CHILDS PLAY Angela Marsons

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As if this series needed a hook to get you into a book. Yet Angela Marsons has started this one with the most original, and toe curling, murders of the series.

The book starts with a murder in a kids playground. It’s a bit of a mystery where this murder fits in as its set years before the main body of the book, but fit in it does, and it’s part of a brilliant mystery.

Moving forward to the present day Kim and her team are called to a murder in a local park (and when I say local its where I take my dog for a walk most days). The murder victim is posed and the murderer has left a signature, but what does it all mean.

Kim lets her team work to their strengths. Stacy is set to work trawling the internet, whilst Kim and Bryant hit the streets.

The newest member of the team, Penn, is called back to his old team, and the story that unfolds for him is every Police Officers worst nightmare. Has he put the wrong man in jail. This story alone would have made a great book.

Kim is also fighting the Brass in the Police force. Owing to recent reviews showing that officers are burning out, along with the constrictions of austerity, she is forced to make her team work the case on a 9-5 basis, she and they hate it.

To make up for the lack of Penn, and the lack of available work hours, Kim is given a new officer, a 24 year old PC called Tiffany, who is a bubble of energy and enthusiasm. At first Kim, and Stacy, try to reject the help but soon realise they are stuck with their new yappy (and for us from the Black Country Yampy) puppy of an officer.

As the bodies mount Kim’s team are stretched to the limit. Will burn out claim any of them?

Book 11 in the DI Kim Stone series and again Angela Marsons has given us a brilliantly crafted book.

It’s no secret this is my favourite series in the crime fiction genre. I do wonder sometimes if it’s because the books are set where I live, but then I read the blogs from other reviewers around the world, and realise that if they were set in Mongolia I’d still love the stories.

Angela Marsons has created a fictional team in a real world. The crimes she writes about are all too realistic. The worries and concerns of the Police Officers, the Victims, the Witnesses, and the Criminals are written in a way that lets the reader engage. Empathy and sympathy for some characters, and anger at others are emotions which each of the books evokes aplenty.

In my very first blog, about my life and how reading has been my companion, hobby, and at times escape, I recall how I read all of the Sven Hassle war books on my first ship. I wrote how when I’d finished the series I felt like I’d lost some friends. I don’t know when this series is going to end, I hope not for a while yet, but I have the feeling I’m going to miss Kim and her Team just as much, and probably a lot more.

 

Pages: 397

Publishing Date: 11thJuly

Publishers: Bookouture

Dead Memories. Angela Marsons Pre-Review


Its not often I’m lost for words, but I’ve run out of superlatives to describe this series. 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 meatl, 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.

I love this series, and as I said at the beginning of this blog I’ve run out of superlatives to describe the books in this series.

Safe to say Silent Scream, book one in the series, was one of the best books I’ve ever read, and each book has just got better and better.

My review of DEADLY MEMORIES will be on-line in February as part of the Blog Tour, but if you haven’t found Angela Marsons yet get yourself on Amazon, or down to the bookshop, and treat yourself to what I think is the best crime series out there.

Fatal Promise Angela Marsons

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If I wasn’t already a massive fan of this series I would have been hooked in the first few pages.

DI Kim Stone is back at work, freshly out of the plaster that protected the leg she broke in the previous book. Her leg may be healing but her emotions, and that of her tight knit team, are still in tatters.

When a body is found in a park, not 2 miles from Kim’s Police she is stunned to find that it is that of a man that was so closely linked to her last investigation.

As more bodies pile there seems to be a link to Russell’s Hall Hospital, but what has this hospital and Heathcrest School got in common?

Is it just a coincidence that the team are investigating a crime that is linked to the place where none of them really want to be, back where one of their friends, a colleague died so recently.

The story looks at the secrets kept by groups and families, and how loyalties can forged on the most ridiculous of assumptions or beliefs.

It looks at how feelings can fester and cause hidden harm.

But as good as the plot of the crimes and the investigations of them are, this book is about much more.

This book is a rollercoaster of a ride through the investigation of some startlingly believable crimes, which is being carried out by a team that is struggling with the loss of a close friend.

If you have read the other books in this series, you will know the cast of characters well. You will understand what they are going through, and you will empathise that they each do it in their own particular ways. Just like in real life this team is trying to pull together in a time of grief, whilst almost self-destructing in their self-imposed isolation.

Then there was always going to be the question of how Angela Marsons would replace one of her main characters that has been an integral part of the previous 8 books.

Well she found a very interesting character that had appeared a couple of times in the previous stories and dropped him into the team.

