Runaway Justice. Chad Zunker

Sometimes, just sometimes, a book comes along and makes you sit back and smile.

This is one of those. It’s not a complex story, it’s not a heart stopping story. It is a story that flows believably from one scene to the next. It is a story that makes you suddenly realise you’ve had your head in a book for hours, and that you’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting lost in it.

Parker Barnes is 12 years old and living on the streets of Austin Texas. Why? Because both his parents have died and he has run away from an abusive foster father. He’s not doing bad fending for himself and making friends amongst the homeless until he witnesses a murder. Then things start to go bad.

Arrested on another matter Parker finds legal representation in David Adams, an ex big company Lawyer who now runs a small business specialising in working with the vulnerable groups in society.

The problem is the person responsible for the murder wants Parker silenced. Permanently.

The FBI have also identified Parker and think he has something to do with the murder, and they want to talk to him. As you’d expect a young homeless person to be, Parker is scared of them and thinks they’ll frame nine or send him back into the system of abusive foster parents.

So at the first chance he runs.

The story of Parker trying to evade being caught by the FBI and the criminals is interwoven with the story of David Adams and his team trying to solve the original murder, they think it’s the only way to make Parker safe and bring him out of hiding, but is it. are they really putting themselves in as much danger as Parker.

This is a cracking story told at just the right pace.

A new author on my list of must reads, I’ve just read Chad Zunker’s Twitter feed. His pinned tweet says

“Three years ago I sat on this bench in the mall after reading another soul-crushing publishing email rejection. A twenty year journey already filled with over one thousand rejections. Today I sit here with the #1 book in the Kindle Store. Fight for your dreams!”

That is him talking about his first book An Equal Justice the first in the David Adams story, I’ve now uploaded it onto my Kindle and I’m going straight into this next.

What higher recommendation can I give.

So Chad, keep the dream alive, keep the books coming, you are one hell of a story teller.

THE INNOCENT GIRLS. B.R Spangler

The Innocent Girls. B.R Spangler

Earlier this year I read the first book in the Detective Jane Casey series, and since then I’ve been desperate to get my hands on the next one. So when The Innocent Girls dropped into my inbox I couldn’t wait to get started, and I wasn’t disappointed, what a cracking book.

Jane is now a permanent fixture in Outer Banks North Carolina. The ex big city cop decided to stay as she’s convinced she is getting closer to finding her missing daughter Hannah. She’s also fallen for Ex sheriff Jericho Flynn and is enjoying life as a small town cop, life is ticking along quite nicely

Then a 13 year old girl witnesses the vicious murder of her parents in a motor home, but after she escapes she runs off to a cult like church without reporting the murder to the police.

When the bodies are discovered Casey’s team start to investigate. One of the bodies has a strange pattern carved into their chest and various theories take the team down different avenues.

When a second murder scene is found, with more carvings on the body, the team also realise another young girl is missing.

The two cases have to be connected and Casey soon makes a connection to a strange Cult-Preacher and his pop-up church.

What follows is an investigation into a series of murders that is intriguing in its complexity.

Murders carried out in a vicious manner, mysterious post mortem wounds inflicted on the bodies, links to children in the families, who never seem to be hurt, and as the team try to make sense of it the murders get a bit too close to home.

The story is brilliant. It’s just complex enough to keep you guessing without crossing into the realms of improbability.

The story is made all the better by the team that Casey is  building around her, professionally and in her personal life. There are some great characters that are going to be fun to watch develop.

This series has started out with two of the most addictive stories I’ve read for a long time , the very definition of “ page-turners” I really am excited to read what comes next.

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 3rd September 2020

THE SILENT DOLLS. Rita Herron

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Rita Herron is a new author to me, but she shot straight to the top of my list of must read authors after reading this book.

But it was so nearly a different story. The first chapter in this book sets a scene that makes it seem like this book is going to be like a rural Lethal Weapon with the main character being a female Riggs. How wrong was I.

Thank god I went past that chapter because this turned out to be the best US crime book I’ve read for a very long time.

If you like CJ Box and his Joe Pickett books for their settings you’ll love this book, set in the woods and mountains of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia

The main character, Detective Ellie Reeves, is scared of the dark. Why? Because she got lost in the woods on the Appalachian Trail when she was very young.

