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See No Evil by David Fennell

Detective Inspector Grace Archer and Detective Sergeant Harry Quinn find themselves on the hunt for a particularly sadistic serial killer when the bodies of two men are found, one of them having had his eyes removed and placed on his open palms. Investigations lead them to Ladywell Playtower, a religious commune led by Aaron Cronin. Archer knows that Cronin is involved but with watertight alibis, has no way of proving it. With issues in her own life crossing over into the investigation, this case has suddenly become personal…

David Fennell’s The Art of Death was one of my favourite books of last year and I had been really looking forward to reading the follow up. I am pleased to say that it was worth the wait as the author has written another gripping story that kept me engrossed right to the end.

Grace Archer is a great character, her dark and troubled past giving her empathy towards the victims she encounters. I love the relationship she has with her grandfather, a character who despite his aging years really comes to the fore in this book, giving us an idea of where Grace gets her tenacity from! Harry Quinn is the perfect partner for Grace, their complete trust for each other showing when the detective has reason to doubt a member of her team.

The descriptions of the murders are, at times, quite graphic but this is essential in showing you the depravity of the killer. David Fennell’s descriptions in general are superb and I found it easy to create images in my mind of the places and people I encountered during my reading.

The seed for a new book has been sown at the end of See No Evil so I am already looking forward to book three! If you are looking to start a new series, one that is still at its start, then you will not go wrong by reading See No Evil or The Art of Death. Well-written and gripping with great characters and engaging plots, this is definitely becoming one of my favourite series.

With thanks to Bonnier Books UK, Zaffre and Net Galley for my ARC.

Vanished by Lynda La Plante

Detective Jack Warr wonders if he has drawn the short straw when he is asked to investigate the case of an eccentric widow who claims she is being stalked by an ex-lodger. After speaking to her, Jack wonders if there is more to this story than it at first seems, his hunch proving to be correct when she is found brutally murdered in her home. When the case merges with a major drugs investigation and the former lodger is nowhere to be found, Jack’s past comes back to haunt him. How far will he go to get what he wants?

The third book in the DC Jack Warr series sees the detective investigating a complex case that gets more and more mysterious as it progresses. What initially starts off as a potential stalking case, soon becomes bigger than the dectective could imagine, leaving him to feel guilt-ridden as he wonders if he could have done more. This is what I like about Warr as he will stop at nothing to achieve justice even if it means that he isn’t strictly on the right side of the law. We see a face from a previous book reappear but this does not mean that you have to have read the previous books – Vanished can be read as a standalone.

For many years, Lynda La Plante has been one of my favourite writers, having been a fan of the Prime Suspect, Anna Travis and Tennison series. In Jack Warr, she has created another fascinating, well-rounded character who is part of a brilliant series of books. Although Vanished has a complex, multifaceted plot, La Plante’s writing makes it easy to follow and as a result I found the book highly engrossing and intriguing. I was certainly kept on my toes throughout my reading as the twists and turns kept occurring – I could certainly empathise with Jack as he tried to solve this baffling case!

If you haven’t read any Lynda La Plante books before, you won’t go far wrong if you start with this one!

With thanks to Net Galley and Bonnier Books UK, Zaffre for my advanced copy.

Take a look at my reviews of the other books in this series:

Buried

Judas Horse

Unholy Murder by Lynda La Plante

When builders discover a coffin buried in the grounds of an old convent, there are no surprises when the body inside is revealed to be a nun. What is shocking, however, are the scratch marks on the inside of the lid – the woman was clearly still alive when she was buried. Her superiors are keen to dismiss it as a cold case, but Detective Jane Tennison is not so sure and soon she is embarking on an investigation that will pit her against the church and open up old wounds for a member of the team.

Lynda la Plante knows how to tell a good story and she has managed to do it again in this, the seventh in the Tennison series. As each book progresses, we see signs of the detective becoming more like the Jane Tennison of the Prime Suspect series and is already beginning to get a bit of a reputation for doing things her own way. I have enjoyed seeing Jane move forward in time and now that we are in the 1980s, it has been interesting to see her becoming more accepted in her role as opposed to the very overt sexism she experienced during her time in the flying squad in previous books.

