When a teenage girl dies after jumping off a cliff, the coroner enters a verdict of suicide. What should seem like an open and shut case takes a different turn, however, when several other cases D I Kelly Porter and her team are working on all have a link to a local school. Could there be more to this story than meets the eye? Kelly’s investigation sees her coming face to face with a foe from the past whilst also trying to come to terms with a huge revelation about her own life.
Bitter Edge is the fourth in the Kelly Porter series, a police procedural set in the Lake District. As always, the Lake District provides a perfect backdrop for the plot, the unforgiving mountainous areas becoming central to the story. This is seen right from the beginning as we witness the harrowing death of young Jenna Fraser. As always, we see a determined Kelly not content with accepting the verdict of suicide, her tenacity, and the work of her team, finding a link to other similar cases.
As in previous books, Bitter Edge contains some harrowing story lines, dealing with the likes of suicide, drugs and child abduction. With several stories being told throughout the book, I did begin to wonder if and how they would all tie together. As a result of these multiple plots, the story built up slowly to give you time to acquaint yourself with all of the characters, ensuring that it never once felt confusing to read. By the end of the book, the plots did all converge, although not all in the way I assumed they would. A few twists along the way ensured that my interest was piqued throughout.
Kelly’s personal life does, again, feature in this book but it never overshadows the crimes that are being investigated. This is one of the things I like most about this series as, in some books of this genre, there is an over-reliance on the private life of the detective to provide some of the intrigue. Kelly’s back story is an interesting one and in Bitter Edge, there are some spoilers that reveal things from previous books. While it is not essential to have read the previous books, therefore, it is advisable. The books are all fantastic reads and you will not regret it!
I really enjoyed Bitter Edge and found it a great addition to an already brilliant series. I look forward to the fifth installment!
With thanks to Canelo and Net Galley for my copy and also to Ellie Pilcher for organising the blog tour.
Take a look at my reviews of the other books in the series:
Today, I’m pleased to be on the blog tour for Death Will Find Me, the first in the Tessa Kilpatrick Mystery series by Vanessa Roberts. The book was published on February 20th and I am thrilled to be able to share an extract with you.
Finding her husband – the feckless James – with another woman at a 1920s country house party, she demands a divorce. But when his body is discovered in a lonely stone bothy the next morning, Inspector Hamish Rasmussen sees Tessa as his only suspect.
Back in Edinburgh, links to another murder convince Rasmussen of her innocence. He enlists her help and together they set off on a pursuit that will bring Tessa once again face to face with the brutality of war as well as revealing to her the lengths that desperate people will go to in order to protect those they love.
Will Tessa be able to prevent a final murder or will she become the killer’s latest victim?
The Water of Leith was fast-flowing with melt water from the Pentland Hills and the air was crisp and cold. A mile or so along the riverbank with the dogs had cleared Tessa’s head and rid her of the indecision she’d been feeling since Rasmussen’s visit that morning. By the time she, Bosun and Mycroft turned homewards, heading towards Heriot Row and a warm fire, she was resolved. She would make the list and take it to Rasmussen at Torphichen Street police station the next morning. She didn’t want to unfairly accuse anyone of being up to no good with her husband, but if finding James’s murderer meant some people had to brazen out a little embarrassment then so be it.
In the short term, she needed to warn her parents, especially her mother, of the grenade she was about to lob into the centre of Edinburgh society; she feared that the list of James’s known and possible lovers would be long and the fallout significant.
She whistled to the dogs, calling them away from their fossicking on the riverbank and turned up the steep hill of Bell’s Brae. The evening was drawing in. A few street lamps were lit, their lights glinting off the slick granite setts. For no reason she could name, the back of Tessa’s neck prickled. Just as at the boathouse, she had a feeling she wasn’t alone. It unnerved her. After she’d come home in 1917, she’d had spells of paranoia where she thought that she was being followed or that an intruder was in the house. Those had grown fewer, although she knew she was probably more vigilant than most when it came to locking doors and noticing strangers. She hoped James’s murder wasn’t going to drag her back to those fears.
Then she heard the scuff of a boot on the cobbles behind her and knew this was no irrational fear. Someone was following her. Tessa’s every sense was electrified and she spun round, fists clenched by her side to face whatever fear was behind her.
