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Child’s Play by Angela Marsons

When Detective Kim Stone arrives at the crime scene, she is not prepared for what she finds: a woman, tied to a child’s swing with barbed wire, the letter X carved into the back of her neck. It soon becomes apparent that the victim, Belinda Evans, a retired Professor of Child Psychology, had something to hide. Belinda’s home revealing a side of her that few seem to know about and a sister hardly forthcoming with information, Kim begins to wonder what the secret was that lead to her untimely death. When more bodies are found bearing the same markings, Kim and her team make the breakthrough that is needed – all were about to attend the same annual tournament for gifted children. With a list of potential suspects as long as her arm, Kim and her team must work quickly to prevent another death.

With Child’s Play being the eleventh book in the Kim Stones series, I am genuinely running out of superlatives to describe how fantastic these books are! With each new installment, I am left wondering how Angela Marsons keeps up such a high quality, but she does it with aplomb.

For me, the best thing about these books are the characters. I love the relationship between them and, over the years, I feel that I have come to know them very well. In Child’s Play, due to a directive from her superiors telling her not to overwork her team, we see a different side of Kim and her fellow officers, and this provided some laugh-out-loud moments as they struggled with their home lives due to them working more sociable hours! You could almost sense their relief when they had to stay at the tournament! New character ‘Tink’ is a breath of fresh air and I hope that we see more of her in forthcoming books – I can see some great scenes with Kim ahead!

I feel that this is the book where, despite not being part of the investigation, Penn cemented his place as part of the team. The sub-plot involving a potential wrongful arrest and imprisonment gave us the chance to get to know Penn better and I feel I have more of an understanding of this character now. In a book where there are particularly gruesome murders, the relationship he shares with his brother is a beautiful contrast. This part of the story also gave me my favourite moment – all I will say is, What would Billy do??!!

With thanks to Bookouture and Net Galley for providing me with yet another superb book from Angela Marsons.

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The Leaden Heart by Chris Nickson

51UbsxvrAiL._SY346_It’s July 1899 and the crime rate in Leeds has been unusually low. This all changes when Superintendent Tom Harper receives word of a particularly daring burglary at one of the city’s more expensive residences. Meanwhile, his ex-colleague, Billy Reed, is seeking some assistance after the suicide of his brother who was facing an extortionate rent increase. Investigation uncovers a web of corruption involving some of the area’s influential residents. Who are the ringleaders and will Harper be able to apprehend them before the death toll rises?

I’ve always enjoyed reading historical crime fiction, particularly those books set during the Victorian era. In the Tom Harper series, we are now reaching the end of the nineteenth century, a time which has seen great changes for the Leeds detectives. As in all of his books, Chris Nickson has created a very vivid picture of the time, creating characters that feel real and who you can certainly feel empathy for. Again, we see Tom’s wife, Annabelle, taking a central role in the plot, her new position as poor law guardian giving her a platform to help those unable to help themselves. Annabelle has always been my favourite character, her ongoing fight for women’s equality being a great theme running throughout the books. With her daughter, Mary, seemingly being a chip off the old block, I think we are in for some entertaining times ahead!

It was pleasing to see Tom and his old friend Billy attempting to build bridges as they investigated the reason behind the suicide of Billy’s brother. Although this was set over a hundred years ago, the story is all too familiar to many people nowadays with those in power preying upon the poor and less fortunate. It was easy to imagine Harper’s frustration as he faced brick walls when trying to uncover the identities of those involved, especially seeing as he was desperate to close the case for the sake of Billy. The crooks doing the dirty work, the Smith brothers, are a particularly nasty pair, leaving a trail of death and destruction wherever they go. I spent the whole book willing for their capture!

If you are new to the Tom Harper books, please don’t be put off by the fact that this is the seventh book in the series as it can definitely be read as a standalone. This is, without a shadow of a doubt, my favourite so far, and I eagerly anticipate what the next installment brings for Tom, Annabelle and the rest of the characters we have grown to love.

With thanks to Severn House Publishers and Net Galley for my copy.

