He spots the two girls through the cracked screen of beech, sycamore and leg-scratching gorse: a flash of red skirt and a unison of giggles…

Something happened to Claire and Jo in Black Wood: something that left Claire paralysed and Jo with deep mental scars. But with Claire suffering memory loss and no evidence to be found, nobody believes Jo’s story. Twenty-three years later, a familiar face walks into the bookshop where Jo works, dredging up painful memories and rekindling her desire for vengeance. And at the same time, Sergeant Davie Gray is investigating a balaclava-clad man who is attacking women on a disused railway, shocking the sleepy village of Banktoun. But what is the connection between Jo’s visitor and the masked man? To catch the assailant, and to give Jo her long-awaited justice, Gray must unravel a tangled web of past secrets, broken friendship and tainted love. But can he crack the case before Jo finds herself with blood on her hands?


* * * * *

What people are saying about Black Wood

“Hugely satisfying twists and great characterisation, creepy and astute.” – Sarah Hilary, author of Someone Else’s Skin

“In Black Wood, SJI Holliday has written a story that is not only dark, devious and menacing but also a tale of discovery, reprisal and deceit. It is coupled with a number of revelations that will put a chill down your spine.” – Shots Mag

“A dark novel of how events affect lives, with a new threat thrown in, and a great twist of the knife at the end.” – Rebecca Bradley

“Black Wood is one of my favourite books so far this year. A brilliant story in which the characters shine and the mysteries kept me hooked as I poured through the book desperate to find out how events would be resolved.” – Grab This Book

“This gripping debut introduces us to the close knit community of Banktoun and a devastating secret… laid out in a way that makes the reader ache for answers.” – Lloyd Paige

“If you like your crime stories deep, dark and shocking then this is the book for you. Black Wood is a thriller filled with secrets and misdirection by a debut author who is surely destined to take her place among the cream of Scottish crime writers.” – Crime Fiction Lover

“The novel put me in mind of Tana French and Erin Kelly, and I think Holliday could be building a name for herself in the genre pretty soon.” – Killing Time

“Deeply disturbing with a rich cast of characters and a twist at every turn, Holliday’s debut thriller Black Wood is unputdownable.” – Angela Lynn, author of All The What Ifs

“Fast paced with deeply flawed characters, this is an amazing psychological mystery from a new writer.” – Lizzie Hayes

“Holliday is excellent at characterisation.” – Crimepieces

“…it was refreshing to read about a police investigation set in a small town rather than a city, and I adored Davie Gray. ” – Steph’s Books

“I didn’t know who to trust right up to the end… It has atmosphere, suspense and kept me in the dark. Good stuff.” – Little Bookness Lane

“The protagonist [is] strong, flawed, and keeping secrets from herself. She does things that make the reader want to shout, ‘No!’, which just keeps you wanting to turn the pages.” – DJ Paterson

“…a truly unique, exciting and satisfying debut.” – Sara’s Book Blog

“…a perfect mystery with unique and great characters… an unusual thriller that you won’t feel you’ve read already a hundred times before.” – Devoted to Thrills Blog

“An absorbing and at times shocking read.” – Crime Reader Blog

“A character driven story with a very haunting and expressive feel that pulled me in immediately.’ – LizLovesBooks

“Dark, Claustrophobic, and Chillingly Tense.” – Rachael Lucas, author of Sealed with a Kiss

“A deliciously dark thriller with a shocking secret at its heart.” – Fergus McNeill, author of Eye Contact

“A dark and complex tale about small town life, Black Wood will appeal as much to fans of outsider fiction like Vernon God Little as it will seasoned crime readers.” – Nick Quantrill, author of The Crooked Beat

“In her atmospheric debut, Holliday effectively and spookily evokes small town claustrophobia and backbiting. An edgy and authentic new voice in crime fiction.” – Anya Lipska, author of Where the Devil Can’t Go

“A fast-paced and chilling psychological thriller from an exciting new talent. If you liked Broadchurch, you’ll love this.” – Mark Edwards and Louise Voss, authors of From The Cradle

“Darkly atmospheric and utterly absorbing.” – Jane Isaac, author of The Truth Will Out

“… A plot which weaves and twists its way around a tight knit community… [where] old sins return to haunt some damaged people and the atmosphere is thick with unspoken dread… You won’t read a more shocking, or satisfying, thriller this year.” – James Benmore, author of Dodger

“A deeply unsettling story of bad deeds, complex loyalties and secrets better left buried, Black Wood is a thrilling debut which grips from the very first page and doesn’t let go.” – Eva Dolan, author of Long Way Home

“Holliday has a knack for creating fascinating, well-observed, and sometimes quirky, characters. Black Wood is dark and twisty with a creepy atmosphere that pervades this compelling tale from first page to last. I was gripped. A fantastic new voice on the block.” – Amanda Jennings, author of The Judas Scar

“A chilling exploration of the darkness that can hide in even the smallest of communities. A superb debut.” – David Jackson, author of The Helper

“In Black Wood, SJI Holliday has created a small town whose inhabitants are full of dark secrets, rumour, betrayal and murder. A touch of humour, a twist-filled plot and the writer’s obvious skill in creating an unsettling and yet all too familiar backdrop, make this a hugely enjoyable page-turner. A must-read for crime fans.” – Steve Cavanagh, author of The Defence

“I was drawn into Black Wood – drip-fed with intrigue, mystery and menace. It has an absorbing storyline with interesting and engaging characters. An exciting debut novel.” – Mel Sherratt, author of Watching Over You