With thanks to Kelly from Love Books Group Tours for organising the tour.
Jenny and Kath were childhood friends, always together. When Jenny moved to Australia to further her swimming career, she not only lost touch with Kath but also Tom, the love of her life. Now eight years later, Jenny has made the journey to France where Kath is now living, keen to catch up on all of their lost years. After a pleasant start, things soon begin to change and Jenny starts to suspect that Kath has not been the friend she thought she was. Just how manipulative has she been and what exactly does she have in store for Jenny?
The Good Friend has a plot that many people could relate to. In the days before social media, it was easy to lose touch with people you had spent your school years with, only to wonder what had become of them. For Jenny, with her successful swimming career taking her to the other side of the world, she has not had contact with her childhood friends for many years. Now, after becoming tired of spending all her waking hours in the pool, she has decided to rekindle past friendships. From the outset, we see her wondering if she has made the right decision, her father’s words making her think that Kath is not the friend she thought she was.
We soon see how controlling Kath is, and it is apparent that all is definitely not right with her. As much as I liked Jenny, I was desperate for her to get away from the house as there was a definite sense of foreboding. Kath, I found, a very complex character, although we are not fully aware of how duplicitous she has actually been. I enjoyed the slow-moving plot as it gave me a chance to build my own suspicions and try to determine what the outcome would be. Although some of my theories did prove to be correct, I did not predict the shocking ending at all, and was totally taken aback by what happened!
The French setting helped to create a very claustrophobic atmosphere for Jenny who found herself drawn in to the locality. Jo Baldwin’s description painted a vivid picture of the Languedoc lavender fields, their beauty a stark contrast to the tension and uneasiness of all of the main characters.
It is hard to say too much about The Good Friend without giving too much of the plot away, but what I will say is that I thoroughly enjoyed it and, towards then end in particular, found it increasingly difficult to put down. A great debut!
With thanks to Anna at Red Door for my copy of The Good Friend.
When two teenagers are found chained to a radiator on the fourth floor of Chaucer House, a block of flats on the notorious Hollytree estate, alarm bells begin to ring for Detective Inspector Kim Stone. Thirty years before, there had been a similar scene at the same block of flats, only this time, the victims were Stone and her younger brother, Mikey. Another crime scene bearing a similarity to the deaths of her foster parents sees Kim fearing the worst – someone is recreating traumatic events from her past. Will Kim be the next victim?
For long-time readers of this series, Kim Stone’s history has not been a secret. Spending her early years with her mentally ill mother before being moved around a series of foster homes, she had a more traumatic upbringing than most. So far, though, with the exception of a few occasions, we have seen her trying to keep these memories at bay, focusing all her energy on her professional life. Now, however, in Dead Memories, Kim is forced to face her past and, although we still see her in control of the investigation, for the first time we see cracks starting to develop in her hard exterior.
One of the reasons I think this series continues to go from strength to strength is the relationship between the main characters. Events in previous books have really cemented their closeness and although the recent arrival of an outsider, Penn, could have disrupted this harmony, it has been good to see how quickly he integrated within the group, despite the circumstances surrounding his arrival. The return of profiler, Alison, also added a new dynamic to the group, at times providing some much-needed light-hearted moments in a hard-hitting storyline. Her sub-plot was also gripping and was worthy of a book of its own!
I don’t want to say too much about the book for fear of giving away too much but what I will say is that Dead Memories has a well-written, enjoyable plot and existing fans of the series will definitely love revisiting crimes of the past. I enjoyed being reacquainted with characters we have already met and was particularly pleased to see a cameo appearance from a certain newspaper reporter!
I don’t know how she does it but Angela Marsons keeps the quality of this series consistently high – I would go as far as saying that, for me, this is one of the best in the series. Hopefully, this is a series that will run and run.
With thanks to Bookouture and Net Galley for my copy. Take a look at my reviews of the rest of the series:
February may be a short month but I’ve managed to read some books that I’m sure are going to feature on my ‘favourites of 2019’ list. It’s also been the month when I’ve been able to share my reviews of some of the books that I read a while ago due to them being part of their respective blog tours.