The subject matter is, at times, quite harrowing and there may be triggers for anyone who would not choose to read about child abuse. While this is only a small part of the plot, it does help to build up a complete picture of the crime and explains the reasons behind the views of one of the officers involved.

The Tennison series is one of my favourites but this can definitely be read as a standalone if you have not read any of the other books. I look forward to seeing what case Jane investigates next!

**BLOG TOUR** Judas Horse by Lynda La Plante

Police are investigating a spate of violent burglaries but when a mutilated body is found inside a Cotswolds house, they realise that this is more than just opportunistic crime. Detective Jack Warr finds himself encountering numerous dead ends as he unearths the secrets in the local community, hoping to get to the core of this organised gang. When he meets Charlotte Miles, a woman with links to the group, Warr wants to use her to lure them into committing one last job with the aim of catching them in the act. With violent acts escalating, Jack knows that he must get this right to avoid more blood being spilled.

It is always a pleasure to read a Lynda La Plante book, someone I have admired since watching the original Prime Suspect on television. After reading the first in the Jack Warr series, Buried, last year, I couldn’t wait to see where Lynda took this character next, especially after finding out his origins. Although this could definitely be read as a standalone, I found that Buried served as a great introduction to the character, helping us to understand what made him tick, whereas this book has given us the opportunity to see more of Jack as a detective. I found myself liking the character more as the book progressed, admiring his determination and policing skills, even if his tactics may not be strictly legal sometimes!


The plot moves on at a good pace and is well developed. From the horrific discovery at the start of the book, the plot progresses well until we discover how this fits in with the rest of the story, taking us on a journey through the privileged Cotswolds where nobody’s home seems safe. I had never heard of a Judas Horse before reading this book and I loved the idea of using the weak link as an insider to lead the police to the gang. We meet a myriad of characters throughout the book, each one, police, victim and criminal, bringing a different element to the story.


The Jack Warr series is promising to be another huge hit for Lynda La Plante and I look forward to seeing where she takes him next.

With thanks to Zaffre Books and Net Galley for my copy and to Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Readers for organising the blog tour.


**BLOG TOUR** The Art of Death by David Fennell

When an art installation appears in Trafalgar Square, everyone is horrified to discover that the contents of the three glass cases are the preserved bodies of three missing homeless men. Purporting to be the work of an artist known only as @nonymous, the police know they need to act quickly as more gruesome pieces of art are promised very soon. As Detective Inspector Grace Archer and Detective Sergeant Harry Quinn discover the whereabouts of more bodies and the online videos accompanying the deaths, there is a realisation that someone close to them may have something to hide. With Grace being in the killer’s sights, will they be able to apprehend @nonymous before she becomes part of his ultimate art installation?

As soon as I heard about this book, I knew that this would definite be one for me and I was so right! From the off, we are drawn straight into the macabre plot when the bodies of three homeless men are discovered displayed as a piece of public artwork. The shadowy artist has left no trace of who they are, and any clues that the police do find soon lead to dead ends. I love a book that grabs me straight away and The Art of Death definitely did this, holding my attention to the very last page as more bodies are found in the most grisly of circumstances.

I have read many crime books where the internet is involved and The Art of Death serves as a reminder to be careful what we share online. I’m sure most of us have looked at the Facebook accounts of people we are not ‘friends’ with but certainly not for the same reason as our killer! We see our unknown ‘artist’ monitoring the pages of his prospective victims, in some cases befriending them to get the information he requires. We see how easy this is to do and is particularly unnerving when we witness him sitting in the same cafe as the women he is watching, knowing the fate that is about to befall them.

I quickly warmed to Detective Inspector Grace Archer, a woman with a past which I am sure will rear its head in any further books. The whole investigation team, I felt, was very balanced from the affable Detective Sergeant Harry Quinn to the icy DCI Clare Pierce and Klara, the intelligent tech expert. They are all characters I would love to see develop and so I hope that the author is planning a series!

The lead up to the denouement is tense and thrilling, and when we reach the end, we are left with a situation that threatens to remain in Grace’s thoughts and, again, could certainly reappear in future books. (Can you tell that I am hoping for more?!) This is a fantastic debut and one that I hope will be a huge success. Even this early on in the year, I am already convinced that this will be one of my favourites of 2021!

