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The Body Beneath the Willows by Nick Louth

The body of a man is found near to an Anglo-Saxon burial site but his dental fillings show that this is not an ancient burial. DCI Craig Gillard is tasked with solving the case but identification of the body is proving difficult. Everything seems to point towards it belonging to Ozzy Blanchard, a man who disappeared some months ago and was working for the same company that have now uncovered the body. When it is revealed that metal lodged in the neck is part of an Anglo-Saxon dagger, Gillard is perplexed. Just who is the body beneath the willows?

This is the ninth book in the series but can be read as a standalone if you have not read any of the previous books. There are some references to events in previous books but nothing that would spoil your enjoyment should you go back and read the rest.

This is, at times, quite a complex plot with a lot happening as, in addition to the murder, there are sub-plots involving some of the characters that we meet along the way. Thanks to the skilled writing of the author, however, the story is easy to follow and keeps you engaged throughout. There are a few surprises that long-time readers of the series will enjoy and some hints as to potential events in future books.

This is the first book I have read that mentions the Covid pandemic and I liked the way that Nick Louth handled this, referring to it but not making it a major part of the story. This definitely gave an added sense of realism to the book and I will be interested to read if other authors manage to do this as well in their books.

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

Lying Ways by Rachel Lynch

When the bodies of two former inmates of Highfield Prison are found horrifically tortured, DI Kelly Porter must try to find out what has happened since their release that has angered someone so much. With unrest due to the poor conditions in the prison threatening to turn explosive, Kelly knows that there will be some resistance to her investigation, but will stop at nothing to find the truth.

I think I have just about got my breath back after reading the most explosive book of the series so far! By setting much of Lying Ways in Highfield Prison, Rachel Lynch has created an extremely claustrophobic read that kept me on my toes throughout. A very damning picture of the prison service is created as we see the effects of overcrowding, drug use and the market for mobile phones in an institution that has become extremely understaffed.

Kelly’s tenacity really comes to the fore as she challenges authority to find the killers of the two men, facing corruption along the way. I have always felt that Kelly is the sort of boss I’d like to work for – great at her job, not afraid to get her hands dirty and someone who would protect her team at all costs. We see all of this in Lying Ways.

I have read all of this series and I can say with some confidence that this is my favourite one so far. Fast-paced, thrilling and full of excitement, I hope that there is much more of Kelly Porter to come!

With thanks to Canelo and Net Galley for my copy.

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

Dark Game

Deep Fear

Dead End

Bitter Edge

Bold Lies

Blood Rites

Little Doubt

Lost Cause

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


When the Evil Waits by M J Lee

When a dog walker finds the body of a young boy in a meadow beside the River Mersey, memories are immediately evoked of the Moors Murders. With no DNA or other clues to help find the killer, the police are struggling to make any progress and know that they have a race against time before there is another victim. After recent traumatic events, DI Thomas Ridpath has just returned to work and is thrown straight into the investigation. When another child is taken, Ridpath must try to put aside his own issues to stop the killer in his tracks.


After the shocking cliffhanger M J Lee left us with at the end of the previous book, When the Past Kills, I had been champing at the bit to read this one to see how the story would play out. Within the first few pages, we find out, and we see Ridpath having to come to terms with the aftermath of what happened. If you are new to this series, I would advise you start back at book one in order to get a full picture of Ridpath’s life up to now. While the cases themselves are standalones, I do feel that you need to read about Ridpath’s past to fully understand his character.

Still seconded to the coroner’s office, Ridpath finds himself tasked to re-investigate another officer’s work in order to prove that the case is watertight. Again, we see him falling foul of his colleagues as they realise what he is doing but this is what I like most about him – he has courage of his convictions and will stop at nothing to find the truth even if it means upsetting his fellow officers on the way.

Any plot involving the murder of a child is always a harrowing one and M J Lee has written this in a sensitive way. We soon become aware that there is something amiss in the household of the dead child but what? Could his father really have killed him? The police seem to think so but Ridpath isn’t so sure. Again, we see his tenacity in trying to prove the man’s innocence, not caring whose back he gets up along the way.

