Written by British ex-lawyer and now author LJ Ross (pen name of Louise Ross), the DCI Ryan series is a series of romantic suspense thrillers.
Set in Northumbria, England, the series follows the investigation of Detective Chief Inspector Ryan in this fast-paced crime whodunnit, a mix of murder and mystery peppered with a sprinkling of romance and humor.
How to read the DCI Ryan Series in Order?
Every entry in the DCI Ryan book series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- Holy Island – Detective Chief Inspector Ryan retreats to Holy Island seeking sanctuary when he is forced to take sabbatical leave from his duties as a murder detective. A few days before Christmas, his peace is shattered and he is thrust back into the murky world of murder when a young woman is found dead amongst the ancient ruins of the nearby Priory.
- Sycamore Gap – Detective Chief Inspector Ryan believes he has put his turbulent history behind him. Then, in the early hours of the summer solstice, the skeleton of a young woman is found inside the Roman Wall at Sycamore Gap. She has lain undiscovered for ten years and it is Ryan’s job to piece together her past. Enquiry lines cross and merge as Ryan is forced to face his own demons and enter into a deadly game of cat and mouse with a killer who seems unstoppable.
- Heavenfield – When a man is found dead at the remote church of Heavenfield, DCI Ryan is the only other person for miles around. The police have no weapon, no motive, and no other suspects. Already suspended from Northumbria CID, Ryan must fight to clear his name. But soon, more than his career is at stake when prominent members of the mysterious ‘Circle’ begin to die. Somebody wants Ryan’s name to be next on the coroner’s list and to survive he must unmask the devil who walks among them – before it is too late.
- Angel – After a turbulent time, DCI Ryan’s life is finally returning to normal and he’s looking forward to spending an uneventful Easter bank holiday weekend with his fiancée. Then, on Good Friday morning he is called out to a crime scene at one of the largest cemeteries in Newcastle. The body of a redheaded woman has been found buried in a shallow grave and the killer has given her wings, like an angel. Soon, another woman is found at a different cemetery, followed quickly by another.
- High Force – Detective Chief Inspector Ryan’s worst nightmare has just become a reality. Notorious serial killer The Hacker has escaped prison and kidnapped one of his best detectives from her own home. His brutality is the stuff of legend – Ryan lost his sister and nearly his own life bringing the man to justice the first time around. Can Ryan do it again to save his friend?
- Cragside – After his climactic battle with notorious serial killer The Hacker, DCI Ryan is spending the summer with his fiancée within the grounds of Cragside, a spectacular Bavarian-style mansion surrounded by acres of woodland. When they are invited to attend the staff summer party – a Victorian murder mystery evening – it’s all a joke until the lights go out and an elderly man is found dead. It looks like an unfortunate accident but, as the dead man’s life begins to unfold, Ryan and his team of detectives realize that all is not as it appears.
- Dark Skies – One fateful, starry night, three friends embark on a secret camping trip but only two return home. Thirty years later, the body of a teenage boy rises from the depths of England’s biggest reservoir and threatens to expose a killer who has lain dormant…until now.
- Seven Bridges – It’s been five months since a killer walked free and DCI Ryan is preparing to leave Newcastle to hunt him down – this time, for good. But Ryan’s plans are scuppered when events take a dramatic turn and he is forced to stay and face his past one last time, or watch a friend suffer the consequences. Amid the chaos, another killer is preparing to strike. When the Tyne Bridge explodes, Ryan’s team is faced with a frantic race to uncover a deadly foe who won’t stop until every bridge is burned, along with everybody on it…
- The Hermitage – When an old man is found dead inside the ancient hermitage at Warkworth Castle, Northumbria CID are called in to investigate. With no apparent motive, it’s their job to unravel why he was murdered – and this time they’re forced to do it without their star detective… DCI Ryan is thousands of miles away. He’s tracked a killer across Europe and has sworn not to return until he has his man in custody. Nathan Armstrong is a dangerous psychopath but there’s just one problem – he’s also an international celebrity; a world-famous thriller writer with money and connections.
