Rob Kitchin

He knows how to commit the perfect murder ... now he wants you to know

"One of the most unusual crime novels to come out of Ireland in recent times. A gripping thriller with characters that ring true coupled with images and acts that would leave even Hannibal Lecter silent! In particular, the novel portrays hard working, decent Gardai, deeply committed to solving crimes in the community.  There are more twists than the red cow roundabout, but you will not lose the plot in this clever and unusual crime novel."  Joe Duffy, RTE

"The Rule Book puts Rob Kitchin on the Irish Crime map. It's gripping, gruesome, and a hell of a fun puzzle. It shows careful research and digs deep into an interesting character. I was kept guessing until the end, desperately hoping that this novel would not go the crappy Hollywood route. There is a town called Hollywood in Ireland, but this serial killer's spree gives it a wide berth." Critical Mick

" I for one am a big fan of the police procedural as a genre, and Kitchin gives us an excellent version, emphasizing not the lurid crimes committed by the serial killer but the sometimes plodding pursuit of the killer in the detectives' meticulous methodology ... The story is tight indeed, moving along at an electric pace that never lets up. Kitchin's skill in maintaining that pace as well as the naturalism of the characters and setting is quite impressive in a first novel." International Noir

  April in the Wicklow mountains and a young woman is found dead, seemingly sacrificed. Accompanying her body is Chapter One of The Rule Book – a self-help guide for prospective serial killers. The case is assigned to the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation and headed up by Detective Superintendent Colm McEvoy. Since the recent death of his wife, McEvoy is a shadow of his former self – two stones lighter with a wardrobe of ill fitting suits, struggling to quit the cigarettes that killed his wife, and still getting used to being a single parent. Less than twenty four hours later a second murder is committed. Self-claiming the title ‘The Raven’, the killer starts to taunt the police and the media. When the third body is discovered it is clear that The Raven intends to slaughter one victim each day until The Rule Book is published in full. With the pressure from his superiors, the press, and politicians rising, McEvoy stumbles after a killer that is seemingly several steps ahead.

Is The Rule Book as definitive as The Raven claims?


Chapter One
Monday, April 14th

His eyes fixed on the sword and started to travel its length,
down from the black handle, over the plain hilt and along the
two-inch wide shaft to where it penetrated the young woman’s
mouth. Beneath her head the pillow and sheet were stained a
mix of red and black.

Detective Superintendent Colm McEvoy hitched up his
creased trousers and eased his six foot three frame down onto his
haunches. He tipped his upper torso sideways, careful not to
place his hands on the floor, and looked under the bed. The
sword had exited the mattress and the bed’s thin base and
was embedded in a floorboard. A crown of splinters had
erupted around the tip and a dark puddle snaked across the

He levered himself back upright and took another look at
her naked body. Her smoky blue eyes were open in a glazed
stare. The sword was aligned to the shape of her mouth, the
blade biting a centimetre or so into the cheek on either side,
widening her grimace. Some of her brown hair had escaped
from a ponytail, curling over her forehead, down past her ears
and onto her neck.

Her thin arms were placed by her side, hands clenched
tight; her skinny legs closed. Her pale, almost translucent,
skin was pulled tight over her ribs, her breasts slight. She
looked as if she had been starving herself.

There were no signs that she had worn make-up and her
fingernails were short and clean of nail polish. Whatever blood
had been on her face and body looked to have been wiped
away carefully. There were no tie marks on her limbs, no
evidence of bruising, or that she had struggled.

It was almost as if she had welcomed the killing – made
her peace and simply swallowed the sword.

He forced himself to look away and examined the room,
his gaze tracing over every surface. Except for a small, brown
shoulder bag that lay on the only chair the space seemed empty.
No clothes, no shoes, or any other visible possessions.

He stared back across the room at the young woman’s
face. She looked no more than 18 years old. He massaged
his temples and sighed. He wanted to wrap her up and take
her away, to protect her from what was about to unfold; give
her some measure of dignity in death. Instead he took a plastic
cigarette from a box, placed it between his lips, and stepped
out into the corridor.



Rob Kitchin works at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth where he directs a research institute. He has published 17 non-fiction books to date. The Rule Book is his first novel.

