Where The Dead Fall M.J Lee

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DI Tom Ridpath is an unusual main character for a crime series.

Separated from a wife who still loves and cares for him, missing his daughter, and recovering from cancer. He has a strange job. Having had months off with his illness he has been seconded to the Coroner’s Office, and is tasked with investigating deaths which are suspicious in more ways than just the common murders encountered in most books.

This has brought him into conflict with his colleagues on the Major Investigation Team of Greater Manchester Police in the past, but he is determined to prove he is fit to return to the team.

Keeping in the spirit of originality the story has a cracking opening scene. As Ridpath is driving home through the early evening rush on the motorway a naked man runs out in front of him. Ridpath stops in time but the man is hit and killed seconds later.

Amongst the horror of the accident Ridpath sees a man on the hard shoulder holding a gun, but he is gone in an instance and no sign of him is left behind, and nobody else saw him.

Sticking to his guns Ridpath closes the Motorway at its busiest time and suffers the wrath of the traffic police.

All this in the first few pages.

What follows is a great story as Ridpath tries to identify the mystery man, if he ever existed, and find out why he was chasing the naked man onto a busy motorway.

It’s not long before another death occurs and puts Manchester on the edge of a gang war.

Working as a Coroners Officer Ridpath tries to engage his old team but not everybody wants him back.

This is a great story. Ridpath is a great character and MJ Lee has a really good way of bringing the story to life.

Ridpath’s frustrations at being side lined are almost palpable. The scenes are vividly described as are the victims and perpetrators.

Can anybody stop Manchester erupting into violence, not if they don’t start working together.

This is a really good read. Roll on the next book in the Ridpath series

Pages: 344

Publisher: Canelo

Publishing date: 11thApril 2019

The Girl From The Sea Shalini Boland

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When a pretty young woman is found washed up on a beach with a head injury everybody wonders who she is, including the woman herself.

With no recollection of who she is, or how she got on the beach the Police are left to check the missing persons reports.

A boyfriend quickly comes forward and identifies the woman as Mia James.

This doesn’t help Mia, she doesn’t even recognise her own face in the mirror.

Written in the first person this book follows Mia from the moment she is found through the frustrations of her trying to find out who she is, and how she ended up on the beach.

It will be no surprise that not everybody is the person they portray themselves to be. Actually they are who they say they are, it’s their personality, and motive for being close to Mia that they make up. So who can she trust and who should she be afraid of.

Mia it turns out is a young, pretty, independent woman with a bit of money to her name.

Everybody around her seems to have motive for either being nice to her, or at least giving the pretence of being nice to her, after all, she can’t remember anything. That is until the dreams start, or are they actually memories resurfacing.

It wasn’t an accident that led to her being found half dead on the beach.

This story is written really cleverly. Boland deliberately leads the reader along different paths. Likeable characters and horrible characters come and go.

Trust issues are a constant in Mia’s new life, but is this because of her past, or has she always been a bad judge of character.

Reading the book had me wondering what I would make of my life if I woke up one morning with no memory. It’s not just a case of working out who you are, can you trust the people around you.

What would it be like to make a completely new start.

There is a crime at the centre of this story, but what is it and who committed it.

A clever story.

Pages: 306

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing date: 20 March 2019

A Body in the Lakes. Graham Smith

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When the body of a naked, old lady turns, who appears to have been sexually assaulted, is found by a lake, DC Beth Young is one of the first on the scene.

Evidence found at the scene seems to point towards a local politician and the investigation has to take on a sensitive approach.

When a letter appears at Police HQ also incriminating the politician then his guilt becomes almost impossible to ignore.

But Beth Young has spotted some other crimes which appear to be linked to the murder of the old lady, and somethings about the old lady case are not right.

Beth can’t ignore the evidence pointing towards the politician but is it all a little bit to convenient.

Whilst the rest of the team concentrate on building a case against the man Beth begins to see a different time of him.

