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The Redemption Murders by J C Briggs

The year is 1851 and the police have been called to London’s Blackwall Reach where a death has been reported on the ship The Redemption. The captain, Louis Valentine, has been brutally stabbed to death, the only clue left behind being a  copy of The Old Curiosity Shop, one of Charles Dickens’ books. The book has been inscribed to someone called ‘Kit’ who Dickens immediately recognises as his friend Kit Penney. With his friend now a murder suspect, Dickens sets out to find him, only to discover that he is missing. Is he involved or is he in fear for his own life? As the death toll rises, Superintendent Jones and the famous writer find themselves uncovering a series of dark secrets…

This, the sixth in the series is possibly the most complex plot to date, with a great deal going on, all linking together to create a huge web of intrigue. If you haven’t read any of this series yet, you may wonder how Charles Dickens finds himself involved in this shady underworld and, although this is explained in previous books, you don’t need to have read them to enjoy The Redemption Murders. Each book in the series can be read as a standalone.

One of the things I enjoy most about this series is the descriptions of Victorian London. Although we do get to experience the richer part of society, I particularly like reading about the lower classes and the environment they are forced to live in. J C Briggs writes this extremely well and you can easily picture these downtrodden people, living in squalid conditions through no fault of their own. Dickens has great sympathy for these people and there several links made to the author’s own life which, as many people will know, was not a bed of roses.

Children feature quite strongly in this series and there was one moment with a particular child in this book that was truly heart-wrenching. Throughout the book, we see how these children have to grow up fast, often doing things that they should not be doing at their age.

If you are a fan of historical mystery or are someone who enjoys the books of Charles Dickens, then this is a great series. A superb atmospheric read.

With thanks to Sapere Books and Net Galley for my copy.

**COVER REVEAL** Who’s Next? by Chris Merritt

I’m really please to be taking part in the cover reveal for Chris Merrit’s latest book, Who’s Next?, which will be published by Bookouture on September 11th. If this looks like your sort of book, it can be pre-ordered here: Pre-order link

About the Author

Hello! I’m a British author whose crime thrillers combine psychology, suspense, and characters you care about.

All my novels are set in London, where I live. My first trilogy starred Zac Boateng and Kat Jones, two detectives motivated by family, who tackle organised crime and police corruption. LAST WITNESS, the second Boateng and Jones book, reached #13 in the UK Kindle chart in 2019.

My second series features detective Dan Lockhart – an ex-soldier with a missing wife – and psychologist Dr Lexi Green, an American living in London. These novels are darker, more psychological serial-killer cases, with romantic relationships as a central theme.

I began writing fiction in 2014, after previous careers as a diplomat, based in Iraq and Jerusalem, and later as a psychologist working with victims and perpetrators of crime. I specialised in treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which sparked my interest in telling stories about how people cope when faced with extreme adversity.

Now, I spend most of my time writing novels and drinking coffee while *thinking* about writing novels. When I’m not writing, I love climbing and playing basketball.

You can find out more about my work at www.cjmerritt.co.uk or follow me on Twitter @DrCJMerritt

About the Book

Stumbling to the ground, he claws at the earth around him, trying to stabilise himself, but his attacker is on him in seconds. As he stares at the lights of the bustling streets on the other side of the park gates, he doesn’t even have time to yell for help before everything goes black.

When the body of wealthy businessman Charles Stott is found dead on Wimbledon Common, covered in bruises just feet away from his luxury home, Detective Dan Lockhart is called to investigate the shocking scene. Examining the sickeningly disfigured body before him, Lockhart knows he’s dealing with a brutal killer and, as he bends down to take a closer look, he notices something on the victim’s neck: a small, crudely drawn symbol in black ink. It seems the murderer has marked his victim, but why? Dan needs to get inside the perpetrator’s mind, so he contacts psychologist Dr Lexi Green.

As the ensuing media circus puts pressure on Dan and Lexi’s investigation, another victim is found and the headlines are quick to report a serial killer is on the loose. The body of a successful lawyer has been discovered in a park with the same purple bruising and hand-drawn symbol on his neck. Dan fears that more victims will follow.

As the case intensifies, Dan uncovers a new lead on his missing wife, Jess, who disappeared eleven years ago. Determined to follow it up, he must choose between tracking down a serial murderer and finding Jess. Can he make the impossible decision before the killer strikes once more?