The Last by Hanna Jameson was a book that I read at the end of last year. I’d read so many good things about this book on social media that I was really pleased to be given the opportunity to take part in the blog tour. This dystopian murder-mystery certainly lived up to my expectations.
I also shared a review of Remember Me by D. E. White as part of the blog tour. Set in Wales, this story of a deranged serial killer was a great read with plenty of sub-plots that all tied together nicely.
One of my favourite series of recent years has definitely been Sarah Flint’s Charlie Stafford series. I was pleased to share an extract from Mummy’s Favourite, the first in the series, which has just been published in paperback after previously being available as an ebook.
Another series I am really enjoying is the DI Kelly Porter books by Rachel Lynch. I shared a review of Bitter Edge as part of the blog tour, another brilliant read set in the Lake District.
I was also on the blog tour for The Scent of Death by Simon Beckett. This is the sixth in the series and I can’t believe I have never read any of the others! This will definitely be rectified as I really enjoyed reading about the forensics expert.
The Good Friend by Jo Baldwin was another great read that featured my review as part of the blog tour. Set in the Languedoc lavender fields, it asks the question: Do we really know those closest to us?
I also took part in a cover reveal for The Family by P. R. Black. The cover and the synopsis have definitely whetted my appetite for the book and I will be featuring a review as part of the blog tour soon.
I recently finished reading Critical Incidents by Lucie Whitehouse, the first in a new series about Robin Lyons who has been dismissed from her role as a Met detective. A review will be published nearer publication date.
In a rural English village in the middle of a snowstorm, the unthinkable happens: the school is under siege.
From the wounded headmaster barricaded in the library, to teenage Hannah in love for the first time, to the pregnant police psychologist who must identify the gunmen, to the terrified 8-year-old Syrian refugee, to the kids sheltering in the school theatre still rehearsing Macbeth, all must find the courage to stand up to evil and try to save the people they love . . .
In an intense exploration of fear and violence, courage and redemption, Rosamund Lupton takes us deep into the heart of human experience.
Whitehall Palace, England, 1539
When Catherine Howard arrives at the court of King Henry VIII to be a maid of honour in the household of the new queen, Anne of Cleves, she has no idea of the fate that awaits her.
Catching the king’s fancy, she finds herself caught up in her uncle’s ambition to get a Howard heir to the throne.
Terrified by the ageing king after the fate that befell her cousin, Anne Boleyn, Catherine begins to fear for her life…
Pembrokeshire, Wales, 2018
Dr Perdita Rivers receives news of the death of her estranged grandmother, renowned Tudor historian Mary Fitzroy.
Mary inexplicably cut all contact with Perdita and her twin sister, Piper, but she has left them Marquess House, her vast estate in Pembrokeshire.
Perdita sets out to unravel their grandmother’s motives for abandoning them, and is drawn into the mystery of an ancient document in the archives of Marquess House, a collection of letters and diaries claiming the records of Catherine Howard’s execution were falsified…
What truths are hiding in Marquess House? What really happened to Catherine Howard? And how was Perdita’s grandmother connected to it all?
‘She lifted the flap of the envelope and pulled out the single white page. As she opened it up she stared, open mouthed. Four words were typed on the page. I am watching you.’
When Amy Whyte and Penny Brogan leave a local nightclub in the early hours of Sunday morning and don’t arrive home, their families are beside themselves with worry. Conor Dowling has just been released from prison, a man full of hatred for Amy, the girl who put him behind bars in the first place.
The case is given to Detective Lottie Parker, when the girls’ blood-soaked bodies are found, days later, in a derelict squat. Chillingly, both girls are clutching silver coins in their hands – what message is this killer leaving behind? All the signs point to Conor but his alibi is water tight.
As Lottie examines Penny and Amy’s final days alive in a desperate search for clues, two more girls are found stabbed to death in a luxury apartment complex. Caught up in what is fast becoming her toughest case yet, Lottie is unaware that somebody is watching her every move.
Then Lottie’s two daughters, Katie and Chloe suddenly disappear from the town centre. Terrified that the killer has her girls, the stakes have never been higher for Lottie.