Is she being hood winked, and has she become too target focused on trying to find another killer.

There are not many crime, or Police Procedural, books where the main character is a Detective Constable.

It’s even more rare for the main character to be a young and enthusiastic cop.

Thankfully this series has DC Beth Young as the main cop.

There is none of the hatred for the “job” that we see in the older hands. Beth joined the job she wanted to join and is enjoying every minute of it.

She also has a knack for lateral thinking and seeing things differently to other officers. As irritating as this is to her boss, DI Zoe O’Dowd, she also relies on Beth and her tenacity to find the clues that will solve the crimes by finding links in her endless spread-sheets.

But can a crime be solved just using spread-sheets, not without the data to fill them and that requires Beth doing some old fashioned police work. She’s also pretty good at that.

A nice little cliff hanger at the end sets the way for another book in the series, and I can’t wait to read it and find out what happens with Beth next.

Pages: 340

Published by: Bookouture

Available now.

MANHUNT Colin Sutton

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Over the last few months I’ve spent a lot of time traveling for work and have started to listen to audio books. Not the usual fiction I love reading, but real life accounts and memoirs.

A few months ago, a TV series caught my eye, Manhunt staring Martin Clunes. The true story based on the book MANHUNT, the memoir of Retired Detective Chief Inspector, and Senior Investigating Officer, Colin Sutton.

Having watched, and enjoyed the series, I went onto Amazon to look for the book, but it also gave me the opportunity to use a credit to buy the audio book. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made so far this year to download the audio to my iPhone.

The file is just over 9 hours long and is narrated by the brilliant Peter Noble, the perfect person to give Sutton a voice.

The account starts with an early memory from Sutton about why he became a Police Officer. Heading for life in Criminal Law he was sat doing work experience with Defence Counsel. Although every criminal has a right to a defence, Sutton quickly realised this is something he could not do. In fact, he decided he wanted to get justice for all of the victims of crime and decided against a, probably more lucrative, carrier in Law and decided to join the Police.

The story then jumps to the point where he returns to the Met as DCI of one of the Major Crime Teams having spent some time in Shire forces.

One of the first cases he picks up is a murder. A woman is found battered to death in Twickenham. She is quickly identified as the French woman Amelie Delagrande.

That is the starting point to one of the biggest criminal investigations the Met has carried out.

DCI Colin Sutton, acting as SIO, directs his team in an investigation which leads him to link the murder to that of Marsh McDonnell.

Once that link was made Sutton began to think that there may be other murders that were also linked and recorded an action for his team to look into any unsolved serious assaults and murders that fitted the pattern.

Suttons tenacity to detail found him some critics in the force, and maybe in his own team, in that he will leave no stone unturned and run down every possible piece of evidence. It was this tenacity that led to the breakthrough in the case though. The insistence that every piece of CCTV be found and watched, the insistence that every vehicle in the are caught on CCTV be identified.

More crimes started to come to light which may have been connected to the murder of Amelie, and one of the crimes in particular allows the story of one of the bravest victims of crime I have ever heard of being recounted.

Kate Sheedy was knocked over by a vehicle which then stopped and reversed over her. Her injuries were horrific, but it didn’t stop her phoning for help, give good factual evidence to the Police, and ultimately give evidence in court about the man who was eventually charged with the murders of Amelie and Marsha, and the attack on herself.

The man was Levi Bellfield, a man who is more notoriously remembered for killing Milly Dowler.

Colin Sutton recounts the story of his team’s investigation into the murder of Amelie and how it spread to incorporate many other serious crimes. It shows the working life of a detective working a serious crime, the sacrifices that have to be given, the emotions it evokes and the damage that can do to people and relationships professional and personal.

It lays bare Suttons though processes, which at times, although logical, must have been frustrating to some that worked with him.

It shows the all consuming effect investigating a serious crime can have on people, and in this case the serious crimes just kept mounting up the more they looked.

