Sixteen Horses by Greg Buchanan #bookreview

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the stunning debut by Greg Buchanan, Sixteen Horses.


Near the dying English seaside town of Ilmarsh, local police detective Alec Nichols discovers sixteen horses’ heads on a farm, each buried with a single eye facing the low winter sun. After forensic veterinarian Cooper Allen travels to the scene, the investigators soon uncover evidence of a chain of crimes in the community – disappearances, arson and mutilations – all culminating in the reveal of something deadly lurking in the ground itself.

In the dark days that follow, the town slips into panic and paranoia. Everything is not as it seems. Anyone could be a suspect. And as Cooper finds herself unable to leave town, Alec is stalked by an unseen threat. The two investigators race to uncover the truth behind these frightening and insidious mysteries – no matter the cost.

Sixteen Horses is the debut literary thriller from an extraordinary talent, Greg Buchanan. A story of enduring guilt, trauma and punishment, set in a small seaside community the rest of the world has left behind . . .


Sixteen Horses by Greg Buchanan is one of the most original crime novels I’ve read. If you’re a fan of literary crime fiction, then you need to read this book. Greg Buchanan is an exciting new voice.

Set in a dying seaside town, Illmarsh, the town and the police are shocked when the corpses of sixteen horses are found buried. Days after the police first come into contact with the horses, people who were there fall desperately ill. What is going on here? What do the murders of the horses mean? And what connection do they have to the dark events that have also taken place in the town?

Sixteen Horses is such a unique crime thriller. It is a stunning debut that will keep you gripped. The atmosphere is very dark and foreboding. It gave me a very uneasy feeling as I was reading it. It seems as though there is no light at all in the town where the events are taking place. The crime is such an unusual one, and it made the book feel very fresh. It’s what made me want to keep reading after I read the opening pages. If you think the opening pages are dark, be prepared, it is about to get a lot darker.

This is not a fast-paced, action-packed crime novel; it is a slow-burner and a more character-driven novel. I loved Greg Buchanan’s writing style, which pulled me into the story and the setting. The setting Illmarsh itself becomes a character. The opening chapters are so chilling, and I had to know what was going on in the town. Who was behind the crimes that were taking place? It puts all the locals on edge, and I could feel the tension as the novel progressed.

Illmarsh is a town that feels forgotten. It added to the atmosphere. I could picture the town on the coast very well, and Greg Buchanan evokes a real sense of place in his writing. Sixteen Horses is a very immersive book and it will definitely appeal to you if you’re a fan of Chris Whitaker.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what Greg Buchanan writes next. This is a stand-out crime thriller. I am sure that there will be many people talking about it in the months to come. Sixteen Horses is a superb debut which I won’t be forgetting about any time soon.

Publisher: Mantle

Publication date: 29th April 2021

Print length: 367 pages

Sixteen Horses is available to buy:

Amazon UK Waterstones

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