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October 2016

Hidden Killers by Lynda La Plante

51dispit6tl-_sx320_bo1204203200_When WPC Jane Tennison is commended for her bravery after successfully ensnaring a man wanted for a series of sexual assaults, she is rewarded with the chance to start her career as a detective. Her first call-out, the non-suspicious death of a young mother found drowned in her bath, leaves her feeling uneasy, as she doubts whether the death is, indeed, accidental. With her also experiencing doubts about the reliability of statements signed by the attacker she so bravely fought off, Jane must now battle with her conscience and decide whether she should put her career before honesty.

With 2016 marking the 25th anniversary of the original Prime Suspect series and the forthcoming ‘Tennison’ TV series about to air, Hidden Killers is a welcome addition to the Jane Tennison backstory. Picking up from where the previous book, Tennison, left off, we find Jane about to complete her probationary period as a WPC. Again, we see the problems she faces being a woman in a predominantly male profession and how she has to overcome these barriers in order to achieve recognition.

Jane’s tenacity is apparent throughout the book and we start to see the ‘never give up’ attitude we have grown to love throughout the Prime Suspect television series. One of the things am really enjoying about these prequels is that  Lynda la Plante has stayed loyal to the later stories and it is easy to see how the woman we are reading about progresses into the character we know so well.

One thing that has always fascinated me about Lynda la Plante’s novels is the use of the word ‘schlepp.’ This word always appears several times in her books and I admit to awaiting its appearance when I am reading! I was not disappointed with this book!

Another 5 star read and I await the next one eagerly!

Rather be the Devil by Ian Rankin

imageForty years ago, Maria Turquand was found murdered in her hotel room on the same night that a famous rock star and his entourage were staying there. Despite the case being quite high profile at the time, no one was ever convicted of the crime. Now, with time on his hands, retired detective John Rebus is determined to solve the case. Meanwhile, in Edinburgh, local gangster Darryl Christie has been the subject of a vicious attack. Is the notorious Big Ger Cafferty involved or is Christie’s rumoured involvement in a large-scale money laundering scheme to blame?

Now a couple of years into his retirement, and despite his health being a cause for concern, it soon becomes apparent that Rebus is not going to be spending his twilight years relaxing. Unable to take a complete break from the job that consumed his life, his interest in the Maria Turquand case puts him, once again, in contact with his old colleagues Siobhan Clarke and Malcolm Fox. One of the more fascinating parts of these later books in the series (this is the 21st!) is the change in relationship between Rebus and Clarke. Once the superior officer, John must now rely upon his former subordinates in order to find out the information he needs.

Of course, one of the highlights for Rebus fans is the return of Gerald Cafferty. Like Rebus, he is seeing the younger generation take over his once thriving ‘business’ and, on the surface, he looks to be far removed from it. We have learned to never underestimate Big Ger, however, and the scenes between him and his nemesis, Rebus, are an absolute joy to read. There has always been a grudging respect between the two men and this is shown powerfully during the end scenes of the book when the life of one of the men looks to be in serious danger.

Ian Rankin has, again, produced a superb book which shows that, although Rebus may be advancing in years, there is still life in the old dog yet! After decades of reading this series, I dread the day Rankin decides that Rebus should hang up his boots for good.

With thanks to Net Galley and Orion Publishing Group for the ARC.

Before I Let You In by Jenny Blackhurst **BLOG TOUR**

Today is my turn on the Before I Let You In blog tour!

Psychiatrist Karen is used to dealing with a range of personalities but when new patient Jessica enters her office, she immediately senses that something is not right. Jessica seems to know all about Karen and her friends – things that very few people are aware of. Soon Karen finds that her life, and the lives of those she cares about, is spiralling out of control. Just who exactly is Jessica and has Karen made a big mistake in letting her in?

Before I Let you In tells the story of three lifelong friends, Karen, Bea and Eleanor who, despite their different lifestyles, have remained as close as ever. Karen is dedicated to her work and, to the outside world, seems to have it all. We find out, however, that her boyfriend is not exactly who he seems – just what is his secret? Eleanor is struggling to cope with the demands of a new baby and Bea is still traumatised about events from the past. What follows is a tale of all-consuming friendship and a lesson in how we may not know everything about those closest to us.

Each main character is given chapters devoted to them so we get the opportunity to experience exactly what is going on in their lives. As the twisted tormentor starts to play their mind games on the women, immense tension is created as you wonder at what point they will realise what is truly happening. At points, this book is genuinely ‘unputdownable’ as the plot moves like an express train and grips you at every turn.

