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December 2016

My Eagerly Anticipated Books!

It’s been a great year for books and 2017 promises to be just as good! Here are some of the books I’m looking forward to seeing published:

img_0987The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths

2016 has seen me binge-reading all of Elly Griffiths’ Dr. Ruth Galloway books and the publication of The Chalk Pit can’t come soon enough! Over the past year, Ruth has become one of my favourite fictional characters and I can’t wait to see what happens to her next.

Published on February 23rd 2017

 

Origin by Dan Brown

519g6di52dl-_sy346_I know that Dan Brown’s books aren’t to everyone’s liking but I’m a firm believer that any book that gets people reading is a good idea! After finding The Lost Symbol a bit of a disappointment, Brown was back on track with Inferno (despite the dodgy ending in the film adaptation…). As with all of Brown’s books, the plot is, so far, shrouded in secrecy, but I’m hoping that it’s set in Europe and not America!

Published on September 26th 2017

 

51vc6ddce-lThe Somme Legacy by M J Lee

I enjoyed M J Lee’s first foray into genealogical mystery (The Irish Inheritance) and was pleased to see that a second book in the Jayne Sinclair series is imminent! As someone with an interest in the Somme, I am looking forward to this book immensely and can’t wait to see what secrets are hidden in the trenches of the First World War.

Published on February 9th 2017

 

downloadDying Games by Steve Robinson

After the revelations in Steve Robinson’s previous book, Kindred, this book is highly anticipated! The Amazon blurb has done more than whet my appetite!

Washington, DC: Twin brothers are found drowned in a Perspex box, one gagged and strapped to a chair. It’s the latest in a series of cruel and elaborate murders with two things in common: the killer has left a family history chart at each crime scene, and the victims all have a connection to genealogical sleuth Jefferson Tayte.

Published on 4th May 2017

2017 will also, hopefully, see new books from Kathleen McGurl, Lynda la Plante, Ann Troup, Nathan Dylan Goodwin, Luca Veste and Alex Grecian amongst others – I can’t wait!

Thorne at Christmas: A Short Story Collection by Mark Billingham

51-hzthgjflThorne at Christmas is billed as a collection of two short stories featuring Mark Billingham’s Detective Inspector Tom Thorne. In Underneath the Mistletoe Last night, Thorne, who has volunteered to work on Christmas Day, has to deal with the body of ‘Father Christmas’ who has been found dead under a Christmas tree by a young boy. In Stepping Up, a retired boxer, who was once a minder for underworld criminals, is persuaded to attend an exercise class by his daughter. When he sees a female face from the past getting into trouble with another member of the class, he knows he has to intervene, regardless of any consequences.

This book should come with a disclaimer, as only the first story features Thorne – he’s not even mentioned in the second one! As a result, I felt a bit conned as I was looking forward to reading two stories about what cases the inspector was involved in at Christmas. A third part of the book was also a preview of a novel I had already read so, needless to say, this was not the best 99p I’ve ever spent!

Despite this, I did enjoy the first story (the one about Thorne) although the second one ended in a quite confusing manner. I think I’ll stick to the novels in future!

 

Scotland Yard’s First Cases by Joan Lock

51dify3x7glWhen you think of Victorian policing, the first thing that probably pops into your head is the hunt for Jack the Ripper. From a twenty-first century perspective, the methods undertaken by these officers seem primitive but, compared to when Scotland Yard’s first Detective branch was set up in 1842, they were actually quite organised.  In this book, Joan Lock discusses some of the more well-known cases investigated by the early Scotland Yard detectives along with many of the lesser-known ones.

As someone who is fascinated by Victorian crime, this book looked to be exactly the sort I would love to read, not least because the sub-heading, ‘A Window into the World of Mr. Whicher’, refers to the detective known for investigating the infamous Road Hill House murder. In the end, Whicher plays only a very small role in this book and the aforementioned case, the murder of Savile Kent, is only discussed briefly.

I found some of the cases more interesting to read about than others, although the main emphasis is not on the actual cases themselves but on the methods used to bring the culprits to justice. Joan Lock has certainly researched well in order to show how difficult it was for the police of their day in a job that was underpaid and where they had to face untold danger on a daily basis. It soon becomes apparent that a lot of cases were solved, not as a result of the forensic evidence that is used so much today, but due to the doggedness of the detectives and, often, by complete luck.

For anyone interested in the advent of the police force or Victorian crime in general, then this book is a must-read.

