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April 2017

The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo

Finding himself carrying out surveillance duties after being reassigned, Harry Hole is quite happy spending some time working alone. It is not long, though, before he discovers that a rare high-calibre rifle has been smuggled into the country – one that is favoured by assassins. When a former Nazi sympathiser is found with his throat cut, Harry wonders if there could be a connection between the two occurrences. As the body count rises, it soon becomes apparent that there is someone out there, determined to mete out their own brand of justice. Will Harry be able to find out who he is before more bodies are found?

The Redbreast is the third of Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole series and is definitely my favourite so far. Indeed, Jo himself, in a recent Q&A session, declared that this is his favourite too. The start of the book is quite harrowing as we are taken back to the trenches of World War Two where a small group of Norwegian soldiers are fighting on the side of the Germans. This section of the book was, at times, a bit confusing but all is explained very clearly in the concluding chapters and is essential in understanding the rest of the plot.

Fast forward over fifty years, and Norway is dealing with a new enemy – the neo-Nazi. Harry and his colleagues must try to find out if there is a connection between the rise of this group and the Marklin rifle that has turned up in the country. Just who is the target of the alleged assassination plot and which of the ex-soldiers is the would-be assassin? From the outset, it was obvious that one of the soldiers mentioned in the opening chapters would be the guilty party but Nesbo has done a good job in throwing you off the scent until the very end.

As seems to be the theme of all of these early books, Harry, once again, has to endure a personal tragedy and so, inevitably turns to drink. Although this case was, to all intents and purposes, resolved, there was still a major part of it that was not – I am sure that this story line will rear its ugly head in one of the following books.

In all, a fascinating read that was a solid mystery story and one that also taught me some aspects of World War two that I did not know too much about.

 

An Evening With Jo Nesbo

This week, I was fortunate enough to attend an evening with the multi-million selling author Jo Nesbo. Celebrating the twentieth anniversary of his most famous creation, Harry Hole, Jo is currently embarking on a UK tour, promoting his latest book, The Thirst.

In an interview with Jake Kerridge, Jo recalled how Harry Hole first came into being. When asked to write about life on the road with his band, he decided that the old adage, ‘what goes on tour, stays on tour’ was true and so used the lengthy flight to Australia to plan out the first Harry novel, The Bat. His love for his native Oslo is apparent when he speaks and so it was not too long before his books were being set in the Norwegian capital. It could be argued that Harry Hole is now one of Norway’s biggest exports although he does, according to Jo, have a rival in the Norwegian cheese knife!

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His new book The Thirst is, literally, one of Harry’s most blood thirsty cases, dealing with clinical vampirism. A serial killer is stalking the dating app, Tinder, in order to find victims whose blood he can drink. When asked if he’d consulted convicted murderers to aid his research, Jo revealed that he had spoken to a couple but had never been able to use anything in his books. He also spoke about the end of the Harry Hole series which may come fairly soon.

One of the most interesting parts of the evening was when he discussed The Redbreast  his favourite self-written book. This book, set partly during World War Two, had some of its inspiration thanks to Jo’s father’s involvement in the war, fighting on the side of the Germans whilst his mother was part of the resistance in Norway.

One of the biggest laughs came as he talked about his pride in seeing strangers on aeroplanes reading his books, unaware that the author was sitting next to them. He also is known for signing people’s books when he spots them on an unattended sun lounger on the beach. I wonder how many people have been furious when discovering that someone had written on their book, unaware that it was actually Jo’s signature!

The Thirst is available to buy now.

 

Cockroaches by Jo Nesbo

CockroachesAfter his success in Australia, detective Harry Hole is summoned to Thailand to investigate the murder of  the Norwegian ambassador. Found in a seedy hotel, known to be frequented by prostitutes, the ambassador’s family are reluctant to talk and are clearly hiding some secrets of their own. When Harry finds some vital CCTV footage, only for the person who gave it to him disappear, he realises that there may be more to this case than meets the eye.

After being slightly disappointed with The Bat, but being assured that the series gets better, I read Cockroaches with a touch of trepidation. Although I know that this still isn’t one of Jo Nesbo’s most well-liked books, I did enjoy this one a lot more as, unlike the previous book, there was more plot and less filler. The book starts with Harry, again, being sent out to solve a murder in another country, this time one that has the potential to be politically sensitive – a strange appointment seeing as, after events of the previous book, Harry seems intent on drinking himself into oblivion! It is clear that Harry’s personality is starting to emerge and, as a result, I liked him much more than in The Bat.