Once they had identified Bellfield, they were certain they had their man but did not have enough evidence to arrest him. One section of the book looks at how they put him under surveillance but the questions was for how long, and what happened if he committed a crime whilst they were watching him. Intervein in its early stages and show their hand before they had enough to charge him on all of the other crimes? What a decision to have to make.

This is not a spoiler because we all know what happened to Bellfield so I can talk about it. The worries and concerns about getting information and further evidence following his arrest. Interviewing him in a way that they can out wordsmith him and trap him in his own words.

The worry of the SIO, and his team, about taking evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service to see if they could proceed with one, some, or all of the crimes they want to charge Bellfield with.

Ultimately the trials and tribulations, the emotional rollercoaster of the trial. Years of work put in front of a Judge, and Twelve people from the “Clapham Omnibus”, and waiting to see if you have done enough to get the conviction that you know you deserve because, without doubt, this man is guilty.

What did surprise me was how Collin Sutton Felt after the trial. Not immediately because he felt the pride and joy that anybody in his position would have felt, but in the months afterwards with a few years left till retirement.

This is not just the story of Collin Sutton. It is a true reflection of his character that he includes many people in his memoir, some for outstanding praise, some for criticism.

He has no hesitation in showing admiration for his team, his peers, even if sometimes some drove him to distraction. He heaps praise on some witnesses, on the remarkable mother and father of Amelie, and shows his admiration of Kate Sheedy and her bravery in giving evidence.

He relates his frustrations at some previous investigations, that if carried out properly may have led to Bellfield being identified and arrested much earlier. He does not hold back at showing us his thoughts and frustrations with some Senior Officers within the Met and other forces. The fact that Bellfield was eventually convicted of the murder of Milly Dowling was more down to Sutton and his team than the actual SIO investigating her murder.

What he does is tell the truth, no filters, just the truth.

For those of us living in the naive belief that this country doesn’t have a problem with serial killers, “that’s an American thing” is something I often hear opined. This book will introduce you to one that terrorised London and the home counties for years. It was just that, until Colin Sutton came along, no one realised there was a serial killer on the loose.

The crimes that he committed, and that are laid out in this book, are unfathomable to most.

Unfortunately they won’t  come as a surprise to those working in the Police and some of their partner agencies.

This book hooked me for many reasons. Not least in how any things I empathised with. Like Colin Sutton I won’t work for a defence team, I have been asked many times but always politely turned them down.

As an expert witness I have sat in Court with Prosecution teams and seen the torment they go through during a trial.

I have stood on the stand giving evidence and felt the eyes of the defendant boring into me during murder trails.

I have never seen those feelings so well recounted as they are in this book.

This is the story of a criminal investigation into one of England’s most notorious killers. But it is so much more than that.

It’s the story of the man who shouldered the burden of responsibility in a professional and personal manner.

It’s the story of the victims and their suffering

It’s the story of a Monster Amongst Us.

It is a fantastic listen as an audio book, and soon the book will sit amongst my reference books in my office.

Final Betrayal

The sixth book in the series, where has that time gone, and every bit as good as the rest.

The small Irish town of Ragmullin is again going to be devastated by murder.

When two women go out on the town together, they get separated, one of them pulls and the other can’t be bothered to wait around for her friend.

When one of the women is reported missing Lottie starts to investigate, she soon finds out that both are missing, and it’s no surprise when they are found murdered.

The killer has left a clue, or is it their signature, but what does it mean.

At same time two other things are happening. A man is released from prison after doing 10 years for a serious assault which eventually ended in his victim dying; and Lottie’s family comes under threat from within.

With Lottie concentrating on the murder of the young women, the last thing she needs is her half-brother meddling in her life, but he does, and he opens a real can of worms.

Part of the investigation see’s the Police covering old ground. A property developer is renovating the Old Courthouse. He’s not the most honest of people and has been on the peripheries of investigations in the past. Has he stepped over the line this time, or is he just a puppeteer trying to manipulate people to get his deals done.

