Meredith Griffin manages the emergency department at St Jude Hospital. A specialist in psychiatric nursing, she’s also an expert at hiding her own problems – and solving everyone else’s.
When women with the same fatal injury begin turning up in Meredith’s emergency ward, their deaths are labelled as suicides. But Meredith isn’t so sure. With the help of Detective Leo Donnelly, she begins an investigation to prove that the women were murdered.
As pressure mounts from all quarters to stop her, questions arise about why the women were targeted – and why the hospital is so desperate to cover things up.
In a battle against addiction, self-doubt and a corrupt institution that may be hiding a serial killer, Meredith finds herself in the crosshairs of a network of powerful people – all of whom will stop at nothing to protect their privilege and keep her from the truth.
An atmospheric and intelligent crime thriller set in a hospital where nothing is as it seems.
Read some great reviews from our Preview readers here:
A very interesting read. The protagonists all had flaws which made them more interesting, even if some had more evil intents than others. The story had lots of intersecting plot strands which made it difficult for me to work out who was the “baddie” causing all the mayhem. I didn’t guess who it was until the very end. The text kept me interested through the whole book. I liked the medical setting even though this was not about the setting but rather the people who worked or were patients within the setting, or friends or relatives of the hospital workers. Well done! Anne, NSW, 5 Stars
‘The Scarlet Cross’, by Lyn McFarlane, is a thrilling and tense read. Meredith Griffin, working at St Jude Hospital as a nurse in the emergency ward, discovers a disturbing pattern in the fatal wounds of young female patients. Despite the loss of these young women being seen as suicides, Meredith begins to sense that there is something seriously more sinister occurring. McFarlane creates an eerie and foreboding atmosphere, allowing the reader to become entangled in this mystery of power, mental health and the vulnerability of those who are ill. An addictive read and, be warned, ‘The Scarlet Cross’ may keep you up reading late into the night. Genene, SA, 5 Stars
Meredith Griffin is part of the senior management team at St Jude Hospital, running the Emergency Department and specialising in psychiatric nursing. She has her own demons and is juggling work, family and friends, and love life with boyfriend, Detective Leo Donnelly. When young women are found with the same fatal laceration, a deep cross severing the femoral artery, Meredith and Leo start looking into their connection with St Jude’s. Secrets, lies and hospital management interference raise more questions than answers as Meredith continues her efforts to expose the killer to prevent any more deaths. When Leo identifies the potential next victim, there’s a race to stop the killer and this time it’s personal. This debut novel from Lyn McFarlane is a real page turner. She kept up the suspense all the way through and I couldn’t put it down. A great psychological thriller with lots of twists and turns and many suspects. Meredith is a flawed character which makes her vulnerable to bullies and those with their own agenda in playing a very deadly game. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to seeing what Lyn McFarlane writes next. Sarah, NSW, 5 Stars
This would have to be one of the best crime novels I’ve read in a long time. The Scarlet Cross hooked me in right from the first chapter and from there, I could barely put it down. It was like a medical drama crossed with a crime thriller – two of my favourite genres in one. The main character, Meredith, was easy to relate to and the storyline kept me guessing all the way to the end. It’s hard to believe this is Lyn McFarlane’s debut novel. Her writing style made it easy to picture myself there at St Jude’s hospital, the scene whereby most of the action takes place. I can’t wait to see what she produces next. Lauren, QLD, 5 Stars
It has been a number of years since I have read a suspense novel. I found this one a little confusing to begin with as it goes forwards and backwards in time but found the subject matter very interesting. There were a number of red herrings in the book. Just as I was sure I had worked out who was guilty another twist was revealed. This kept me guessing until the end – there was even another revelation within the last few pages! Highly recommended. Cynthia, VIC, 5 Stars
