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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

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.

 

 

Where the Innocent Die by M J Lee

When the death of a woman in an Immigrant Removal Centre is adjudged to be a case of suicide, it is only when the coroner’s office gets involved that a more thorough investigation begins to take place. Just how could a woman locked in a high-security building get hold of the knife that killed her when she had been searched on arrival? With only five days until the inquest, will DI Ridpath have enough time to find out the truth about what happened to Wendy Tang and will he be able to prevent even more deaths?

In the fourth installment of the DI Ridpath series, the author has painted a bleak picture of life inside the Immigrant Removal Centre. Operated by an outside agency, the establishment is clearly under-resourced and, quite frankly, not the sort of place you would want to spend any time in. Despite this, there are strict regulations in place which should have prevented the death of the woman, something which Ridpath realises quite early on. Although working as the coroner’s officer, his detective skills really came to the fore as he investigated what really happened, reaching the conclusion that this was no suicide. It was good to see Ridpath back working alongside MIT, leaving us wondering if he will return full time or whether he will continue his work alongside the coroner. Personally, I hope it will be the latter as  I enjoy the deviation from the average police procedural.

With only five days to investigate, and with more bodies turning up, Ridpath really had his work cut out to reach a conclusion before the inquest took place.  I find that many courtroom scenes can be quite long-winded, but I really enjoyed the coroner’s inquest, feeling that this provided a natural conclusion to the detective’s investigation. This also provided us with some great action and, although I had worked out who the killer was, there was so much more to this book than just finding out ‘whodunnit’.

Ridpath is a great character and I am thoroughly enjoying this series. After his good news at the end of this book, I can’t wait to see what happens next!

With thanks to Canelo and Net Galley for my copy.

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

Where the Truth Lies

Where the Dead Fall

Where the Silence Calls

 

The Merchant’s Daughter by M J Lee

When a DNA test reveals that the famous actress Rachel Marlowe has African ancestry, she calls upon genealogist Jayne Sinclair to try to discover more about this mysterious antecedent. With a family line that dates back to William the Conqueror, Rachel’s family are reluctant to believe the science, convinced that there must be some error. With a short timescale in which to solve the mystery, Jayne’s research is made even more difficult with the realisation that someone will stop at nothing, even serious injury, to prevent her from discovering the truth.

The Merchant’s Daughter is the seventh of the Jayne Sinclair series and is probably one of my favourites to date. With more and more people having their DNA analysed on sites such as Ancestry, this is a very topical plot and one that all people (like me) who have done such a test will find fascinating.

Like in previous books in the series, the story is told in two time frames, in this case Jayne’s present-day investigations and the sugar plantations of the Caribbean. One of the things I like most about this series is the historical aspect, and the author’s willingness to write about what could be termed a controversial subject. As someone with a connection to the slave trade in their family, I found the plot a fascinating one and am glad that books like this are being written so that we never forget the barbaric treatment of these people.

The main historical protagonist is Emily Roylance, a character whom I immediately warmed to. I thought it was a clever idea to have Emily tell her story via her memoirs as this helped the plot to move on quickly and made me desperate to know the circumstances behind her being where she was. In a book full of unpleasant characters, Emily’s strength and courage shone through.

The most pleasant surprise for me was how much of the story was set in my home city of Liverpool. M J Lee has certainly created an accurate picture of the life of the wealthy and I could visualise Hope Street at the time when Liverpool was profiting from the slave trade. Similarly, I was pleased to see Jayne visiting the International Slavery Museum, somewhere I have been several times and a place which definitely opens a person’s eyes with regard to the treatment of such people.

I really did enjoy The Merchant’s Daughter as not only does it discuss an important aspect of British history, but it is a fast-paced read with a great mystery. I can’t wait to see what era the author decides to tackle next!

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

The Sinclair Betrayal

**BLOG TOUR** First in the Fight by Helen Antrobus and Andrew Simcock

In 2018, a statue of Emmeline Pankhurst was unveiled in St. Peter’s Square, Manchester, 100 years after some women first received the right to vote. Prior to this, a list of 20 pioneering women of Manchester had been drawn up, the aim being to commemorate the role women have played in the city. First in the Fight tells the story of these women, some of them well-known, others virtually unheard of, each of them powerhouses in their field.

