The Birthday. Carol Wyer

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2 years after she went missing the body of Ava Sawyer is found buried in the grounds of the Garden Centre she disappeared from during a birthday party.

DI Natalie Wood and her small team are tasked with finding answers the original team to investigate the disappearance didn’t.

But this is no ordinary missing persons/murder investigation. Now that the body has been found it acts as a catalyst for more crimes. More of the girls from the party start  to get killed and are left posed in public places.

The investigation very much becomes a race against time.

The team have to find a killer. There are so many suspects, each one looking like they could be the killer, but each of them ruled out as suspects.

Have the team missed the killer?

Natalie already blames herself for one child abduction and murder case, she worked on, being tragically unsuccessful. She wasn’t the boss on that investigation, but she is on this one.

Has she learnt from others mistakes?

The last case affected her mentally and emotionally. Can she hold it together through this case?

The characters in this book are just what you would expect to find in any police team. DI Wood is struggling to balance her work and personal life. How can she try to keep her marriage going and still conduct such a high profile and emotional case.

Her team are made up of a mix of characters who it are easy to associate with and I’m sure we will get to know as the series progresses. There are friendships and there is conflict, just like the real world.

The best thing about this story is the realism. Carol Wyer hits so many nails on the head with the observations she makes.

She brings to life the frustrations of a real investigation.

The amount of facts that come flooding in and need sorting.

Deciding on what takes priority, and the worry that the decision was wrong.

When is it right to send your team home for rest, when every minute is so vital and may literally mean the difference between life and death.

There is one passage in the book when Natalie is struck by the normality of ongoing life after a traumatic incident.

In my career the thing that always used to get into my head was the disrupted normality. A terrible fire in a bedroom that had claimed lives, yet breakfast places set in the unaffected kitchen downstairs. School coats, which would never be worn again, hanging over the backs of chairs.

Not many authors consider this, and even less describe the feelings and emotions so well. It is only a small passage in the book, but it shows the consideration that has been put into it.

This is the first book in a new series. I think it’s going to be stunning.

Pages: 316

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 27th September 2018.

The Darkness Around Her. Neil White

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Lizzie has been in an abusive relationship for a while, so when she gets hit, in public, on New Year’s Eve, she decides she’s had enough and runs away. Unfortunately, she decides to run away along a canal tow path where a killer is waiting.

When her body is found the Police quickly make an arrest. The suspect asks for legal representation form only one person. Dan Grant.

Dan is a Barrister who has specialised in representing defendants for the last 10 years, but this defendant is a first for him, a first in two ways. He won’t talk about the crime, even to Dan, and he won’t allow Dan to employ a Queens Council. He wants Dan to represent him in Court.

Dan is left with no choice, if his client won’t give him anything to use in his defence, he will have to find evidence to prove his innocence himself.

Dan employs his usual Private Investigator, Jayne Brett, to start digging around for information on the suspect and the girl he is accused of killing.

Jayne is a good investigator, but she has one problem. Dan. There is a chemistry between them, one that Jayne would love to explore, but Dan has ethics and Jayne was once a client. The chemistry is real and at times both of them are genuinely frustrated to the point of distraction.

As the court case gets closer the investigation starts to uncover more crimes that have occurred on the Canal, can they all be related? Is this the defence? Could they prove that if their client didn’t commit any of the other crimes he can’t be responsible for this murder.

This book takes the reader on one hell of a trip. The parts of the book written about the legal process; the client interviews, the trips to the police station, the court proceedings are fascinatingly written and very realistic.

The investigation into the murder on the canal, and the historic crimes which have taken place are great. Proper Investigations have to take place, there’s not many CCTV cameras on canals, no ANPR cameras. If you’ve ever walked along a canal in a city centre, you’ll know how quickly you feel like you are out in the country.

The canals are a great place to set a modern day crime and have to rely on investigation techniques from 20 years ago.

I really enjoyed this book. I loved the legal side of it, the investigation is intriguing, and the relationship between Dan and Jayne is mesmerising.