Dealing with the seedier sides of Thailand, namely prostitution and paedophilia, Cockroaches is, at times, an unpleasant read, and is occasionally fairly graphic. These scenes are vital, however, in helping you to build up a true picture of the circumstances Harry finds himself in. I did find that the plot was occasionally hard to follow as I tried to remember how each character fitted in to the story. As a consequence, I was nowhere near working out who the guilty party was but was happy with the explanation.

Cockroaches is a big improvement on the previous book and I am looking forward to reading The Redbreast next.

 

Dead Souls by Angela Marsons

34500937When human bones are discovered in a field, Kim Stone has to tackle what could become the most challenging case of her career. Having to work alongside Detective Travis is bad enough but when the bones are found to belong to three different people, each telling a story of extreme torture, Stone knows that she will stop at nothing to uncover the truth. Her team, meanwhile, are dealing with a spate of particularly barbaric hate crimes, and one member in particular is getting a little too close for comfort. Will Kim be able to prevent the unimaginable actually happening?

Dead Souls is the sixth instalment in the Kim Stone series and these books just keep going from strength to strength. What, at first, appears to be a run of the mill murder investigation soon becomes a tale of human depravity at its worst with scenes that will long stay in the imagination. What makes this even more horrifying is that the subject matter – hate crime – is being experienced first-hand by too many people in ‘real life.’ In Dead Souls, Angela Marsons has certainly brought this issue to the fore in a very intense, thought-provoking way and makes you feel physically sick that certain individuals could behave in this inhuman manner.

It was a strange experience seeing Kim working with Travis but this definitely gave us a change to see how her team coped without her. Stacey, in particular, played a much bigger role in this book and, despite her poor judgement, showed the rest of the detectives how much she has to offer. I was also surprised at how my feelings towards Travis changed as the book progressed – this is testament to the author’s brilliant writing when dealing with the real story behind his falling out with Kim.

It was inevitable that all of the separate plot lines would eventually converge and when they did, this led to a terrifying, nail-biting finale where, once again, Kim proves how far she will go to protect her team. Ms. Stone is fast becoming one of the greats of detective fiction and I am pleased that Angela Marsons has been signed up by Bookouture for further books in the series!

On a personal note, in my review for the previous book in the series, Blood Lines, I noted my disappointment on the lack of Tracy Frost. I am pleased to report that the reporter does make an appearance, albeit brief, in Dead Souls, and it was interesting to see how events of a previous book have altered her personality.

Dead Souls is a must-read book with a topical subject matter that really makes you wonder if you truly know the views of everyone you meet.

With thanks to Net Galley and Bookouture for the ARC.

 

**BLOG TOUR** The Trophy Taker by Sarah Flint

ARIA_Flint_THE TROPHY TAKER_EI am delighted to be today’s stop on the blog tour for Sarah Flint’s latest book The Trophy Taker!

After managing to get the perpetrator of a horrific racist attack to court, DC Charlie Stafford is feeling pretty proud of herself. All feelings of relief are short-lived, however, when he manages to flee custody, leaving a trail of destruction in his wake. Meanwhile, a body is found in a cemetery. While this might not seem out of the ordinary, this body has had its heart ripped out and a finger removed, the finger joining those of the other people killed by the same man. He’s stalking and mutilating his victims but what links them? The investigating team at Lambeth are pushed to their limits as they try to find both men before more lives are ruined and more bodies are found.

The Trophy Taker is Sarah Flint’s second book in the DC Charlie Stafford series. The first, the brilliant Mummy’s Favourite, was published last year and, in my opinion, this one is even better! Like many books of its genre, the story is told from the perspective of multiple characters: Charlie, the unknown killer and Cornell Miller, the aforementioned racist attacker. This helped to move the plot along nicely and gave a good insight into all aspects of the case.

The book is, at times, graphic, as it deals with such heinous crimes as paedophilia and racially-motivated attacks. When a depraved killer is added to the mix, this certainly makes it a book for those with a strong stomach! I found myself longing for Cornell Miller to be caught and admired his victims for their ‘never say die’ attitudes. The horrific nature of the crimes also give us a chance to fully understand Charlie’s personality and how she wants, more than anything, for the perpetrators to be off the streets.

