Stolen. Paul Finch

Any book with a character who is a homeless, drug addicted, ex-nun, who turns turns tricks to feed her habit, and continues to wear her gowns, has to be off to a flying start. You’ve got to read the book to meet Sister Cassie.

But she’s not the only reason to read this book. The lead character Detective Constable Lucy Clayburn is a firecracker of a character. She is relentless in her pursuit of criminals, but hides a dark secret from her colleagues, her dad is one of the leaders of Manchester’s biggest criminal gang, “The Crew”. Not that she’d ever exploit that, in fact she’s only just found out. So a constant throughout is weather she should commit career suicide by telling her bosses, or try to carry on and hope they don’t find out.

The start of this book is a bit of a tough read if you, like me, are a dog lover. Lucy busts an illegal dog fighting club, but amongst the dead and tortured animals she doesn’t find the ones she’s been looking for, the ones which have recently been stolen by somebody in a Black Transit Van.

What she does become aware of, thanks to Sister Cassie, is that some homeless people are also going missing, and the black van seems to be involved again.

Meanwhile there’s an internal dispute amongst the hierarchy of The Crew, including Lucy’s dad, that looks like it will lead to the gang imploding.

Whilst Lucy tries to find the Black Van, and what has happened to the people that were taken, her Dad becomes more embroiled in the infighting in The Crew. Inevitably the two storylines merge, but not in a way I anticipated, and father and daughter have decisions to make.

This is a belter of a book. Tough, and hard hitting, it is a story woven from several strands which knit together perfectly.

The characters in this book are stunning, but ultimately the ones I haven’t mentioned, the perpetrators of the crimes, are the ones that give it that real edge. I defy anybody to guess who they are, or what their motives are until they’re revealed, and then…..then it gets really scary.

Why?

Because they are way to realistic, and they really shouldn’t be.

Pages: 480

Publishers: Avon

Publishing date: Available now

The Dancing Girls. M.M Chouinard

Lieutenant Jo Fournier originally from New Orleans but now working in small town Oakhurst is freakishly clean and well organised. She is also a bit of a terrier, and once she’s on to something, she won’t let go.

So when Jo picks up a murder inquiry it’s not surprising that she digs deep to uncover everything she can.

At first she is drawn to the husband of the victim, he seems like a nice guy until you talk about money. This guys tight, but is that enough reason to murder.

Meanwhile the real murderer is looking for his next victim, but it’s not his second, there have been others.

When another woman is found dead, her wedding ring missing and posed in a strange dancing pose Jo decides to dig deeper and look at some cold cases.

Her bosses think she’s wasting her time, but that terrier instinct kicks in and she won’t let go, but at what cost, and will she find the killer?

Jo Fournier is the latest Detective to hit the shelves, and it’s quite a crowded market place.

I like her, she’s newly promoted and is having doubts about if she did the right thing taking the job, she knows she can do it but it should mean less time in the field. If this outing is anything to go by that seems unlikely.

She’s a clean freak almost to the point of having OCD, she’s obsessively organised, and she can be a bit blunt, but yes I really really liked her.

There are some good side characters in this story that I’m really looking forward to seeing develop in the next, and hopefully more, books

Pages: 322

Publisher: Bookouture

Available now

REWIND Catherine Ryan Howard

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The front cover of the book has the words Play. Pause. Run. REWIND. Not just words, 4 words that conjure up a lot of possibilities in the world of crime fiction, but the more you read the book the more significant they become, not just in the story as it unfolds, but also in the way the story is narrated.

When Dublin Instagram Influencer Natalie disappears nobody is really worried. After all she had posted that she was going off line for a few days, but why did her husband, Mike,  not report her missing until she had been gone for a week?

Audrey is a wannabe journalist. Actually she’s already a journalist on an online newspaper, but to her dissatisfaction she is an entertainment journalist working on the “sidebar-of-shame” looking for clickbait stories.

Her ambition is to move upstairs and work with the serious journalists on real news. So when her boss offers her a job, a bit of a crossover story, she doesn’t hesitate. The rumours of Natalie’s disappearance have started to circulate, and reports are reaching the news desk that her husband has reported her missing. Audrey is given the job of looking to see if there is more to the story than an Insta-celeb going off in a huff or looking for publicity.

