‘Snakes and Ladders’ by Victoria Selman

Author : Victoria Selman
Title : Snakes and Ladders
Series : Ziba MacKenzie #3
Pages : 380
Publisher : Thomas & Mercer
Publication date : November 21, 2019


A serial killer is terrorising London, removing a body part from each victim and leaving in its place a single pink rose.

Dr Vernon Sange, a multiple murderer awaiting extradition, seems to know the culprit’s identity—but he’ll only talk to profiler Ziba MacKenzie, the woman responsible for putting him away. Though there’s something he wants in return from her. And time is running out.

With one killer whispering in her ear and another running rings around the police, Ziba must play a game in which only her opponent knows the rules, and the forfeit is death.


As someone who reads a lot of crime fiction, I think I’m getting to that point where I’m being far too picky about the books I pick up.

Case in point, Snakes and Ladders. This is the third instalment in the Ziba MacKenzie series, a fact I was completely unaware of at the time of requesting a review copy. For the most part, I think I got away with that as the author offers up quite a bit of information from the previous books to come to grips with Ziba’s character overall. And yet, not enough for me to get a good feel for her, to even warm to her or root for her. I didn’t particularly like her, even though I couldn’t quite put my finger on the why.

Dubbed as “Psycho meets The Silence of the Lambs”, the bar of expectations was raised to a level I don’t think this book ever achieved. Not by a long shot. For that the serial killers (yes, there are two) weren’t nearly terrifying enough. Or at all. Sure one of them manages to get into Ziba’s head but really, kind of been there, done that and the mind games failed to enthral me.

It’s obvious Ziba is distracted. It’s mentioned enough times too. She’s making it incredibly easy for Sange to manipulate her. Quite frankly, she should probably have removed herself from this investigation but okay, it’s fiction. Still, for some big renowned profiler, I thought she was often incredibly naive and stupid. It seems to me that there are things happening right under her nose that she doesn’t pick up on at all and it really started to annoy me. Also annoying, Ziba’s constant inner snark about a colleague.

It’s not all bad. There’s a nice pace to the story, the writing is good. I thought I knew quite early on who the active serial killer was but turns out I was wrong. I don’t know if there’s another addition to the series but there’s definitely enough there to do so. Some loose threads that need tying up. I’m sure the readers who were with this series from the start will enjoy this one a whole lot more than I did. From ratings I’ve seen I’m definitely in the minority with my opinion. But like I said at the start, I’m very picky and I personally think there are far more better crime fiction series out there. Entertaining, yes. But for me not really compelling, not suspenseful enough and definitely missing the thrill.

My thanks to Thomas & Mercer for the review copy, which I received via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

[This was a weekly poll winner, as voted for by you. Better luck next time 😉.]

  7 comments for “‘Snakes and Ladders’ by Victoria Selman

  1. April 29, 2022 at 11:51 am

    That’s thing when we read so many books in a particular genre, it’s hard to keep finding good ones!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. April 29, 2022 at 5:14 pm

    I have also picked up a book, not realizing it is part of a series, sometimes it works, but not always. I agree, if I read too many books from the same genre, I get a bit numb. I hope your next book is better, Eva.

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 4, 2022 at 10:02 am

      I love how you go from genre to genre, Carla. It must keep things interesting. I, on the other hand, just gravitate towards the same things and then end up disappointed. Although, to be fair, this book is quite a few years old already and tastes just change, don’t they?

      Liked by 1 person

      • May 4, 2022 at 1:24 pm

        I do read very eclectically, it keeps it interesting. I can’t believe how much my tastes have changed over the years. I picked up a book by an author I enjoy, but it was an older title. I did not enjoy it at all.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. May 1, 2022 at 11:10 pm

    Fab review! As someone who read all three and found this one to be the strongest by far, I think I can recommend not even looking at the first two books then. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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