But as Lottie puts everything on the line to find her daughters and solve the case, she’s about to find herself in terrible danger – someone has a personal axe to grind with her and they know the best way to get to her is to hurt the ones she loves the most.
Today, I am pleased to be the first stop on the blog tour for The Scent of Death, the latest in Simon Beckett’s David Hunter series. As well as my review, I am thrilled to be able to share an article from the author, explaining how the book came to be.
Over to Simon…
The Scent of Death
Sooner or later, everything comes home to roost. That was in my mind when I sat down to write The Scent of Death, the sixth novel to feature British forensic anthropologist David Hunter. Without giving away any spoilers, in some of the previous novels I’d deliberately left some plot threads dangling. Partly because… well, I like the sense that not everything is tied up in a neat bow at the end of a book. Life isn’t like that.
But I also wanted to return to them at some point, to show how these events from the past continued to resonate in Hunter’s present. The question was how to go about it? I’d originally intended to tie-up these floating ends sooner, but novels tend to have a mind of their own. Plot developments can’t just be shoehorned in. They have to develop naturally, or at least seem to.
Another consideration was that The Scent of Death also had to work as a standalone. I didn’t want a story that only made sense to anyone who’d already read the other books. I wanted new readers to be able to jump right in, without slowing down the narrative with tons of exposition.
Easier said than done.
Writing crime thrillers is a lot about misdirection. A little bit like a stage magician, the aim is to keep the audience distracted until it’s time for the big reveal. That isn’t easy at the best of times, and even less so in a series, where readers have become familiar with both the main character and the author’s bag of tricks. So, in order for this to work, I had to wait for the right story, and the right moment.
By the time I came to write the fifth Hunter novel, The Restless Dead, I was confident I’d found it. The end of that book – don’t worry, still no spoilers – raised the possibility of a return for an old nemesis from Hunter’s past. Only the possibility, mind, because I wanted to keep readers guessing. But the timing felt right, and I knew that opening that particular door would set the stage nicely for the next book.
Of course, the drawback with trying to be clever is that you then have to deliver. Hopefully, that’s what The Scent of Death does. Instead of having Hunter travel to some isolated rural location as in the previous novels, I’ve kept him in London, in what at first seems to be familiar territory (the key words here being at first). The gothic shell of St Jude’s is the sort of place that’s become all too common in the UK, an abandoned hospital standing empty as it waits for the developers’ bulldozers.
Except that these boarded-up windows, echoing corridors, and shadowy wards prove to be hiding all manner of secrets. And, as Hunter discovers, not all of St Jude’s occupants have actually left…
It was a pleasure to write and, I hope, to read as well. Just remember that for misdirection to work, the audience shouldn’t realise that they’re being distracted, or what they’re being distracted from.
Over to you.
Simon Beckett, January 31st 2019.
When the partially mummified body of a pregnant woman is discovered in the attic in an old hospital, forensics expert Dr David Hunter is called upon to aid in the investigation. The case takes a turn for the strange when a floor collapse reveals a hidden room and the bodies of another two people, still in their beds. With St. Jude’s hospital earmarked for development and a group of local protesters determined to thwart the venture, the pressure is on to uncover the truth of what really happened.
From the very start, The Scent of Death grabbed my attention and held it right until the very end. It was very easy to picture St. Jude’s, the description evoking images of a dark, dank, cavernous building with secrets waiting to be uncovered. The floor collapse helped to provide a few heart-in-the-mouth moments in an already tense situation and the discovery of the bodies certainly ramped up the the tension even more.
Although we don’t really get to see much of his personality, I really liked Hunter and admired the dedication he showed to his work. It was for this reason that I felt sorry for the forensic anthropologist who, as part of the investigation from the start, found himself partially sidelined after the hidden room was discovered. Mears, the forensic taphonomist brought in to work the case was a thoroughly unlikable character and I could empathise with the contempt Hunter showed towards him.
The Scent of Death has a very tight plot where everything ties together really well. I love a book where, all of a sudden, everything falls into place and you realise the brilliance of everything you’ve read – this definitely happened here. There was one part of the subplot that I deduced quite early on but, other than that, Simon Beckett kept me waiting until the very end before I worked out who the killer was and the clever motive behind it.