 

Pages: 448

Publisher. Zaffre

Publishing Date: 9th August 2018

Her Final Hour Carla Kovach

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Straight off I’m going to say this is one of my Books of the Year.

I was hooked from the first chapter.

In 1993 a girl is drugged and raped.

In the present day a woman is struggling to escape an abusive marriage when she is killed.

DI Gina Harte has just landed after a few days away on holiday and is called in to lead the investigation into the death.

Gina is a good DI with a proven tack history and is well respected amongst her colleagues. What they don’t know is that she was in an abusive marriage for years, and this investigation is going to resurrect memories and take her to a really dark place.

The murder is almost perfect, and it quickly becomes apparent that the team are looking for somebody who is forensically aware and is going to be difficult to identify.

What is the connection to the rape in the prologue, that would be too much of a spoiler, but it’s just one of the strands of this plot that weaves a great story.

Nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors, not everybody is living in a happy-ever-after way.

The story also shows the consequences of actions taken by the Police, and the perceptions some people have of them on a personal basis.

Gina manages to put herself in mortal danger, as well as the emotional turmoil she is in as she remembers her late husband.

Her emotions lead this to become a very personal investigation and she will have to dig deep to come out of the investigation with her mind and body intact.

This story made me think. There is something about the crime, and the perpetrator, or is it perpetrators, (you’ll have to read it to find out) that is strikingly obvious, but that I’ve never read about or considered before.

Carla Kovach has come up with an original plot with one hell of a twist at the end.

I didn’t see it coming but it gave me one of those “Of Course. That makes perfect sense” moments

The story starts of fast and just keeps going. I have used the phrase, “ I couldn’t put it down” before, and usually it just means I read it in a few sittings over a couple of days. This one I really couldn’t put down. If I didn’t have to sleep it would have been a one sitting read.

This is the second book in the Gina Harte series. Below is a link to my review of the first The Next Girl

https://nigeladamsbookworm.com/2018/04/04/the-next-girl-carla-kovach/

 

Her Final Hour

Pages: 316

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing date: 23rd August 2018.

For Better and Worse. Margot Hunt

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17 years ago, Natali and William were on their first date. Both Law School students they occupied themselves innocently plotting the perfect murder.

Now happily married, or so Nat thinks, in a seaside town in Florida, they enjoy a Sunday morning on the beach with Charlie, their 11 year old son.

When an emergency meeting is called at Charlies school the perfect life starts to unravel.

Now, as a Criminal Defence Attorney,  Nat has a good knowledge of how the law will treat people who end up being either the accused, or the accuser, and she is not sure which is the worse experience.

She has to protect Charlie, but will her husband want, or be capable, of  helping in any way.

She is sure Will is having an affair, but little does she know the effect it could have on her plans.

This is a great story and uses a clever little trick to really give the reader a terrific ride.

Most of the story is told in the first person by Nat. Her emotions, her interpretations of events, her thoughts.

But a couple of the chapters are written in the first person from Wills point of view. Does he see things like his wife does. The secrets he is keeping from Nat, and how he tries to balance her world with his.

This psychological thriller explores a mother and a father and how far they would go to protect their child. Two very different approaches, two very different ethos, with one aim. Keep Charlie safe.

This is a great story. I loved the way the two main characters have a common need, but both have very different ways of trying to achieve it.

This is no normal husband, wife, combined front. This is two people struggling to find a way to survive a series of events and come out of it in one piece. But one of them has a very different idea of what that should be achieved.

This is the first Margot Hunt book I’ve read. It definitely won’t be the last.

Pages: 384

Publisher: Mira Books

Publishing Date UK: 11th December 2018.

The Affair. Sheryl Browne

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I have to say I have read some mixed reviews of this book, it seems to divide people, and everybody is entitled to an opinion.

My Opinion?

It’s a great story

But it’s going to be hard to review it without giving anything away in the way of spoilers.

The story, a bit like life itself, is a like a domino rally. In this case one of those where two different dominos are tipped over in different strings, at the same time, and start a chain reaction that culminates in that final slab falling, with one hell of a bang.