It was never going to be easy for the team to accept him and the awkwardness in the office is captured beautifully.

Will the team ever accept a replacement, is this the right guy.

Will his eccentricity help him, or hinder his integration?

When book 8 was published social media was full of reviews saying they were in tears at the end, I might have had a bit of dust in my eyes myself.

For me the end of this book is even more emotional.  A conversation between 2 of the main characters wrung so many bells for me it left me with a handful of dust in my eyes.

Every time a new book in this series becomes available I review it and say that it’s the best one yet.

Well its happened again, this is the best one yet.

If you are new to the series this book could be read as a stand-alone, but I would suggest reading the previous book , The Dying Truth, first.

In fact if you are new to the series I would suggest reading them all in order. I can’t think of a better way of recommending 8 fantastic Crime Thriller books.

 

Pages: 409

Published by: Bookouture

Available now on Amazon

Dying Truth Angela Marsons Blog Tour

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DI Kim Stone book 8

I often look forward to getting my hands on a book I know is about to become available, but there’s only Angela Marsons, at the moment, that actually gets me excited when she is  about to release a new book.

Why is this?

Simple really, in my opinion Angela is the best Crime Fiction author out there at the moment. The books are gritty and realistic. They pull no punches, and cover the world as it is. Prostitution, human trafficking, drugs, murder, they all feature in this series of books.

She has her main character, the wonderful DI Kim Stone and her regular team. They all have a great back story, and at some time have all played a big part in one or more of the books.

She writes about the victims and the perpetrators of the crimes with equal measures, showing the effect crimes have on the victims and how the bad guys became bad guys.

In this book she takes tension and emotion to another level. In fact most of the reviews I’ve read have suggested having a box of tissues handy. They aren’t  wrong.

There has also been a few #DrAlexThrone, Oh yes the ultimate criminal is back.

Here’s my review of Dying Truth

What a way to start a book. The prologue see’s DI Kim Stone struggling with a broken leg as she tries to warn people not to enter part of a building where she knows they will be in mortal danger. But who are the people running into the building and what exactly is the danger.

Cut to chapter one, a few days before the prologue. The death of a young girl at a posh, private school.

It’s classical mystery writing technique but, I don’t think I’ve ever read it written in a better way.

As the story builds Kim is supported by all her usual crew, trusty Bryant, laddish Wood, and the quiet Black Country Lass Stacey. Will any of these be charging into danger at the end of the book.

The team are investigating a suspicious death at the private Heathcrest Academy. A private co-ed school, where the elite of midlands society send their children to study alongside sporting, and academic, high achievers.

Not surprisingly amongst the students there are secret societies that have seen generations of the same family pass through them. The societies employ horrific initiation ceremonies and even more horrific discipline methods.

When the body of the first victim is found, after she apparently committed suicide by jumping from one of the highest points in the school, Kim and Bryant are the first Officers on the scene.

Kim is not happy with the circumstances of the death and her suspicions are bourn-out when Keats carries out the autopsy and confirms that the girl was murdered.

The investigation is thwarted at every turn by the family, who are trying to hide their own secrets; by the school, whose principle will only entertain suicide as the cause, as murder would be bad for business; and by the students, who are either in one of the secret societies, or are scared of the pupils that are.

As the story unwinds Kim has to turn to an unlikely ally for advice, which itself holds dangers which I’m sure will hold recriminations.

As the body count begins to rise, and the climax of the book gets ever closer, the tension rises. Right up to the end it’s impossible to find out, or guess, who is running into danger, and how it will play out.

When the end comes it is no anti-climax. I had already read quotes on twitter where people said the they were left “broken” at the end, and that it was an “emotional ending”.

I thought I was ready for it, but no. It is emotional, and I was broken.

This is book 8 in the DI Kim Stone series. It can be read as a stand-alone novel, and it works well as one, but to get full impact read the others.

I was lucky enough to find Angela Marsons when the first Kim Stone novel was released, and have been onboard from the beginning.

I am a prolific reader and I can think of no bigger recommendation than, every time an new book in this series is made available, I put down whatever I’m reading and read what Stone and her team are up to. This one was the best yet.

Roll on Book 9

News just in. It’s not just me that likes these books. The Australians get the 18th May 9 hours before us; And Dying Truth is already number 1 down there.

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Dying Truth Angela Marsons

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What a way to start a book. The prologue see’s DI Kim Stone struggling with a broken leg as she tries to warn people not to enter part of a building where she knows they will be in mortal danger. But who are the people running into the building and what exactly is the danger.

