Life has dealt Mike Miller a bad hand. In a wheelchair because of a horse-riding accident, Mike is told that his wife Lindsey has been brutally murdered in a Devon wood. Exasperated by police efforts, he joins friend Grace Atkins in a desperate attempt to find her killer.

When they discover that witches, the Coven of the Grey Moon, might still be operating in the wood, Andrew Argyle’s debut crime novel holds out the promise of Blair Witch bumps in the night.

But alas this novel is largely confined within four walls where Argyle’s faithful descriptions of domesticity spoil the tension. Even when conflict rumbles round the corridors, the action laboriously unfolds without engaging the reader.

Author: Andrew Argyle

£10, Andrew Argyle Publishing

Point of view and deadpan dialogue are problems too. Mike’s raw deal – his parents, local solicitor David Miller and Margaret, both die in a caravan fire – means he naturally enlists the reader’s sympathy but Argyle switches to where characterisation is weaker.

Argyle’s sledgehammer approach of moving the reader to the next chapter is at odds with the verbosity of much of the writing. Here, less is more.

Nicholas Goodman is a sub-editor at the Law Society Gazette