 

Then She Vanishes by Claire Douglas

Many years ago, in the quiet town of Tilby, teenager Flora Powell went out, never to be seen again. Now, her sister, Heather, has committed an unthinkable crime, her own life hanging in the balance. Journalist Jess, tasked with writing about the event, has more reasons than most to uncover the truth – she used to be Heather’s best friend and was there the day Flora disappeared. Jess knows she must face her past and return to where it all began. Just what exactly happened to Flora and how is it linked to current events?

This is one of those books that gets you hooked from the first chapter as we witness the fatal shooting of a man and his elderly mother by a calm, cold-blooded killer. From the outset, we are introduced to the main mysteries in the book: Who is the killer? Who are the victims? What links them? As the book progresses, it soon becomes apparent that there are more secrets in the Powell family and that the disappearance of Flora seems to be, somehow, linked to the killings. The story alternates between the present day investigation and the run-up to Flora’s disappearance, twenty years ago, providing us with a fast-paced, gripping plot that just makes you not want to put the book down!

I liked the character of Jess who we see battling with her emotions, feeling the pressure from her boss to exploit her relationship with the family to secure exclusive interviews with the family. This was particularly difficult for her as we discover the reason for her leaving her previous post was due to the much-publicised phone hacking scandal, so she could really do with keeping her work above board. For much of the book, I did not know how I felt about Heather, but I think that this is the author’s intention: she is a multi-faceted character who, to understand her fully, you will need to read the whole book.

Although there are some parts of the mystery that do not come as a surprise, there are quite a few red herrings along the way which make you change your theory as you are reading. There are enough shifty characters to make you question which of them were involved in Flora’s disappearance, each with their own motive. The revelation of what exactly happened to Flora is a particularly shocking one, and one that filled me with hatred for those responsible.

I have really enjoyed reading Claire Douglas’s books before – take a look at my reviews of Last Seen Alive and Local Girl Missing – and this one is another fantastic read. If you’re looking for a thriller that will grab and hold your attention, one of those ‘just one more chapter’ books, then Then She Vanishes is the book for you! Highly recommended!

With thanks to Penguin UK – Michael Joseph and Netgalley for my copy.

The Sinclair Betrayal by M J Lee

There is one family that genealogist Jayne Sinclair has been reluctant to investigate – her own. After discovering that the father she thought had died when she was a child is, in fact, still alive, old wounds are opened up. To compound the issue even further, she finds out that he is currently residing in prison after killing a civil servant in cold blood. Claiming that the life he took was an act of revenge for his mother’s betrayal during World War Two, Jayne must try to uncover the truth about her grandmother’s past in order to solve an age-old mystery.

From the beginning of the series, it has always been apparent that there was something interesting lurking in Jayne’s family history. Spurred on by her stepfather, who urges Jayne to find out about her past before it is too late, we are taken on an emotive journey back to World War Two where we discover the secret life of her French grandmother, Monique.

The action flips between two time frames – Jayne’s modern-day research and Monique’s life in World War Two as a member of the Special Operations Executive (SOE). The dual time frames work well together and I particularly like how we see Jayne discovering something during her research and then reading about the actual event during the war. Both time frames were as enjoyable to read as each other, and I found myself flying through the book, desperate to know what was going to happen next.

One of the things I enjoy most about books like this is the historical aspect and the chance to learn new things. Although I had previously read about the SOE, M J Lee paints a vivid picture of life for the operatives and there were some genuine ‘heart in the mouth’ moments when reading about the dangers these brave people put themselves in. The story was, at times, heartbreaking, especially when the fate of Monique was revealed and was made even more poignant when reading about the real-life women of the SOE and their tragic ends.

I have read all of the other books in this series but I think that this my favourite so far. If you have never read any of the Jayne Sinclair books before, I can heartily recommend them, although you do not need to have read them before reading this one – it can be read as a standalone.

Take a look at my reviews of the rest of the series:

The Irish Inheritance

The Somme Legacy

The American Candidate

The Vanished Child

The Silent Christmas

 

**BLOG TOUR** Three by K J McGillick

Today, I am pleased to be one of the blogs opening the tour for Three, the latest book by K J McGillick. This looks like a thrilling one!

