Blog Tour Review The First Cut by Val Penny


I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for author Val Penny’s novel The First Cut published by Spellbound Books on 6 March. This is the first book in a new police procedural and thriller series featuring the compelling DS Jane Renwick as the central character in a colourful and diverse cast.  

Val Penny made her name with the best-selling Edinburgh crime series featuring DI Hunter Wilson (Hunter’s Chase, Hunter’s Force and other titles). Sometimes a successful, long running series comes to the end of its natural life or needs freshening up. The author has hit on a clever way to do this. Instead of introducing a brand new investigator/protagonist she has plucked out, DS Jane Renwick, who featured as a member of Hunter’s investigating team in the earlier series and brought her to central stage. Giving a member of the supporting cast a lead role strikes me as a clever move for several reasons. It injects new life and dynamism into the world of Edinburgh crime and encourages the audience of readers, who are already invested in the old Hunter series, to hop on board this new one.

The First Cut opens with a vicious killer on the loose and victims include an academic and members of Edinburgh's high society. Enter DS Jane Renwick. But there's a catch - early in the story Jane is banished to the sidelines and forced to look on impotently as the hunt for the killer ramps up. This is because the Murder Investigation Team believe the killer could be close to home. We’ve had hints in earlier books that Jane Renwick had a troubled childhood. In this novel we learn more. Has someone from Jane's estranged birth family returned to haunt her? Could one of her relatives be involved? Where will the killer strike next?

Of course, feisty DS Renwick isn't about to accept being stood down from the investigation. She keeps calm and carries on, covertly, with a little help from her friends inside and outside the force. Until she finds herself in life-threatening danger.

Val Penny sets up Jane’s character and tackles her family back story sensitively in a way that promises she will be interesting to watch as she grows and develops. She has that fascinating mix of complex psychology, toughness and vulnerability that will make her interesting enough to sustain a series Readers will look forward to seeing her fleshed out as the series continues. Jane is in a long term relationship with her female partner, Rachael, also a detective, and although they have some different interests and points of view, their partnership comes across as loving and genuine. Val Penny’s characters come from diverse backgrounds, ethnicities and sexual orientations and blend seamlessly into their roles in the story, reflecting modern metropolitan Scotland. All the major characters in The First Cut, police officers, victims and criminals, have a human dimension. They break rules, make mistakes and bad choices. None are wholly good or totally evil.

This is a pacey read and draws you into the world of Edinburgh crime while shining a light on the society and culture of the city. I read it in a few days. When I had to leave it for any reason, I was always happy to get back to it.

Buy The First Cut at this link:

Read Val's biography here:

Penny has an Llb degree from the University of Edinburgh and her MSc from Napier

University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, banker, azalea farmer and

lecturer but has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or

owning a candy store.

Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories,

nonfiction books, and novels. Her novels are published by SpellBound Books Ltd.

Val is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is

justly proud and lives with her husband and their cat.

Follow Val on social media here:

View my book on Amazon

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