Fans of Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott and Cara Hunter will love this thrilling new series from Chris Merritt. From an explosive start to a heart-stopping finale, you will not want to put this book down!

With thanks to Bookouture and Noelle Holten.

 

Monthly Round-Up: June 2020

With everything that is going on, I forgot to do my round up of what I had read last month! Better late than never!

Books I Have Read

The Body in the Marsh by Nick Louth

After reading the rest of the Craig Gillard series, I thought it was about time that I read the first! When a woman goes missing and is feared dead, the case is very close to home for Gillard as it is an ex-girlfriend from his youth. If you haven’t read this series yet, I can highly recommend it.

 

Death on Coffin Lane by Jo Allen

The third in the DCI Jude Satterthwaite series sees the detective investigating a string of deaths, the common link being an academic who is currently staying in the area. Is she a potential victim or is she involved in the crimes?

 

I Robot: How to be a Footballer 2 by Peter Crouch

A bit of light relief for football fans with stories from his footballing career and beyond told in the author’s self-effacing way.

 

 

The Redemption Murders by J C Briggs

When a sea captain is found stabbed to death on his ship, The Redemption, Superintendent Jones, ably assisted by the writer Charles Dickens, find themselves involved in a case full of secrets. This is the sixth in the Victorian crime mystery series. Review to follow.

 

The Heatwave by Katerina Diamond

A missing girl sparks memories of a similar occurrence sixteen years ago, leading Felicity to return to the town of her youth, determined to put the past behind her once and for all. This is a brilliant summer read – review to follow as part of the blog tour.

 

The Fear of Ravens by Wendy Percival

The fourth in the series sees genealogist Esme Quentin researching a case of witchcraft, family feud and murder. A great read, probably the best in the series so far.

 

Books I Have Acquired

Someone stole a baby…

One sunny day in July, someone took three-month-old Alicia Owen from her pram outside a supermarket. Her mother, Marie, was inside. No one saw who took Alicia. And no one could find her.

They silenced her cry…

Fifteen years later, a teenager on a construction site sees a tiny hand in the ground. When the police investigate, they find a baby buried and preserved in concrete. Could it be Alicia?

But the truth will always out.

When Alicia disappeared, the papers accused Marie of detachment and neglect. The Owens never got over the grief of their child’s disappearance and divorced not long after. By reopening the case, DC Beth Chamberlain must reopen old wounds. But the killer may be closer than anyone ever suspected…

 

Orla and Kate have been best friends forever. Together they’ve faced it all – be it Orla’s struggles as a new mother or Kate’s messy divorce. And whatever else happens in their lives, they can always look forward to their annual weekend away.

This year, they’re off to Lisbon: the perfect flat, the perfect view, the perfect itinerary. And what better way to kick things off in style than with the perfect night out?

But when Orla wakes up the next morning, Kate is gone. Brushed off by the police and with only a fuzzy memory of the night’s events, Orla is her friend’s only hope. As she frantically retraces their steps, Orla makes a series of shattering discoveries that threaten everything she holds dear. Because while Lisbon holds the secret of what happened that night, the truth may lie closer to home…

 

It’s 1996. Detective Sergeant Tom Thorne is a haunted man. Haunted by the moment he ignored his instinct about a suspect, by the horrific crime that followed and by the memories that come day and night, in sunshine and shadow.

So when seven-year-old Kieron Coyne goes missing while playing in the woods with his best friend, Thorne vows he will not make the same mistake again. Cannot.

The solitary witness. The strange neighbour. The friendly teacher. All are in Thorne’s sights.

This case will be the making of him . . . or the breaking.

 

Hopefully next next month I’ll be a bit quicker!

 

The Fear of Ravens by Wendy Percival

After being hired to research the history of an old mill owned by her client Anna Brannock, genealogist Esme Quentin uncovers allegations of murder, witchcraft and a family feud that still exists today. Disturbingly, Anna appears to be the victim of some sort of hate campaign – is there a link to what happened a century ago? It is during the course of her investigation that Esme also finds herself embroiled in a missing persons enquiry after a private investigator arrives, looking for an Ellen Tucker. Why are the local people denying knowing too much about Ellen and how does it link to what is happening to Anna?

