Last Night Helen Phifer

IMG_2559 2

Well here’s something you don’t come across very often, a prequel to a series. This is the book that tells the story of Lucy Harwin’s first case as a Detective Inspector, and what a gruesome one it is to cut your teeth on as the Senior Investigating Officer.

When a bunch of 13 year olds decide to go ghost hunting in a derelict church they get more than they bargained for. A woman is hanging upside down, on a crude crucifix made from burnt wood, with her throat cut.

Newley promoted Detective Inspector Lucy Harwin is sent to the scene as the duty SIO and meets up with her, DS Mattie Jackson.

It’s every Police Officers worst scenario, a brutal murder with no clues to work on, and a newly promoted Lucy finds it particularly frustrating. Her team are chasing around trying to identify the body and find any sort of evidence when a second body is found.

This second body brings with it another nightmare for every Police Officer and puts Lucy under even more pressure.

As the body count rises other factors start to lead Lucy and the team down some lines of enquiry that not everybody is comfortable with.

The first time I read one of Helen Phifer’s books I was taken aback by the way she writes, using the correct procedures and terminology, keeping the pace of the book up all the way through. Right up to the very end I was captivated by the pace of the story.

There’s more to her writing than that though. The stories are great, and just like the others this one kept me engrossed from start to finish.

From the first chapter I was sucked into a great scenario. Helen has chosen to use a once prosperous English seaside resort as her setting. I have recently worked in a couple of these towns and didn’t realise how much they had become run down. How they had become great places to set crime stories.

I would usually comment on whether a new book, in an already established series, could be read as a stand-alone.

Well, as this is a prequel the answer is obviously yes.

So, I’ll comment on whether people already reading the series will be disappointed by Helen going back to the start of Lucy Harwin’s career as a DI.

No, they most certainly won’t. What a great tool for giving us more of the back story to some of the key characters in the series, especially Lucy.

And what a tool for getting new readers hooked on a series that is already out there, because if this is the first DI Luck Harwin book you read, I can guarantee you will read the rest of the series and wait for the next instalment as eagerly as me.

Follow the links below for my reviews of the previous DI Lucy Harwin novels

https://nigeladamsbookworm.com/category/the-lost-children/

https://nigeladamsbookworm.com/2017/10/19/dying-breath-helen-phifer/

 

Last Breath Published by Bookouture on November 16th 2018, available to pre-order on Amazon now

The Goodnight Song. Nick Hollin

IMG_2515

This is one of the most original psychological thrillers I have ever read wrapped up in a very believable Police procedural story.

DI Katie Rhodes has an unusual partner, in all ways, in Criminal Psychologist Nathan Radley.

Katie and Nathan have been hiding away,  in an isolated cottage, since the end of the last case they worked on together.

They have no intension of coming back to the real world, until a blogger starts to put posts on line that implicate Nathan in a murder.

Nathan had a troubled childhood, and one of his coping methods was to write a journal. Years later the journal surfaced with a few pages missing. The pages with his darkest thoughts about murders he might commit.

It’s these pages that the blogger has found and is publishing. But where did they get them from.

And how is it that the techniques Nathan wrote about all those years ago are being used on victims today

This is enough to bring Katie and Nathan out of their self-inflicted isolation.

The investigation sees the relationship between the two stretched, even Katie is having trouble understanding how the murder can so closely resemble Nathans writings, although she knows he was with her when the murder was committed.

This is a story of doubt. Nathan doubts himself, as do just about everybody else.

Katie begins to doubt herself and wonder if she has been manipulated.

Nick Hollin has created two of the most compellingly unique characters in current fiction. In Nathan Radley he has introduced a mind that is more crazed-axe-man than cop.

In Katie Rhodes he has taken a normal enthusiastic cop and put her through a set of circumstances that has led her to be an introvert, who manages to doubt what she has achieved in the past, and wonder about the future, well at least at the start of the book.

If you like your books to make you think whilst you’re reading them. If you like a story that’s challenging, and if you like a plot that has you hooked from the first page to the last. Then this book is for you.

The Goodnight Song is the second in the series and can be read as a stand-alone, but I would suggest reading Dark Lies. A link for my review of which is below.

https://nigeladamsbookworm.com/2018/03/26/dark-lies-nick-hollin/

Pages: 283

Publishers: Bookouture

Available now

Tell Nobody. Patricia Gibney

IMG_2519

Patricia Gibney has a way of hooking me from the very start of each book.