Loved this book, what a great read. Draws you in and keeps you right there, page after page. Mental health issues are highlighted in an informative, caring way as are hospital realities. Gripping story with a gutsy protagonist and great supporting cast. Lisa, WA, 5 Stars
I was hooked from page 1 !! The Intrigue from Meredith’s personal and work life is so engaging. The book has depth, sorrow, regrets and happiness amongst the well thought out storyline. I was continually questioning where will this go to next, never a dull page! Barbara, WA, 5 Stars
I loved this book. Full of suspense and stories interwoven in the main story. Nurse, Meredith Griffin runs St Judes Hospital’s emergency department. She suspects several suicides at St. Judes are in fact murders and with the help of her boyfriend, Detective Leo Donnely, they need to find the killer before time runs out for another victim. Hard to put down this amazing book. Helen, QLD, 5 Stars
When nurse Meredith Griffin starts losing patients in St Jude Hospital emergency ward from severe lacerations she knows something is wrong. This book follows Meredith and her boyfriend Detective Leo Donnelly, as together they try to discover what is going on to these women. It was easy to read and follow. I really enjoyed this debut novel by Lyn McFarlane and I hope to read her future books. Renee, QLD, 5 Stars
If you are a fan of Patricia Cornwell you will love this book! In this book we befriend psychiatric nursing specialist, Meredith, and her partner in life and in crime, Detective Leo Donnelly. Together Meredith and Leo set out to solve the mystery of why young female victims are murdered suffering the same unusual fatal injuries. Why did the murderer select these victims? They have no obvious connection to each other except for the fact that they are young and female. What is the significance of the method of their murders? There are no self-evident answers to these questions, which must be answered before the murderer strikes again! The content is well-researched and provides an entirely credible insight into the conditions and frustrations of the staff providing care in an Emergency department. This book is a must-read for the lover of an interweaved mystery. Michelle, NSW, 5 Stars
An intriguing crime thriller where nothing is as it seems. Join Meredith as she battles against the odds, and her own demons in order to solve the mystery and save the lives of others. Catherine, NSW, 4 Stars
This is a thriller set in the emergency department of a major hospital, St Jude’s, which has a Psychiatric Department and Psych Outpatient Clinic. The main protagonist Meredith is a smart psych-trained nurse (head of nursing in emergency) with some flaws – no one is perfect. Meredith’s parents are deceased, her sister is very unwell and she feels the burden of caring for her sister. When young women start dying from wounds which are unlikely to be self-inflicted, there is a mystery to be solved. It is somewhat convoluted – the links between the women point to the Psychiatric Outpatients Clinic. Meredith is dating a homicide detective and together they put puzzle pieces together to solve the mysteries of these women’s deaths. There are lots of themes: mental health, suicide, the bond of family, power/authority, abuse of power and more… This is a fine debut by Lyn McFarlane and I look forward to reading more of her work, especially as she develops her style. Thanks to BetterReading and Pantera Press for the opportunity to read an early copy. KT, NSW, 4 Stars
This one lured me in immediately with its interesting opening. I enjoyed getting to know Meredith and seeing the plot unfold. There were several different people I thought could be behind the murders. Working in health I liked seeing all the hospital politics. It covered a lot of topics in setting up the killer such as drug use, mental health, suicide, corruption and the role of the church in healthcare. Some of these plot lines were covered well, others needed a bit more time to play out. I liked Meredith as a protagonist, she was real and flawed. However, I found her some of her relationships quite odd in that she was very over familiar with her bosses but very cold with her partner and this distracted me at times from the novel. Overall it was a solid debut with good writing and a decent pace. Will look forward to seeing what Lyn Mcfarlane comes up with next. Kirsten, ACT, 4 Stars
I really enjoyed the plot of The Scarlet Cross as a suspenseful drama. I liked Meredith’s duel roll as nurse & in the end, detective. Events rolled on smoothly & nothing was ever really predictable. I also liked Meredith’s relationships shown with her sister Bella & beau Leo. I think her relationship with Leo could be beautifully developed & explored in further novels. A clever write. Highly recommend. Tracey, VIC, 4 Stars
