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November 2019

The Murder Map by Danny Miller

When an art dealer with a seemingly dodgy past is found dead at his own home, it is initially thought that his demise is due to a heart attack, brought on by his drinking habits. After signs of a break-in are discovered, and a worthless painting is found to be missing, however, Detective Inspector Frost suspects foul play and so begins an investigation against the wishes of his superintendent. Meanwhile, an infamous criminal, released from prison, arrives back in the area. Has he really turned over a new leaf or is this some elaborate ploy? When a girl is abducted from outside of a school, and bodies start turning up in Denton Woods, everything seems to lead back to the death of the art dealer, Ivan Fielding. Will Frost be able to unlock the past before there are more deaths?

I’ve always loved the Frost books by R D Wingfield and the subsequent TV series starring David Jason, so I was pleased to see that Danny Miller has continued to write about this legendary character. The character of Frost is well-written and it is easy to picture the detective whilst reading although he is more like the detective from the TV series than the Wingfield novels. I particularly enjoyed the scenes where he is trying to avoid his female neighbour – this was Frost at his best.

Although the plot was an interesting one, and a novel concept, I did find the number of characters confusing at times and had to keep reminding myself of who everybody was. I did like how all the plots intertwined and feel that with fewer characters, this would have worked just as well.

Despite this not being my favourite in the series, it was still very readable and it is always good to meet Inspector Frost again.

With thanks to Random House UK and Net Galley for my copy.

**BLOG TOUR** Woman in the Water by Katerina Diamond

When a woman is discovered submerged in freezing water, the police are shocked to find that she is still alive. With her refusing to confirm her identity, even after the body of another person is found nearby, the police are at a loss as to how to proceed. This is made even more complicated when she disappears from her hospital bed. Detectives Adrian Miles and Imogen Grey pursue their only lead at the home of the Corrigans, but this only leads to more unanswered questions. Can their secrets be uncovered before time runs out for everyone involved?

I have been aware of Katerina Diamond’s books for some time, but for some reason, have never read any of them. I am now kicking myself as I have definitely been missing out! Woman in the Water is the sixth book in this series, but if, like me, you haven’t read the previous five, please don’t be put off as it can be read as a standalone – you don’t need any previous knowledge of the characters to enjoy this one!

Woman in the Water is, essentially, a book about abuse, power and the abuse of power. The detectives discover quite early on who is behind the death of the man and the near-death of the woman, but with people refusing to speak out, there is no case for him to answer. For Adrian Miles in particular, this became increasingly infuriating and I could understand his reluctance to take the advice he was given and why it became a personal mission to get this man behind bars.

This book does not shy away from controversy and deals with several taboo subjects. One scene, in particular, will remain with me for a long time as it is rare that I am close to tears when reading a crime novel. We realise what is about to happen at the same time as the character involved and this created a powerful, heart-wrenching moment which caused the need to gather my thoughts before reading on. I applaud the author for dealing with this issue and also the brave people who are acknowledged at the end of the book. This highly-charged, emotional scene was written with sensitivity, as were the consequences.

I raced through this book in three sittings as I became so invested in the plot and the need to see justice served. This may have been my first Katerina Diamond book, but it will definitely not be my last.

With thanks to Avon and Net Galley for my copy and to Sabah Khan for organising the blog tour.

 

Nine Elms by Robert Bryndza

After catching the notorious serial killer, The Nine Elms Cannibal, Kate Marshall saw her police career take a nosedive due to the circumstances surrounding the case. Now, fifteen years later, still traumatized by her past and working as a lecturer in a coastal university, the case is brought to the fore once again. A copycat killer seems to be emulating the murderer’s work, and Kate, along with her research assistant Tristan Harper, is drawn into the investigation. Fifteen years ago, however, Kate was the intended next victim – will the copycat be able to finish what the Nine Elms Cannibal started?

Well, there’s nothing like throwing in a curveball at the start of a book, and there are a few huge ‘gasp’ moments within the first 10% of Nine Elms. This was an incredibly clever start to the book and made sure that I was hooked right from the off. I would be surprised if anybody saw this early twist coming, and it definitely made me want to read what happened next!