What she doesn’t realise is that she is about to start a journalistic investigation which is always half a step in front of the Police. It’s just that neither, she, or the Police, know exactly what they are investigating.

Play, pause, run, REWIND is exactly how this story is narrated.

It is no spoiler to say that a murder has taken place and that somebody has caught it on a webcam, but who has been murdered, by who, and why? All these usual questions asked in a crime thriller, are laid out in the ways of the command on a video recording

Having set the scene of the murder the story rewinds to before it to set the scene, runs ahead of the murder to look at Audrey’s investigation, and pauses at all points in between.

Each chapter is set either before, during, or after the murder and is written in such a way that the end of most chapters are cliff hangers that don’t get resolved until the story returns to that piece of the timeline. There is so much suspense in this book that it is impossible to put down.

Catherine Ryan Howard is a new author to me but looking at Amazon I can see she has written two previous books, and if they are as good as this one, I have no idea how she has been off my radar.

Usually a book that jumps backwards and forwards chronologically would have me giving up on it within the first 50 or 60 pages; but REWIND had me hooked within the first 20 and kept me there all the way till the end.

2019 is turning into a stela-year for crime fiction. So far this year I have read some of the best books to be published for years. This one is right up there with the best of them.

 

Pages: 300

Publishers: Corvus

Publishing Date: 5thSeptember 2019

City of Windows Robert Pobi

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Where do I start with a book as good as this?

The storyline is brilliant.

The main character is unique in modern writing.

The settings are, well its New York City so it’s anything-goes and its believable.

Let’s start with the story. A sniper is making impossible shots in New York. Firing from distance, from height, through almost impossible gaps in the tower blocks. The first person they hit is a federal agent, so is the second. Is that a coincidence? No of course not. Are these agents being selected at random or is there a connection.

Then there’s the main character, Lucas Page. Lucas is a University Professor, or he is now, he used to be something very different, but that cost him an arm and a leg, literally, and an eye. Fitted with prosthetics and a false eye he is happily(ish) teaching at a University until the sniper makes his first hit. Then his ex-colleagues need his speciality, because Professor Page is a maths genius. He sees things in numerical blocks and can calculate distances and angles in an instant. In fact he can reverse engineer the factors needed to identify the most likely location of the snipers nest before the forensic scientists can get their equipment out of their cars.

Lucas is happy in his new world of teaching, its safe and he goes home at night. His wife is happy as well, because he comes home at night and acts as a father to their ever increasing brood of fostered children.

So when Luke is told he has to go back neither he nor his wife are happy, but it’s not long before he’s bitten by the bug and is immersed in the investigation.

The  FBI are convinced they know the identity of the killer and all they have to do is find them. Lucas is less convinced.

Battling against some of the brass within the FBI who are sceptical in his abilities, and are target focused on the man they think is killing their agents, Lucas finds an ally in Special Agent Whitaker, the tall woman who has been assigned to be his chaperone during the investigation.

This is a clever story. Snipers in the big cities of the world is already one of the threats that have law enforcers worried. To us one in a story like this shows how random the attacks can be, the effect it has on the community, and just how difficult it would be to catch a well prepared marksman.

Robert Pobi has just gone to the top of my list of back catalogues to read, and any future books will be read as soon as I can get my hands on them.

Pages:  400

Publishers: Mulholland Books

Publishing date: 6thAugust 2019

THE DARE Carol Wyer

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What would you do if your daughter went missing?

What would you do when she turned up after 48 hours and stated she had been taking part in a social media craze?

What would you do if your daughter went missing for 48 hours, and you were hoping she was taking part in the craze, but was then found murdered?

Social media is responsible for a lot these days and teenagers are particularly vulnerable to the trends, or should I say they are influenced.

What a concept to set a murder story around, and Carol Wyer has pulled it off to perfection.

The first girl to go missing, and later turn up dead is Savannah, and her mom will always blame herself for not being home when she should have been.