Now she’s a detective in Bluff County, the home of the starting point for the trail. So when a little girl goes missing it’s up to Ellie to look for her. What she uncovers during the investigation will send ripples all along the trail, and will have consequences close to home.

The girl that goes missing is not the first, but because the perpetrator has been moving along the trail nobody has put together the spasmodic disappearance of young girls in different jurisdictions, and it takes FBI agent Derrick Fox to highlight the link to Ellie.

The problem is Fox thinks two people close to Ellie, her father and a close friend, might be prime suspects.

This is a great story, set in rural, small town, America. It has everything to combine a great crime thriller with an great psychological thriller. A hunt for a missing child in the wild landscape is made harder by the approach of an in coming winter storm, a brilliant use of the occasional local radio weather reports really adds to the tension.

Ellie is a great character, amongst a cast of equally good bit part players, who hopefully will make appearances in future books.

Will there be future books, I hope so. This is billed as the first in a series, and it does end on a hell of a cliff hanger.

Pages: 366

Publishers: Bookouture

Publishing date U.K. 17th July 2020

HIDDEN LAKE. RUHI CHOUDHARY

When she was 12 years old Mackenzie Price came home to find her mother had killed her abusive husband. Together they buried him in the woods.

Price is a fantastic character. Stuck in a prison cell created by her own mind, a Psychological Faraday Cage that refuses to allow her happiness, she suffers constant flashbacks of her childhood, and the abuse her mother suffered before her fathers death.

When the discovery of a body takes her deep into the woods close to her fathers shallow grave she’s worried that the crime will be uncovered and that her life and career will be ruined.

But it’s not her father, it’s the body of Erica, a girl that’s been missing for a year. The high school princes daughter of a rich family there have been posters of her up around the city since she disappeared. Everybody knows her face.

At the same time her body is discovered her Best Friend Abby goes missing, the daughter of a single mother, a mother who works as a waitress in a local strip club, she doesn’t get anywhere near the attention that Erica did.

That annoys Mackenzie, what annoys her even more is she is convinced the two cases are linked, but the senior officers in her department seem determined to keep the two investigations separate, concentrating the majority of their efforts on a girl that’s been dead for a year, instead of on a girl that’s only just gone missing and could still be alive.

What’s more Mackenzies only real friend in the Department, Nick, who is leading Erica’s murder investigation is being alienated by her, and now he’s the only one who seems to be thinking along the same lines as her. Eventually they will have to work together but at what cost.

This is a very simplistic outline of the start of a brilliantly complex plot that had me hooked from the start.

As the story expands, and Mackenzie’s story unfolds, her character becomes addictive. Emotional on the inside but steely on the out, she won’t allow herself stimulants like coffee, or cigarettes. Yet she ploughs through the day fuelled by little but fresh air. It has to take its tole.

Not only has Ruhi Choudhary created, a great character she has created a great scene, a fictional city on the brink of despondency. As she says, it’s a city people are escaping from more than they are being attracted to. Hopefully it’s a Canvas for her to paint many more pictures on as we see Mackenzie fight her demons as much as the city’s crime.

Without doubt she is now one of my must read authors, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Pages: 409
Publishers: Bookouture
Publishing Date UK: 19th August 2020

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

The Art of Dying Derik Cavignano

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Art is very much down to personal taste, but in the case of the murderer in this book its very personal.

The Artist us kidnapping people and turning them into art for his own pleasure, before displaying the finished article to the world.

The problem is, at first, nobody realises what is happening, and his first kill leads to a gang war between two old mobs on the streets of Boston.

After the first body is found Detective Ray Hanley is sent to investigate. From the start he is convinced that this is not a normal murder, but everybody else thinks it’s a mob hit.

As the investigation into the first murder gets underway the “Artist” is already working on his next victims.

As Ray looks at the mob angle he has his mind set more towards a sick individual. Unfortunately the gangs have brought into the war theory and have started attacking each other.

As Boston is faced with a bloody gang war, and a sick serial killer, Hanley tries to pacify the mobs and find the real killer.

This is one of those books that is going to live with me for a long time. There will be comparisons with Silence of the Lambs, and rightly so, but this is a written in todays society. More is possible today, the killer can keep his victims alive for longer, can make them suffer more, and can reek havoc on society as his victims are soon displayed on news web sites in all their gore.

Somehow this makes this book a little bit more realistic, more plausible, more frightening.