I was thrilled to see that Wendy Percival had written a fourth Esme Quentin book and could not wait to see where I would be transported to this time. Although we are taken back to the Victorian era as part of Esme’s research, I liked how most of the events link to the more recent history, a common theme linking everything neatly together.

As a fan of historical fiction and, in particular, genealogical fiction, one of the things I enjoyed most about this book is that the writing style is very different from other authors of this genre. Although we find out about different historical eras, this is not written as a ‘timeslip’ story as in other books. Instead, we experience Esme’s research, the stories of the past being uncovered as we read. This is fascinating to me and, as a family history researcher myself, I enjoyed seeing that Esme’s research mirrored what I would have done!

The plot is a fascinating one, dealing with the subject of witchcraft and how women were condemned for the most trivial of reasons. The Fear of Ravens hits the spot in so many ways, as in addition to being a great historical mystery, there is a cracking whodunit running throughout. When you add the wonderful setting and great characters into the mix, what you have is a book perfect for anyone looking for a read that really draws you into the plot.

If you are a fan of historical fiction, or have never given books with a genealogical slant a try, then I can thoroughly recommend The Fear of Ravens. Although it is part of a series, it can be read as a standalone, but if you would like to find out about the rest of the series, take a look at the rest of the books and some of my reviews:

Blood-Tied

The Indelible Stain

The Malice of Angels

Death of a Cuckoo

Legacy of Guilt

With thanks to Wendy Percival for sending me an ARC off The Fear of Ravens.

**COVER REVEAL** The Christmas Killer by Alex Pine

This year has been very strange, and it’s about to become stranger. It’s time for #ChristmasInJuly!
 
As the snow begins to fall, the body count begins to climb…
 
Pre-order your copy of The Christmas Killer by Alex Pine for only 99p! Out 29th Oct. ☃️
 
 
 
 
 
 

Death on Coffin Lane by Jo Allen

Academic Cody Wilder has a reputation for being a bit difficult and DCI Jude Satterthwaite immediately gets on her bad side when he turns up late for a talk she is giving on Wordsworth. Personal feelings must be put aside, however, after her research assistant is found dead at the cottage she is renting whilst in Grasmere, and Jude finds himself part of the investigating team. With Cody seemingly dividing opinion amongst the locals, it is no surprise that trouble appears to follow her around, but with more and more people that she knows coming to harm, is she in danger or is something else afoot?

Death on Coffin Lane is the third in the Jude Satterthwaite series, but it can be read as a standalone as there are no real spoilers in here for events in the previous books. I really like Jude as a character, and am enjoying seeing how he is developing through the series. Although he is not exactly an action-packed police officer, we constantly see his strength when he faces people from his past who bear a grudge. I admire his ‘never give in’ attitude and can see how his personality suits the job he has in the Lake District.

On the other hand, Cody Wilder is a character that I disliked immensely. Don’t see this as a criticism, however, in fact it should be seen as the exact opposite. Jo Allen has written Wilder so well that she has evoked the same response in the reader as in the local people. Throughout the book, although it was obvious that she played some role in what was happening, I could not work out to what extent. While I never really believed that she had first hand involvement in any of the deaths, I knew that the plot would eventually revolve around her, but how?

I’m enjoying the Jude Satterthwaite series so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing where Jo Allen takes him next.

With thanks to Aria Fiction and Net Galley for my ARC.

Take a look at my reviews for the rest of the series:

Death by Dark Waters

Death at Eden’s End

 

The Arbella Stuart Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh

The year is 1603 and the reign of the Tudors has come to an end. The Scottish king James, now James I of England, has taken the throne, much to the anger of those who believe that there is another rightful monarch residing in the country. Back in the present day, Dr Perdita Rivers and her sister Piper are still taken aback at the changes that have happened in the past year, but know that even more is ahead. If they can find the one thing that has been eluding them, could they have the evidence that could alter the course of British history forever? With old enemies set to resurface, how much more blood will be shed to prevent secrets from emerging?

The Arbella Stuart Conspiracy is the final book of the Marquess House trilogy and I would advise that you read the previous two (The Catherine Howard Conspiracy and The Elizabeth Tudor Conspiracy) before starting this one in order to develop a full understanding of the plot. Briefly, and without spoilers, in the previous books we discover that the sisters have inherited their family home, Marquess House, an impressive building containing a wealth of history. They soon discover that the house is hiding numerous secrets that could potentially change everything we thought we knew about Tudor history, and that there are people who would happily kill to keep us all in the dark. 