I do feel that this series would be great on television and the showdown towards the end of the book had my heart racing just as if I were watching it rather than reading. In Ridpath, M J Lee has created a great character who becomes more and more likable with every book, exactly the sort of police officer I would want to see investigating crimes in real life. I am already eagerly awsiting book seven!

With thanks to Canelo and Net Galley for my ARC.

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

Where the Truth Lies

Where the Dead Fall

Where the Silence Calls

Where the Innocent Die

When the Past Kills

The Bodies at Westgrave Hall by Nick Louth

Local residents are not happy when Russian oligarch, Alexander Volkov, buys the historic Westgrave Hall, but are intrigued enough to visit when he throws a party for 1000 guests. While giving a private tour of the library, however, Volkov is shot dead, along with two other men. Knowing that he doesn’t have long before the local police are ousted by the security services, DCI Craig Gillard, is struggling to find evidence to show what actually happened. CCTV shows no one entering or leaving the library, everyone appears to have an alibi and the murder weapon is nowhere in sight. Is this a professional hit or the result of a love triangle? With the security services breathing down his neck, Gillard finds himself involved in his most prolific case to date.


I love a good ‘locked room’ mystery and in The Bodies at Westgrave Hall, Nick Louth has brought this genre bang up to date with a crime that is definitely of its time while still keeping you perplexed as to how the murders could have happened. In recent times, we have seen poisoning cases involving the likes of the Skripals and Alexei Navalny becoming worldwide news so the deaths of Russian oligarchs, albeit by a different method, is very topical. We are left, initially, to wonder whether politics are at play in the deaths or whether it is simply a case of old enemies finally calling time on their differences. I had my theories throughout, but found myself blindsided at the end, angry with myself for disregarding a piece of information that I had originally felt would prove to be important!


The plot is a complex one, showing how difficult it is for the police to mount an operation when there are other agencies involved, in this case the security services. The sheer size of the house also made it difficult for the police, meaning that they had to prioritise evidence, potentially missing clues which may prove to be useful. Although it was complex, I found the plot easy to follow, and felt it definitely had a ‘real time’ feel to it, as we saw the investigation unfold over the Christmas period.


As well as the characters we have got to know in previous books, Nick Louth has created a superb supporting cast in The Bodies at Westgrave Hall, some definitely more likeable than others. My favourite character had to be the man with a name that was so unpronounceable, he was known as Wolf. I once knew someone who learned English from watching episodes of Scooby Doo so I found Wolf’s Only Fools and Horses take on the English language hysterical. “Lovely bubbly!” as Wolf (not Del Boy) would say!

I’ve loved all of the Craig Gillard series, but I think I can safely say that this is one of my favourites to date. An engaging plot, superb characterisation and a mystery that keeps you guessing right until the end… hopefully it won’t be too long before we see what happens next to the Chief Inspector.

With thanks to Canelo and Net Galley for my ARC.

Take a look at my reviews for the rest of this 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 Body on the Island by Nick Louth

In a quiet part of the Thames, a loud splash signals something untoward – an asphyxiated body found naked on an island, covered in strange markings. Without an identity, DCI Craig Gillard is struggling to move forward with the case, especially as potential witnesses all seem to have something to hide. Meanwhile, a notorious child killer is about to be released from prison, determined to settle scores with those who put him inside thirty years previously. One of those people? A young trainee by the name of Craig Gillard…

The Craig Gillard series has become one of my favourites and Nick Louth has written another fantastic book with an engaging plot and a plethora of fascinating characters. We actually don’t see as much of Gillard in this book as we have done in previous installments, the plot focusing on other characters, allowing the story to progress at a fast pace. There were, however, references to events in the previous book, but nothing to spoil later reading if you haven’t read it yet.

I think it is safe to say that this book didn’t go where I was expecting it to! After reading the blurb and the opening chapters, I had a clear idea in my mind as to where this plot was going to take me, but I couldn’t have been more wrong! I won’t give anything away but a huge well done to Nick Louth for writing a book with an unexpected plot containing more twists and turns that you could shake a stick at! It’s not often that I am totally blindsided by a book, but this was definitely the case with The Body on the Island!

One of the main mysteries running throughout the book is the police’s inability to discover exactly how the man found on the island was killed. Again, I won’t give any spoilers but when all is revealed at the end, I was genuinely open-mouthed! This is definitely not a mode of murder I have read about before and probably won’t again!