As in the first book, I loved the character of Charlie – a woman devoted to her work but still very much in the real world. It is also refreshing to read a police procedural where colleagues actually get along and there is no animosity between the lower and upper ranks. The other main characters are also well-written and likeable and I particularly enjoyed reading any scenes featuring Ben and hope that he can continue to fight his demons in any sequels.

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Sarah Flint

Sarah Flint has done a good job in keeping you guessing right to the end as she introduces several suspects who could quite feasibly be the killer. I found that there was a moment when the penny dropped and realised that there were little clues throughout the story that I only picked up on with hindsight. I would also like to thank her for piquing my interest in Cross Bones Graveyard in Southwark – an area I have visited but was not aware of the hidden history lurking off the trodden path.

 

Although The Trophy Taker is the second in the series, it is not essential to have read the first. I would recommend you do, though, as it is another brilliant read.

With thanks to Aria (Head of Zeus), Sarah Flint and Net Galley for the ARC and also to Yasemin Turan for allowing me to participate in this blog tour.

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Dying Games by Steve Robinson

51oXpj-8ZILWhen twin brothers are found drowned in a Perspex box in Washington D. C., and a family history chart is left at the scene, the police realise that this is one of several recent murders with a link to genealogist Jefferson Tayte. Knowing that his experience will be invaluable, Tayte is summoned by the FBI to assist in catching the ruthless killer who always seems to be one step ahead. With his reputation at stake and the body count rapidly rising, will Jefferson have to pay the ultimate price to stop the sadist in his tracks?

I have become a big fan of Steve Robinson’s Jefferson Tayte books over the years and I await each new instalment eagerly. I was excited, therefore, to receive Dying Games through Net Galley, telling myself that I would wait until nearer publication day before I would read it. This resolution lasted a whole day before I found myself clicking on it on my kindle!

The book begins in a very macabre fashion as a woman is burned to death inside a dolls’ house. This sets the tone for the rest of the book as the twisted killer re-enacts deaths that have appeared in the family trees of the victims. From quite early on, JT realises that the killer is someone he has encountered in his professional life but is finding it impossible to convince the FBI that the man cannot be working alone. In Frankie Mavro, JT has the perfect sidekick – someone who provides him with the necessary authority to undertake his research but who is also genuinely on his side.

Like the rest of this series, once I started on this book, I found it difficult to put down. I do feel, though, that this one is different to the others as it had an almost Dan Brown feel to it with our hero solving clues against the clock in order to prevent a tragedy. The ‘race against time’ element made it a very fast-paced, exhilarating read and I really liked the fact how, in many of the cases, there was no happy ending, as this helped JT to develop a true hatred of the unknown man.

Dying Games is a superb addition to the Jefferson Tayte franchise and I hope this is a series that continues to run and run: the ending of this book has certainly changed the direction of any future plots!

With thanks to Net Galley and Thomas & Mercer for the ARC.

The Killer on the Wall by Emma Kavanagh

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Finding a dead body is certainly a shock so finding three must be truly horrendous! That is what happened to fifteen-year-old Isla Bell when she discovered the remains of three people propped up against Hadrian’s Wall. Fast forward twenty years and Isla is working in forensic psychology, studying the minds of serial killers and , in the course of her work, has come fact to face with the man convicted of those killings. Then the killings start again. Everyone in the town is a suspect but who exactly is the Killer on the Wall?

I was drawn to this book immediately after reading the blurb and couldn’t wait to read it. There is definitely a touch of the macabre about bodies being posed after death and so it sounded like it was going to be a thrilling read. Initially, I found The Killer on the Wall quite difficult to get into and I found myself skipping through the parts where Isla was carrying out the tests on the convicted murderer. Although this part of the story plays a big part in the plot, this was definitely my least favourite part.

Once the first body of the second wave of killings is discovered, the pace really picked up and I began to enjoy the book a lot more. Although the blurb leads you to believe that this book is going to be about Isla, I found the character of Mina, the police officer, much more appealing. I really admired her tenacity although was worried that she was going to end up as the next victim!

In a town where everyone could be a suspect, there are a lot of red herrings thrown in to add to the confusion as to who the killer could be. Throughout my reading of the book, I did have two potential suspects in mind and one of those did turn out to be the culprit.

In all, I did enjoy most of this book, but I had hoped for a lot more.

With thanks to Random House UK, Cornerstone and Net Galley for the ARC.

