Crow 27 by Matt Johnson @Matt_Johnson_UK #thriller #mystery #policeprocedural #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Crow 27 by Matt Johnson. This is a police procedural and is set within a barracks where there is another investigation going on. The book is inspired by true stories and it makes an intense story to read. It sees the return of Robert Finley and it was great to catch up with this character.

A crime thriller inspired by a series of true stories.

Four young women soldiers.
All are victims. All want justice.

When veteran cop, Robert Finlay, is sent to a military barracks to investigate the source of weapons found in the possession of London gangsters, he is given strict instructions not to get involved in a suicide enquiry into the recent death of a young recruit soldier. The army partners him with an ambitious military policewoman who is determined he will.

When an undercover police officer goes missing, Finlay identifies a cabal of soldiers – led by a narcissistic training sergeant – who exploit young recruits for sexual and criminal purposes. What appears to be a routine investigation soon takes on a life of its own as he finds himself in a struggle with powerful forces – both criminal and from the military establishment – who know that, inside the wire, they make the rules.

What begins as a fight for justice will end as a battle for survival.


OH WOW! This is an amazing book and one that I devoured in one sitting. Anyone aware of institutional abuse within the military may probably be aware of the Deepcut Barracks. If not search on the internet for reports about the suicides of young soldiers training there. The author does take great pains at the end of the book to state that Crow 27 is a work of fiction and that his approach is one that does have some factual events.

When Finley is asked to look into two missing rifles from an army barracks, he is told that it is nothing to do with the suicide of a soldier. Sgt Floria McLaren is his liaison while working on this case.

It was so interesting to see two different approaches to the investigative approaches of Finley from the MET and the way the Military Police handle things. The subtitle of the book ” Behind the wire, we make the rules” is something that is very important to remember and the author does show how what happens on a camp remains there. Secretive and not altogether helpful is what comes across, but also one of being part of a large military family. The only problem with this approach is that things are swept under the carpet, accusations are not taken seriously and the result is the death of a soldier.

The military has a distrust of the police, and the police have the same for the military police. This is evident from the very outset, but there is one thing that Finley has to his advantage before he came to the force he was military, he knows all the tricks in the book. I will add here that this is also where the author has a great perspective, being in the military and also the police!

Starting with the basic search for missing guns that turn up in London takes Finely to the barracks. Keeping his past to himself provides an advantage, but with the military wanting to cover their own backs it is difficult for Finley to keep his past hidden.

Floria takes time to warm up to Finley and doesn’t trust his motives. As she begins to understand him they are able to investigate more effectively. As they do investigate things of a darker nature start to reveal themselves. There is far more to this story than first meets the eye. There are several other characters in the story that adds to the mystery and the suspense. From those just arriving at the camp for their training, to those higher up that has been there for a while and those who are using this as a stepping stone to further their careers, no one is above suspicion.

This is such a riveting story, it deals with some tough subjects and while nothing is overly graphic, there is a sense of what has happened. The author has got the balance right in my opinion, not sharing too much but providing the reactions of others to convey the awful nature of acts committed.

This is a book that explores institutional abuse at several levels. The author uses his knowledge of the military and police to great effect and gives the reader an amazing story. Even though this is fiction, it is based on some true events. It doesn’t take much to search on the internet for examples of abuse not just in the military arena but across many workplace establishments. This is what adds the fear and suspense element to this story, unfortunately, this makes it feel all too plausible.

This is a story for those who like a procedural approach to their crime thrillers. It is dark and it had me absolutely hooked. It is one I would definitely recommend.


Matt Johnson served as a soldier from 1975-78 and Metropolitan Police officer from 1978 -1999.

His debut novel Wicked Game – a crime thriller – was published by Orenda Books in March 2016. The sequel Deadly Game, was published March 2017.

Wicked Game was listed for the Crime Writers Association John Creasey Dagger award, has topped the Amazon and WH Smith KOBO charts in several categories and at the end of 2016 was listed by Amazon UK as the highest-rated ‘rising star’ novel of 2016.

Deadly Game tackles the current and sensitive topic of people trafficking – it is told from the authentic view that only a former cop could achieve.

Peter James, the international best-selling novelist said of Matt’s first book “Terse, tense and vivid writing. Matt Johnson is a brilliant new name in the world of thrillers.”

Sir Ranulph Fiennes said of Wicked Game – “From the first page to the last, an authentic, magnetic and completely absorbing read.”

Such endorsements would be serious praise were Matt to have been trained as a writer and have come though a traditional route. But he didn’t. In fact, his journey from the military, through policing to eventual publication might be described as unique.

In 1999, Matt was discharged from the police with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Whilst undergoing treatment, he was encouraged by his counsellor to write about his career and his experience of murders, shootings and terrorism.

Matt was eventually persuaded to give this a go, and one evening, he sat at his computer and started to weave his notes into a work of fiction that he described as having a tremendously cathartic effect on his own condition. He used his detailed knowledge and recollections to create what has been described by many readers as a fast paced, exciting and authentic tale of modern day policing and terrorism.

I could be argued that Matt Johnson is living proof PTSD is a condition that can be controlled and overcome with the right help and support. He has been described by many fans as an inspiration to fellow sufferers.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

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