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The Girl in the Ice

Deadly Secrets by Robert Bryndza

61lypFhIrtLChristmas, the season of goodwill… Someone in London hasn’t had the memo, however, as the blood-soaked body of a young woman is found outside her house by her mother, frozen to the ground. The case takes a sudden turn when a connection is made to the spate of recent assaults by a figure wearing a gas mask. Has the assailant escalated to murder? Detective Erika Foster, still coming to terms with events from her previous case, is thrown straight in at the deep end when a potential witness appears to be a little more involved than was at first thought. With her own personal problems to deal with, Erika must stay focused and ensure that there are no more deaths…

She’s back! It’s hard to believe that it has only been two years since the first in the Erika Foster series (The Girl in the Ice) was published and now we are on to the sixth! In the intervening books, we have seen Erika attempting to come to terms with the death of her husband while throwing herself head-first into her work. In Deadly Secrets, we finally see her making a breakthrough with regards to her past although it comes as the result of a particularly traumatic event concerning her father-in-law. I love the scenes that she shares with him as it gives us the chance to see the softer, more sensitive side of the character as opposed to the work-driven officer we see the rest of the time.

I loved the start of Deadly Secrets and how Robert Bryndza builds up a sense of foreboding. Marissa Lewis, a burlesque dancer, is on her way home when she is approached by two men. I was convinced that harm was going to come to her as a result of this meeting when, in reality, if she had taken them up on her offer, her life may have been spared. When the attack actually took place, it was a particularly violent one and the use of a gas mask made it extremely macabre. This was a great opening and immediately drew me into the plot.

One of the things I really liked about this book was how much of the police work was what would be termed ‘old school’ with the officers pounding the beat, doing house to house calls and interviewing people. This helped to build up the story at a natural pace without ever appearing cumbersome. I particularly liked the old gentleman whose wife does not let him smoke inside the house – a ‘throwaway’ character who brought an element of humour to a sad situation, yet also provided invaluable information.

There was a definite moment towards the end of the book where an even more heightened sense of foreboding was felt. Without giving away any spoilers, this made for very tense reading as I wondered how the character in question is going to emerge unscathed.

I was truly amazed when the author threw in a curve-ball with regards to who the killer actually was. This was an amazing plot twist and was something I had not anticipated at all. Despite not having an inkling, I felt that this was a very satisfying, if shocking conclusion. It is hard to say anything more without giving away too much, but believe me when I say is is very clever!

I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the Erika Foster series but I feel that Deadly Secrets is a step up from all of the previous books and should prove to be a huge best-seller for Robert Bryndza. A fantastic read!

With thanks to Bookouture and Net Galley for the ARC.

 

My Books of 2016

2016 has been a great year for books, especially for crime and thriller fans! With so many to choose from, it has been difficult to choose my ten favourites, but I think I’ve just about managed it!

The Silence Between Breaths by Cath Staincliffe

By far, my favourite book of the year, and one whose plot will stay with me for a long time. Telling the story of a suicide bomber onboard a train bound for London, Cath Staincliffe’s novel is emotional and fast-paced and is one that makes you ask the question, “What would I do in that situation?”

Follow Me / Watch Me by Angela Clarke

51g8rpiawvlA slight cheat, as this is actually two books, but I couldn’t separate them! The first books in Angela Clarke’s ‘Social Media Murders’ series show how the likes of Twitter and Snapchat can help to bring out the worst in people and they certainly make you question your own social media usage. Having just finished Watch Me, I do hope that there’s a third book on the horizon!

Kindred by Steve Robinson

I do love a good genealogical mystery and, for me, Steve Robinson is the master of them! Told in two timeframes – the present and World War Two – this is, at times, an incredibly emotive book as genealogist, Jefferson Tayte, uncovers the truth about his own family. Dealing with The Holocaust  and the events of Kristallnacht, this is not a light-hearted read, but one that truly shows what millions of people endured at that time.

The Girl in the Ice by Robert Bryndza

I could have included any of Robert Bryndza’s three ‘DCI Erika Foster’ books as they are all as brilliant as each other but decided to go with the one that started off the series. In Erika, we have a feisty, no-nonsense police officer who will stop at nothing to secure a conviction. Of course, like a lot of fictional detectives, she has a traumatic backstory, and this has helped her to become as determined as she is. Robert Bryndza’s foray into crime fiction has been a very welcome addition to the genre.

The Daughters of Red Hill Hall by Kathleen McGurl

It’s always  good sign when, after reading a book, you immediately download other books by the same author. This was what happened after reading The Daughters of Red Hill Hall. This is really two stories within a book, one set in the present day and one set during the Victorian era. In 1838, two sisters have been found shot but who was the culprit and how is the story linked to the present day? The book is billed as, ‘A gripping novel of family, secrets and murder’ and this is indeed true!

Then She Was Gone by Luca Veste

For me, Luca Veste is fast becoming one of the crime writers. Set in Liverpool, the books follow the work of DI David Murphy, a born and bred Scouser, and DS Laura Rossi, a Liverpudlian of Italian descent. One of the main strengths in this series is the relationship between the two main characters. What I really enjoyed about this book was that I had no idea who the culprit was and was left guessing until the very end.

Lost and Gone Forever by Alex Grecian

51ZBjJC54-L._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_Victorian crime is a big interest of mine and, for the past few years, I have eagerly anticipated the next of Alex Grecian’s Murder Squad books. After the shocking end to the previous book, The Harvest Man, I couldn’t wait to find out what had happened to Detective Walter Day. Lost and Gone Forever really shows the depraved side of Victorian society whilst also showing the growing importance of females. A great read!

