Cemetery Road Greg Iles

Greg Iles is without doubt my favourite American author. His Penn Cage series, which included the Natchez Burning Trilogy, are some of the best books I’ve ever read.

So when I picked up Cemetery Road, I was expecting a good read, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Marshall (Goose) McEwan is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist working in Washington DC. But he returns to his hometown of Bienville, on the banks of the Mississippi, to run his ailing father’s newspaper.

Whilst he’s there he renews his “acquaintance” with a local attorney, who just happens to be married to the sun of one of the Beinville Poker Club. An Old Deep South Club that owns and runs everything in the town.

The poker club have also been instrumental in bringing Chinese investment to the town, in the form of a paper mill, money that will resurrect a dying economy.

The problem is they want to build the mill on ground that is thought to be of significant historical interest. One of McEwan’s friends, the historian-archaeologist Buck Ferris is murdered the night before the ground breaking ceremony.

Ferris had been like a surrogate father to McEwan, who’s drunken father had largely ignored him for over 30 years, and against much of the towns wish starts to investigate his friends murder.

What follows is a story of duplicity, in which the Poker Club try everything to stop McEwan, and his few ally’s, from finding the truth. With tens of millions of dollars at stake, as well as the freedom of the members of the club if the authorities ever find out the long list of laws they have broken, they are prepared to do anything to stop him.

This is a brilliant story from a master storyteller, and I love his books; but I should warn some of you that some people may find his writing a bit near-the-knuckle. There is sex and violence in this book, as there is in all of his books. But it’s there for a reason, it’s in context, it adds to the story. In fact the story wouldn’t work without it.

I have described Iles in previous blogs as being John Grisham without filters, and in my opinion that is why he is better than Grisham, and I love Grisham’s books.

Pages: 618

Publisher: UK, Harper Collins

Available now

DEAD WRONG. NOELLE HOLTEN

Two years ago DC Maggie Jamieson was a major player in putting mass murderer Bill Raven behind bars. Maggie had been the main interviewer as Raven confessed to chopping up at least 3 women, and although he named them, he didn’t say where their remains were, and they were never found.

Now he wants to retract his confessions, throwing doubt onto everything about the original conviction, including the in Jamieson’s integrity.

Then dismembered body parts start to show up. Forensic tests show that they belong to the women that Raven confessed to killing. The problem is he’s been in jail for 2 years, and the women have only been dead a matter of days. Where have these women been, and who is killing them.

The clock is ticking as Maggie tries desperately to solve the murders and tries and link Raven to them before he is released on appeal.

Maggie’s visits to interview Raven are a complete mind game. She knows it but is having trouble convincing her own colleagues, let alone the legal system.  So she turns to her friend, Dr Kate Maloney, to help with a psychological profile.

What a story. Noelle Holten is fan of Crime Fiction, and a skilled writer. This book played on every perceived conception I had as I was trying to work out who was the killer. She has written it in such a way that I was kept guessing right up to the end, and what an ending it is.

The characters are fantastic. Maggie is close to being insubordinate, yet insecure at the same time. Bill Raven is brilliantly written, as good a nemesis as I have ever come across.

This book will take your breath away more than once, but don’t relax, one of the biggest gasps comes right in the very last line of the book.

Pages: 432

Publisher: One More Chapter

Available now 

Buried Deep. SUSAN WILKINS


It seems to be the season for the start of new series in the Crime Book genre. This one will stand out as one of the best and I can’t wait for the next instalment.

Detective Sergeant   Megan Thomas has just transferred from the Met to Devon. Having spent the last 5 years as an undercover officer she is dreading going back to normal policing. Has she still got what it takes to be a “normal” detective. Can she deal with the PTSD that she suffers from following that undercover work. Will the team she is assigned to give her a chance.

What easier way to start with her new team than a murder, and a teenage rape, within a small community. As well as Megan doubting herself she has a fast-rising-star of a Detective Chief Inspector,  who is only interested in protecting her own career, as a boss.