Being from Liverpool, if I were asked to think of pioneering women from the north-west of England, my initial response would be the likes of Bessie Braddock, Kitty Wilkinson and Eleanor Rathbone, all known for their work in my home city. As someone interested in social history, I was pleased, therefore, to be given the opportunity to expand my horizons and discover more about the women that made Manchester.

I really like how this book is organised as this made it very easy to read. Each woman had a chapter devoted to her, written in an informative and stirring way with wonderful colour illustrations that really brought each subject to life. I also enjoyed reading about how the project came into being, each step being documented with photographs to show the journey from beginning to end.

Of course, no book on this subject would be worth its weight in salt if it did not discuss the lives of, arguably, the most influential women in Britain’s recent history – the Suffragettes. The Pankhursts, Emmeline, Christabel and Sylvia, are all covered, but it was, perhaps, the likes of Margaret Ashton that interested me the most. The lives of the Pankhursts have been well-documented, but I found it fascinating to read about those women who very few of us will have heard of.

After reading about these amazing Mancunian women and the significant roles they played in society, I’d love this to be part of a series with women from other cities highlighted as there are lots of untold stories out there. This is a superb book and one that I know I will be returning to in the future.

To buy your own copy of First in the Fight, visit https://inostalgia.co.uk/product/first-in-the-fight/ 

With thanks to iNostalgia and to Kelly from Love Books Group for organising the blog tour.

 

Where the Silence Calls by M J Lee

When the charred remains of a man are found at his flat, it is initially thought that it is a case of accidental death. As other burnt bodies are found, each with a cryptic message sprayed nearby in orange paint, Coroner’s Officer, DI Ridpath, begins to fear that there is a serial killer on the streets of Manchester. The detective soon finds himself taken back to the city’s dark past and knows he must close the case before more bodies are discovered.

This is the third in the series and after the ending of the previous book, I was eager to discover what had happened to Ridpath. Fans of previous books will already know that the detective has been fighting a battle with a  serious illness and there is always the threat that it will return. I was pleased to read that all seems to be well (despite an incident nearly putting him back in hospital!) and that things are definitely improving in his personal life.

The nature of Ridpath’s job, seconded to the coroner’s office, means that he is often caught in the middle of his two superiors. As a result, his theories are often overlooked and he finds it difficult to convince people that there is a serial killer operating. It was good to see him working more closely with the coroner, who we find has a personal connection to one aspect of the case. We have got to know Ridpath really well over the three books, but it was good to find out a bit more about the coroner and see a more emotional side of her.

There are several emotive subjects dealt with in When the Silence Calls, namely historic child abuse and homelessness, all of which was dealt with sensitively. I was surprised to find that some of the subject matter was, coincidentally, the same as my previous read (The Quiet Ones by Theresa Talbot), but this did not spoil my enjoyment of the plot in any way.

The mystery is a good one and I was pleased that the killer was revealed as someone in my shortlist of two! If you haven’t read any of the previous books, then this can be read as a standalone, but it is such a good series with a likeable, tenacious protagonist that you will be missing out if you haven’t! Ridpath continues to be one of the detectives that I most enjoy reading about.

With thanks to Canelo and Net Galley for my ARC.

Read my reviews of the other two books in the series:

Where the Truth Lies

Where the Dead Fall

 

**BLOG TOUR** The Perfect Lie by Karen Osman

Claire Carmichael has the sort of life many would dream of: a successful husband, two lovely sons and a great reputation. At school, her brains and likability led her to becoming a member of The Queen Bees, a clique of popular girls. Something happened to Claire back then, though, and The Queen Bees closed rank to protect one of their own. Now, years later, there is someone who hasn’t forgotten what happened, someone who is keen to exact their revenge…

Although from the blurb, we know that something horrendous happened in Claire’s past, it is not until about a fifth of the way in that we finally get a glimpse of what it may be. I liked this very much as it gave me the chance to be introduced to the characters whilst also allowing me to speculate as to what was going to happen. During this time, I came up with several theories, all of them incorrect!

For me, the book really took off when we went back to 1989, just prior to the event that would, eventually, change Claire’s life. In Claire, we see a teenager, desperate to fit in with her peers by being accepted into The Queen Bees, a clique of all the ‘popular’ girls. It was obvious that this was never going to end well, and my heart went out to Paul who, unbeknownst to him, was a pawn in the hands of these girls. Similarly, though, I also had a lot of sympathy for Claire, whose feelings towards Paul were at conflict with her need to appease The Queen Bees.

