To The Lions: Holly Watt takes no prisoners in Dagger winner

Former journalist Holly Watt’s hard-hitting thriller To The Lions, is the first in her Casey Benedict series and winner of the 2019 CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger. Read on for our full review.

To The Lions by Holly Watt, Book CoverTo The Lions Synopsis

Time, Sunday Times, Telegraph & Guardian Book of the Year

Shortlisted for the 2019 Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize

‘A dark trail of murder, political corruption and lies’ — i

A journalist must follow the clues, no matter how far that takes her.

Casey Benedict, star reporter at the Post, has infiltrated the lives and exposed the lies of countless politicians and power players. Using her network of contacts, Casey is always on the search for the next big story, no matter how much danger this might place her in, no matter what cost emotionally.

Tipped off by an overheard conversation at an exclusive London nightclub, she begins to investigate the apparent suicide of a wealthy young British man, whose death has left his fiancée and family devastated.

Casey’s determined hunt for the truth will take her from the glitz of St-Tropez to the deserts of Libya and on to the very darkest corners of the human mind.

‘Sensational! I loved it. Superbly plotted, and what a brilliant series lead!’ — Clare Mackintosh

(RavenBooks, Bloomsbury – April 2020)

Genre: Thriller, Crime, Action-Adventure, Mystery

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Straight-up, this book’s subject matter is not for the faint of heart; author Holly Watt’s journalistic background and field experience, only adding to the weightiness and believability of this fiction. Stylistically though, I found it refreshing reading.

To The Lion‘s 400+ page staccato, rapid-fire prose is no-nonsense, just like undercover investigators Casey, trailblazer Miranda and their Post newsroom peers.

It’s total madness, Casey. We don’t know where, or when, or who. The basic questions. We don’t know what the rules are. And we’re dealing with people who appear supremely unfussed about killing. It’s close to suicide.

The punchy chapters are comprised of brief vignettes, advancing the investigation and the reader’s understanding of what both motivates and haunts Watt’s enigmatic lead. Casey’s been working undercover so long she finds it easier to be fake than real. Her assumed personas, and feminine charms, her armour everywhere from war zones to fine dining establishments. But what drives her to take the risks she does to expose to the truth is evidently deeply personal, and always lurking in the shadows.

The sheer pace of To The Lions holds readers hostage, and in respect to the criminal depravity, Watt’s certainly takes no prisoners. Still ticking over the final reveal, a matter of timing niggles at me though. However, given the pace I devoured this novel, it is quite possible I missed a breadcrumb or two, so nuanced and at times oblique was their placement.

The Dead Line - Holly WattNot hard to see why this made the UK best-of lists. Holly Watt’s To The Lions is a mentally engaging, high-octane adventure thriller.

The Dead Line the second title in this Casey Benedict series, is now available also. I look forward to reading it.

BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5

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Related Reads:
The Doctor of Aleppo by Dan Mayland  /  Just by Jenny Morton Potts  /  A Reluctant Warrior by Kelly Brooke Nicholls  /  The American by Nadia Dalbuono  /   The Twentieth Man by Tony Jones

About the Author, Holly Watt

As an investigative journalist, Holly Watt worked on MPs Expenses and the Panama Papers. She has written for the Sunday Times, the Telegraph and the Guardian. She lives in London. Connect with her on Twitter.

* My receiving a copy of To The Lions from the publisher for review purposes did not impact the expression of my honest opinions.