The first body is found in a septic tank and Megan has a panic attack when she crawls inside to establish the position of the body and if it’s accidental or murder.

That’s not the only thing that triggers a reaction from Megan, and as her crisis of confidence escalates, Megan begins to question her future in the Police Force.

The settings for the crimes, and the characters in the story, are compelling. At times my empathy for Megan slipped but I enjoyed reading how she copped with her personal issues. The young DC’s who hold no bias against a Met cop coming into their team is a juxtaposition compared with the old hands who perceive her as a threat.

The fact that Megan is now fighting crime in a town where everybody seems to know every bodies business is also a complete contrast to her old work.  Town gossip is a hindrance and at time her ally but choosing when to use it becomes not just a police issue but also a family one.

Publisher: Bookouture

Pages: 325

Publishing date: April 6th 2020 available to preorder on Amazon

 

 

 

Knock Knock. Chris Merritt

 

The first of a new series in a crowded field. So how did it stand up to the competition.

I really enjoyed it.

The two main characters are easy to like and engage with.

DI Dan Lockhart is leading his first case as Senior Investigating Officer with the Mets MIT8. The team are tasked with finding the killer of a woman that has been tied to a chair and had a steel ball forced down her throat. The team soon link this to a previous murder but somebody is already in custody for that. So was the original investigation wrong, or is their a copycat killer

Dan is in therapy with Dr Lexi Green, but for once in this type of book it’s not work related. Lexi is helping Dan with psychological issues which she believes stem from the loss of his wife. Loss in this case being that she went missing whilst he was serving in the army and has never been seen since. Dans ongoing search for his wife is taking its toll

When another woman is killed Dan employs Lexi as a Criminal Psychologist, much to the disdain of his team.

As the bodies mount up everybody involved in the investigation seems to have their own theory on who the killer is. Tensions in the MIT are reflected by the tension that builds between Lockhart and Green.

There is a bit of an inevitably to the path the story takes towards the end but it has set up a fantastic story thread for future books.

The epilogue deceivers a great punch linked to a small section of the book I’d almost forgotten, but what an impact it had. I was already looking forward to the next book, now I’m desperate to get my hands on it

Publishers: Bookouture

Pages: 416

Publishing date: 17th March 2020

Where The Innocent Die M.J Lee

IMG_0004

This is the latest in a really good Crime Fiction Series. DI Thomas Ridpath is not your stereotypical fictional cop. He is a family man who is really good at what he does and is well liked amongst his peers. Where he is different is that he is a cancer patient in remission. With Senior Officers in the Police worried about his health when he returned to work, he has been temporarily deployed to Manchester’s Coroner as a Coroner’s Investigator.

This has given M.J Lee lots of leeway to put Ridpath into situations not usually encountered by Police Officers as he investigates how people have died. However in this book the streams are crossed and Ridpath finds himself right at the front of a murder investigation, and this time he will not be Mr Popular.

The death of a Chinese woman in a detention centre, the day before she is due to be deported, is found to be a case of suicide by the Police Officer who carries out the investigation.

The Coroner is not convinced. It’s the latest in a line of deaths in detention centres across the country, most of which have been recorded as suicide. This one has happened in Manchester, and there is no way the Coroner is going to let it slip by without proper investigation, and she tasks Ridpath with taking a second look at the circumstances surrounding the woman’s death.

Ridpath soon finds out that the Police Investigation was slipshod at best. Unfortunately, for him, it was carried out by a popular Detective Sergeant who is 3 months from retirement and stands to lose his pension if Ridpath is correct in his theory that the woman was murdered.

The discovery of another body only adds credibility to  Ridpath’s hypothesis and he is “invited” to lead the investigations into both deaths as part of the MIT.

The Coroner has made it impossible to carry out a deep investigation as she refuses to put back the date of the inquest, giving Ridpath less than a week to gather the evidence he needs to establish the woman was murdered and, if so identify the killer.