With thanks to Netgalley and Endeavour Press for the ARC.

 

 

My Books of 2016

2016 has been a great year for books, especially for crime and thriller fans! With so many to choose from, it has been difficult to choose my ten favourites, but I think I’ve just about managed it!

The Silence Between Breaths by Cath Staincliffe

By far, my favourite book of the year, and one whose plot will stay with me for a long time. Telling the story of a suicide bomber onboard a train bound for London, Cath Staincliffe’s novel is emotional and fast-paced and is one that makes you ask the question, “What would I do in that situation?”

Follow Me / Watch Me by Angela Clarke

51g8rpiawvlA slight cheat, as this is actually two books, but I couldn’t separate them! The first books in Angela Clarke’s ‘Social Media Murders’ series show how the likes of Twitter and Snapchat can help to bring out the worst in people and they certainly make you question your own social media usage. Having just finished Watch Me, I do hope that there’s a third book on the horizon!

Kindred by Steve Robinson

I do love a good genealogical mystery and, for me, Steve Robinson is the master of them! Told in two timeframes – the present and World War Two – this is, at times, an incredibly emotive book as genealogist, Jefferson Tayte, uncovers the truth about his own family. Dealing with The Holocaust  and the events of Kristallnacht, this is not a light-hearted read, but one that truly shows what millions of people endured at that time.

The Girl in the Ice by Robert Bryndza

I could have included any of Robert Bryndza’s three ‘DCI Erika Foster’ books as they are all as brilliant as each other but decided to go with the one that started off the series. In Erika, we have a feisty, no-nonsense police officer who will stop at nothing to secure a conviction. Of course, like a lot of fictional detectives, she has a traumatic backstory, and this has helped her to become as determined as she is. Robert Bryndza’s foray into crime fiction has been a very welcome addition to the genre.

The Daughters of Red Hill Hall by Kathleen McGurl

It’s always  good sign when, after reading a book, you immediately download other books by the same author. This was what happened after reading The Daughters of Red Hill Hall. This is really two stories within a book, one set in the present day and one set during the Victorian era. In 1838, two sisters have been found shot but who was the culprit and how is the story linked to the present day? The book is billed as, ‘A gripping novel of family, secrets and murder’ and this is indeed true!

Then She Was Gone by Luca Veste

For me, Luca Veste is fast becoming one of the crime writers. Set in Liverpool, the books follow the work of DI David Murphy, a born and bred Scouser, and DS Laura Rossi, a Liverpudlian of Italian descent. One of the main strengths in this series is the relationship between the two main characters. What I really enjoyed about this book was that I had no idea who the culprit was and was left guessing until the very end.

Lost and Gone Forever by Alex Grecian

51ZBjJC54-L._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_Victorian crime is a big interest of mine and, for the past few years, I have eagerly anticipated the next of Alex Grecian’s Murder Squad books. After the shocking end to the previous book, The Harvest Man, I couldn’t wait to find out what had happened to Detective Walter Day. Lost and Gone Forever really shows the depraved side of Victorian society whilst also showing the growing importance of females. A great read!

The Disappearance by Annabel Kantaria

When I started to read this, I thought it was going to be a straightforward whodunnit: a woman disappears from a ship; how and why? It was so much more, though, telling the life story of Audrey Templeton and the consequences of her actions and those of other people. Heart-warming and distressing in equal measures.

The Silent Girls by Ann Troup

Edie inherits a house in the same square where five women were killed years before and soon finds herself drawn into the events of the past. This is a very dark story but one which is well-written and contains wonderful description. There are enough twists and turns to keep you guessing up until the end.

Hidden Killers by Lynda La Plante

51dispit6tl-_sx320_bo1204203200_I’ve always been a massive Prime Suspect fan so was ecstatic when Lynda La Plant started to write prequels to the original story. Hidden Kilers, like the first book, Tennison, helps to explain the character of Jane Tennison that we all know so well. Providing an insight into how difficult it was for the first group of female detectives, hopefully this series will go on and on!

Watch Me by Angela Clarke

51g8rpiawvlWhen 15-year-old Chloe Strofton is found dead after sending a suicide note on social media, it is assumed that the teenager has, tragically, taken her own life. After a second teenager, Lottie Burgone, goes missing, and taunting messages are sent to the police via Snapchat, connections begin to be made. What makes this case personal is that the missing girl is the sister of one of the investigating officers. DS Nasreen Cudmore and her friend Freddie Venton are determined to find the missing girl and discover who is behind the horrific attack. When a name from a previous case emerges, the women know that this promises to be a disturbing, twisted game of ‘cat and mouse’.