- Longstone – Viking treasure is discovered beneath the icy waters of the North Sea and local historian Doctor Anna Taylor is called in to help catalog the most exciting hoard in living memory. But when a shipwreck diver washes up dead, she’s soon out of her depth. Luckily, she knows just the person to call… When DCI Ryan arrives at the picturesque fishing town of Seahouses, he’s faced with an impenetrable wall of secrets and lies.
- The Infirmary – The Prequel to Holy Island. In the stifling summer heat of 2014, a killer has been stalking the streets of Newcastle causing city-wide panic. When the officer in charge of the case turns up dead, it falls upon Detective Chief Inspector Ryan to take up the baton and find the person responsible.
- The Moor – When a ten-year-old girl turns up on DCI Ryan’s doorstep to tell him she’s witnessed a murder, he has no idea he’s about to step into his most spellbinding case yet. The circus has rolled into Newcastle upon Tyne, bringing with it a troupe of daring acrobats, magicians, jugglers-and one of them is a killer. Ryan and his team must break through their closed ranks to uncover a secret that has lain buried for eight years, before the killer strikes again – this time, to silence the only living witness…
- Penshaw – When an old man is burned alive in a sleepy ex-mining village, Detective Chief Inspector Ryan is called in to investigate. He soon discovers that, beneath the facade of a close-knit community, the burn from decades-old betrayal still smolders. When everyone has a motive, can he unravel the secrets of the past before the killer strikes again?
- Borderlands – After uncovering a fresh wave of corruption within the ranks of Northumbria CID, Detective Chief Inspector Ryan was looking forward to an uneventful summer. But, when a young woman is shot dead on the remote army ranges of the Northumberland National Park, Ryan is called in to investigate.
- Ryan’s Christmas – After a busy year fighting crime, DCI Ryan and his team of murder detectives are enjoying a festive season of goodwill, mulled wine, and, in the case of DS Phillips, a stottie cake or two–that is, until a freak snowstorm forces their car off the main road and into the remote heart of Northumberland. Their Christmas spirit is soon tested when they’re forced to find shelter inside England’s most haunted castle, where they’re the uninvited guests at a ‘Candlelit Ghost Hunt’. It’s all fun and games–until one of the guests is murdered.
- The Shrine – After a long and eventful winter, DCI Ryan and his team are looking forward to the joys of spring. But, when one of their colleagues is shot dead on her own doorstep and the brass thinks it’s an inside job, Ryan finds himself drafted in to investigate.
- Cuthbert’s Way – After the dramatic theft of a priceless artifact from Durham Cathedral, the rest of the world believes that DCI Ryan and his team were able to recover and return St. Cuthbert’s cross to its rightful home. But Ryan knows the cross he recovered was a fake-far from being over, their problems are only just beginning…
- The Rock – When a fishing boat is wrecked off the treacherous North Sea coast and the body of a young woman washes up on the beach beside the iconic ‘Marsden Rock’, DCI Ryan cannot ignore the call to duty.
- Bamburgh – When a cantankerous old woman dies at her home in the sleepy, picturesque village of Bamburgh, DCI Ryan doesn’t think much of it–except, that is, for the small matter of it having been his wife who happened to find her body. Then another body turns up amongst the sand dunes at the base of the mighty castle fortress, and he decides it can’t be a coincidence…
- Lady’s Well – When the ancient waters of Lady’s Well in the rural village of Holystone begin to run red, it seems to be a nasty Hallowe’en prank and nothing more. But things take a sinister turn when the entire village suffers severe poisoning, and one old man turns up dead. Accusations abound in the small, close-knit community, and ‘old’ religions spar against ‘new’ while fear runs like wildfire through the streets. With so many potential motives and countless opportunities, there’s only one man who can help solve this particular mystery…
If you like our article about the DCI Ryan reading order, don’t forget to bookmark it! If you like LJ Ross, you may also want to see our guide to Peter May’s Enzo Macleod series.