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Then She Was Gone

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!

An Evening with Ian Rankin

imageAs a fan of the Ian Rankin ‘Rebus’ novels for a very long time, I was incredibly excited to get the chance to be in the audience of ‘An Evening with Ian Rankin’ at Oh Me Oh My in Liverpool. The venue, the ornate former Bank of British West Africa, built in 1920, was the perfect place for an evening filled with insights, stories and laughter.

Rankin’s latest book, Rather be the Devil, sees the retired detective John Rebus, taking on the cold case of Maria Turquand, a socialite murdered in her hotel room in 1978. Meanwhile, the struggle for power in Edinburgh is alive and well with newcomer Darryl Christie taking on the old-school might of ‘Big’ Ger Cafferty. As a lot of the places that are used in Rankin’s books actually exist, it was interesting to hear how he contacted the hotel for permission to place the murder there – their response was ‘yes’ as it was a historical murder. Four weeks ago would have got an entirely different response however!

Always one for realism, Rankin felt that it was time that John’s penchant for cigarettes, alcohol and bad food came back to haunt him. Seeking advice from a doctor, a family friend, as to the sort of ailments Rebus could be suffering from, I was glad that several of the more grim conditions were discarded in favour of something more manageable! It will be interesting to see how he copes in subsequent books with his diagnosis although Ian admitted that he sometimes forgets about previous events saying that he almost forgot that Rebus had a dog when starting to write this book!

Throughout the evening, Ian was in conversation with Luca Veste, himself the author of superb books such as Then She was Gone  and Bloodstream. Both authors shared their similarities, discussing the settings of their books being in places not usually associated with the crime genre, with Veste talking about how he was turned down by numerous publishers due to the Liverpool setting. Rankin discussed how he, originally, used fictional places but how he now uses actual streets and buildings – a bonus for anyone participating in Rebus tours. He talked about the drawbacks, though, with the owner of the Oxford pub having to fit a foot rail by the bar as fans  were not happy to realise there wasn’t one, and also how a well-known coffee shop that he used in his current book has now become a restaurant!

Perhaps the funniest tale of the evening was his story about Peacock Johnson. Auctioning off the chance to appear as a character in the book A Question of Blood, the successful bidder was Johnson. On viewing his website, the author found a rather flamboyant, Hawaiian-shirted character – something seemed a bit suspicious! After a bit of detective work, Ian discovered that Peacock Johnson was none other than the alter-ego of the former bass player from Belle and Sebastian, Stuart David! Despite the subterfuge, Peacock Johnson did appear in A Question of Blood, along with his trusty sidekick, Evil Bob! Stuart David has since written a novel of his own featuring Peacock Johnson alongside another character with the familiar name of Ian Rankin!

In addition to his numerous anecdotes, we also discovered what had inspired him to become a crime writer. Revealing that he didn’t really start to read the crime genre until his early twenties, he discussed how television programmes such as Z Cars, Softly Softly and Shaft were amongst his favourites and talked about how the first name of Inspector Rebus is a nod to the private investigator  John Shaft!

It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and if you ever get the chance to hear Ian Rankin speak, do go – you won’t be disappointed!

 

 

 

Then She Was Gone by Luca Veste

Until he disappears, Sam Byrne is heading towards being one of the youngest MPs in Britain. With no real clues and a wall of silence, Detectives Murphy and Rossi face an uphill battle to discover his whereabouts whilst trying to keep any conjecture out of the press. At the same time, languishing in prison is Tim Johnson – accused of a murder he says he did not commit. What has occurred in the past that connects these two men and will the Liverpool detectives be able to close the case before more people become victims?

Yet again, Luca Veste has succeeded in writing a real page-turner of a thriller in Then She Was Gone and in Murphy and Rossi we have two increasingly strong lead characters. The relationship between the two detectives is one of the main strengths of this book series and it is hard to try not to picture potential actors should it ever be filmed!

As in all of Luca Veste’s books, the plot is quite dark and is made more so by the use of real locations – when you actually know where all these places are, you don’t look at them in the same way again! Initially, after reading the blurb, I was confused as to how the Tim Johnson part of the story was connected but, once all the pieces started to fit together, it all formed part of a web of deceit that had existed for many years.

Something that I really liked about this book is that I genuinely had no idea who the perpetrator was. Luca Veste has done a fantastic job in making you think you have the plot worked out until… wham… the twist happens and makes you rethink everything!

The Murphy and Rossi books get better with each one and I await the next one eagerly!

This book was received from Net Galley and Simon & Schuster UK in return for an honest review.

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