenery of Hadrian's Wall country in Northumberland.

Sycamore Gap is the second novel in the DCI Ryan Mysteries series by bestselling author L.J. Ross. To read my review of Holy Island, the first book in the series, click here.

Carrying on from where the events of Holy Island left off, Sycamore Gap jumps straight into the action and sets the tone for a fast-paced, exhilarating read. As a side note, if you haven't read this series and are considering doing so, I would definitely recommend starting with Holy Island as there is an overarching plot arc and plenty of references that would mean little without the prior knowledge of the events of Holy Island.

Back to Sycamore Gap, and as the plot thickens, more characters and lines of enquiry get thrown into the mix. This makes for a tangled web of people, events, and deaths - all of which are connected, but DCI Ryan and his team must find out exactly how they are connected. It another author's hands it could be confusing, but L.J. Ross expertly weaves the plot into a strong, engaging story.

In this book, we delve a little deeper into Ryan's backstory, learning more about the demons that haunt him and why he acts the way he does. However, as his past is uncovered and laid bare, events from the future seem to mirror those of the past, creating a disconcerting feeling that history is going to repeat itself.

Once again, the story features a strong sense of place and is based around a significant real-life historical location which also proves to be integral to the story. In the first book, this was Holy Island - here, Sycamore Gap along the infamous Hadrian's Wall is the star of the story.

Ross blends fact with fiction to create intriguing mysteries that are laced with a liberal dose of real-world history, creating a bespoke combination that seems to be characteristic of her writing style. In my opinion, the settings really are the icing on the cake for this series.

The DCI Ryan Mysteries have me gripped and I've already downloaded Heavenfield, book three, to start reading. I can't believe it's taken me this long to discover this series!

Rating: 4 stars

Sycamore Gap is available to buy now.

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Have you read any of the DCI Ryan Mysteries? Let me know in the comments below!


  1. I haven't read stories from this author before but this sounds like my kind of book! Thanks for sharing with #readwithme

    1. This series is incredible - I definitely recommend it!

  2. This sounds just my sort of book! I haven't read any of the series, so I need to look out for the first book. Thank you!

    1. I'd definitely recommend giving it a go! I'm a massive fan of this series x

  3. Sounds like a good read. I love a good book series.

  4. This sounds like a book I would love. One for my TBR list #readwithme