Right To Kill
Date Published24 June 2021
Price£ 14.99

Right To Kill

by John Barlow

DS Joe Romano is back in Leeds after an unsuccessful spell in France with Interpol. Now working in Missing Persons, and feeling dulled by life, he is given a case that will test his humanity as well as his detective powers – and his heart.


DS Joe Romano’s very spirit and soul appear to be fading away. A failed spell in France for Interpol seems to have leached something out of him. He is now working back in Leeds on missing person cases that no one else wants to touch.

He is a good copper; an old fashioned one, diligent, humane, not a friend to new technology, and life is wearing him down. He is aware of ‘music, films and places that he would never hear, see or visit, all filed in a self-deleting part of his brain’. Into this weariness comes a case that will try and test him but will also reawaken him.  

A missing person is found dead, and it now seems that someone is killing low-lifers – drug dealers and rapists, people that no one thinks worth remembering, or whose lives had value. Romano seems to be alone in thinking that justice should still be meted out on their behalf, but there are pitifully few clues and he and his team are foxed. A second murder means they are paired with a neighbouring force – a team led by a feisty, energetic female detective. 

Romano becomes a bit too close to someone he is interviewing – photos are taken and put on social media, and he is suddenly embroiled in a backlash of public opinion. It becomes necessary for him to step back and hand over the investigation. He just can’t stop following his nose, though, and bit by bit, step by step, he is getting closer to the answers …

John Barlow writes about Yorkshire as though it is a character, and he brings the county, its pubs and its inhabitants to life. This novel is the start of a new series, and one that should ring true for crime fans. Here is a delicious mix of good and bad, of hate crimes, vigilantes and the English Patriot League. He also, successfully, gives the killer a first-person voice which is a hard trick to pull off in a largely third person story. I look forward to the next instalment.

Reviewed 21 August 2021 by Kerry Hood

Kerry Hood has worked in publishing for many years and lived in London for just as many, but suspects her heart is in the country.