I found Hunter’s job fascinating and enjoyed the scenes where he was at work analysing the skeletal remains of the victims. I can certainly see this series being a huge hit on television and was pleased to read that it is currently in development with Cuba Pictures and Nadcon.
The Scent of Death is the sixth David Hunter book and if, like me, you haven’t read the first five, then don’t worry as this can be read as a standalone. I admit to not having any knowledge of this series until I read this one but I will definitely be rectifying this by reading the others as I enjoyed it so much!
With thanks to Hayley Barnes and Penguin Random House for my proof and to Simon Beckett for the fantastic post.
Historian Jon Keller is on a work trip to Switzerland when the unimaginable happens – nuclear bombs start dropping on the major global cities, signifying the end of the world. Holed up in a hotel with other survivors, Jon has no way of knowing whether his family back in the United States are still alive. Then, the body of a young girl is found at the hotel – one of the residents is a killer. As he investigates, paranoia begins to surface – just who, if anyone, can he trust and is he putting his own life in danger by trying to uncover the truth in a strange new world?
I had heard so many good things about this book so was ecstatic to be given the opportunity to read it as part of the blog tour and was equally pleased to find that it certainly lives up to the hype. I admit that dystopian novels have never been something that have interested me, but I loved the premise of the book and was so glad that I decided to expand my horizons (even if it was the crime element that pulled me towards it!).
One of my favourite books is Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, where a group of people being murdered one-by-one realise that the killer is one of their number. It was for this reason that I wanted to read The Last, as there seemed to be echoes of this plot. This was not the case, however, and although there are certainly deaths in the book, I would not say that this is the main focus. Instead what we have is a thought-provoking tale of ‘what ifs’ – especially scary given the instability in the world at the moment. In an age where we are so heavily reliant upon the internet and other media sources, it was easy to imagine the panic of the people at the hotel, not knowing what was happening or whether their loved ones had made it to safety.
I liked the mix of characters and felt that the slow pace of the book gave the author chance to develop them fully. It was fascinating to read how personalities changed and that, faced with such extreme circumstances, some people stepped up to take control whilst others were keen to survive at all costs, no matter who they hurt in the process. There were some genuinely tense moments when they left the confinement of the hotel in search of supplies, not knowing if there were other survivors out there and whether they would make it back alive.
The Last is a very tense, claustrophobic read and one that certainly makes you question what you would do should you be faced with that situation. It is a very clever book that grabs your attention and holds onto it until the very last page. This looks like being one of the books of the year and one that could be easily be imagined as a TV mini-series. Highly recommended.
With thanks to Emily Burns at Brand Hive and Viking / Penguin for giving me the opportunity to review The Last.
Returning to the village of her youth when she discovers that her ex, and father of her child, is dying, Detective Ava Cole soon finds herself reminded of a dark time from her past. Fifteen years ago, Ava’s best friend, Ellen, disappeared from the woods, never to be seen again. Somebody knows the truth and now, with the reappearance of Ava, questions are being asked: just what did happen to Ellen on that fateful night?
Told from two perspectives – the present and fifteen years ago – it soon becomes apparent that the whereabouts of Ellen is not the mystery; the circumstances behind her disappearance is. We meet a group of friends who each have their own secrets to hide, but who exactly is responsible for what happened to Ellen? The young characters are, on the whole, not a likeable bunch, their drug experimentation and promiscuity helping to muddy the waters as to what happened on that fateful night.
From the messages that Ava is receiving, we know that there is at least one untrustworthy character amongst the two friends, but who? I enjoyed the chapters written by the unknown person, and liked how clues were dropped in slowly until you knew who it was. By this point, I had already worked this out, but I was still taken aback when the truth was finally revealed. The book definitely took a sinister turn at this point and helped me to see some of the characters in a different light.
I found RememberMe quite a slow-paced read until I reached the halfway point and then I could not put it down. The tension definitely ramped up as all of the sub-plots tied together, the story ending with a satisfying and plausible conclusion.
Remember Me is a lesson in how we often don’t always know what those closest to us are doing and is certainly worth a read.