The Disappearance by Annabel Kantaria

When I started to read this, I thought it was going to be a straightforward whodunnit: a woman disappears from a ship; how and why? It was so much more, though, telling the life story of Audrey Templeton and the consequences of her actions and those of other people. Heart-warming and distressing in equal measures.

The Silent Girls by Ann Troup

Edie inherits a house in the same square where five women were killed years before and soon finds herself drawn into the events of the past. This is a very dark story but one which is well-written and contains wonderful description. There are enough twists and turns to keep you guessing up until the end.

Hidden Killers by Lynda La Plante

51dispit6tl-_sx320_bo1204203200_I’ve always been a massive Prime Suspect fan so was ecstatic when Lynda La Plant started to write prequels to the original story. Hidden Kilers, like the first book, Tennison, helps to explain the character of Jane Tennison that we all know so well. Providing an insight into how difficult it was for the first group of female detectives, hopefully this series will go on and on!

Dark Water by Robert Bryndza

imageDetective Chief Inspector Erika Foster is disillusioned with her job. Moved to a unit where all she seems to do is convict drug dealers only to find them replaced by another, she aches to have something more complex to sink her teeth into. Her wish is granted when, on a search for a vast amount of narcotics, something else is discovered – the remains of a young child. The body is soon identified as Jessica Collins, a girl who vanished without trace twenty-six years ago. What follows is a case that will test Erika’s resolve to its limits. Someone does not want this murder solved and will do anything to stop the detective from doing so.

Dark Water is the third of the Erika Foster novels and is arguably the best of the three! Although this is not as fast paced as The Girl in the Ice or The Night Stalker, Robert Bryndza has you hooked from the first few pages as, once again, we find Erika in danger. Her doggedness is evident from the start, however, and continues throughout the book as she tries to solve a case that left the original investigating team in disarray. In a previous review, I compared Erika to Lynda La Plante’s legendary Jane Tennison and I feel that this is even more apparent here – DCI Foster is certainly becoming a force to be reckoned with in crime fiction!

The subject of the book is a very emotive one as we learn of the family’s despair in never knowing what happened to their daughter coupled with their grief and subsequent unraveling after the discovery of her remains. The scenes with the original suspect and the police officers are particularly well written, as we see Erika being the consummate professional, disguising her feelings well, whilst her colleague’s revulsion is made crystal clear.

Throughout the case, we see Erika doing what she does best – working flat out until the conclusion is reached. Throughout the book, however, we do, occasionally get to see a different side of our leading lady with the arrival of her sister and her family and also when a relationship appears to be blossoming.

This is another fantastic book by Robert Bryndza and one that is screaming out to become a TV series!

With thanks to Net Galley and Bookouture for the advance copy.

The Night Stalker by Robert Bryndza

When the body of a local doctor is found naked with a plastic ‘suicide’ bag tied over his head, it is, at first, assumed to be a case of auto-erotic asphyxia. Not convinced, DCI Erika Foster heads the investigation into the murder and is soon shown to be correct when a second body is found with the same modus operandi. It is up to Foster to find the link between these men and stop ‘The Night Stalker’ before they strike again…

This, the second book in the DCI Erika Foster series, is arguably better than the first and that one (The Girl in the Ice) was pretty amazing! In addition to the case she is investigating, we get more of an insight into Erika’s personal life and discover exactly how she is coping in the aftermath of the death of her husband. The contrast between her hard professional persona and the vulnerability of her home life is written really well, especially when she comes into contact with the killer. It is not often that you feel empathy towards a serial killer, but Robert Bryndza’s writing manages to make this happen! Several times, whilst reading, I felt that there were comparisons between Erika Foster and Lynda La Plante’s legendary Jane Tennison – this is definitely not a bad thing!

One thing I really liked about this book was that it was clear quite early on who the killer was. It was nice to avoid the usual batch of red herrings that are found in books of this genre and, instead, be able to concentrate on the motives behind the murders.

The Night Stalker is extremely descriptive in parts and, as a result, the content makes your imagination run riot! I imagine there will be many readers carefully checking windows and looking under their beds before they go to sleep at night!

I am really enjoying Robert Bryndza’s foray into crime fiction and I eagerly await the third installment of Erika Foster’s story.

The Night Stalker is due to be published on June 2nd and can be pre-ordered on Amazon.

This book was received from Net Galley and Bookouture in return for an honest review.

The Girl in the Ice by Robert Bryndza

When the body of a young woman is found beneath a sheet of ice in London, DCI Erika Foster is called upon to lead the investigation. Foster is returning to work, we discover, after her previous investigation went badly wrong, and led to the death of several officers, one of whom happened to be her husband. This case is not going to be straightforward, however, as the murdered girl is from a well-known family and Erika soon finds herself falling foul of her superiors as she makes the link between this body and the murder of three prostitutes.

Strong female detectives seem to be a common theme for many authors recently with the likes of D.I. Kim Stone (Angela Marsons) leading the way. Erika Foster is certainly a worthy peer and is deserving of a series. (A follow-up book, ‘The Night Stalker’, is already in the pipeline).

Like all fictional detectives, Erika is a flawed character – her single-mindedness often gets her into trouble although it is obvious to see that she is acting in the best interests of the case. She is a likeable character and, throughout the book, you find yourself rooting for her, hoping that her hunches are correct.

‘The Girl in the Ice’ is a fast-paced, well written thriller with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing. It will be interesting to see if the part of the story involving Ivy’s grandson is resolved in the next book.

Definitely worthy of a five star rating and promises to be one of the crime books of 2016.

This book was received from Net Galley and Bookouture in return for an honest review.

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