Just loved every page, had me guessing until the very end. Things are never as they seem, sorry when the book ended. Look forward to reading more from Lyn McFarlane. Lynette, NSW, 4 Stars
This was my first EVER serious crime fiction novel, & I loved it! When Meredith Griffin is the lead nurse at the emergency department of St Jude’s Hospital. When a patient Meredith knows comes in suffering from severe lacerations that prove fatal her death is ruled a suicide, but Meredith isn’t convinced. Especially when she sees the cross cut into her hip. We follow Meredith & her boyfriend Detective Leo Donnelly as they investigate the case. I have no other crime novels to compare this to but I really enjoyed this story, heck, I read it in three days! It’s very hard to put down! Pretty good for a first novel I’d say. Leah, WA, 4 Stars
A tight thriller that will have you guessing until the end. The characters feel like real people and the dialogue feels authentic. It can be a bit slow at parts in the middle, but once the action started I read the last hundred pages in one night. I couldn’t put it down by the end. Riley, VIC, 4 Stars
I found this book – set in an emergency department of a psychiatric hospital -well written, well researched and interesting. The plot was clever and as the tension built I became totally absorbed in this thriller – changing my mind a couple of times as to the who was the killer and why. Meredith has her own problems with addiction and identity, a sister who herself has mental health issues and is in an imperfect relationship with the detective in charge of the case, which I thought also added to the story. A very strong debut – I would definitely read more from this author. Sue, VIC, 4 Stars
Great debut novel from Lyn McFarlane. I had just read something that was similar but still enjoyed this read and it definitely kept you guessing. Nurse Meredith and Detective Leo set about solving potential murders from similar patterns on patients who Meredith has tried to save in ED. The pace of the book was good with some twists and turns. Look forward to reading more from this author. Thank you to Better Reading for the opportunity to review. Virginia, NSW, 4 Stars
This is a cracking first novel by Australian-Canadian Lyn McFarlane. It seems incredible to psychiatric nurse, Meredith Griffin, that several patients have died of loss of blood due to a cross hacked into their upper leg. What is more puzzling, is that the hospital authorities want to bury the mystery. With the assistance of love interest detective, Leo, Meredith uncovers a decades old church scandal which has ties to the present. This fast-paced novel is made more personal by the flawed friends she has and the mental health problems of her sister. McFarlane’s characters are not there just for background but are eventually connected to the main players in sometimes tragic consequences. I can’t wait for Lyn McFarlane’s second novel! Roger, 4 Stars
The Scarlet Cross was a refreshing change from the usual police procedural-type crime/thriller stories that saturate the market. Although I was at first daunted by the hospital setting due to my squeamishness, I was only put off by the one scene; where victims of a horrific car crash were described in a morgue. I would caution readers on that scene as it could be triggering. As it had no relevance to the story, it could be left off the page without any detriment to the read. The plot was interesting enough to keep me reaching for the novel at night, but what I really admired about the novel was the way it dealt with serious mental illness. From ‘cutters’ and PTSD, to schizophrenia. I was especially impressed with McFarlane’s handling of the latter, schizophrenia. She did it in a gentle way that changed my mind on what relationships between family members can look like when one suffers from this debilitating illness. McFarlane maintained a beautiful connection between the sufferer and her loved ones. In a perfect world, this would be the norm not the exception. Terri-Lea, QLD, 4 Stars
Loved The Scarlett Cross by Lyn McFarlane. Meredith Griffin certainly had her own demons but she leads the reader on a thrilling investigation into the deaths of 4 young women. There are many twists and turns in this story and I really felt that I knew Meredith well. Her family history makes her never give up to find out what happened to the victims. A great read which certainly draws the reader into Meredith’s life. Don’t miss it. Maree, VIC, 4 Stars
