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August 2020

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Once a week, four like-minded residents of a retirement village meet to discuss real-life murder cases. The Thursday Murder Club, as they are known, soon find themselves embroiled in something a lot closer to home, however, when a local property developer is killed after attending a meeting at their residence, Coopers Chase. With their unorthodox way of obtaining information, these four pensioners are determined to get to the bottom of this awful crime.

After hearing Richard Osman (one of the presenters on BBC’s Pointless) on the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast, I knew that he had an interest in crime fiction, so when I saw that he had written a book himself, I was immediately interested. 

The Thursday Murder Club introduces us to four friends, Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron who are not your typical pensioners! Residing in a retirement village, they have access to case files of unsolved murders from the past and, once a week, meet to discuss, and try to solve, the crimes. Each of their characters brings their own special skills to the table, Elizabeth being the driving force behind the group. My favourite, however, was, Ibrahim, an elderly gentleman who has moved with the times and has embraced technology, even if he can sometimes bore his friends when trying to explain how things work!

There are a plethora of supporting characters throughout the book, providing numerous twists and turns along the way. While the plot is certainly a good one, and one that keeps you guessing throughout, for me, it is the characterization that is the main selling point of The Thursday Murder Club. Most of the people in the book are incredibly likable, each with their own stories that help you to build up a complete picture of their lives. Richard Osman’s humour also shines through in each of them, and even the not-so-nice characters are well-written. 

After reading The Thursday Murder Club, I do hope that this is not a one-off for Richard Osman and that we get to read other books of this genre. With its gentle humour, out-of-the-ordinary characters and nostalgia that we can all relate to, this is a great read and one that, I am sure, will be a huge hit. I just hope that, in the future, if I have to go to a retirement village, there is room at Coopers Chase for me!

With thanks to Penguin Books (UK) and Net Galley for my ARC.

 

 

 

Lost Cause by Rachel Lynch

When the body of a woman is found in a bin, DI Kelly Porter fears that they have finally located a woman who had been reported missing some time ago. After the post mortem reveals that this cannot be the missing Chinese national, but a woman who is malnourished and appears to have been kept in a cage, Kelly is immediately concerned that the missing woman could suffer the same fate. When another woman disappears, and connections begin to be made, a race against time ensues to apprehend the man responsible.

Lost Cause is the eighth book in this series, and we see a huge change in Kelly’s circumstances due to her being pregnant. As someone so committed to her job, she is struggling to come to terms with how this is going to affect her, despite having the full backing of her partner, Johnny. I liked how her family all rallied around, giving her the support she needed, and I can’t wait to see how this part of her life develops after the birth of the baby.

The plot is a particularly dark one as in addition to the main crimes,we meet a troubled character, Kevin Flint. The target for local gossip due to events in his past, he is certainly on the periphery of crime, but at the same time, as his circumstances are revealed, I had nothing but sympathy for him. This part of the plot had a shocking culmination and I liked how there was some ambiguity to it.

We also have a new addition to Kelly’s team in Dan, a character who I feel fits in very well. He definitely looks as though he is from the same school of policing as Kelly and it looks as though he is going to play a vital role in future books, especially once Kelly has her baby.

Eight books in and this series is going from strength to strength. Kelly, her family and colleagues have become like old friends and I can’t wait to see where Rachel Lynch takes her next.

With thanks to Canelo and Net Galley for my copy. Take a look at my reviews of the rest of the series:

Dark Game

Deep Fear

Dead End

Bitter Edge

Bold Lies

Blood Rites

Little Doubt

Grave’s End by William Shaw

GravesWhen the body of a man is found stuffed into a freezer in an unoccupied house, DS Alexandra Cupidi finds herself drawn into a case where people will stop at nothing to keep a decades-old secret hidden. What exactly did this man do to warrant his death and how does it connect to the nearby housing development and the people trying to stop the habitat of badgers from being destroyed? Somebody doesn’t want something found and will kill to protect it from being uncovered.

I have read many crime books, too many to mention, but I can honestly say that this is the first book I have read where part of it is written from the perspective of a badger! Bear with me – this isn’t as strange as it sounds! As much of the book is based around the land where there is a proposed housing development, in addition to getting the experiences of the environmentalists and the developers, I found it an extremely novel idea to learn how this would affect the badgers themselves. As well as this helping to advance the plot, I also found myself learning much about the hierarchy of these creatures and how they live their lives.