This is where DI Natalie Ward and her team start the investigation. An investigation that will be hindered by the social media trend, some of the girls going missing are simply hiding away for effect. Others are not so fortunate.

So, is somebody using the missing for 48 hour game to find their victims, or is there a murderer who is targeting random teenage girls.

As Natalie and her team carry out the investigation they uncover the secret lives that teenage girls keep from their parents, and I couldn’t help but think how realistic that is.

Shop lifting and dating older men are just two of the things these girls have been up to, and the perceived loyalty of their friends in keeping secret their slightly nefarious activities is hindering the Police’s investigation.

As girls go missing, and bodies start to be found, the team are in a race against time to identify the killer.

But has this killer found the best way yet of putting the Police of their scent. Not every missing girl ends up dead, but they all need investigating and its taking time. Time the Police can’t afford to waste on false leads.

Natalie is very aware of the lives of teenagers as she is the mother of two of them, and receives very little support from her husband in bringing them up.

In fact Natalie’s home life is slowly going down the pan and its beginning to distract her at a time when she least needs distracting.

Will she keep her mind on the game? Will she and her team, identify the killer before the body count gets out of hand?

This is book three in the DI Natalie Ward Series. All three have been brilliant stories, and have all had very original plots. The story of Natalie hooks me as nearly as much as the crimes she’s solving.

As a character Natalie Ward stands out as being one of the most realistic. Her problems are everyday problems, her family is a normal family, but her husband has got a problem and its driving a wedge between them.

The thing I find about these books is how on point they are. The issues with social media are very current and are most parents nagging worries with their teenagers, and Carol Wyer exploits that fear in this book.

The problem her husband has is one of Britain’s growing problems, he’s a gambler, and a again Carol explores the problems with living with somebody who’s gambling in a brilliant manner.

Yes this is book 3 in the series, but it can be read as a stand-alone.

My recommendation would be read all three, in fact if you are looking for some books to read around the pool, or on the beach this summer, get all three and save them to binge read. You won’t be disappointed.

Pages: 378

Publisher: Bookouture

Available: Now.

BOLD LIES. Rachel Lynch

The Lake District

DI Kelly Porter is back for her 5th outing in this cracking series. This time the crimes aren’t just focused on her patch in the Lake District. This time the crimes are connected to London and Kelly’s old team are investigating.

Kelly has a close knit team covering the North of the Lake District, and she has a close knit series of friends who support her when she’s on, and off, duty.

So, when one of those friends finds the body of a man on a boat he has been restoring Kelly and her team start their investigation, little knowing how far reaching the investigation would be, and who would end up being involved.

As the body is found in the Lake District a hit is made on an underground chemistry lab in London, and 2 respected research chemists are killed. It’s not long before a link is made to the three deaths and Kelly’s Team start to work with their colleagues in London.

So what is the link between the three murder victims, what were they working on, and who wanted to stop them.

The Police are not the only ones investigating the crimes, a freelance journalist is also on to the story, and as Kate travels south to work with the London team, the journalist heads north to follow up on her lead.

As the investigations continue more people are put at risk. The high tech approach of the Met is shown in stark comparison to the hands on local investigation of the Lakes team. Can they, between them, identify the motive for the killing, and ultimately the killers.

Rachel Lynch’s stories are always well narrated around a central cast of characters and are set in a beautiful part of the country. By branching out and sending Kelly back to London in this book she has introduced a whole new dynamic to the books. And it’s not just the crimes and the countryside that’s different. A bit of Kelly’s previous life is coming back and trying to get to know her, making working life in London very unhappy, will it affect her work? Will it affect her relationships back home?

This book is about more than the murders at the beginning of the book. It’s about power, and influence. It’s about relationships, past and present. It’s about Kelly’s new life, and her old, and many other strands that make this book one that I didn’t want to put down.

Will the crime get solved, will Kelly’s old life return to ruin the new life?

This is a great read, the whole series is stunning. Can it be read as a stand alone. Yes, but some of the nuances of the story might be missed if you read this before reading the others.

Pages: 313

Publishers: Canelo

Publishing date: 27th May 2019.

