Review: You Can Run by Steve Mosby

You Can Run by Steve Mosby is a page-turning psychological thriller that blurs the lines between truth and fiction (available December 5, 2017).

Being a serial killer is hard when someone crashes a car into their garage, revealing their current victim restrained and near death. When DI Will Turner and his partner, Emma, get to the scene, Amanda Cassidy has already been freed and taken to the hospital—albeit in worrisome condition—and a search of John Blythe’s home turns up additional horrors:

I snapped on a pair of gloves and approached the door. Just before I grasped the cold handle, I imagined a slight tingle of electricity in my hand. When I opened the door, a waft of old air escaped from the stairwell beyond, and I grimaced.

‘Cellar,’ I said.

The stench came next. It was the same meaty, unwashed aroma that permeated the kitchen, but much more intense than that. And on some primal level, I understood. Whatever was down there was the source of it. The rotting heart of the place.

The smell just keeps getting worse as Will and Emma descend the stairs.

Emma joined me at the bottom of the steps, her arm across her face.

‘Oh God, the stench.’

I didn’t reply. Instead, I walked over to the closed door. An old black key had been left in the lock. I turned it, then pulled the door open slowly. There was a smaller, secondary part to the cellar beyond, and as I stepped inside, I saw what had been stored in there.


There were four of them. They were made of opaque white plastic, their black lids clipped around the top with enormous metal clasps. All the same size—probably about 10 gallons each. And I could see through the plastic to tell that at least three of them were full of something.

I crouched down in front of them.


‘I’m not going to touch them.’

I tilted my head slightly, peering at the obscured shapes within and trying to make sense of them. There was no light in this second room, and I was casting too much of a shadow over them. After a moment, I pulled out a pen torch and played the light across the plastic.

I bet you can guess what’s in those barrels, and the extent of the horror isn’t fully revealed until after the barrels have been taken to the pathologist. Will and Emma are now positive they have the remains of the victims of the notorious Red River Killer. The problem is Blythe is missing, and now a massive manhunt is underway. The police are sure that there’s nowhere for Blythe to run.

As Will and Emma investigate, Will becomes increasingly certain that Blythe may have help, but Will is carrying a secret that could get him kicked off the case—and he’s determined to not let that happen.

In the cat-and-mouse chase that follows—which is told alternately from Will’s point of view and gives us a glimpse into Blythe and … others—Mosby makes the most of atmospheric set pieces as well as Will’s tendency to use instinct to guide the investigation, much to Emma’s frequent chagrin.

Will and Emma’s exploration of an abandoned farmhouse where the suspect might have hidden out in is particularly effective:

‘What are you expecting to see?’ Emma asked me quietly.

‘I really don’t know.’

I couldn’t say anything more than that, because the truth was that I didn’t know exactly what I was expecting. Blythe had been here, but he had left yesterday night. There was nothing to see. Perhaps the truth was actually something different. I didn’t expect to see anything; I expected to feel it.

And as we walked through the downstairs doorway, it happened immediately: the same strange sensation I’d experienced when walking into Blythe’s house for the first time two days ago. The interiors couldn’t have been more different. Blythe’s house had been his home, and it had reflected his fractured mindset: the odd arrangements of possessions; the sheer disturbed functionlessness of the rooms; the mishmash of material, nothing apparently thrown away and everything stored at random, or according to some unfathomable mental plan. Whereas the downstairs of this old farmhouse was entirely empty. A hollowed-out husk. And yet I felt him there regardless: a presence that lingered in the air as potently as a recently smoked cigarette. It was only because I knew he’d been here, of course, but the sensation was real all the same. We were gaining on him. I could sense him in the distance, like the thud of a heartbeat that was becoming quicker and heavier the closer I got.

Additionally, when the husband of one of the victims comes into the station, Will has the feeling he’s hiding something—but what could it possibly be? He’s not a suspect, and he’s obviously distraught over the revelations. But there’s something else—if only Will could put a finger on it.

This isn’t a whodunnit. We know from the very start who’s been doing the killing, and the mystery actually lies in Will’s connection to the murders as well as the secret that the victim’s husband is hiding. Both are clever twists and add a lot of depth to a fast-paced thriller that doesn’t sacrifice character development for excitement. Mosby is a heck of a writer, and this is one thriller that should not be missed.


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Kristin Centorcelli reviews books at, loves a good mystery, and is a huge fan of boxed wine. You can also follow her at @mybookishways.

Read all posts by Kristin Centorcelli for Criminal Element.


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