Work website and contact details

Blog: The View From the Blue House

Blog: Ireland After NAMA


"Rob Kitchin has shown there is still some life in the serial killer theme if the main investigating officer and the villain can capture your attention. Policeman Colm McEvoy is a sympathetic character who has so many problems to face both personal and professional that you feel for him and can identify with the stress he is under. … This was a very promising first crime novel and I hope Rob can take enough time off from his day job to produce a sequel."  Crime Scraps

"After the first day I was entangled in the web and forgot all about my headache and my runny nose. In the beginning I feared that the combination of serial killer plus male writer might turn into a hard-boiled, graphic story, but in the best traditions of British crime fiction the focus stays with the police work and the increasingly personal battle between McEvoy and the killer. And Colm McEvoy - the very human but frustrated copper and father - is one of those characters you really want to meet again – the sooner the better! " DJs Krimiblog

" Choosing a serial killer story for your first crime fiction novel is a bold move. It is too easy for stories in this genre for the focus become one of shocking the reader with graphic gore. So I was very pleased to see that Kitchin has written a very good police procedural that features a serial killer. ... The way the clues are constructed and what the police do with them is clever, unique even, and adds to the enjoyment of the story. Colm McEvoy is sympathetic and engaging character. ... I liked the way Kitchin builds the tension and shows how the responsibility wears on McEvoy. ... The author has also developed a good cast of supporting characters. ... Kitchin has the foundation for a good series and I closed the book wishing that there already was a sequel available. I enjoyed The Rule Book and the story, characters, and writing style make it one I would recommend to readers who like police procedurals and can handle some graphic gore. " Mack Captures Crime

"Two characters lured me deeper and deeper into this book: The Raven, a serial killer who's completely convinced of his own brilliance, and Colm McEvoy. The sole maternal bone in my body is microscopic in size, but somehow Kitchin made me want to mother the detective superintendent. ... I found the investigation compelling with a minimal amount of gore. Although I was quite good at seeing which leads McEvoy needed to follow, I was no good at identifying The Raven until just a few pages before the unmasking. With the storyline and pacing-- and especially with the character of McEvoy-- I'm hoping that The Rule Book is the first in a series featuring the detective superintendent. " Kittling Books

"This book is the best I can ever recall reading in the way it depicts the wretched desperation that the police must experience in the face of something as truly awful as people being randomly and brutally killed and being unable to wade through the morass of evidence in time to save lives. … The Rule Book really gave me a sense of how hideous it must be to know people are relying on you for their safety but despite the fact you’re working all hours and trying your best you just can’t get the right answers in time. … [McEvoy] is a fantastic character: far from perfect but never giving up despite provocation and I can’t be the only one who just wanted to give the man a hug. I was also pleased to find The Rule Book has a very solid sense of its location. … From the iconic picture of the statue of Big Jim Larkin in Dublin’s city centre on the cover to the use of local language, particularly in dialogue, to descriptions of an interesting variety of locations in and around the city this is a very Irish book. …On one level this is a ripping crime fiction yarn which would be pleasing enough but there’s more to it than that. " Reactions to Reading

"This is a police procedural which focuses mainly in the daily work of the crime investigators, their internal quarrels, their difficult relationship with the media, the political implications of the case, the personal history of the main character topped up with a few references to Ireland and its history which I found very interesting. It has some great secondary characters like the state pathologist Professor Elaine Jone and a Scottish profiler Kathy Jacobs. And both, Charlie Deegan an ambitious detective and Detective Chief Superintended Tony Bishop, are used effectively to create some tension. Actually I very much enjoyed reading this clever and credible book. It has a real and interesting main character. The plot is nicely developed and it keeps my interest until the last page. A very entertaining reading. I look forward to read his next book where I expect to meet some of this characters again. " The Game's Afoot

Interview for Crime Always Pays
Interview for Crime Sciene Northern Ireland
Interview for Crime Watch
THE RULE BOOK by Rob Kitchin is published in paperback by Indepenpress Publishers Ltd. ISBN 978-1-906710-57-6 UK £8.99, €10.99


Last modified July 2009