This book won an award for Horror in the General Category of the American Fiction Awards and was a finalist in the Thriller, Crime Category. I think it fits nicely into both these categories.

So. If you like a good psychological thriller wrapped around a good police thriller you will love this book.

Pages: 293

Publishing Date UK: 20thSeptember 2019

TAKEN TO THE GRAVE M.M Chouinard

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Jo Fournier has relinquished her Lieutenants role and reverted back to Detective. She didn’t like the politics of the role and hated not being on the streets.

Back with her partner Detective Bob Arnett she is sent to investigate the killing of a professor at the local university.

And so, it begins, Professor Michael Whorton is universally hated, students, peers, his wife, and a long list of women who he’s had adulterous affairs with, all seem to have just reason to want this man dead.

The list may be long but realistically who would murder a man, in his own office, in the middle of a busy university.

Jo and Arnett start to unravel the professor’s life, then another body connected to the university is found, and another.

This book is about University Politics, and relationships, and how the unchecked behaviour of one person can send ripples that ruin a lot of people’s lives.

Once the university starts to receive adverse publicity, they start to put pressure on the Police Department, and once again Jo is caught up in Department politics as she is put under pressure to make an arrest.

I liked this book. Just like the first one in the series it’s a good mix between a full on crime thriller and a cosy-crime mystery.

The characters are good, and I really engage with both Jo and Arnett. It is written in a way that it is never fanciful, everything that happens is logical, and there is no “shark-infested-custard” type scenarios or revelations.

The best recommendation I can give this book is it enthralled me to the point where I could have been reading a true-crime story.

 

Pages: 330

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 19thSeptember 2019

RAIN WILL COME Thomas Holgate

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Sometimes a character is so well written, and is that “off-the-wall”, I can associate them with a real person or a character I’ve seen on TV. This is one of those books

Detective Paul Czarick reminded me of Rigs from the Lethal Weapon TV series. He is a man who breaks rules, does what he likes, and is fuelled by nicotine, caffeine, and Columbian marching powder, turning to bourbon when he wants to relax.

Czarick works for the unpopular Illinois Bureau of Justice, and thanks to the fact that he solved a very high profile case, he is benefitting from a certain amount of immunity within the Bureau, and in this case he uses it to its full advantage.

Daniel is a killer, he’s a revenge killer, and he has a plan. Czarick picks up one of his murders and starts to connect the dots and links his case to another murder.

As Czarick becomes aware of the killer, Daniel becomes aware of the cop, and so the game begins.

A game of cat-and-mouse that stretches the length of the states. Every time Czarick gets close Daniel surprises him.

For some, there are lucky escapes, for others there is a terrible death that is somehow linked to something they have done in the past.

This is a simple plot, but a cracking story. It is as much a psychological thriller as it is a police story.

A great read

Publishing date: March 2020

Publishers: Thomas & Mercer

Available to pre-order

HER SILENT CRY Lisa Regan

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For once Detective Josie Quinn is having some time off and has taken a friends young son to the park for a day out. The piece is soon shattered when a 7 year old girl goes missing, right from under her parents noses, in the same park.

Off duty or not Josie is soon directing operations to try to find the girl. Joined by her team, and a good proportion of the local community the search proves fruitless.

Against her boss’s best wishes Quinn calls in a specialist FBI team that specialise in investigating the abduction of children.

The FBI and Quinn’s team are at a loss to identify the abductor, until a phone call to the parents strikes fear to everybody’s hearts. Their demand, or lack of it, is chilling, and would be every parent’s nightmare.

Quinn has formed a good relationship with the family and the FBI begin to rely on this, but is she getting all the information she needs from them.

This is a cracking story.

One simple crime, an abduction, strikes fear into the community, but things start to get worse.

Lisa Regan has built a strong community of characters in this series. She uses their emotions and feelings to permutate through the story and build up the suspense.

Unlike most series any of these books can be read as a stand-alone. The reader will learn bits of the back stories of the main characters, without being left wondering what is going on.

The setting is perfect. A small City with plenty of isolated rural areas, which allows Regan to set parts of the book in a built up area, whilst having all the suspense of settings in remote country areas.

This book, and this series, ideal for fans of crime series written by the likes of Angela Marsons, Patricia Gibney, Carol Wyer and Graham Smith.

Publishing Date: 14thAugust

Publishers: Bookouture

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