Although there is a point in the story when you realise the true extent of the sickening behaviour of the tormentor, the ending still comes as a big surprise and is definitely not something I could have predicted. Credit to Jenny Blackhurst for creating a believable plot where you do genuinely feel fear and sympathy for the characters.

Before I Let You In is a must read that is available to buy now on Amazon.

With thanks to Net Galley and Headline for the ebook.

Take a look at some of the other great blogs who have participated in this blog tour:

Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths

Ordinarily, Ruth Galloway would be excited to receive a letter from an old university friend detailing news of a fascinating archaeological discovery. Unfortunately, the letter has arrived the day after the writer’s death, killed in a suspicious house fire in the north-west of England. After receiving threatening texts warning to her to stay away from the dig, forensic archaeologist Ruth wrestles with her conscience and finally decides to head up to Ribchester to see exactly what Dan Golding had discovered and why someone is determined to stop her finding out. Ruth’s visit coincides with DCI Harry Nelson’s trip back home to Blackpool so, inevitably, he is drawn into the case. This time, however, the stakes are high and someone very close to Ruth may find themselves in mortal danger…

Dying Fall is the fifth book in the series and we see Ruth and Nelson out of the confines of Norfolk, instead heading to the northern towns of Ribchester, Fleetwood and Blackpool. As someone who knows Blackpool fairly well, I found Nelson’s take on his hometown very realistic but also understood Kate’s excitement at seeing Blackpool Pleasure Beach with its child-friendly Nickleodeon Land! Elly Griffiths’ writing always makes me want to explore new places – in this case, Pendle looks looks like a fascinating place to visit!

This book is not as fast-paced as the previous books but, instead is a slow-burner culminating in a nail-biting climax at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. There are many themes running throughout the story, as the author deals with the likes of racism and the supernatural, and it is interesting to see how the different characters interpret things in their own ways.

It is definitely recommended that you read the other books in the series before this one in order to fully appreciate the plot and character development. Another great read and I am looking forward to reading the next instalment.

Blood Lines by Angela Marsons

When a social worker is found dead in her car with a single stab wound to the heart, Detective Kim Stone knows straight away that this is not a bungled robbery. Her fears are realised when another woman is found dead with an identical wound. With no apparent link between the victims, she has her work cut out to find the killer before they strike again.

Unfortunately, at the same time as trying to bring a conclusion to the case, Kim is facing a battle of her own when she receives a letter from Dr Alex Thorne, a sociopath she helped put behind bars. This leads her to coming face to face with her own mother – the woman who killed Kim’s brother, Mikey.

Blood Lines is the fifth book in the Kim Stone series (I have also reviewed Play Dead and Lost Girls), and yet again, Angela Marsons has pulled it out of the bag! From the first few pages, you are pulled into the book as we seemingly see Kim about to become the victim of a brutal attack. All is not what it seems, however, and we immediately see the tenacity of the detective that has kept readers hooked in the previous four books. In this novel, though, we do get to find out much more about Kim’s early life thanks to her nemesis, Alex Thorne. Some of these revelations are horrific and it helps the reader to understand exactly why Kim is so hellbent on putting away the bad guys.

Usually, there is a point in a crime novel where you begin to get an inkling as to who the guilty party is. In Blood Lines, however, I can honestly say that when the murderer was unmasked, I was completely taken unaware! It is testimony to Angela Marson’s skilful writing that although the killer was extremely unexpected, it made complete sense.

Although Dr Alex Thorne made a more than suitable adversary for Kim Stone, I do admit to missing reporter Tracy Frost. Hopefully, we will see her return in the next book!

This is another five star read from Angela Marsons which is published on November 4th and available to pre-order on Amazon.

With thanks to Net Galley and Bookouture for the advance copy.

 

Dark Water by Robert Bryndza

imageDetective Chief Inspector Erika Foster is disillusioned with her job. Moved to a unit where all she seems to do is convict drug dealers only to find them replaced by another, she aches to have something more complex to sink her teeth into. Her wish is granted when, on a search for a vast amount of narcotics, something else is discovered – the remains of a young child. The body is soon identified as Jessica Collins, a girl who vanished without trace twenty-six years ago. What follows is a case that will test Erika’s resolve to its limits. Someone does not want this murder solved and will do anything to stop the detective from doing so.

Dark Water is the third of the Erika Foster novels and is arguably the best of the three! Although this is not as fast paced as The Girl in the Ice or The Night Stalker, Robert Bryndza has you hooked from the first few pages as, once again, we find Erika in danger. Her doggedness is evident from the start, however, and continues throughout the book as she tries to solve a case that left the original investigating team in disarray. In a previous review, I compared Erika to Lynda La Plante’s legendary Jane Tennison and I feel that this is even more apparent here – DCI Foster is certainly becoming a force to be reckoned with in crime fiction!