This one starts with an unknown woman running away from something or someone. She is in terrible pain and blacks out.

The story cuts to a boys football match, a final, everybody should be happy, but not everybody has a caring and loving family to support them.

Mikey Driscoll had scored the winning goal in the Cup Final, as he is on his way home he is picked up and given a lift. Two days later his body is found.

What comes next is a story that follows DI Lottie Parker and her team as they investigate Mikey’s murder. Then more bodies start to be found, and the pressure is on to find the killer.

But that is far too simplistic a description of the book.

This book doesn’t just look at the murders.  Patricia Gibney looks at family dynamics, and how not everything in the family is how it seems to somebody looking in from the outside.

Latch key kids, bingo moms, single men and women bringing up families, teenage angst, unlikely friendships, all play a big part in the story.

And it’s not just the victims and criminals that are having a hard time.

Lottie, her son, two daughters and grandchild, are all living with her Mom, and its driving her crazy.

Her home had been destroyed in a fire and she is renovating her new house. But even that comes at a cost, to her and somebody close to her.

At work, her boss has it in for her, and would like nothing more than to see her fail.

The chemistry between Lottie and her DS is still bubbling along, but she is terrified to take comfort in his arms.

This series of books is great. The attention to detail that Patricia Gibney gives to the stories make them amongst the most realistic books I’ve read.

As well as the crimes in the books there is the ongoing story of Lottie, her family, and her team, and for me, that’s where she has the edge over most Crime Writers these days.

I love these books, and look forward to each new one that’s published.

This is the 5thin the DI Lottie Parker series set in the mid-Ireland City of Ragmullin.

Although it can be read as a stand-alone novel to get the best out of it I would recommend reading the series in order. Follow Lottie her family and her team as Patricia develops and grows the characters and their relationships.

Believe me it’s worth it.

 

Pages: 458

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 3rd October 2018

 Available to pre order at Amazon:

In The Silence. M.R. Mackenzie

 

IMG_2513

Zoe is a Dr of Psychology who specialises in crimes against women. She lives and works in Rome, but spent much of her youth in Glasgow.

Returning for a friends party she does not realise she is about to bump into an old acquaintance at the party. She also doesn’t know that that acquaintance is going to end up dying in her arms in a park in the very early hours of the morning.

At first Zoe is a suspect, in fact she’s a suspect all the way through the book, but she decides to keep some information from the police and try to investigate the killing herself.

Doing this she discovers some nasty truths about some of the people she used to know, she also allows a supressed memory to surface.

The question is not just who is the killer, but why, and how many other people are they going to kill. The Police seem clueless. Zoe is beginning to make headway but is also putting herself in danger.

The story is good, the characters are good but there was one thing in this book that really got on my nerves.

Zoe comes home to visit party girl Anna, and M.R Mackenzie has written her dialog in phonetic Scottish. I’ve seen this work in books before but for some reason this just seems a bit OTT in this book.

If you can get past the way Anna speaks this book has a great story.

I like the crime book which concentrates on people outside of the Police Force. People who are affected by crimes; the witnesses, the families, people caught up in an event.

Mackenzie has found a great way to unravel a crime mystery using this technique. It makes the book feel a bit more like “that could be me”, and that’s what makes it such a good thriller.

Publishers: Bloodhound Books

Never Say Goodbye. Richard Parker

Never-Say-Goodbye-Kindle

 

There’s a serial killer on the streets of London, and the investigation is not going well.

When the SIO dies suddenly the investigation is handed to DI Tom Fabian, and his team are tasked to take over after 4t victim is discovered.

The only thing to connect the victims is the way the face is mutilated during the killing. With no links between the victims the initial team have struggled to identify any potential suspects, so how are Fabian and his team going to have any success where their predecessors failed.

When the penny drops, and the link is found, it is almost so tenuous that it seems like a coincidence. But the more the team look at it the more it makes sense.

The problem is, by following the pattern, they can identify any number of potential victims. So how do they prioritise, can they protect the next victim without starting wide spread panic.

Once they’ve identified the pattern it should be easy to identify who is doing the killings. Shouldn’t it?