Inevitably this book races to a thunderous end. 

Patricia Gibney has a way of writing a story that has so many threads. It’s a bit like the rail tracks just outside of a main station. Lines running parallel to each other, and occasionally crossing, before they end up at the same destination.

In this case the threads cross numerous times as the different incidents, and investigations, drew close to each other and either crossed or veered off again. This made for an epic  compelling story

I look forward to getting reacquainted with DI Lottie Parker every time a new book comes out, and I’m yet to be disappointed. In fact, every time one comes out, I make the same mistake of picking it up and starting, not realising I’m going to get very little done until I’ve finished it. Yes, it happened again, I read this book over two days, well I did have to stop to sleep.

This is book six in the series. Can it be read as a stand-alone, yes. Should it be read as a stand-alone, no. 

If you haven’t met Lottie Parker yet start with first book and read them in order. You will get so much more out of them if you do.

Pages: 484

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication Date: 18thApril 2019

TH!RTE3N Steve Cavanagh

It says on the cover that “The Seral Killer isn’t on trial, he’s on the jury”, that’s not a spoiler, and its not even half the story.

This is the story of a diligent defence attorney that’s not scared to chase the truth.

When Eddie Flynn is asked to take second seat on the defence table in the biggest murder trail the state has ever seen, which just happens to involve one of Americas up-and-coming movie stars, it’s not because he’s one of those vain celebrity attorney’s. It’s because he’s known to take on the NYPD, and because he can be sacrificed by the defence team if they seem to be losing the case.

Robert Solomon is the star on trial, all the evidence points to him being the only suspect in the murder of his wife, and his head of security, who were found in his bed.

As Eddie starts to dig into the evidence he starts to realise that the case against Robert is strong but there is one piece of evidence which is wrong, in fact it’s very wrong. That one piece of evidence is enough to get Eddie looking at who else might have committed the crime, and what he comes up with is shocking. Could there be a serial killer on the loose that nobody has yet identified.

As the cover of the book says the killer isn’t on trial, he’s on the jury. If you have committed the perfect murder how do you ensure that somebody else takes the blame for it. Does the ultimate frame include influencing the jury from within.

The story follows Eddie, before and after, he has taken on the second seat position. We listen in to his thoughts and watch as he starts to suspect that not everything in this case is as it seems.

The story also follows the serial killer, Joshua Kane. This is an unusual path for a crime book. The criminal is known to the reader from the start. Kane’s story unfolds as the story follows him over the days just before, and during, the trail. The big question is, will he get away with it?

This is one of the best court room-crime thrillers I’ve read for years. From the start the reader is aware of what is happening and can see who the bad guy is. So there’s no who-done-it.

The suspense that is built up in the court room scenes is electric and I had real difficulty putting this book down.

I don’t think I’ve ever come across this concept before, and that’s a rarity these days. 

But as strange as the concept may seem the story is very believable, and completely engrossing.

A great read.

Pages: 368

Publishers: Orion

Available now

Dead Memories. Angela Marsons

DI Kim Stone is back. 

Her life did not have the best start. A mother that abused her and her brother in a way that finally led her brother’s death. Pushed from care home to care home with foster families sprinkled throughout her childhood, she has a lot of life experience to fall back on. That is one of the things that make her a good cop.

Nobody really knows her whole story. Friends have been few and far between, and none have ever found out about her complete background.

So when DI Kim Stone attends a murder in a high rise tower block she is mortified to see the scene is staged to mimic the final days of her brother’s life.

It must just be a coincidence. 

Of course not. 

Crimes start to happen on her patch that she can’t help but think are connected to her in some way. Or is she finally cracking up, is this paranoia a sign that she needs help.

As the investigation into the murder gets underway another murder mimics a traumatic event in her life.

Ok no coincidence, somebody is playing with Kim’s head and murdering people in the process.

What is the killers end game, kill more people, or destroy Kim???