As someone interested in this era of British history, I’ve loved the journey that Alexandra Walsh has taken me on, merging fact with fiction to the point where it is impossible to see the joins! I enjoy books that challenge my thinking and, as I read this, I found myself researching characters and aspects of the plot in order to get a better understanding of this turbulent time in Britain’s past. By referencing real events such as the Main and Gunpowder Plots, there is an air of authenticity about the book, and the amount of research undertaken by the author is apparent. I admit to not knowing a great deal about Arbella Stuart, but after reading this, I will definitely be finding out more about her.

In the present day part of the story, there are plenty of loose ends left from previous books that I hoped would be tied up by the end and I was pleased to see that they were. I must say that I am very envious of Perdita’s life: living in such a historic building with access to all of that research material sounds like my idea of heaven! 

While I have thoroughly enjoyed the Marquess House trilogy, I am sad that it has come to an end. I hope that Alexandra Walsh has a similar idea in the pipeline as I’d love to read her take on another aspect of history – I’m sure there is plenty of scope for a few more conspiracy theories!

With thanks to Sapere Books for my copy of The Arbella Stuart Conspiracy. 

I, Robot: How to be a Footballer 2 by Peter Crouch

With what is going on in the world at the moment, I was in need of something a bit more light-hearted than what I usually read. I, Robot is the second book in a year from footballer Peter Crouch and if you were a fan of the first instalment, then you’re going to enjoy this one too.

If you’re looking for a serious autobiography, then you’re not going to find this here, but then, with Peter Crouch, I’m sure that’s not what you were expecting! What we have here is a collection of anecdotes from both his career as a Premier League footballer and from before this time, split into chapters with headings such as ‘Away Days’, ‘Referees’ and ‘Strikers’. While some sections are more successful than others, on the whole, this is a very readable book with plenty to keep you entertained.

As you would expect, in his writing, Peter Crouch comes across as a self-effacing character, honest about his career and team mates without ever being too shocking. Although he does give his opinion on many aspects of the game, it never veers from being a light-hearted take on the beautiful game. 

If you’re a football fan looking for a non-demanding, easy read, then this just might be the book for you.

With thanks to Ebury Press for my copy of I, Robot. 

 

 

The Body in the Marsh by Nick Louth

DCI Craig Gillard finds himself emotionally involved in a case when a girlfriend from his youth is reported missing. Her husband is seemingly unperturbed, but the case takes a sudden turn when he, too, slips off the radar. A guilty conscience or something more sinister? Running alongside the investigation is another case: a new look into the death of someone known as ‘Girl F’. Just why has no progress been made?

I’m not usually a fan of reading a book series out of order, but that is what has happened with Nick Louth’s Craig Gillard series. Having already read the rest of the series, I thought I had better go back to where it all started! I found that it took me back even further than I was expecting with an insight into Craig’s early life thanks to the investigation into Liz Knight, a woman who also happened to be an ex-girlfriend. I admired Craig’s ability to work through this case, despite his connection to Liz, his dedication to the job in hand being something that is carried through the rest of the series. 

The case is a particularly twisted one, often more twisted than you could ever imagine. I did have my suspicions as to how the plot would play out which proved to be correct, but such is the quality of the author’s storytelling that my enjoyment was not spoiled one bit. In a story which takes in several European countries, we see the determination of Craig and his team to solve the case, discovering links to other crimes in the process. 

Often in police procedurals, the second plot is not as interesting, but this is definitely not the case here. The story of ‘Girl F’ is a heart-wrenching one, and one that made me very angry. We discover that despite giving evidence of her abuse and a description of someone who was involved, no one was ever brought to justice, even after the girl chose to take her own life. There has apparently been some sort of conspiracy of silence, but why? Exactly who is pulling the strings? In a story full of anger, I did find myself laughing when a suspect in the case is delivered to the police – never underestimate a woman!

If you haven’t read any of this series, and you are a plan of police procedurals with great characters and gripping plots, I can thoroughly recommend the Craig Gillard series. Take a look at my reviews of the other books:

The Body on the Shore

The Body in the Mist

The Body in the Snow

The Body Under the Bridge

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