Due to her experiences, Kate is a complex character, battling her demons every day. I admired her tenacity, however, when she put aside what had happened in the past to help locate a missing girl, thought to be an early victim of the Nine Elms killer. This was not an easy thing for her to do as it was sure to stir up unpleasant memories from the past. I enjoyed her, almost motherly, relationship with Tristan, and look forward to seeing how their private investigation sideline develops in subsequent books.

Although the book is named after the original serial killer, the main focus throughout the book is on the copycat, and what a truly horrific person he is! This is someone with no redeeming qualities whatsoever, and his actions constantly made my skin crawl. His depravity was echoed in the original killer and several revelations about him made me feel quite ill!

I don’t want to say too much about Nine Elms, as I feel that this should be one of those books where it is best going in completely blind. Suffice to say, if you are a fan of Robert Bryndza’s Erika Foster series, then you are going to be completely blown away by this. Nine Elms is a superbly-written, chilling start to a new series and I can’t wait to see what comes next!

With thanks to Little, Brown Book Group UK and Net Galley for my copy.

**BLOG TOUR** The Scorched Earth by Rachael Blok

Two years ago, Leo Fenton went missing. Despite his body never being found, his brother, Ben was charged and convicted with his murder, although he has consistently denied any involvement. Now, a body has been found, in a newly-dug grave, close to the home of Ben’s girlfriend, Ana Seabrook. Who put it there and, if it is Leo, where has it been for the past two years? It is up to DCI Jansen and his team to try to make sense of what happened two years ago, and discover whether Ben has been imprisoned for a crime he did not commit.

From the start, I was convinced of Ben’s innocence, and felt that this was an incredibly well-planned murder with Ben being made the scapegoat. But why? This was the question I constantly asked myself, and I particularly enjoyed the chapters set prior to the disappearance of Leo as I tried to fathom out what happened that led to the event.

I had a lot of sympathy for Ana, whose life is turned upside down once the body is discovered. With the police convinced that she knows more than she is letting on and her paranoia that she is being watched, a claustrophobic atmosphere is created and you begin to genuinely fear for her safety. Although the secret she is hiding wasn’t that difficult to figure out, it did, again, make me ask questions as I wondered if this was what set off the chain of events.

This is one of those books where you know that one of the characters you meet along the way is going to end up playing a bigger role than you initially thought, and Rachael Blok has done a good job in adding several characters who could, potentially, be this person. Being convinced of Ben’s innocence, two characters in particular stood out to me, my suspicions wavering between the two throughout the book. With numerous secrets being hidden, either of these characters could have been the guilty party!

The Scorched Earth is a great thriller, with some very tense moments, and one that I enjoyed a great deal. I was not aware that the detective, DCI Maarten Jansen had appeared in a previous book, Under the Ice, but I will definitely be looking out for this one now!

WIth thanks to Head of Zeus  and Net Galley for my copy and to Vicky Joss for organising the blog tour.

 

**BLOG TOUR** Through the Wall by Caroline Corcoran

How well do you know your neighbour? Lexie and Harriet live next door to each other in an upmarket block of flats in London, but never speak. It’s not as though they dislike each other, it’s just not the done thing. The thought of bumping into each other in the lift abhors them and yet they happily eavesdrop on each other through their paper-thin walls. With both women experiencing problems in their personal lives, they soon begin to covet each other’s life with dangerous consequences…

With its slow build-up, Through the Wall is one of those books that takes you a while, but once it’s grabbed you, there’s no letting go! From its opening in a psychiatric hospital, there is a air of foreboding where you know that something bad is about to happen, but what?

From the outside, Harriet looks like the ultimate party girl, her raucous gatherings drawing in strangers from near and far. Lexie wouldn’t be as jealous, however, if she knew Harriet’s past and that this was one way of hiding her loneliness. Similarly, Lexie looks like she shares the perfect life with her husband, Tom, the sort of life that Harriet dreams of. Her happy social media posts hide the trauma of losing a child, though, and do not take into account the pain of trying for a baby. This was a good lesson in how we should not always believe what people choose to share on the likes of Instagram or Facebook, as these posts often display a skewed version of the person’s real life.