Ever since reading the first of Angela Clarke’s ‘Social Media Murders’ (Follow Me), I had been eagerly awaiting its sequel. Of course, when you’ve enjoyed a book so much, there is always slight trepidation when reading its follow-up in case it’s a let down. I am incredibly pleased to say that Watch Me is just as good, if not better, than Follow Me!

From the very first page, the author has you hooked and leaves you in no doubt as to the direction of the book. Although we, initially, don’t know the identity of the person who is experiencing such an extreme form of bullying, sympathy is instantly felt for them and for what they are going through. Whereas the emaphasis was placed on Twitter in the previous book, here we see how Snapchat and message boards can be used for less-than-honest means and how the innocent can become embroiled in it. The subject matter is one that has been very high profile in recent years and the author has certainly done her research to show how easy it is to become affected.

It definitely helps to have read the previous book although not too many spoilers are given away. Initially, the focus is on Nasreen and her police role but we are soon reacquainted with Freddie who, as a result of events in Follow Me, is a shadow of her former self. You can’t keep a good woman down, though, and Freddie is soon back to her wise-cracking ways, becoming an indispensible member of the investigating team.

Again, I found myself being unable to put this book down; “I’ll just read one more chapter…” became my mantra! The pace is relentless as it hits you with one revelation after another. I did have my suspicions early on as to who the culprit was and, although, I had identified a ‘wrong-un’, the actual killer remained unknown until the end, which contained a clever twist.

My only concern is now the time I’m going to have to wait until the next book!

With thanks to Harper Collins UK and Net Galley for my ARC.

 

 

The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths

After being summoned by DCI Harry Nelson to look at the body of a World War Two pilot discovered in a buried plane, forensic archaeologist, Ruth Galloway, soon realises that all is not what it seems. The body is identified as Fred Blackstock, whose plane was reported to have crashed at sea and, to confuse matters even further, there is a bullet hole in his head… When human remains are found at a nearby pig farm and another member of the Blackstock family is attacked, Nelson is tasked with bringing an unknown murderer to justice.

The Ghost Fields is the seventh in the Ruth Galloway series and, like all of her previous books, Elly Griffiths has created another ‘unputdownable’ read. By linking a historical case with the modern crimes, the story moves on at a steady pace and manages to throw in a few red herrings to keep you guessing right until the very end.

One of the things I enjoy most about this series is the characterisation. Throughout the books, we have seen the characters develop to the point where I almost believe they are real people! Ruth is fast becoming one of my favourite fictional characters and fully deserves to have her story made into a TV series.

My only problem with this book is that, as I read the next book in the series, The Woman in Blue, before the others, I have now reached the end of the Ruth Galloway story! Roll on 23rd February 2017 when The Chalk Pit is published!

 

Quick off the Mark by Susan Moody

When the badly mutilated body of a man is found in a field, former police officer, Alex Quick, is horrified to discover that it is Tristan Huber, a close family friend. After being asked by the dead man’s sister, Dimsie, to conduct her own investigation into the murder, Alex soon realises that Tristan had many secrets and that he was not exactly who he said he was. With people reluctant to share information, will Alex be able to uncover the true facts about his life and death, and is she prepared for what she is about to find out?

This is the second in the ‘Alex Quick’ series and, after reading the first, I was intrigued to find out where the author was going to take the plot. Like the previous book, Quick and the Dead, Susan Moody does not spare us any detail – the descriptions of the mutilated body are very graphic and leave you in no doubt as to the horrific nature of the crime.

I admit to struggling with this book and it took nearly two weeks for me to read it – this is a rare occurence! At several points, I felt as though I could have abandoned it but I persevered and found that, at about three-fifths of the way through, the story picked up and became much more enjoyable. My main concerns with the book were the amount of characters which, at times, became very confusing as I couldn’t remember their role in the plot. I, also, found it difficult to relate to any of the characters – I even found it difficult to like Alex due to her treatment of her friend Sam.

Although the plot is a genuinely interesting one, I felt that it was dragged out slightly due to the quite lengthy descriptions – it could have been concluded much earlier. There are a lot of positives for this book, but after the first instalment, I was hoping for a lot more.

With thanks to Net Galley and Severn House Publishers for the ARC.

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