Review: Under the Skin by E.E. Richardson

under-the-skinUnder the Skin
by E.E. Richardson
Series: Ritual Crime Unit #1
Genre: Urban Fantasy (police procedural)
Setting: An alternate North Yorkshire, England
Published by Abaddon Books, 2013
E-book, purchased
99 pages
Grade: B
Synopsis: A tough, hard-nosed career officer in the male-dominated world of British policing, DCI Claire Pierce of North Yorkshire Police heads Northern England’s underfunded and understaffed Ritual Crime Unit. Unregarded by the traditional police, struggling with an out-sized caseload, Pierce is about to tackle her most shocking case so far.

Following reports of unlicensed shapeshifters running wild in the Dales, DCI Pierce leads a failed raid to capture the skinbinder responsible. While the dust is still settling, a team from Counter Terrorism turns up and takes the case off her.

Pursuing the case off the record, she uncovers something murkier and more terrible than she suspected. Has her quarry achieved the impossible and learned to bind human skin?

FIRST RULE of police work: when someone runs away from you, run after them. Second rule: don’t be an idiot about it.

The first part was always easier to manage than the second.


If there were shapeshifters on site, a group of untrained uniforms in hi-visibility vests were about as much use to contain them as a strip of POLICE DO NOT CROSS tape.


  • I like the way the book begins right in the middle of everything.
  • This is a novella, but it’s a well-crafted story and is long enough to tell what it needs to tell.
  • This is an urban fantasy, but also a gritty police procedural.
  • I like the world building. We don’t find out a lot, but it’s enough for me to find the story believable. I like the idea of trying to regulate magic.
  • The main character–DCI Claire Pierce–is an older police officer (in her 50’s), but she’s smart and willing to get physical when she needs to.
  • The case they’re working on is quite horrific and the police are undermanned and often a step behind but they do the best they can with what they’ve got.
  • The case is complicated when a national counter terrorism group shows up and takes over the case. DCI Pierce is quite sure their goals are different from hers.


  • The book is short. As I state above that doesn’t bother me too much, but I enjoyed this and would have read more!

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I really like this novella. This is a new author and new series and I’m always happy to find that. I’ve already bought the second book in the series.
  • Even though this is a gritty police procedural and I don’t usually read gritty books, I didn’t find it too graphic.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • E.E Richardson is a twenty-two year old cybernetics graduate who now lives as a recluse.
  • The above is the only information I could find. Ms. Richardson doesn’t have a website.

Reading Challenges

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge
  • New Author Challenge–hosted by the Literary Escapism blog
  • Cloak & Dagger Mystery Challenge–hosted by Amy @ A Bookish Girl
  • Ultimate Reading Challenge–hosted by the Popsugar blog (A book written by someone under 30)