Throughout the book, we see Harriet’s interest becoming more and more of an obsession, to the point where she is stalking both Lexie and Tom, even gaining access to their property. I began to fear for Lexie as Harriet became fixated with Tom, wondering just how far she would go to achieve her aim. At the same time, I had nothing but sympathy for Lexie as she began her IVF journey, believing at the same time that her husband was having an affair with a woman called Rachel.

Just when I thought that Harriet had no redeeming qualities whatsoever, the author hit me with details of her past, exploring how she had been the victim of an abusive ex-partner, even if she was in complete denial about this. At this point, I was desperate for someone to take Harriet into their care, to stop her from hurting someone else or even herself. The fears for Lexie were still there, however, and were proven correct when we finally get to the showdown between the two women. The tension was palpable as I began to wonder if history was about to repeat itself.

The story ends where it begins – at the psychological hospital, and it is here where we get the twist that made me gasp. This was one of those moments where you can visualise it on the screen, and I hope that this is something we get to see at some point.

Through the Wall is a disturbing psychological thriller with some genuinely emotional moments. With thanks to Avon Books UK and to Sabah Khan for organising the blog tour.

 

Blood Rites by Rachel Lynch

When a young woman is found naked on an ancient stone circle, DI Kelly Porter is not sure what, if any, crime has been committed. Before she can speak to her, however, the unnamed girl disappears from the local hospital, leaving no trace behind. Soon, when a woman is found murdered after a frenzied attack, the police realise that there are some people in the Lake District who believe in ancient ways and rites – is this connected to the woman’s death? Meanwhile, a face from Kelly’s past has returned to haunt her, a person who almost destroyed her family. Will they finish the job this time or will Kelly come out on top once again?

The sixth book in this series sees Kelly dealing with the aftermath of her mother’s death and the changing relationship she has with other family members. As always, the scenes she shares with Ted are always a joy to read and it was good to see him creating a close bond with Josie, the daughter of Kelly’s partner, Johnny. The characterisation is one of the things I enjoy most about these books, and over the series, I have found myself becoming attached to many of the main players!

The plot is an interesting one, dealing with pagan worship. Common misconceptions are dealt with throughout the plot, with those participating keen to tell people that it is not about devil worship but about the appreciation of nature. Of course, there is someone from within their ranks who has different ideas, and it is this person who Kelly and her team have set their sights on. The murders are particularly gruesome and we also have some references to animal deaths which some people may not enjoy. These are not descriptive, however.

The mystery surrounding the missing girl was another fascinating part of the story and one that definitely had me on edge. There is no doubt that the girl, who the police are struggling to identify, has a traumatic past and so it was particularly unsettling when she developed an interest in another of the characters. I definitely feared for the safety of Josie, a character who I was pleased to see come more to the fore in this book.

Blood Rites is another great read in the Kelly Porter series, and I’m looking forward to the next one.

Read my reviews for the rest of the series:

Dark Game

Deep Fear

Dead End

Bitter Edge

Bold Lies

 

Monthly Roundup – October 2019

With only two months left in the year, I’m starting to think about which books are going to make it into my ‘best of 2019’ list. October has certainly brought a couple of books which, I am sure, are going to feature!

Books I Have Read

Broken Souls by Patricia Gibney

The seventh book in the Lottie Parker series sees the detective investigating a spate of murders which were originally deemed to be suicides. With plenty of shady character, this book will keep you guessing right until the end.

 

All His Pretty Girls by Charly Cox

When a woman is found, barely alive, in the mountains, Detective Alyssa Wyatt is plunged into the search for a particularly nasty serial killer. One of the best books I have read this year – it is hard to believe that this is the author’s debut.