With thanks to Isabel Smith, HQ Digital and Net Galley for my ARC. Take a look at the rest of the blogs on the tour:
I’m really pleased to be able to share an extract from the brilliant Mummy’s Favourite by Sarah Flint as part of the blog tour. Available for some time as an e-book, it has now been published as a paperback so if you haven’t been able to read this fantastic series yet, there’s no time like the present. My review can be read here.
About the book
He’s watching… He’s waiting… Who’s next?
Buried in a woodland grave are a mother and her child. One is alive. One is dead. DC ‘Charlie’ Stafford is assigned by her boss, DI Geoffrey Hunter to assist with the missing person investigation, where mothers and children are being snatched in broad daylight.
As more pairs go missing, the pressure mounts. Leads are going cold. Suspects are identified but have they got the right person? Can Charlie stop the sadistic killer whose only wish is to punish those deemed to have committed a wrong? Or will she herself unwittingly become a victim.
‘Ah DC Stafford, you’re late again and you look like shit. Glad you could make it though, fresh from your Super Recognizer’s course. Where have you been? We’ve all been waiting for you. Or did you fail to recognize it was 8.30 and not 8 a.m.?’
DI Geoffrey Hunter didn’t wait for an answer. ‘Right, now we’re all here, at last. I’ll get on.’ He accentuated his words and Charlie felt herself redden at his sarcasm. A bollocking on a Monday morning in front of her colleagues was never the best start to a week.
‘Sorry guv,’ she tried.
He ignored her. ‘We’ve had a few new reports referred to us over the weekend which I need to assign. One of which has potential.’
Charlie pricked her ears up. There were rarely cases with potential in her department, unless Hunter meant potential for trouble. She worked in the Community Support Unit, a branch of the CID or Criminal Investigation Department, having only acknowledged her ambition to investigate major crime in the last year.
Up until then she had put off becoming a detective, preferring to be out on the streets dealing with crime as it happened, and as it often happened right in front of her she had excelled.
Her first big collar after leaving Hendon to join Charing Cross police station had been a rapist she’d recognized from an e-fit. On little more than a hunch and a similarity to the suspect, she’d found him in possession of duct tape, a knife and keys to a Vauxhall. Having scanned the streets, she’d located his car, and discovered photos and details of a female in a nearby street. Her suspicions aroused, she’d headed straight to the woman’s address and kicked the door down only to find her gagged and taped up in her bed, the last victim of a series of horrific attacks perpetrated by the same suspect. The mental anguish of the victim in the case affected Charlie greatly. It was personal. She went out of her way to stay with the woman through every step of the investigation, determined to obtain justice for her. She knew what it was like to be on the receiving end of injustice. It was exactly for this reason she’d joined the police.
She stayed at Charing Cross initially loving the adrenalin of the streets before transferring to Lambeth borough, where she continued to revel in her work. She was rewarded with an advanced pursuit driving course and the newly developed Super Recognizer’s course and was head-hunted by some of the specialized CID squads in the Met investigating serious crime and criminals.
After being shot at in a backstreet of Brixton, she’d decided that CID was the place to really make a difference so returned to Hendon Training College; only to find it a shell of its previous self, with many of the buildings and tower blocks empty and derelict.
She’d emerged as a detective constable and found herself immediately posted to the CSU, first stop for all budding CID officers. Nearly six months later she was still there.
The unit had the remit to deal with any allegations involving domestic violence, race, faith, sexual orientation or disability, but as she was just discovering, it was the most risky and politically explosive unit in CID. If you got it wrong here, your career would be ended before it had begun.
‘Anything interesting?’ Charlie asked.
She hoped it would give her the chance to get out and about and, if she did get out, that Hunter would come with her. He might be her boss but he too liked to be out on the streets and had the reputation for attracting action.
‘Like I said,’ he looked to be studiously avoiding making eye contact with her. He was obviously keen to make her sweat. ‘It has potential. A woman and her son, missing since Friday, reported by her husband today. Nothing too sinister at the moment, although the husband sounds like a nasty bastard. It’s being dealt with by the missing persons unit, but they’ve asked us to take a look, as the couple have a history of domestic violence. The chances are the wife’s probably just come to her senses and moved out, but it’s raised concerns because they have another son who has been left behind.’