Richard Parker was a TV script writer, script editor and producer and has written some excellent stand-alone thrillers.

With his pedigree it’s not surprising that this is one of the best books I’ve read, and that’s mainly because of its plot. So many books these days struggle for originality; but I can honestly say that the way the victims are chosen in this book is something I’ve never come across before.

Never Say Goodbye is billed as being the first in a series. All good series need good characters to make you want to find out what happens to them next.

Parker has penned a great little team that it was easy to engage with.

DI Tom Fabian is in his mid-forties, he’s recently divorced and has a teenage daughter. He is what he is, a dedicated Police Officer whose family life has suffered because of the job.

DS Natasha Banner is in her late thirties, she’s married with a son, and is an intensely private person for somebody in the Police

DC Finch, “he’s never going to make DI but he’s good at what he does”

This little team start to develop throughout the book and each one has a story that gets the reader hooked.

But for one of them, there is about to be a very nasty shock.

In a book that kept me turning page after page, until I had read it all  in one sitting, the very last paragraph took my breath away. This book leaves one hell of a cliff hanger.

I can honestly say that the last hundred words of this book made the hairs on my arms stand up.

Mr Parker, please hurry up and write the next instalment.

Pages: 246

Publishers: Bookouture

Available now

She Lies In Wait. Gytha Lodge

IMG_2510

The discovery of the body of a young girl, who has been missing for 30 years, leads to the investigation of a cold that was a missing person but now is a murder

A cold case that is locked room mystery in a camp site full of teenage angst and jealousy.

The close-knit group of friends who were in their teenage years were experimenting in drugs, alcohol, and sex, are now in middle age and are scattered across the country having found various degrees of success in their lives

The promiscuity of one the older girls, Topez, leads to the camp becoming fragmented, but when the group get back together the next morning they find her young sister Aurora is missing.

30 years later DCI Jonah Sheens and his team are called in when the body is found. Sheens was a young uniform cop when the girl went missing and was at school with most of the people in the camp, so her remembers the case well.

But has he got more to hide? The girls in the group had been very promiscuous at school, and there is no doubt he knows at least one of them very well. So why is he keeping it a secret from his team. And can he keep it a secret without jeopardising the case.

Can you imagine being asked questions about what you were doing on a certain night 30 years ago. I suppose if it was on the night of such a traumatic event of a young friend going missing the answer would probably be yes.

But what if you had something to hide that night and had told lies, even if it wasn’t connected to the missing girl. Could you remember the lies?

This is the pretext of the plot, and Gytha Lodge uses is beautifully to spin a real labyrinth of a story.

It is a gripping story as Sheens tries to work out who is telling half-truths to cover for something innocuous after 30 years, and who is telling full blown lies, to hide the fact they are a murderer.

This is not a blood and guts thriller of a book. It is a slow burning cerebral book that gets the reader thinking.

It is not until the very end that all is revealed and what a reveal it is.

A thoroughly entertaining read that kept me hooked from start to finish.

Pages: 368

Publisher: Random House

Publish Date: 8thJanuary 2019

The Mosul Legacy. Christopher Lowery

IMG_2506

A more timely book I have never read.

Karl is an ISL leader fighting in the City of Mosul. Realising that defeat is inevitable he sends two jihadists into Europe to wreak havoc.

Meanwhile the Christian Al-Douri family, who have been struggling to survive in the bombed out, war-torn City, are trying to escape to Europe

Another bomber adopts the identity of his dead brother after he is killed accidentally setting of a bomb intended for a busy German City.

Hot on the trail of the terrorists is Police Senior Commissioner Major Max Kellerman.

The contradictions between the ease with which the terrorists move around their elaborate network of helpers, compared to the frantic attempts the Al-Duri’s make to find an illicit path to freedom could not be more stark.

Kellerman’s attempts to find the bombers before they can carry out an attack are frustrating, as he is always several steps behind in the maze of trails organised by their sympathisers.

Will he find them before all hell breaks loose.? You’ll have to read the book.

This story is so topical its frightening.

As with previous stories by Cristopher Lowery the devil is in the detail. Every page paints a picture which can only be the result of hours of research.

Everybody who watches the news will recognise this story for its reality.

What a great read.

 

Pages: 441

Publisher: Urbane

Publishing Date: 27th September 2018