 

Sleep by C L Taylor

A woman trying to escape from a traumatic experience finds herself in more trouble than she realises when she relocates to the remote Scottish island of Rum. Working in a hotel, it is not long before she discovers that one of the guests has murder on their mind – her murder. A tense, claustrophobic read.

 

Through the Wall by Caroline Corcoran

A cautionary tale of how we don’t really know the people around us. Two neighbours are envious of each other’s lives, without really knowing what is going on behind closed doors. Soon, this envy turns into something much more serious and a life is put in danger… Review to follow as part of the blog tour.

 

Reputations by John Nixon

The latest in the Madeleine Porter series sees the genealogist investigating a crime from the 1960s after a friend is murdered. Are the two incidents connected?

 

Books I Have Acquired

Two years ago, Ben Fenton went camping for the night with his brother Leo. When Ben woke up, he was covered in blood, and his brother had gone. Days later, Ben was facing a charge of murder. 

Ben’s girlfriend, Ana Seabrook, has always sworn he was innocent. And now, on the hottest day of a sweltering heat wave, a body has been unearthed in Ana’s village. A body that might be connected to what really happened between Ben and Leo that fateful night. 

DCI Jansen, of St Albans police, is sure that Ana has something to hide. But until the police track down the identity of the body, he can’t work out how everything’s connected. Will Ana’s secrets stay buried forever? Or can Jansen bring them to light?

 

No matter how far you run . . . 
He’s never far behind

Lisa needs to disappear. And her friend’s rambling old home in the wilds of Yorkshire seems like the perfect place. It’s miles away from the closest town, and no one there knows her or her little boy, Joe.

But when a woman from the local village comes to visit them, Lisa realizes that she and Joe aren’t as safe as she thought. 

What secret has Rowan Isle House – and her friend – kept hidden all these years?

And what will Lisa have to do to survive, when her past finally catches up with her?

 

 

She sleeps, a pale girl in a white room . . .

Driving home one night, stuck behind a rusty old car, Gabe sees a little girl’s face appear in the rear window.

She mouths one word: ‘Daddy.’

It’s his five-year-old daughter, Izzy.

He never sees her again.

Three years later, Gabe spends his days and nights travelling up and down the motorway, searching for the car that took his daughter, refusing to give up hope, even though most people believe that Izzy is dead. 

Fran and her daughter, Alice, also put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people who want to hurt them.

Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe’s daughter. She knows who is responsible. And she knows what they will do if they ever catch up with her and Alice . . .

 

 

In Victorian England, a mother is on the run from her past—and the truth about what she did.

Birmingham, 1880. Angelica Chastain has fled from London with her young son, William. She promises him a better life, far away from the terrors they left behind.

Securing a job as a governess, Angelica captures the attention of wealthy widower Stanley Hampton. Soon they marry and the successful future Angelica envisaged for William starts to fall into place.

But the past will not let Angelica go. As the people in her husband’s circle, once captivated by her charm, begin to question her motives, it becomes clear that forgetting where she came from—and who she ran from—is impossible.

When tragedy threatens to expose her and destroy everything she’s built for herself and William, how far will she go to keep her secrets safe? And when does the love for one’s child tip over into dangerous obsession?

 

 

Investigative journalist Oonagh O’Neil’s instincts tell her when a story is worth pursuing. And the death of an elderly priest on the altar of his Glasgow church, just as she is about to expose the shocking truth behind the closure of an infamous Magdalene Institution, tells her a sinister cover up is in play. 

DI Alec Davies is appointed to investigate the priest’s death. He and Oonagh go way back. But now they’re united in uncovering not only what happened to the lost babies secretly born in the Institution, but what happened to the young women that survived by vowing loyalty to one another… forever. 

The doors of the Magdalene laundries hid the most harrowing secrets from the world – secrets Oonagh is determined to reveal, whatever the price…

 

I’m really looking forward to reading these books. I’m especially intrigued by the Steve Robinson one as I love his Jefferson Tayte series, so I can’t wait to read something different!

Finally, a big thank you and hello to all of my new subscribers. I hope you find something good to read – I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

 

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