Monthly Round Up: March 2017

I’ve always been envious of those bloggers who are able to produce a weekly wrap-up of their reading as I know there’s no chance I would be able to fit this in! I have, therefore, decided to start a new feature – my monthly round up!

Books I’ve Read

41bCxzTsx9LThe Bat by Jo Nesbo

The first of the Harry Hole series – a series that I’d been wanting to start for quite a while. This was not a quick read for me and I can understand why fans say it is not one of his best.

 

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Blood Tide by Claire McGowan

The fifth in the series to feature forensic psychologist Paula McGuire, Blood Tide is an atmospheric thriller that really makes you wonder if anyone can be trusted.

 

61gMJQkjzYL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_The Missing Man by Nathan Dylan Goodwin

A novella featuring Morton Farrier, taking us across the pond to Massachusetts as the forensic genealogist embarks on a search to find his biological father.

 

51BcZVVrpeL__SX324_BO1,204,203,200_Hope to Die by David Jackson

The follow up to the brilliant A Tapping at My Door, Hope to Die sees detective Nathan Cody investigating the murder of a woman in the grounds of Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral.

 

34368544Last Breath by Robert Bryndza

The online buzz surrounding Robert Bryndza’s books featuring detective Erika Foster just keeps getting bigger and bigger. In Last Breath, we find Erika investigating the deaths of young women who have been found mutilated and cruelly dumped.

 

ARIA_Flint_THE TROPHY TAKER_EThe Trophy Taker by Sarah Flint

No review yet as it will be part of the book’s blog tour, but suffice to say that this story of a serial killer who is removing the heart and finger of his victims has become one of my favourite books of the year so far.

 

Books I’ve Acquired

Cockroaches51ETyWXR--L__SX323_BO1,204,203,200_The next two books in the Harry Hole series. Other reviewers seem to think that the series really gets going during ‘The Redbreast’ so I’m looking forward to reading that one.

 

51mCV12k+uL__SX323_BO1,204,203,200_After seeing this on https://rathertoofondofbooks.com, I couldn’t resist requesting it on Net Galley!

When Louise Williams receives a message from someone left long in the past she feels sick.

Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook.

Because Maria Weston has been missing for over twenty years. She was last seen the night of a school leavers’ party, and the world believes her to be dead. Particularly Louise, who has lived her adult life knowing herself responsible for Maria’s disappearance. But now Maria is back. Or is she?

As Maria’s messages start to escalate, Louise forces herself to reconnect with the old friends she once tried so hard to impress, to try to piece together exactly what happened that fateful night. But when another friend’s body turns up in the woods outside their old school, Louise realises she can’t trust anyone and that she must confront her own awful secret to discover the whole truth of what happened to Maria . . .

Love like bloodI’ve loved all of Mark Billingham’s Tom Thorne books so was delighted to get this one on Net Galley.

A BLOODY MESSAGE
As DI Nicola Tanner investigates what appears to be a series of organised killings, her partner Susan is brutally murdered, leaving the detective bereft, and vengeful.

A POWERFUL ALLY
Taken off the case, Tanner enlists the help of DI Tom Thorne to pursue a pair of ruthless killers and the broker handing out the deadly contracts.

A CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE
As the killers target their latest victim, Thorne takes the biggest risk of his career and is drawn into a horrifying and disturbing world in which families will do anything to protect their honour.

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I loved the premise of this book – very macabre!

The first body comes as a shock

The second brings horror

The third signals the beginning of a nightmare

When fifteen-year-old Isla Bell finds three bodies propped against Hadrian’s Wall, her whole world falls apart. In such a close-knit community, everyone knows the victims, and the man who did it.

Twenty years on and Isla has dedicated her life to forensic psychology; studying the brains of serial killers, and even coming face to face with the convicted murderer who turned her world upside down. She is safe after all, with him behind bars.

Then another body appears against the Wall.

And another.

As the nightmare returns and the body count rises, everyone in town is a suspect.

Who is the Killer on the Wall?

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I loved Annabel Kantaria’s last book so knew I had to have this one as soon as I saw it.

Everyone has one. An ex you still think about. The one who makes you ask ‘what if’?

Fifteen years have passed since Stella and George last saw each other. But something makes Stella click ‘yes’ to the invite to her school reunion.

There’s still a spark between them, and although their relationship ended badly, they begin an affair.

But once someone gets you back, sometimes they’re never going to let you go again…

So there you have it – my first monthly round up! Here’s to a great April!

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