 

 

THREE: Deception Love Murder

Inviting a stranger into your home can be dangerous. Inviting a stranger into your life can turn deadly.

 How would you feel if you discovered your death was meticulously planned by someone you loved? You didn’t know how or when or even why. All you could do was wait.

Emma has it all-a job she loves and a man who professed to love her.

Or did she? How could she be so blind?

When her lover’s car is found burned and abandoned in another state, the police come asking some hard questions. What she discovers upends her world completely. Jude had been living a double life right under her nose. A deceitful life, a treacherous life. Who was this man that had already groomed another woman to take over Emma’s life? A woman who was Emma’s body double and now dead.

Why had she so easily trusted this psychopath with her heart? Betrayed on every level, consequences not of Emma’s making were nipping at her heels. Tick. Tock.

THREE is a gripping crime thriller that will have you hooked. A fast-paced psychological thriller that has been compared to the works of Dan Brown. It can be read as a standalone and serves as the first book in the Path of Deception and Betrayal series.

 

 

“If you can convince me I am in possession of stolen property, I will consider more carefully allowing a search without a warrant. I don’t want anything to do with stolen goods. But I didn’t hear anyone say anything about stolen property. All I heard Detective Chavez say was these are two paintings in question that may have been lawfully acquired by Jude and as far as we know there is nothing illegal in their ownership. For some reason, Jude may have them in his possession, and as far as I can tell that is not illegal. Jude is a lot of things, but I can’t say I ever thought of him as a thief. So, no to a search,” I responded.

“Then we will be leaving. Thank you for your cooperation. Please call us if you need anything further. We shall inform the agent you will be by the bank to check your box tomorrow,” Chavez said.

“Again, technically it’s not my box, but I will do it. If we’re done here, I think our food delivery is here. You better step out of the way once Lucy realizes food has arrived,” I suggested as I corralled everyone toward the door.

I hadn’t heard Aunt Mary leave the room while I was speaking to the detectives and had started to escort them to the door, but she must have left. As I reached for the door to open it for the food delivery, she marched in the room blustering. I knew with one look she was out of control. It was my mistake. I had overlooked her evening dose of her prescription in the craziness of the day.

Aunt Mary stood wearing her yellow raincoat and pink wellies, carrying a black umbrella in one hand and hairspray in the other ready to fend off any enemies.

“So, you boys are the law?” she thundered. “Well, that’s good. Really good. You finally caught up with the two of them?”

If her outburst weren’t so embarrassing, I would have burst out laughing watching the detectives. Chavez’s jaw gaped wide. Detective Marino looked alarmed, taking a full step backward with his hand ready to un-holster his weapon.

Chavez, who seemed to have composed himself, spoke first. “Ma’am, would you mind placing the umbrella and hairspray on the table? We are here to talk to your niece and mean no one any harm.” I could tell he had hostage negotiation skills or cared for a family member with dementia by the way he spoke to her.

“So, you aren’t here to arrest her communist boyfriend? Everyone knows he carries on with the Russians. Started with the cold war. They got him when he was still a baby, and now he spies for them. They don’t think I hear them outside down by the dock at night. They think I’m some old lady off in dreamland. But I’ve been biding my time until the law came knocking and here you are. Do you want to take my statement? If so, I don’t want Emmie implicated in this. She gets full immunity. If you give her immunity, then I will be your prime witness. Dirty commie. I haven’t seen it around, but I bet he subscribes to the Daily Worker. And he speaks fluent Russian to them, the bastard.” She snapped the umbrella toward the window and motioned toward the boat dock.

 

 

J. McGillick was born in New York and once she started to walk she never stopped running. But that’s what New Yorker’s do. Right? A Registered Nurse, a lawyer now author.

