#Review: The Redeemer: A Shanna Regan murder mystery by Victoria Goldman @VictoriaGoldma2 #newrelease #crimefiction #mystery #thrillerbooks #TheRedeemer

By | July 26, 2022

It’s a particular pleasure today to step outside my comfort zone a little (something I rather enjoy every now and then…!) and share my review of The Redeemer: A Shanna Regan murder mystery, the debut novel from Victoria Goldman. Independently published – on her own imprint of Three Crowns Publishing UK – on 12th July, it’s now available for kindle (free via Kindle Unlimited) and in paperback (and if you prefer to buy your paperbacks somewhere other than Amazon, you can also purchase via Waterstones or Hive). The e-copy I read was my own, purchased (and pre-ordered) via Amazon.

Way back in the mists of time, I can remember the first time I met Vicki – we were both fairly new bloggers, chatting on line, and arranged to attend a book launch at Daunt Books together (it was for Laura Barnett’s The Versions of Us, so that fixes it as 2015!). But while I’ve always been more than happy to review books written by others, she’s always shown a real passion for writing her own – and with considerable energy, hard work, and sheer tenacity, I couldn’t be more delighted that her first book (and there will be many more, I hope) can now be read and enjoyed by others. I do understand if people might question how impartial I can be when an author is a friend (although I must add that I haven’t seen her in years – we even missed each other at Harrogate at the weekend!). I think it actually makes me more cautious in wording my review, trying to curb my natural enthusiasm – but I’ll admit that might really be rather difficult with this one, because I thought it was quite stunning…



Threatening plaques, vigilante killings, a Jewish community in an English town – what’s the link? The clock is ticking to the next murder.


After witnessing a racist incident in a small Hertfordshire town, journalist Shanna Regan uncovers a series of threatening fake commemorative plaques. Each plaque highlights someone’s misdemeanour rather than a good deed.


Delving deeper, Shanna discovers these plaques are linked to vigilante killings spanning several decades, with ties to the local Jewish community.


As her search for the truth becomes personal, Shanna puts her own life in danger. Can she stop the next murder in time?


The Redeemer is a compelling, thought-provoking murder mystery debut, featuring themes of prejudice and racism, identity and heritage, revenge and redemption, and secrets from the past.

There’s a real freshness and originality about this book, its story exceptionally well told, and with so many different elements that had me engaged from the very beginning. The central character is Shanna Regan, and hers is the voice of the story, with everything that happens seen through her eyes. She engaged me from the very beginning – a bit of an outsider and something of a loner, a mixture of feistiness and vulnerability, hints of an intriguing back story behind her presence in the Hertfordshire village working as a journalist at Hillsbury Living. Pursuing a story about the blue plaques around the village – infinitely preferable to the one she was originally assigned – she stumbles across plaques of a very different kind, and her pursuit of the intriguing stories behind them leads her into considerable danger and deeply into a world of hatred and revenge lurking beneath the village’s calm surface.

The story has an explosive start – a vicious racist attack on a woman walking in the park by a gang of young thugs, when Shanna’s intervention brings her into contact with Hillsbury’s Jewish community, learning more about the extreme prejudice they constantly live with. She’s pointed towards the first of those unofficial plaques, and the story behind it – and its one that no investigative reporter could walk away from. But then the plaques begin to multiply, and with them the lines of investigation – slowly entangling and complicating – while the threads of Shanna’s past are slowly unwound at the same time.

There was so much I enjoyed about both the story and the way it was told – and I was every bit as engaged by Shanna’s own story as I was by the mystery that unfolded and her attempts to uncover the identity of the vigilante behind the plaques and the subsequent acts of revenge. The pacing is quite perfect – it’s a wonderfully constructed story where you really wanted to be a step ahead of Shanna and her investigations, only to find the conclusions you’d reached snatched away with the finger of suspicion pointing in an entirely different direction. And her own story had the same elements of misdirection and surprise too – and I really liked those contrary themes of alienation and belonging that the author developed so well.

The characterisation throughout really is top-notch – every individual who crosses Shanna’s path is exceptionally well-developed and adds depth to the story. And she does a wonderful job of the story’s setting – the community of Hillsbury is vividly brought to life on the page as Shanna walks its streets, the synagogue facing the church on the opposite corner, the terraced houses and the more opulent mansions, the cultural melting pot behind their doors. I particularly liked the focus on the Jewish community – generally under-represented in fiction, it was good to learn more about their closeness (a village within a village…) and about the very real issues that complicate their lives. The racism is difficult to read about – but the important messages are never laboured, just recounted with a poignant authenticity that touches your heart.

And I really haven’t conveyed yet the edge-of-the-seat experience this book delivers – the tension steadily builds throughout as the climax approaches, and when it does you find that you were looking in an entirely different direction. The plotting is very cleverly done – there were a few real surprises, both part of Shanna’s investigations and around her own story, all meticulously constructed and teasingly uncovered. But perhaps the thing I liked most was the sense of complete engagement – I read this book in a single glorious sitting, firmly at Shanna’s side, unable to put it down until I knew her whole personal story and her investigations had played out to their dramatic end.

I read very few crime thrillers – but if every one was this good I’d do so rather more often. The highly original storyline, the well-handled contemporary and cultural issues, the compelling human stories and the intense grip of the story as it unfolded combined to make this a debut I’d thoroughly recommend to all – quite excellent. I understand this isn’t the last we’ll be seeing of Shanna Regan – and I’ll be looking forward to whatever her future brings.



‘Victoria Goldman has crafted a tense, twisty crime thriller that will hook readers and intrigue them with an authentic portrayal of a community that’s been underrepresented in British fiction. Highly recommended.’ Adam Hamdy


‘An enjoyable and intriguing mystery set against the backdrop of a fascinating community – if you’re looking for something different in crime fiction, this is well worth your time. Highly recommended!’ Susi Holliday


‘Gripping, timely and original’ Louise Beech


‘A fast-paced, refreshingly different and ultimately satisfying murder mystery, featuring fabulous and gutsy protagonist Shanna Regan. I thoroughly enjoyed it.’ Louise Voss


‘The Redeemer is an engaging mystery with uncommon depth, touching on the most serious and timely of themes without ever losing sight of the intriguing mystery at its heart. Suspenseful, nuanced and original, this is crime fiction with real weight – and it comes highly recommended.’ Rod Reynolds

About the author

Victoria Goldman MSc.is a freelance journalist, editor and proofreader. She was given an honourable mention for The Redeemer in the Capital Crime/DHH Literary Agency New Voices Award 2019. Victoria lives in Hertfordshire with her husband and two sons: she is a book & stationery addict, crochet novice and nature lover (especially the local wild parakeets). The Redeemer is her first novel.

For more information, follow Victoria on Twitter, on Facebook, or visit her website – you can sign up here for her Readers’ Club.