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Crime

Brass Lives by Chris Nickson

The year is 1913 and Deputy Chief Constable Tom Harper has an interesting case on his hands. After receiving information that an American gangster has arrived in Leeds, he soon finds himself acquainted with the man himself. Death seems to follow Davey Mullen around but is he responsible for the catalogue of crime that seems to have his name written all over it? With the campaign for women to gain the right to vote gathering pace, Harper is also overseeing a national suffragist pilgrimage that is due to arrive in Leeds, his wife, Annabelle, intending to take part. With worrying incidents affecting his family, this promises to be a difficult time for Tom as he begins to realise that things may never be the same again.

I love how we are moving through time in the Tom Harper series, having started back in the first book in 1890. In this time, we have seen Tom climb up the career ladder where he has now reached the position of Deputy Chief Constable. Not content with sitting behind a desk, Tom is pleased to be given the opportunity to join his detectives in trying to put an end to the crime spree that seems to have been precipitated by the arrival of Davey Mullen.

At a time before modern forensics, it is enjoyable to see the methods employed by the police in order to get the information they need, the emphasis being on getting out there and talking to people. There was one line, in particular, that really brought home for me the time setting, when someone is asked how they knew someone’s accent was American. Nowadays, this would seem like a silly question, but in an era before the advent of the talking film, people would not know what the American accent sounded like!

The plot is a complex one, with several threads that Chris Nickson manages to weave together perfectly. Murder, arson and gun theft are just some of the crimes that we see Harper investigating in what is a very enjoyable book and one of the best in the series. I am looking forward to seeing what happens next in Tom Harper’s life as Brass Lives has introduced a plot that I am sure will be revisited in the next book.

With thanks to Severn House and Net Galley for my ARC.

The Devil’s Advocate by Steve Cavanagh

When a young woman, Skylar Edwards, is murdered, a suspect is soon arrested, his fate sure to be the death penalty. No one seems concerned that Andy Dubois is innocent and with local feeling the way it is, there is no chance of him receiving a fair trial. Prosecutor Randal Korn is determined to put Andy on death row, and judging by his reputation as the district attorney to send the most people to their death, this is a foregone conclusion. When Andy’s defence attorney disappears, New York lawyer Eddie Flynn is drafted in to try to achieve the seemingly impossible – beat Randal Korn and save Andy Dubois.

The Eddie Flynn books have become a firm favourite of mine and I couldn’t wait to read The Devil’s Advocate. Here, we see Eddie out of his comfort zone, heading to Alabama to defend a young black man, charged with the murder of a popular white woman. Race definitely plays a part in this book, his skin colour condemning him to death in the eyes of many people regardless of the evidence. Andy and his mum were very likeable characters, and, although they don’t feature much in the book, their bond was clear to see and I willed Eddie to break the case and see justice served.

We see Eddie at his best in The Devil’s Advocate, using every trick in the book (and tricks most definitely not in the book!) to counteract the devious mind of Randal Korn. This is where the author’s legal background really comes to the fore, Eddie’s investigations and courtroom scenes being a joy to read.

In Randal Korn, we have a despicable antagonist of the highest order. He is one of those characters who get under your skin right from the start, without a single redeeming feature. His control over society was terrifying and we see this right from the start with the hostility Eddie and his team face when arriving in Alabama. In The Devil’s Advocate, Steve Cavanagh has given us a plethora of abhorrent characters, each of them with their own terrifying reasons for framing Andy.

In the previous book in this series, Fifty Fifty, there was a particularly shocking moment where we saw the death of someone unexpected. There was a horrible sense of deja vu in this book that had me completely on the edge of my seat and I couldn’t believe that Steve was doing this to us again! You will have to read the book to see what I am referring to and see the outcome. Be prepared!

Eddie Flynn has become a force to be reckoned with and I am already eagerly awaiting the next in the series.

With thanks to Orion and Net Galley for my copy.

The Body on the Moor by Nick Louth

Junior barrister Julia McGann finds herself representing Terrence Bonner, a drug gang enforcer. What could potentially be a case to put her firmly on the map soon turns into a nightmare when her house is broken into and a young homeless girl turns up on her doorstep with an interesting tale to tell. Some time later, DCI Craig Gillard is investigating the brutal murder of a local headteacher. With little to act upon, there is one curious piece of evidence – a pair of gloves that appear to have been used in both the murder and the break in at Julia’s house.

The Body on the Moor is the eighth book in the Craig Gillard series and what a cracker it is! This is a bit different from the others in that Craig takes more of a back seat than he has in the previous books, much of this one focusing on barrister, Julia. I really liked this move as it was something I was not expecting and definitely kept me on my toes throughout!