As she evolved so did her career choices. After completing her graduate degree in nursing, she spent many years in the university setting sharing the dreams of the enthusiastic nursing students she taught. After twenty rewarding years in the medical field she attended law school and has spent the last twenty-four years as an attorney helping people navigate the turbulent waters of the legal system. Not an easy feat. And now? Now she is sharing the characters she loves with readers hoping they are intrigued by her twisting and turning plots and entertained by her writing

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/KJMcGillickauthor/

Kathleen McGillick

@KJMcGillickAuth

http://www.kjmcgillick.com/

https://twitter.com/KJMcGillickAuth

https://www.goodreads.com/Kmcgillick

With thanks to the author and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the blog tour.

 

**BLOG TOUR** Forget My Name by J S Monroe

Arriving at the airport to discover that her bag has been stolen, her passport, purse and key all gone, she tries to report it to the authorities but there is one huge problem – she can’t remember her name. The only thing that seems familiar is her home so that is where she heads, hoping that will help to trigger some more memories. Arriving at the door, however, she discovers a couple, Tony and Laura, living there and they have no recollection of her ever being there. Someone is lying, but who?

This is definitely one of those books where you cannot predict what is going to happen! Our lead character ‘Jemma’ is the ultimate unreliable narrator, her stress-related amnesia causing her to forget most of what has happened in her life with the exception of some rather important events. From the start, I didn’t know how I felt about her, unsure as to whether she was genuine or whether this was part of some elaborate scam. At the same time, I had great concern for her and hoped that she wasn’t allowing herself to become manipulated by another of the characters. My conflicting opinions of ‘Jemma’ continued throughout the book until we finally realise exactly what is happening. This kept me on the edge of my seat throughout, making it a very interesting reading journey.

From the outset, I had my concerns about Tony and Laura. If someone came to my house, claiming to live there, the last thing I would do would be to invite them to stay! It was obvious that there was something much bigger happening here, but what? Like ‘Jemma’, my opinions of Tony fluctuated throughout the book: was he genuine in his attempts to help her or was there something darker at play?

As I wrote earlier, it is impossible to predict what is going to happen in Forget My Name, although there were a few smaller points I did pick up on. There are a few red herrings thrown in along the way to help muddy the waters, meaning that I constantly found myself changing theories. I was shocked by what was revealed and immediately saw how clever one of the characters had been throughout the whole book.

Forget My Name is a clever book with a very novel plot, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed.

With thanks to Vicky Joss at Head of Zeus and Netgalley for my copy.

 

 

 

Salt Lane by William Shaw

DS Alexandra Cupidi can’t get the image of a dead woman out of her head so when the body of a man is discovered, drowned in a slurry pit, she fears that there could be a connection. The man, it is determined, was a fruit picker from North Africa and soon the detective is investigating immigrants in the local area and the lives they are living. With a killer out there, and the local people not too keen on answering her questions, Alex faces an uphill and dangerous battle to find out what is going on by the Kent coastline.

I had heard great things about William Shaw but had never got round to reading any of his books. As I was due to attend an ‘Evening with…’ event where he was sharing the billing with the wonderful Elly Griffiths, I decided to bump Salt Lane up my TBR list and I am so glad I did!

Alexandra Cupidi is a fascinating character and I can see why William Shaw decided to write a series around her. (She appears in another book, The Birdwatcher, but it is not essential to have read this prior to Salt Lane). After leaving her previous post under a bit of a cloud, she has found herself in Dungeness, its bleakness a direct contrast to what she was used to in the Met. In Alex, we see a woman at odds with her mother whilst experiencing a less than perfect relationship with her daughter. Alex’s daughter, Zoe, is one of the many strengths in this book. Not exactly your typical teenager, it was refreshing to see a young character written in such a positive way.

Salt Lane deals with the very topical issue of immigration, in particular those arriving into the country illegally and the conditions in which they have to live their lives. In a climate where this is such a divisive issue, the author paints a very sympathetic picture of their plight, highlighting the dangers faced by these people who are just trying to have the chance of a better life. The story is, at times, incredibly emotive, as we read about these ‘hidden’ people, unable to work legally and so are reliant upon jobs that are tantamount to modern day slavery. The fate of one of these characters, in particular, had a huge impact on me and really brought home how vulnerable they were.