The first domino in the first string. Alicia has been telling a lie for a while now. It’s not a malicious lie, more the type of lie that involves not telling your family about a piece of your past which is a bit murky.

But when somebody from that past turns up in the present, and has a malicious streak about them, then things start to go wrong.

More lies are told to try and cover up the past, and the tumbling dominos gather speed.

Alicia’s husband is shattered after finishing a long night shift at the hospital. Because she’s been distracted Alicia has forgot to fill her car with fuel, and when it doesn’t start her husband piles Alicia, and their two children, into the car to drop them off to work, school, and the child minders.

And so the first domino of the second string is toppled.

Together the two strings gather pace, weaving across each other until the traumatic culmination and the dropping of the final tile, right in the centre of everything.

This book really plays with the emotions, there are times when I empathised with the main character but hated her. There were other times when I hated what she was doing but loved her.

I really liked it.

 

Pages: 351

Publishers: Bookouture

Publishing date: 10th August 2018.

Murder on the Marshes. Clare Chase

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Set in, and around, Cambridge University this is a murder story with a list of characters that are firmly in the “Have” and “Have not” brackets.

Every character is either from a really privileged background, or a working-class background.  But just because they are in these categories doesn’t mean that they are normal balanced people.

The book opens with a mystery of a young girl walking in on a horrific scene, a scene that is alluded to throughout the book, but who is it that’s witnessing the scene and what bearing will it have on the present day.

The present day see’s the body of a young professor, Samantha Seabrook, being found drowned in a fountain in a locked courtyard of one of the colleges in the University, a bit of a locked room puzzle.

Frighteningly a journalist Tara Thorpe is sent a warning on the same night Samantha is killed, it’s the same warning the Professor received a few weeks before she was killed.

DI Garstin Blake is the SIO for the murder but also goes to interview Tara. Together they form an unlikely alliance, and the investigation into the life and death of Samantha Seabrook takes on two lines, the Police investigation and the journalistic investigation.

It’s a good way of introducing information into the story, and allows the author to get away with introducing information which would not be obtained by either the police or the journalist if they were working alone.

Garstin and Tara both have issues, and just like everyone else in the story they are split by the working class, privileged divide. Tara from a very well-to-do background hasn’t had the best of lives, and now something, or somebody, is preying on her insecurities. Garstin, the working class copper, is separated from his wife and is torn apart by not been able to see his young daughter every night. So can Garstin keep his eye on the ball and can Tara stay safe.

The investigation is a bit pedestrian at times but the story is well worth reading.

This book is a bit like two of my favourite TV series combined, inevitably the Cambridge Oxford thing leads to Morse, and the writer and detective leads to Castle. The pace of the book is definitely more Morse.

Will I read the next book in the series, Yes

 

Pages: 322

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 31st July 2018

Corrupted. Simon Michael

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This is the 4th Book in the brilliant series set in the Ganglands and Courts of London in the 1960’s

Charlie Holborne is a local man made good, but the journey to good has brought him into contact with some of London’s most notorious criminals.

As one of London’s star Criminal Barristers he is now in high demand following some recent high profile court wins, but that hasn’t necessarily ingratiated him with his peers in the Courts and his Chambers.

Neither has the fact that he has had dealing with people like the Kray Brothers; but no matter what his peers think it’s not a good relationship, and the Krays are at war with Charles.

The death of one of the Krays gang leads to multiple investigations of a series of Gay Sex and Drugs parties held in one of the Krays flats. With politicians involved the press are trying to expose the truth whilst the Police are trying to gather evidence on the Krays. Meanwhile both the press and the Police are corrupt up to the highest levels and both investigations are hamstrung from the start.

When Charles is asked to represent the young lad charged with the murder of The Krays gang member he is determined to get to the truth, no matter what the cost.

In this story, as with the previous three, Simon Michael has woven actual events with some fictional characters and has delivered a story that is more than believable.

He brings the 60’s to life on the page like watching a HD Colour documentary on the TV.

Somebody has to take the rights to these books and turn them into a decent TV series soon.

Pages: 368

Publishers: Urbane