The team need to catch the killer before they lose their boss, one way or another.

Ten books ago Angela Marsons introduced us to a series of characters based in the Black Country. 

The main character is DI Kim Stone. A DI in the Major Investigation Team in Halesowen Police Station in the West Midlands.

Halesowen is a small town on the outskirts of the urban sprawl that makes up the Metropolitan Borough of the West Midlands. Its right on the border of what most people would call the area of greater Birmingham, and the sprawling countryside of Worcester. 

It’s actually in the borough of Dudley, one of the seven boroughs that make up the West Midlands, but more importantly it’s part of the Black Country.

That is what makes it such a special place to set crime stories. 

Dudley has some of the most affluent parts of the West Midlands, close to the country, and some of the poorest parts where it borders Sandwell. It has rich gated communities, run down industrial areas, and some of the poorest social housing estates in the UK. Its population commute into Birmingham City Centre to sit in smart offices and high end retail shops, or work in the manufacturing, scrap metal, or haulage business. 

The black Country has a hard working history, and this ethic is seen daily in its population; but just like everywhere else there are the freeloaders who never intend to do a day’s work as long as the state will give them benefits.

Then there are the people who pray on both ends of the community. Drug sellers target the rich with designer drugs and well cut class A drugs, and at the same time pray on the vulnerable with less well, and dangerously cut, class A drugs and marijuana. 

Addicts are addicts and once hooked will look to fund their next hit. The desperate will turn to crime.

Prostitution has been forced indoors over the last decade with sex being sold in private flats or thinly veiled massage parlours. This has led to illegal immigrants being forced into the sex trade alongside some desperate local people.

Illegal immigrants are also being used as slaves in retail and manufacturing. 

Street kids are turning to violence.

Post code gangs are frequently a problem, fighting for territory to sell their wares, both human and chemical.

But most of its population are just your average family members trying to get along with their neighbours.

So, as you can see, Angela Marsons has chosen  a great area to set her crimes. Just about anything that could make up a serious crime happens in the area, and so can be portrayed realistically in her books.

The characters she writes about are just as real as her crimes.

Kim Stone is epic. A kid-from-care made good. 

In the first few books her character is established as one of the best cops in British Crime Fiction, her back story is slowly revealed showing how her life has evolved and how she has become the successful detective she has.

Her team also have good back stories. The ever reliant Bryant, her Detective Sergeant is every bit as fundamental to these stories as Lewis is to Morse, or Watson is to Holmes. He acts as her stabiliser and suffers the frustration of seeing Stone struggling through some investigations, but more significantly her personal life.

DC Stacy Wood, the quiet detective that is really good at information trawling and working on a computer, but not so good on face to face encounters. Watching her develop through the series, as she finds her confidence, and becomes a tour-de-force of a cop, is something that would not ever be achieved this well in a single book, or short series.

DC Kev Dawson, young, handsome, cock-sure, but an integral part of the team. His character changes as much as Woods, but in a totally different way.

Then there’s the fringe characters that keep recurring, Keats the pathologist with his love hate relationship with Stone. The Forensic Teams, and Senior Police Officers

Then there’s reporters. One in particular, that has a strange relationship with Stone, to say they use each other when they want something is an understatement. But they both know they need each other and their fraught working relationship is entertaining throughout the series.

Of course, there’s the criminals. A vast array of them over the ten books, all realistically written, all with back stories to help the reader engage with them. Some of them recurring through several stories; and for every criminal there’s a victim who is equally well portrayed, often eliciting  as much empathy as sympathy from the reader.

That brings us back to this book. DEAD MEMORIES finds Stone and the team looking at some of their past investigations as a murderer appears to be using Stone’s history to set their crimes. Is it a message to her, or is it the prelude to an attack on her. Is somebody trying to ruin her reputation, her life, or kill her.

What a book. This series just keeps going from strength to strength.

Pages: 459

Publishers: Bookouture

Available now