The subject of the book is a very emotive one as we learn of the family’s despair in never knowing what happened to their daughter coupled with their grief and subsequent unraveling after the discovery of her remains. The scenes with the original suspect and the police officers are particularly well written, as we see Erika being the consummate professional, disguising her feelings well, whilst her colleague’s revulsion is made crystal clear.

Throughout the case, we see Erika doing what she does best – working flat out until the conclusion is reached. Throughout the book, however, we do, occasionally get to see a different side of our leading lady with the arrival of her sister and her family and also when a relationship appears to be blossoming.

This is another fantastic book by Robert Bryndza and one that is screaming out to become a TV series!

With thanks to Net Galley and Bookouture for the advance copy.

The Silence Between Breaths by Cath Staincliffe **BLOG TOUR**

I am honoured to have been chosen to be one of the stops on Cath Staincliffe’s blog tour for her latest book The Silence Between Breaths.

The 10.35 train is making its way from Manchester to London Euston, each passenger heading to the capital for a different reason. Jeff, a young unemployed man, dreams of a successful job interview while Holly, the woman next to him, already has the job of her dreams. Rhona, on her way to work with two fellow employees, is desperate to be back at home with her unwell child and Naz, a rail employee, has aspirations beyond collecting rubbish. Meg and her partner are off on a walking holiday while Nick and his young family are on their way to a wedding. Caroline is looking forward to some respite from home where she has to deal with problem children and a mother with dementia. Then there is Saheel, a student, who has a backpack he won’t let out of his sight…

Often, when a book contains so many characters, it is extremely easy to become confused but, thankfully, this is not the case in The Silence Between Breaths. Initially, we are introduced to each character separately and their back story and reason for them being on the train is slowly revealed. As we become more accustomed to each person, the characters start to interact with each other and it is then that the setting of the story really comes alive.

From quite early on, it is apparent that the journey is going to be a traumatic one and, after becoming quite attached to some of the characters, the anticipation is, at times, unbearable. Cath Staincliffe does an excellent job in building up the tension so that when one of the characters realises what is going to happen, you begin to fear for the safety of all those on the train. When the inevitable happens, thanks to the author’s description, it is easy to visualise the utter destruction and sense the panic felt by those who have unwittingly become involved in a major incident. These scenes are not for the faint-hearted but are vital to show the carnage caused and the repercussions for everyone on the train.

One of the biggest strengths of this book is that we also get to meet the family of Saheel and how this event affected their lives. Saheel’s sister was probably my favourite character – a young lady with a very wise head on her shoulders. As this story is one of a very sensitive nature, it was good to get the point of view of different sections of society.

In the present climate, it is probably the wrong choice of words to say that I enjoyed this book, but I feel that Cath Staincliffe has succeeded in creating a gripping, emotion-filled story that is extremely relevant today. This is, by far, the best book I have read so far this year.

The Silence Between Breaths is available to purchase now.

With thanks to Net Galley and Little Brown Book Group UK (Constable) for the copy.

Take a look at some of the other great blogs that have contributed to this blog tour:

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Holding by Graham Norton

When a skeleton is unearthed in the Irish village of Duneen, Sergeant PJ Collins finally has something to sink his teeth into. Thought to be the remains of the missing Tommy Burke, the discovery stirs up memories for two of his former loves: Brid Riordan, an unhappily married mother of two, and unmarried Evelyn Ross. Do either of these woman know more about the skeleton than they are willing to divulge, or is someone else harbouring a shameful secret?

When I saw that TV presenter and comedian Graham Norton had written a novel, I was intrigued. Even more so with the realisation that it was based around the discovery of a body. Would his acerbic wit be evident in the characters or would this be a departure from what I was expecting?

What I read was a gentle mystery with a well-written, character driven plot. Such is the style of the writing, I could almost hear Graham Norton’s voice during certain sections of the text and his humour certainly comes through, albeit in a much more laid back way. In PJ, we have the very antithesis of a leading man – overweight, no social life to speak of and limited job prospects – and yet you quickly find yourself charmed by him. Likewise, I found myself willing Brid Riordan to get out of the rut she had found herself in and felt real empathy towards her plight.

Holding is a great debut from Graham Norton and I hope that this is the start of a new venture for him! It is published on October 6th and can be purchased on Amazon.

With thanks to Hodder & Stoughton and Net Galley for the ebook.

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