The plot progresses slowly, the first half focusing on the dead man and the police investigation into his murder. I found that once I got halfway in, the pace really ramped up as the real reason for the death was discovered. Without giving too much away, we discover that there are links to a closed boarding school, and the activities that took place there many years ago. I liked how William Shaw included a vast array of characters who made you wonder if they were as they seemed or whether they had something to hide. I found my opinion of several of these characters changing constantly as I tried to discover who was behind the death!

Grave’s End is a great read, dealing with some very emotive issues. Although it is the third in a series, it can be read as a standalone although I can definitely recommend the previous books.

With thanks to Quercus and Net Galley for my copy.

Before He Kills Again by Margaret Murphy

54454703._SY475_There is a predator stalking the streets of Liverpool, abducting women and making them endure the most unimaginable horrors. The hunt for the man known as The Furman has become personal for Detective Cassie Rowan after an undercover operation fails, leaving him free to continue his reign of terror. Unfortunately for Cassie, he knows who she is and soon he has his sights set on her…

This is the first in a new series to feature DC Cassie Rowan and after reading this, she is definitely a detective I will be getting to know better. A strong character with a mind of her own, she feels let down, at times, by her colleagues who think that she is not always a team player. I did not see her like this, however, feeling that she had such empathy for the victims of these heinous crimes that she would do anything to bring this man to justice. I admired her ability to work such long hours whilst acting in loco parentis to her younger brother after the death of her parents.

The perpetrator is a particularly horrible one, but for those who do not like reading anything too gruesome there is no need to worry as the author does not go into graphic detail. The setting helps to create an atmospheric backdrop to the plot, the fog adding to the tension as The Furman stalks the streets of Liverpool, looking for his next prey. If, like me, you are very familiar with the locations mentioned in the book, this also adds another air of menace – moreso if you find yourself at the scene of one of the abductions early in the morning like I did a few days ago!

The thing I most enjoyed about Before He Kills Again was the sudden plot twist which, although unexpected, made complete sense, the clues having been there throughout the book. This was where we really saw Cassie coming into her own and I admired her tenacity in following her own instincts even if this did mean putting herself into danger!

Before He Kills Again  is a great start to a new series and I look forward to seeing where Margaret Murphy takes Cassie next.

With thanks to Joffe Books and Net Galley for my copy.

 

The Resident by David Jackson

Serial killer Thomas Brogan is on the run from the police. With nowhere to turn, all appears lost until he chances upon a row of terraced houses, one of them being boarded up. After breaking in, he discovers gaps in the attic walls, giving him access to three other houses without ever having to go outside. Brogan likes playing games, and his unusual vantage point gives him the opportunity to spy on his new neighbours, discovering their secrets and allowing him to play the most twisted games he’s ever played…

As a huge fan of David Jackson’s Nathan Cody series, I couldn’t wait to read his next book and was intrigued to find that it would be a standalone. With hindsight, reading this in a room containing an attic hatch probably wasn’t my smartest move, although I was relieved that I have a lock to prevent this sort of activity happening!

Thomas Brogan is a very strong leading character and although the killer is incredibly frightening, David Jackson has done a good job in showing us his vulnerable side, helping us to understand why he is the way he is. As the book progressed, I found myself having sympathy for him, but never to the point where I wanted him to get away with his crimes! We see Brogan wrestling with his conflicting personalities and I thought that these conversations that he had with himself were a good way of moving the story on without having to introduce another character.

Although Brogan clearly knew how he wanted his games to end, he definitely enjoyed the build up and, again, we got to see the different sides of his personality. I particularly enjoyed his interactions with Elsie, and I grew fond of this old woman who found a new lease of life due to her time with the killer.

The Resident is one of those rare books that while containing some chilling scenes, manages to retain plenty of dark humour, making me laugh many times as I pictured the scenes the author described so well. David Jackson definitely has a hit on his hands with this one!

With thanks to Viper and Net Galley for my copy.

 

Monthly Round Up – July 2020

This month, I’ve read a couple of books from my favourite authors and have been introduced to some new writers. I’d been pleased that I managed to get my Net Galley shelf down to just a few books but with some of the books I’ve been looking forward to appearing on there this month, I have succumbed once again! 

Books I Have Read

The Dead Tell Lies by J F Kirwan

Criminal psychologist Greg Adams specialises in hunting down serial killers but he has his work cut out with his present case. After the murder of his wife, he realises that her death has been attributed to the wrong man. Can he find the real killer before it is too late?

 

The Molten City by Chris Nickson

Leeds, 1908, and Detective Superintendent Tom Harper is awaiting a visit from the Prime Minister. With protests planned by several groups and the cold case investigation of a child who went missing fourteen years previously, the Leeds police department has a lot of work to do to prevent the collapse of law and order.