Lyn McFarlane grabbed me and dragged me into her story ‘The Scarlet Cross’. I loved the concept and was kept guessing all the way through. Meredith Griffin becomes involved in the mystery of why young females under psychiatric care have been dying with similar wounds. Wounds that could only be inflicted by someone with strong medical knowledge. Meredith is a psychiatric nursing specialist at St Jude Hospital, and in a relationship with Leo, who is the Lead Detective on the case. She shares her thoughts and suspicions with him. As Meredith ponders the fates of the girls involved and tries hard to connect anyone that she feels was involved in some way with each girl, she also has to deal with her younger Sister who is battling with mental health issues of her own. On top of all this Meredith is battling with her own demons and a drug addiction. I loved that Meredith wasn’t portrayed as perfect and we were allowed to see her flaws. I felt her frustration as she tried to prove that her suspicions were correct. If you love Mystery, then this is a great Weekend read. Annamaree, QLD, 4 Stars
I received a copy of ‘The Scarlet Cross’ by Lyn McFarlane courtesy of @betterreadingau #BRPreview The premise of the book started promising. I love a gritty crime thriller and a emergency nurse, a police boyfriend, women dying with similar wounds sounds like an intriguing mystery. A crime procedural thriller is more to my taste and this story veered more into personal relationships and issues, leaving the crimes as more of a side story. The red herrings and foreshadowing were a little predictable, but enjoyable nevertheless. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Would I read it again and refer it to my friends? Probably not. Emily, WA, 3 Stars
The Scarlet Cross by Lyn McFarlane is a new thriller book that has hit shelves. Meredith, a nurse at the hospital, has seen it all, until she notices that a victim has weird cuts on her body and more she digs more victims come up with the same lacerations. I liked this book but there were just some things that didn’t make sense and the ending wasn’t what I hoped- I really wanted something more. I found the characters in the book had weird relationships with each other. They would talk to each other in almost a blunt, uncaring manner, which I felt was odd as they were family, friends and couples. I’m not sure if it was a ploy to distract the reader into not trusting anyone in the book, which would make sense because I did have a slight hunch they could be involved. I did eventually work out who it was behind it but I couldn’t work out the why, which had me stumped. I did however like the eeriness of the hospital and the grounds, the role of mental health and not being able to trust anyone including the protagonist Meredith. Overall a good story, it lacked a few things and I look forward to seeing what Lyn McFarlane comes out with next. Thank you Better Reading and Pantera Press for providing a review copy as a part of the BRPreview campaign. Cassie, NSW, 3 Stars
Thank you to Better Reading for the opportunity to read and review The Scarlett Cross by Lyn McFarlane. Psychiatric nurse Meredith and her detective partner Leo come together after women under psychiatric care are found dead with a mysterious cross on their bodies. I personally found this book concentrated more on Meredith, her and family and friends relationships and her own issues rather that the murders. It is a good debut read, keeps you guessing but is lacking a little oomph. I look forward to future writing from this author. Nicky, QLD, 3 Stars
This book started off really good with the mystery of murder and who was capable of these similar crimes of 4 woman presented to the St Jude Hospital Emergency department. I just felt that the story was going round in circles and the story was around the nurse Meredith and no so much about the murders. It felt underwhelming and pointless. The ending was quite disappointing. Although I wouldn’t recommend this book I think it was written well, I just wasn’t rushing back to read it once I put it down. Renae, QLD, 3 Stars
Meredith is head of the ER at a Catholic Hospital. Three women have died with the same distinctive mark on their thighs. Each death was classified as a suicide. Meredith isn’t convinced. She starts to investigate with the help of her friend Leo who is a police detective. What is the hospital trying to hide and why are they trying to cover the crimes up. Quite an enjoyable read. Vivien, ACT, 3 Stars
With a slow start and build up this story does require some time to get into, but once it gets going the flow and anticipation is full and fast. Shayla, NSW, 2 Stars