It is not a spoiler to say that, due to the gloves connection, we know that the two storylines must converge at some point and I found myself trying to work out how. I hoped that this would not be some coincidental event like can often happen in crime fiction but I knew that this would not be the case with Nick Louth’s writing. What we find is a well-constructed plot which drip feeds you information so that you slowly see the big picture. There were several ‘Aha!’ moments where I began to realise where the plot was going.

Just when I thought I couldn’t like this book any more, we are hit with an ending that truly made me gasp. This twist was not something I expected and was a very fitting way to end the book. Again, Nick Louth has whetted my appetite for the next book in the series!

With thanks to Canelo Crime and Net Galley for my copy.

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

The Body in the Marsh

The Body on the Shore

The Body in the Mist

The Body in the Snow

The Body Under the Bridge

The Body on the Island

The Bodies at Westgrave Hall


Rabbit Hole by Mark Billingham

DC Alice Armitage is investigating the murder of a patient on a psychiatric ward. In a facility where security is paramount, she must try to discover how this was able to occur and also who could have possibly been able to carry this out. Could it have been one of his fellow patients? One of the members of staff? An outsider who has managed to gain access? Alice’s work is cut out, not least because the detective isn’t exactly on the case – she’s one of the patients in the ward.

I loved the premise of this book and found Alice a fascinating character. Despite traumatic events in her past placing her in the psychiatric unit, she is convinced that the police are not doing their job properly and so uses her skills to conduct an investigation of her own. Feeling that she has identified the killer, she uses her contacts in the outside world to assist, only to find her theory derailed several times.

Despite the setting, Rabbit Hole is packed with dark humour as we meet a plethora of characters, each given a nickname by Alice. Some of her fellow patients are an absolute joy, their well-described quirks making it easy to visualise what life was like in this unit.

For fans of the author’s Thorne series, you will be pleased to see that there are a few cameo appearances of characters you may recognise. I particularly liked the subtle Phil Hendricks reference quite early on in the book.

There are plenty of twists and turns along the way with numerous red herrings thrown in for good measure. The ending was not expected with part of it making me question everything I had read! This is a great standalone from Mark Billingham, an author who I don’t think has ever written anything less than a brilliant book.

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

**BOOK BLITZ** Unknown Vengeance by Pat O’Brien #AD

For anyone, like me, who enjoys a good serial killer novel, this might be right up your street! Published today by Cayelle Publishing/Whistler, if you like a book with a bit of a puzzle attached, then read on…

The Blurb

A serial killer is terrorizing members of the medical community in Buffalo, NY. Veteran Detective, Rhody Richardson, is leading the investigation with his partner, Detective Wayne. Victims have been disfigured and tortured – faces sliced, numbers carved into their chests. The brilliant, but young, forensic intern, Connor Patrick, tries desperately to make sense of the numbers but cannot find a pattern.

The killer has promised ten victims, but Richardson, and psychiatric consultant Dr. Kaileen Taylor believe it will continue well past that number. At each of the gruesome crime scenes, the killer has left cryptic poems with different names. Richardson ventures down a dangerous path, deciphering what the killer is trying to tell them before they escape justice into the eternal void of the unknown.

If this looks like something you would enjoy, it can be purchased here.

With thanks to Kelly at Love Books Group and Cayelle Publishers.

**BLOG TOUR** The Face at the Window by Ruby Speechley

To the outside world, Gemma Adams has it all: a beautiful house, a job she enjoys, a handsome husband and a newborn baby boy. Gemma knows this is all a facade, however, and is harbouring secrets about her marriage that could destroy her. Now her baby has been taken by someone she thought she could trust and her marriage is going from bad to worse. She needs her baby back, even if it puts her own life in danger.

The Face at the Window is told from the perspective of two young women, each of them in an abusive relationship, even if they can’t actually see it. Gemma appears to have the perfect life, something she shares happily on her social media. The photographs she posts hide the true nature of her relationship, however, and we soon discover how controlling her husband, Nick, is. It was quite unnerving as a reader to see this develop, fearing for Gemma and willing her to make the break.

The other main protagonist is Scarlett, a young woman with secrets of her own. She, too, is in a controlling relationship with an older man but is too naive to see this. Perhaps for me, the most interesting aspect of her story was her search for her unknown father. book, leading to an exciting denouement that had me holding my breath.

Although this is about a missing baby and, indeed, this is an integral part of the plot, there is so much more to The Face at the Window. This is a book about coercive control and abuse and serves as a lesson into how we shouldn’t always believe everything we see on the likes of Instagram. Ruby Speechley has written strong, believable characters who made me question whether everyone who commits a crime should receive a punishment if the reason behind it is to save someone else.

This was one of those books that had me hooked from the start and kept my attention right until the very last page. A definite page-turner!