With thanks to Zaffre Books and Tracy Fenton from Compulsive Readers for my ARC and for my spot on the blog tour.

Blunt Force by Lynda La Plante

Detective Jane Tennison is no longer part of the famed ‘Flying Squad’, now finding herself working at Gerald Road, a station not exactly known for its involvement in dangerous crime. Everything is about to change though, when the body of theatrical agent Charlie Foxley is found at his home, brutally assaulted with a cricket bat, dismembered and disembowelled.  Working alongside her old friend DS Spencer Gibbs, Jane must enter into the unfamiliar world of show business to find the killer before they strike again.

It’s no secret that I am a huge Lynda La Plante fan, in particular of her Prime Suspect/Tennison series and so I always look forward to seeing what she has in store for the detective. I have enjoyed seeing her development from police probationer to a fine detective in the making, the traits of the character in the Prime Suspect television series beginning to shine through. In the previous book, we saw Jane working for the male-dominated Flying Squad, also seeing how abruptly her time there came to an end, and I was pleased to see that this was dealt with in Blunt Force, although I feel that there could still be more repercussions to come as a result of Jane’s actions.

The main plot moves on at a slow pace, allowing the story to develop naturally, giving us a chance to get to know the supporting cast of characters. The investigations concentrate on the world of showbusiness, a world that the detectives are clearly unfamiliar with, and one where they know that they are only being told half truths by many of the people they interview. Like Tennison and Gibbs, I felt that there was something they were missing and when this was finally revealed, it threw the whole case completely on its head. Part of this story is left unfinished and I hope that this is because the author revisits it in a forthcoming book as I feel that this is where we could definitely see some of Jane Tennison’s legendary tenacity.

Although this is very much a police procedural, its 1980s setting makes it different from many of the series around today. It is refreshing to see the police relying upon their wits and investigative skills rather than having them stuck behind a desk, computer-bound like in the present day.

Blunt Force is another great addition to the Tennison series and I can’t wait to see how her career continues to progress. If you haven’t read the rest of the series, here are my reviews:

Tennison

Hidden Killers

Good Friday

Murder Mile

The Dirty Dozen

 

 

**BLOG TOUR** Buried by Lynda La Plante

When the body of a man is found in a burnt-out cottage, the police are astounded to also find the remains of millions of pounds worth of bank notes. It is not long before a connection is made to unsolved crimes of the past, and to an infamous group of criminals. DC Jack Warr, struggling with events in his personal life, suddenly finds himself embroiled in the criminal underworld of the 1980s and 1990s, making shocking revelations about his past along the way. Just how far will he allow himself to become involved?

I have been a fan of Lynda La Plante’s books and TV shows ever since watching the original Prime Suspect and so I jumped at the chance to be one of the blogs on the tour for her latest book, Buried. For those who have read the Widows books or seen the TV series/film, then this book is definitely for you as it follows on from the story of Dolly Rawlins and her gang. The beauty of Buried, however, is that although it will bring back a touch of nostalgia for Widows fans, you do not need to know any previous plot as backstory is explained in the book.

I loved how the story developed, the body of the charred man being linked to a train robbery of twenty years ago. This gave us an opportunity to meet some brilliant characters, each of them knowing more than they were willing to let on. These women, over the years, had become very adept at hiding in plain sight and I couldn’t wait to see what the results of them playing the long game would be.

Jack Warr is a great character who becomes more complex as the book progresses. As we (and him) discover more about his life, we see a change in his character as he comes to terms with his past. This led to some great interactions between the detective and the people he is tasked with interviewing and created lots of internal conflict. At the same time, we also see the softer side of his personality as he struggles to come to terms with the impending death of his adoptive father.

In a book with numerous twists and turns, we were treated to a proper ‘gasp’ moment at the end, which, although shocking, was in-keeping with what we had read about Jack. This set up the next book nicely and I can’t wait to read where Lynda La Plante takes DC Warr next. Buried is a book that I can definitely imagine on the small screen, so I have my fingers crossed that it will be optioned for TV. This promises to be another huge hit for the author.

With thanks to Net Galley and Zaffre Books for my copy and to Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Readers for organising the blog tour.