 

Hush Little Baby by Jane Isaac

Fifteen years ago, a baby went missing from outside a shop and was never seen again. Now,the body of a baby has been discovered, threatening to open up old wounds and revel secrets that have been well-hidden.

 

 

Cry Baby by Mark Billingham

This prequel to the Tom Thorne series takes us back to 1996 and the disappearance of a young child. A nostalgic look back at 1990s Britain and a great read from one of the best crime writers around.

 

The Weekend Away by Sarah Alderson

When two friends go on holiday to Lisbon, only one returns. Just what did happen to Kate and what secrets has she been hiding? A great summer read with one of the best last pages I’ve read in a long time.

 

 

The Resident by David Jackson

A serial killer trying to evade the police chances upon an empty house with access to the attic space of several other houses providing him with the perfect cover for the games he has planned… A chilling yet humorous read, deserving of the social media hype! Review to follow. 

 

Before He Kills Again by Margaret Murphy

A predator stalks the streets of Liverpool, attacking women and subjecting them to indescribable terrors. Detective Cassie Rowan has made the case personal and now he has his sights set on her. Review to follow.

 

Books I Have Acquired

PS: Thanks for the murders.

The death of a ninety-year-old woman with a heart condition should absolutely not be suspicious. DS Harbinder Kaur certainly sees nothing to concern her in carer Natalka’s account of Peggy Smith’s death.

But when Natalka reveals that Peggy lied about her heart condition and that she had been sure someone was following her…

And that Peggy Smith had been a ‘murder consultant’ who plotted deaths for authors, and knew more about murder than anyone has any right to…

And when clearing out Peggy’s flat ends in Natalka being held at gunpoint by a masked figure…

Well then DS Harbinder Kaur thinks that maybe there is no such thing as an unsuspicious death after all.

 

A victim? Or a killer?

One icy cold morning, the remains of a woman are discovered. She has been abused, then butchered. DI Kelly Porter knows this is the work of a monster. One who has killed before – and will do so again.

Kevin Flint is a young man with no friends and a reputation for being odd. He explores the hidden corners of the Lake District, and likes to creep, and watch. He witnesses depravity and it excites him. But will he cross the line from bystander to perpetrator?

Despite her personal life taking unexpected turns, Kelly’s detective instincts tell her that the answers lie with Kevin – if only she knew the right questions to ask. Will Kelly miss her chance and have blood on her hands? And will she ever be the same when it’s over?

 

When Kate Marshall finds the bloated body of a young man floating in the Shadow Sands reservoir, the authorities label it a tragic accident.

But the details don’t add up: why was the victim there, in the middle of the night? If he was such a strong swimmer, how did he drown?

Kate is certain there is more to this case than meets the eye. As she and her research assistant Tristan Harper dig deeper, they discover a bloody trail that points towards an active serial killer hiding in plain sight. People have been silently disappearing for years, and when another woman is taken, Kate and Tristan have a matter of days to save her from meeting the same fate.

 

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved murders.

But when a brutal killing takes place on their very doorstep, the Thursday Murder Club find themselves in the middle of their first live case.

Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.

Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer before it’s too late?

 

What happened while they were sleeping?

A school for the deaf takes an overnight trip to the snowy woods. Five teenagers go to sleep, but only four wake up. Leon is missing, and a teacher’s body is found in the forest…

Sign language interpreter Paige Northwood is brought in to help with interrogations. Everyone at the school has a motive for murder – but they all have an alibi.  

As Paige becomes increasingly involved, she suspects there’s something sinister going on. With the clock ticking to find Leon, only one thing is certain: the killer is among them, and ready to strike again…

 

Detective Megan Thomas hoped that moving to Devon would mean a quiet life. Her years undercover in London left her broken and alone, unsure if she would ever recover. Slowly, she’s learning to work with a team and trust other people. But when her sister Debbie finds the body of local businessman Greg Porter, that peace is shattered.

Porter’s wife and children don’t seem entirely grief-stricken, and his business dealings are not all they appear to be. So why are the police so determined to focus on Debbie? And why is she acting so suspiciously? When Megan learns what happened between Porter and Debbie, it threatens to tear the family apart, and forces her to ask if her beloved sister could really have done something so terrible.

Her boss won’t allow her anywhere near the case, leaving Megan on the sidelines. Caught between the job she loves, and what she feels she must do, Megan finds herself faced with an impossible decision. She’s desperate to save her sister, but what if Debbie is lying? When a second body and a surprise confession takes the case into even muddier waters, Megan must decide where her loyalty lies – with her family, or the truth.

And whatever choice she makes, will she be able to live with herself?

Are there any of these books that you have read or are looking forward to reading? 

 

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