The Perfect Lie is a lesson in how one event can completely alter the course of your life, whether it be for the better or for the worse. We also discover how past sin will eventually find you out as the events of 1989 start to impact on Claire’s present life, threatening to bring it all crashing to the ground. I do not want to say too much about the plot, but I did deduce what had actually happened in 1989 and made the connection to what was happening in the present. The shock, however, came towards the end, when you see the lengths people will go to exact their revenge.

This is a great thriller and one that became difficult to put down as the plot progressed. It is also one of those books that is so well written, it will leave a bit of a nasty taste in the mouth.

With thanks to Aria and Net Galley for my copy and to Vicky Joss for organising the blog tour.

 

Order links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Y2fIkh

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2NRI9NN

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2LT6KPS

Where the Dead Fall by M J Lee

Driving along the M60, on the way to see his daughter and estranged wife, D I Ridpath finds himself caught up in a bizarre road accident when a near-naked man steps in front of his car before being killed by an articulated lorry. Noticing a man carrying a gun, standing at the side of the motorway, Ridpath is perplexed when nobody else seems to have seen him and CCTV doesn’t appear to have picked him up either. With his health a constant issue and the gangs of Manchester seemingly showing unrest, this looks like being a very testing case for the coroner’s officer.

I really enjoyed the first book in this series (Where the Truth Lies) and I couldn’t wait to see if I would be equally impressed with its follow-up. I am pleased to say that Where the Dead Fall is just as good, if not better! Ridpath is a great character and I like how his work for the coroner’s office gives a different slant on the standard police procedural. Despite my liking for him, though, with regards to his health condition, he is infuriating! With a serious illness hanging over him, and a marriage which is hanging by a thread, on several occasions I found myself imploring him to get to the hospital before something serious happened!

Set in Manchester, a city which is virtually unrecognisable from when it was known as ‘Gunchester’ in the 1990s, the author has shown how easy it is for a place to go back to its old ways. By pitting various gangs against each other, he has created a ticking time bomb that the police are desperate to extinguish before there is any more loss of life. Of course, there is more to this case than meets the eye, and Ridpath does a great job in fathoming out what is really happening.

Where the Dead Fall has a clever plot and was one of those books that I did not want to put down. This has the potential to be one of my favourite series and I’m already looking forward to the third instalment.

With thanks to Canelo and Net Galley for my ARC.

**BLOG TOUR** Where the Truth Lies by M. J. Lee

I am really pleased to be the latest stop on the blog tour for the new book from M J Lee, Where the Truth Lies. This is the first of a brand  new series, set in Manchester and was published on 22nd October.

DI Thomas Ridpath, back at work after a life-threatening illness, finds himself seconded to the coroner’s office and is immediately thrown into a case that has echoes of something familiar. Ten years after being the officer to arrest the serial killer known as ‘The Beast of Manchester’, another body has been found bearing the hallmarks of the notorious murderer. The only problem is that he is still in prison. Is this a copycat or has an innocent man been wrongly convicted? When a body from the original case goes missing and paperwork appears to have been destroyed, Ridpath must try to overcome the conspiracy of silence before more women are found dead.

I am a big fan of the author’s genealogical mystery series and so I was really excited to read the first Thomas Ridpath book. I liked how Ridpath had a slightly different role to the main protagonists in most other police procedurals as it gave an insight into another aspect of the justice system. By having him as a detective on a three-month secondment, we get to see him in the infancy of his role, meaning that we get to learn alongside him.

Where the Truth Lies has a great plot which makes you ask many questions as you read. Was the original murder case handled correctly by the police and did they put an innocent man in prison? Are the latest set of killings by the same hand as the original deaths or is there a copycat killer? Just what has happened to the missing body? The questions came thick and fast but were all answered by the end of the book.

The story is told mainly from the perspective of Ridpath, an extremely likeable character, although we do get to hear from the perpetrator too. I can’t say too much without giving anything away, but the culprit is not your run-of-the-mill serial killer and the author provides us with a twist on the normal sort of murderer in books of the same genre.

I really enjoyed Where the Truth Lies and think that this could be the start of a brilliant new series. If you are a fan of police procedurals or enjoy a good serial killer story then this is definitely for you!

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

 

 

 

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