This is a fantastic start to a new series, and I am already looking forward to reading its follow-up, Deadland. Incidentally, William Shaw’s event with Elly Griffiths was superb and if you get the chance to attend something similar, I highly recommend it!

The Ghost of Hollow House by Linda Stratmann

The year is 1872 and Mina Scarletti has been invited to Hollow House in Sussex to investigate the strange occurrences that have been troubling its occupants, Mr Honeyacre and his wife, Kitty. With the servants refusing to stay at the house due to sightings of ‘the woman in white’ and unexplained noises, the health of Kitty Honeyacre is beginning to deteriorate. Confirmed sceptic, Mina, knows that with the assistance of her trusted friends Dr. Hamid and Nellie, she can solve the mystery of Hollow House.

The Ghost of Hollow House is the fourth in the Mina Scarletti series and, while it does make references to previous events, it can definitely be read as a standalone. For anyone who hasn’t been introduced to Mina before, she is not exactly your average Victorian heroine. Afflicted with a severe curvature of the spine, the diminutive protagonist has accepted that, unlike most women of her status, she will never marry and have children. She, therefore, has carved out a career writing ghost stories under a male nom de plume, spending her spare time uncovering fraudulent spiritualists.

It was during this era that spiritualism became big business and Linda Stratmann has painted a vivid picture of life at this time. Hollow House is the perfect setting for a ghost story with its mysterious history and cast of characters with secrets to hide. The tension is ramped up even further when bad weather forces the house to be cut off from the rest of the outside world and the strange happenings continue to terrify those in residence.

Mina, once again, encounters her nemesis, spiritualist Arthur Wallace Hope, who brings with him a Mr Beckler, a photographer keen to capture images of spirits. They are a nefarious pairing, Beckler in particular making my skin crawl with his intentions towards Mina. It is also obvious that another character, Mr Stevenson, is not who he says he is, adding to the mistrust and suspicion in the house.

I enjoyed trying to solve the mystery and there are certainly clues to help you along the way. Mina is very impressive in the way she handles the case and I thought the retelling of the story at the end, written by her nom de plume was a great way of ending the book. A great read!

With thanks to Caoimhe O’Brien and Sapere Books for my copy.

 

**BLOG TOUR** Bold Lies by Rachel Lynch

When the body of a man is found in the Lake District, DI Kelly Porter is shocked when connections are made to the murders of two scientists in a secret laboratory in London. With a case involving the upper echelons of society, Kelly finds herself back on familiar territory when she heads to the capital to assist in the investigation. Reunited with her ex, and the reason she left the Met, DCI Matt Carter, Kelly finds herself in the midst of a challenging case where it is difficult to determine who to trust.

Bold Lies is the fifth in the Kelly Porter series and is very different to the previous books, with the action moving away from the Lake District for much of the novel. We also see a very different plot from what we are used to, dealing with crime involving those with the finances and contacts to do what they want. Those involved in the conspiracy are a truly horrible bunch and it was good to see the detectives slowly tighten the net, even though those involved thought they were untouchable.

Circumstances helped us to see a completely different side of Kelly in Bold Lies. Usually driven by her work and focused on the task in hand, we got to see a more vulnerable side when she returned to her mother’s house to sort out her belongings. I love the relationship she has with Ted and can see how vital he has been to help her with the grieving process.

In previous books, we learned how Kelly left the Met after she was betrayed by a colleague, and we finally get to meet Matt, her former boyfriend and man responsible for her relocation to the Lakes. Matt is not a likeable character and I could understand Kelly’s reluctance in wanting to spend too much time with him. I loved her partner Johnny’s reaction when she told him about her history with Matt, and almost wish he had followed through with his threat!

I’m really enjoying this series although, like Kelly herself, I am glad that she has returned to the Lake District as that is where she belongs! I look forward to seeing her back among the lakes and fells investigating her next crime.

With thanks to Canelo and Net Galley for my ARC and to Ellie Pilcher for organising the blog tour.

Take a look at my reviews of the rest of the series:

Dark Game

Deep Fear

Dead End

Bitter Edge

 

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