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Detective Matt Ballard Books In Order

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Publication Order of Detective Matt Ballard Books

Beware the Past (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon
Five Bloody Hearts (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Dying Light (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon
Marshlight (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon
Trick of the Night (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Bag of Secrets (2023)Description / Buy at Amazon

DCI Matt Ballard is the main character in a crime thriller book series by Joy Ellis.

In the first book in the series, we meet Detective Matt Ballard, still haunted by a triple homicide case from many years ago. Three 11-year-old boys were found brutally murdered, and the main suspect, in this case, died before he could be confirmed guilty this left Matt wondering whether the man who died was indeed the killer or not. If not, it meant that the sadistic killer was still roaming in the streets, and like most serial killers, they were bound to strike again. Matt promised one of his colleagues that he would never relent until the case was resolved. With his retirement just around the corner, Matt plans to solve the case before he’s sent home finally.

When photographs start coming, it raises questions and doubts about whether the killer from the 1990s is dead or out there. More photos are coming in, and someone out there is determined to mess with our detective’s head. With the detective’s entire team in danger and everyone scattering around in circles, the race against time is on to piece the pieces of the puzzle before someone gets hurt or ends up dead.

Detective Matt has lost everyone he ever loved, making him build a barricade around his heart. But someone is determined to bring down the wall he’s created, and it seems the person sending the photos is collecting ammo to strike when the detective’s most vulnerable.

The novel kicks off at a propulsive mode, adrenaline-pumping pace, with the pace picking up fast as the story progresses.

Beware the Past is a fascinating and one of the best psychological thrillers as the author gives the reader a glimpse into the mind of the insane. Joy Ellis has woven something that most writers find impossible to accomplish. As the reader, she allows you to develop a vivid insight into the mind of the characters as you journey through lots of highs and lows, twists and turns, wondering whether there will be an ending and when you finally reach the end, it’s certainly not what you expected.

Ellis also does a fantastic job in the setting itself. Rural Fenland is a strange land itself. It is a place with never-ending winding tracks, fields, and long straight drives that lead to nowhere. The lonely lanes in Fenland are flanked on the sides by deep drainage ditches and, most of the year, are filled with tall reeds. Nearer to Wash is a high sea bank that forms a barrier between the marsh and the river with rich fertile soils of the eroded land. But when the mist finally comes down, all the perspective is destroyed, the sense of direction ruined, and the fens transform it into a frightening place of mystery and danger, making it a place you’d not want to be at night.

Five Bloody Hearts

Five Blood Hearts is the second book in the Detective Matt Ballard series and a sequel to Beware the Past. The first book leaves detective Matt emotionally and physically shattered, and one of his team members with life-threatening injuries and someone so close to him dead.

Detective Matt’s retirement day has been pushed forward since his replacement is involved in legal proceedings. A cold case from the past comes to haunt him just when he is supervising and wrapping things up. Slowly and painfully, Jeremy Reader murdered five women, and the detective was the one who apprehended him.

He is serving a life sentence in jail, but he appears to have changed his way, but Matt does not buy it, but everybody else does. Matt, no longer able to rely on his gut sense, conforms to the prevailing opinion that he is a rehabilitated character. The reader is set to marry jail visitor Grace. Why would Grace, who looks to be a well-adjusted lady, choose to marry a dirtbag?

Matt is immediately forced into a nightmare when Grace comes to the police station with reports of a copycat. The body count continues to increase even with the assistance of psychiatrists Laura and Sam, Matt and his colleagues trying to discover a lead.

Bryn takes the lead role in this story as he’s left pretty much alone to investigate the killing of migrant workers with only a single tattoo to link them. In his investigations, he’s helped by Swifty, an officer and also a new supporting character in the story.

Five Bloody Hearts is a fast-paced story with plenty of twists and turns as you follow the team of detectives down different dead ends until towards the end when they finally get some leads. These clues eventually lead the team in a direction that no one expected and once again, Detective Matt finds his past demons coming back to life to haunt him, threatening his life and the lives of those he cares for the most.

The characters in the story are complex and realistic, and you’ll appreciate Elli’s inclusion of psychological conditions that most of us are unaware of. It’s also a great story that allows the reader to get a glimpse of the culture and the lives of the migrant community and their ability to survive and continually live under challenging circumstances.

DCI Matt is an interesting protagonist. It’s uncommon to see a detective longing and planning for his retirement. But that doesn’t mean he’s coasting through his last days in the office; on the contrary, he dedicates most of his days to trying to solve murder cases.

Joy Ellis included many elements in the story and cleverly crosses genres. She creates a realistic glimpse into the frustrations of detectives working on a case. The author develops a frenzied vibe within the pages that draws the readers in so they can experience the pressures and frustrations the detectives undergo. The author also adds a psychological element to the story. She delves into the mind of Jeremy Reader and the prison visitor Grace, allowing us to see the story from different perspectives.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Detective Matt Ballard

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