If you haven’t yet read any of this series, I can’t recommend it highly enough and if you are already a fan, you’re going to love this one!

With thanks to Canelo and Net Galley for my copy.

Take a look at my reviews of the rest of the 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

When the Past Kills by M J Lee

A case from the past has come back to haunt D I Ridpath. With his time at the coroner’s office seemingly coming to an end, his previous work on the Beast of Manchester case once again rears its head. The police are being targeted and even those already dead are not being spared. Is this some sort of warning and who is behind it? Ridpath must try to uncover the truth to prevent his own life from being put in danger.

I love a book that grabs you straight from the off and When the Past Kills definitely does this! From the moment we see Ridpath’s boss, Mrs Challinor watching a video of something truly horrific, we know that this is not going to be an easy case for the coroner’s officer, especially when links begin to be made to a case that he previously worked on. This was a good move by the author to start the plot part-way through the investigation before taking you back to how the case started as I could not wait to revisit this moment to see the repercussions.

The case is a particularly horrific one, and one that is very personal to Ridpath. He also has the additional dilemma of whether he should return to work for MIT or whether to remain at the coroner’s office. I feel that Ridpath is well-suited to his role with the coroner and although he does have the skills that make him a great detective, he is certainly a good fit in his present role and Mrs Challinor is definitely reluctant to see him go. It is his job as coroner’s officer that sets him apart from protagonists in other books of this genre, as it is something that I have not seen in any other books.

There is a lot going on in When the Past Kills and, just when you think the story has ended, the author hits us with the cliffhanger of all cliffhangers! I actually gasped out loud when I reached this moment and can’t believe I have to wait until the next book to find out what happens next! Hopefully, book 6 won’t be long in the making as I’m desperate to know the outcome!

As the title suggests, the focus of the plot links to a case in one of the previous books, and while you do not need to have read about what has gone before, there are spoilers aplenty should you wish to go back and read this series from the start. This is a really engaging series with a likable protagonist and I would definitely recommend reading them all. Take a look at my reviews of the rest of the series:

Where the Truth Lies

Where the Dead Fall

Where the Silence Calls

Where the Innocent Die

With thanks to Canelo 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

The Body in the Marsh by Nick Louth

DCI Craig Gillard finds himself emotionally involved in a case when a girlfriend from his youth is reported missing. Her husband is seemingly unperturbed, but the case takes a sudden turn when he, too, slips off the radar. A guilty conscience or something more sinister? Running alongside the investigation is another case: a new look into the death of someone known as ‘Girl F’. Just why has no progress been made?

I’m not usually a fan of reading a book series out of order, but that is what has happened with Nick Louth’s Craig Gillard series. Having already read the rest of the series, I thought I had better go back to where it all started! I found that it took me back even further than I was expecting with an insight into Craig’s early life thanks to the investigation into Liz Knight, a woman who also happened to be an ex-girlfriend. I admired Craig’s ability to work through this case, despite his connection to Liz, his dedication to the job in hand being something that is carried through the rest of the series. 

The case is a particularly twisted one, often more twisted than you could ever imagine. I did have my suspicions as to how the plot would play out which proved to be correct, but such is the quality of the author’s storytelling that my enjoyment was not spoiled one bit. In a story which takes in several European countries, we see the determination of Craig and his team to solve the case, discovering links to other crimes in the process. 

Often in police procedurals, the second plot is not as interesting, but this is definitely not the case here. The story of ‘Girl F’ is a heart-wrenching one, and one that made me very angry. We discover that despite giving evidence of her abuse and a description of someone who was involved, no one was ever brought to justice, even after the girl chose to take her own life. There has apparently been some sort of conspiracy of silence, but why? Exactly who is pulling the strings? In a story full of anger, I did find myself laughing when a suspect in the case is delivered to the police – never underestimate a woman!

If you haven’t read any of this series, and you are a plan of police procedurals with great characters and gripping plots, I can thoroughly recommend the Craig Gillard series. Take a look at my reviews of the other books:

The Body on the Shore

The Body in the Mist

The Body in the Snow

The Body Under the Bridge

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