 

17 Church Row by James Carol

Life has never been the same for the Rhodes family since the tragedy that occurred three years ago. In a devastating road accident, four-year-old Grace was killed, leaving her twin sister, Bella, so traumatised that she has refused to speak ever since. In an attempt to finally move on, Nikki and Ethan Rhodes move into a state-of-the-art new property, designed by the celebrated architect, Catriona Fisher. The house, with its ultra-modern security systems should be exactly what they are looking for, but what if it isn’t the safe place they think it is?

Well, this book has certainly given me pause for thought! From the start, I could understand the internal conflict felt by Nikki: should she stay at the house that holds so many memories of her dead daughter or should she move to 17 Church Row, a house that could surely protect her remaining child? As someone who has vowed to do whatever it takes to ensure the safety of Bella, the new property seemed a no-brainer and, for a while, all seemed fine. As the story progressed, it soon became apparent that there was a malevolent force in action, but who was behind it and what was their motive?

I think the scariest part of this book was that that the family became so reliant upon ‘Alice’ an artificial intelligence system that makes Alexa seem almost neanderthal. We see Alice making more and more decisions for the family, controlling their lives in every way, to the point where you wonder how far she will actually go. I found it quite unnerving to think that this sort of technology probably isn’t too far off in the future and how we rely upon the internet to do so many things already. What if this goes wrong? What will happen to society?

Most of the story is told from the perspective of Nikki, but some chapters are written by an unknown character who becomes more unhinged as the plot develops. I liked how we weren’t told who this is until much later in the book, making me constantly wonder who this could be. I have read numerous books with cold, calculating narrators but this is probably the one who has perturbed me the most.

17 Church Row is one of those books that draws you in instantly and holds your attention until the very last page. A fast-paced, exciting read that will certainly make you question the use of technology!

With thanks to Readers First for my copy.

 

**BLOG TOUR** The Sinner by Martyn Waites

Living in witness protection, ex-undercover police officer, Tom Killgannon, finds himself summoned back to work by a local task force headed by DS Sheridan. His mission puts him inside Blackmoor prison, where he is tasked to befriend Noel Cunningham, a child killer, to try to ascertain where he has hidden two of his victims’ bodies that have never been found. A prison is a dangerous place at the best of times, but Tom’s life is put at risk when he is identified by Dean Foley, a convicted gangster who was put away thanks to his testimony. Realising that this is not going to end well, he tries to contact DS Sheridan, but is unsuccessful. What is the real reason for him being put inside the prison and will he make it out alive?

The previous book in this series, The Old Religion, received great plaudits and so I was pleased to be able to take part in the blog tour for the follow up, The Sinner. Although there are some references to events that occurred in The Old Religion, knowledge of what has gone before is not essential and this can be read as a standalone.

From the start of the book, I found myself totally invested in the character of Tom Killgannon. Placed in the witness protection scheme and seemingly enjoying his life, there was a definite air of foreboding when he was asked to take part in another undercover operation. Tom should have listened to his instincts as he could not have envisaged what was going to happen during his time in Blackmoor. Martyn Waites paints a very bleak picture of life in prison, corruption being rife, creating an incredibly unsafe environment for the prisoners. It was fascinating to see how quickly Tom became accustomed to incarceration, and it was easy to see why mental health issues among prisoners are so high.

There is so much happening in this plot, both inside and outside of the prison. While Tom is trying to discover Dean Foley’s motives and attempting to get the information required by DS Sheridan, he’s also worrying about the people he cares about the most on the outside. Pearl and Lila are great characters, and I enjoyed seeing these women come to the fore when danger presents itself.

For me, the most fascinating part of the book is the relationship between Tom and Dean. Through flashbacks, we get to find out about the events that put Dean in prison, and we also see why he would certainly bear a grudge against Tom. There is a definite ‘cat and mouse’ element between these two characters and I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the inevitable showdown.

The Sinner has a tight plot and is a great thriller that became even better as the book progressed. Just when I thought everything had concluded, Martin Waites hit me with a superb twist that I hope will be explored in further books. This is a great read and I recommend it highly.

With thanks to Zaffre Books and to Tracy Fenton from Compulsive Readers for organising the blog tour.

 

 

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