DEAD INSIDE. Noelle Holten

 

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A few months ago I heard that one of the staff at a publishers I follow had written a book. In fact I began to hear a few mentions of DEAD INSIDE by Noelle Holten.

I had to read it, but I was worried, what if I didn’t like it. I talk to this woman a lot and do book reviews for some of the authors she’s responsible for. This could have been nasty.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. I should have known better. If you represent the authors Noelle represents, and write the reviews she puts on line of other books she reads, I should have known she loves the same type of fiction as I do.

But she’s gone one step further than me, she’s written a book, and what a book!

Dead Inside is going to be up there with this year’s top releases.

Noelle has written this book in a way that not many, if any, other books I’ve read have been written before. Although it is billed as “Maggie Jamieson Crime Thriller Book 1” there is no real lead character. Everybody seems to get equal billing and the story is brilliant for it.

I was trying to find a way of explaining this and eventually came up with the analogy that the books characters are like those from a TV soap, everybody is important to the story, when it’s their turn they are front and centre, but it’s the story that takes precedent. The plot is lead chronologically by the character that means the most at that time. So although Maggie is a thread throughout, she gets no more or less page time than anybody else. I really like this style.

So who is Maggie, well she’s a DC who has been moved from a Murder Investigation Team in Staffordshire Police to a new unit. Why has she been moved? Her back story indicates that she was heavily involved in a serial killer investigation, and that maybe she suffered a bit during that investigation.

The newly formed team is the Domestic Abuse and Homicide Unit, and is a multi-agency team set up to quell the growing problem of Domestic Violence, and the deaths associated with it, across Staffordshire.

When the team was set up I would imagine that they thought the Homicides would be mainly women who had suffered abuse at the hands of their partners. So on Maggie’s first day it’s a bit of a shock when the body of a man who was an abuser turns up.

The team start an investigation as the man was known to them and involve the Probation Service in their inquiry, as he was also known to them.

A big part of this story is a group of people that represent a section of society we all know exists but hopefully never have an involvement with.

Women, a lot with drink or drugs problems, gravitating to men with the same problems, or men who will exploit those women when they are at their lowest ebb. Women who get abused physically and mentally, and when they find the courage to move on, nearly always end up in another abusive relationship.

In this story one woman should not be in that category, she should know better, she works with women that suffer abuse, then she goes home and behind closed doors she becomes one of the abused. At times the sections of the story that looks at Lucy and her Husband are hard to read but compelling at the same time.

As the bodies start to pile up another character is introduced to the team. Dr Kate Maloney is a Criminal Psychiatrist, a young Irish woman who dresses in full Goth clothing and has a tongue as sharp as a knife. What a character.

Maggie works the case and introduces the rest of the team as the investigation continues. All of the team have their opinions, and as the book moves on their individual characters are laid open for the reader. Each of them is realistic and everybody who has ever worked in a team will recognise the dynamics, there are some we will love, and there are others who will infuriate.

The story continues with more violence in the almost incestuous community of abusers and victims.

The Police battle against the closed nature of the group and the absolute denial of some of the victims.

But somebody out there is doing something about it, and the way they’re doing it is murderous. Spine-tingly murderous.

So now the abusers are becoming victims will anybody have any sympathy for them. How will the investigating team deal with looking out for peoples safety, when they have been trying to take them off the streets for years.

This book had me hooked from start to finish. It had me holding my breath and making out-loud exclamations. It had me reading way past my usual bedtime and then waking up early to carry on and find out who was safe and who wasn’t.

I had sympathy for the victims of abuse, and at the same time I was frustrated by their lack of helping themselves, and their constant denial of there actually being a problem. Yes, it is very real.

Like all good books it ends on a cliff hanger. One that I really didn’t see coming, but which opens the door for Maggie Jamieson Book 2.

In a strange way I would love to have come across this book after 3 or 4 had been published so that I could have binge read them.

But I am really chuffed to have been in from the start. I hope I’m about to ride a wave that includes many a venture for Maggie and her team.

Noelle Hurry up and write the next one please.

Pages: 293

Publisher: Killer Reads

Publishing Date: 31stMay 2019….Just in time to buy for a the summer holiday books.