With thanks to Hera Books, Net Galley and Sarah Hardy at Book on the Bright Side Publicity.

The Perfect Life by Nuala Ellwood

Looking online at houses that are for sale is something that many people enjoy and Vanessa is no exception. When she wants to escape from reality, she finds a home and arranges a viewing, adopting a different persona each time in order to convince the seller that she is a serious buyer. All harmless fun until one of the householders is found murdered and Vanessa is the main suspect.

Vanessa is the classic unreliable narrator. Clearly suffering from mental health issues due to events in her past, she has created a fantasy world for herself, one that sees her pretending to be in the market for an expensive property. While at first this seems an innocent pastime, we see this quickly becoming an obsession, especially when she starts to take little mementos from the houses.

Told in two time frames, we find out about Vanessa’s past, her ex-boyfriend, Connor, featuring prominently. We see how Vanessa is being manipulated by her controlling partner, even if she cannot see it herself. This helped to explain the situation she finds herself in as time goes on and helped me to develop a sympathetic attitude towards someone who could, potentially, be a killer.

As the book progresses, the plot starts to take a more sinister turn when Vanessa starts to realise that someone has been watching her. Could this person prove her innocence or even her guilt and what exactly do they want from her?

I have enjoyed Nuala Ellwood’s previous books and was just as gripped by this one. The Perfect Life has a gripping plot with superb characters, something I have grown to expect from this author’s writing.

With thanks to Penguin and Net Galley for my copy.

Hunt by Leona Deakin

When Dr Augusta Bloom is summoned to speak to the Foreign Secretary, she is intrigued. He is being held under the Terrorism Act and needs Bloom’s help to track down his niece, Scarlett, who he has not seen for a decade. She appears to have links to Artemis, a feminist group led by the charismatic Paula Kunis, but why has she distanced herself from her family? In order to find out, Bloom must go undercover, infiltrating the ranks at Artemis to find out exactly what their agenda is.


Hunt is the third in the Augusta Bloom series and, in my opinion, is the best so far. Augusta’s skills are put to the test as she finds herself deep undercover, trying to find out the true motives behind Artemis, an organisation who claim to be empowering women. While on the surface, this does appear to be the case, it does not taks Augusta long to realise that this is more like a cult, and one that it seems impossible to escape from. The tension became palpable as we begin to realise just how much danger Augusta has placed herself in and this kept me turning the pages as I tried to discover how she was going to get out of this terrifying situation.


We also get to understand a bit more about Augusta’s business partner, Marcus Jameson in this book, and it was good to see more of his investigative work, drawing upon his previous career to help him. The spectre of Seraphine is always hanging over Marcus and I enjoyed seeing this odd relationship rear its head again, albeit in a different way from the previous books.


The cult aspect of this book was fascinating to read and it was easy to understand how the women might be coerced into becoming part of it, parallels being drawn to the likes of Waco and Jonestown. I think the most terrifying part was how easy it was for these women to become indoctrinated, their families desperately trying and failing to make contact with them.


Hunt is a fast-past read that has left me eagerly awaiting the next installment.

With thanks to Transworld Digital and Net Galley for my copy.

***BLOG TOUR*** The Rule by David Jackson

Chaos ensues when Daniel, not realising his own strength, unwittingly kills a man. His parents know that if the murder is discovered, their vulnerable son will be taken away and will be unable to cope away from everything he knows. Disposing of the body, they hope that it is all done and dusted but little do they know that this is only the beginning. With the police closing in and others with less than honourable intentions looking for them, just how far will they go to protect Daniel?

David Jackson is one of my favourite authors and his previous book, The Resident, was one of my favourite books of last year. The Rule is another standalone, filled with the great writing and dark humour that I have grown to expect from this author.

Daniel is an absolute delight and, although there are other people we see more of, he is the character that, in my opinion, has the most impact. I spent the book willing him to be safe and hoping that his father could do whatever he had to do to protect him.

Daniel’s father, Scott, is another fantastic character. A good man who would do anything for his family, we see how one unfortunate event can change everything you once believed in. He is far from being a criminal mastermind, his naivety showing throughout the book as he gets himself into some terrifying situations. This is where David Jackson’s wonderful writing comes to the fore, turning some genuinely tense moments into humour in the blink of an eye.

It is always a pleasure to read a David Jackson book and The Rule is no exception. Fast paced and exciting with a plethora of well-written, believable characters, this deserves to be a huge hit!

With thanks to Sahina Bibi for organising the blog tour and to viper Books and Net Galley for my ARC.

Take a look at my reviews of some of David Jackson’s other books:

A Tapping at My Door

Hope to Die

Don’t Make a Sound

Your Deepest Fear

The Resident

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