Meanwhile, understandably, Ridpath is working every hour available and his family are worried about the effects on his health.

This is a great book. In effect it starts as a “locked-room-mystery” but soon develops into something much more sinister.

At the end of the book Ridpath is left with a decision to make. I, for one, can’t wait to read the next book to see what he has decided.

 

Pages: 352

Publisher: Canelo

Publishing Date: 7th May 2020

Boots in the Ashes. Cynthia Beebe

Boots in the Ashes. Cynthia Beebe

A few weeks ago I saw a post on twitter announcing the publication date of a book, Boots in Ashes. Given my 30 years in the Fire Service this caught my attention straight away. When I dug around a bit and found that it was a memoir of an ATF Special Agent, who specialised in Fire and Explosion investigation, the discipline I specialised in for the last 12 of those 30 years, I knew it was a book I wanted to read.

Thankfully I managed to contact the author, Cynthia Beebe, and she helped me get my hands on a copy. That in itself must have been brave, after all she was going to let a subject matter expert review her book. Well I’m glad she did because this is a fantastic read.

Cynthia plots the course of her career by looking at some of the landmark cases she worked on, and some of the experiences she had whilst serving as a Special Agent in the ATF

The cases include the bombing of two Judges homes, targeted “Hits”, and her pursuit of Hells Angel type biker gangs. The book took me longer than usual to read because every time she mentioned a case I reached for Google and got lost in a worm hole of reports and witness accounts. This added a depth to the book, and in fairness each of these stories could have been a true crime book on its own. I hope that there will be another book where we get to hear about some more of her work.

It’s not just the cases though, it’s the way she describes the scenes. That first time she attended a Fire Scene and the confusion she felt at the destruction of the building which had been ravaged by fire. The determination she had to ensure that justice was done and that the culprit was found and taken to court.

The frustrations of working with, what a times were bigoted old men, makes Cynthia’s achievements even more impressive. When I teach University students one of the most often asked questions, by the young women in the class, is can women make good firefighters. My answer is always the same. Some of the best firefighters I ever served with were women. All of the worst firefighters I ever served with were men. Hopefully the question will stop one day but until then I’m going to point those who ask it in the direction of this book.

This book will be a great read for anybody who is into true crime, but I think there will be a lot of Fire Investigators and Crime Scene Investigators in the UK that will be looking for a copy, and they are going to love it

Published in the UK on 25the February 2020 and available on Amazon

POISON Jacqui Rose

This “Gangland” genre of fiction is getting more popular, so I thought I’d give it a go. Poison is not the first of the type I’ve read but it’s certainly the best.

Franny is in Prison on remand, she’s a hard woman who’s used to being the boss, but in prison she’s just another inmate who gets targeted by the hard knocks. There’s a hierarchy and as the book starts Franny is far from the top of it.

As the story unfolds we find out why Franny’s in prison. Not just the crime she’s alleged to have committed, but also the duplicity that has taken place to put her behind bars.

Meanwhile outside, the prison, the triangular relationship between a 16 year old drug addict who is trying to straighten out her life, a young drug addict father who is trying to pay back massive debts, and a Criminal who is a friend of both and is trying to look after them, is putting everybody in danger, including Franny.

Throw into the mix a very crocked Police Officer and this is one hell of a story.

Misplaced loyalties within the criminal fraternity provide some great twists and turns but all of the strands of the story run together in a very neat plot.

For crime fiction lovers this story is a diversion from the usual cop-hunts-criminal type of tale. It still holds intrigue, and poses dilemma’s, but from  a completely different side of life.

The things that most people would think are wrong, drug taking, drug dealing, prostitution, abuse, money sharking, are all part of day to day life for the characters in this book. It’s hard to find anybody in the book to actually class as the ultimate victim, as all the characters are victims of some type. For me that means that although I have no sympathy, or empathy for any of them, I can understand and tolerate their behaviour.

That made the book easy for me to read. I loved it.

Pages: 403

Publishers: Avon

Publishing Date: Available now