Cut to chapter one, a few days before the prologue. The death of a young girl at a posh, private school.

It’s classical mystery writing technique but, I don’t think I’ve ever read it written in a better way.

As the story builds Kim is supported by all her usual crew, trusty Bryant, laddish Wood, and the quiet Black Country Lass Stacey. Will any of these be charging into danger at the end of the book.

The team are investigating a suspicious death at the private Heathcrest Academy. A private co-ed school, where the elite of midlands society send their children to study alongside sporting, and academic, high achievers.

Not surprisingly amongst the students there are secret societies that have seen generations of the same family pass through them. The societies employ horrific initiation ceremonies and even more horrific discipline methods.

When the body of the first victim is found, after she apparently committed suicide by jumping from one of the highest points in the school, Kim and Bryant are the first Officers on the scene.

Kim is not happy with the circumstances of the death and her suspicions are bourn-out when Keats carries out the autopsy and confirms that the girl was murdered.

The investigation is thwarted at every turn by the family, who are trying to hide their own secrets; by the school, whose principle will only entertain suicide as the cause, as murder would be bad for business; and by the students, who are either in one of the secret societies, or are scared of the pupils that are.

As the story unwinds Kim has to turn to an unlikely ally for advice, which itself holds dangers which I’m sure will hold recriminations.

As the body count begins to rise, and the climax of the book gets ever closer, the tension rises. Right up to the end it’s impossible to find out, or guess, who is running into danger, and how it will play out.

When the end comes it is no anti-climax. I had already read quotes on twitter where people said the they were left “broken” at the end, and that it was an “emotional ending”.

I thought I was ready for it, but no. It is emotional, and I was broken.

This is book 8 in the DI Kim Stone series. It can be read as a stand-alone novel, and it works well as one, but to get full impact read the others.

I was lucky enough to find Angela Marsons when the first Kim Stone novel was released, and have been onboard from the beginning.

I am a prolific reader and I can think of no bigger recommendation than, every time an new book in this series is made available, I put down whatever I’m reading and read what Stone and her team are up to. This one was the best yet.

Roll on Book 9

Pages: 399

Publishers: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 18th May 2018.

The Devil’s Dice Roz Watkins

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I love crime thrillers with a difference. This book blends a hint of Dan Brown, with a rich mix of Angela Marsons, and is set in the Derbyshire Countryside.

Where does the hint of Dan Brown come in? From the very start. A man is found dead in an ancient cave house. As the forensic teams start to examine the scene the lead detective, DI Meg Dalton finds an old carving of the Grim Reaper with the legend “Coming for PHH” The dead man is PHH, the carving is over 100 years old, he died today.

The cave is tied by local legend to the story of people being found hanged in the cave and tunnel system close by. They are called the Labyrinth and are close to the rock formation, The Devils Dice.

Close to the Devils Dice is an old cottage on the edge of a quarry face. For years people have thought of the cottage as being cursed. People who live there are prone to committing suicide, or worse. Guess where PHH lived.

The rich mix of Angela Marsons? Rox Watkins has created a character in DI Meg Dalton that is as fascinating as Angela Marsons’ DI Kim Stone.

Dalton is a single woman dealing with major family issues, which she is trying to keep to herself and not let them disrupt her work. She has a team member DS Jai Sanghera who is determined to help her, but will she let him.

Then there is the crime. Although the crime is wrapped up in ancient folk law it is very much a modern crime, and its investigated in a very realistic manner which makes the story not only believable, but also very enjoyable to read.

As the investigation continues into the death of PHH more deaths occur, are they linked, are they even suspicious, or is all the talk of the curse beginning to affect even the most cynical of Police Officers.

The story has many threads and it’s not until the last couple of chapters that they all come together to create a brilliant end to the book.

It’s not often that I read a crime novel these days which is so full of originality. After all there are only so many ways a crime can be committed, and there are only so many reasons why. I’m sure somebody will point out there have been similar stories, but I haven’t read them, and certainly not in the same book.

A great read and I can’t wait for the next book from Rox Watkins

Pages: 384

Publisher: HQ

Publishing Date UK: 8th March 2018, available to pre-order on Amazon

Broken Bones. Angela Marsons. Blog Blitz. Review and Preview

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On November, the 3rd the latest book in one of the best Police Procedural Series.

Angela Marsons has based her fictional detective in the very real Police Station of Halesowen, in the West Midlands. This is a perfect setting, giving her the opportunity to explore crimes in the urban deprivation of some parts of the industrial Black Country, whilst also having access to some of the wealthier areas of the borders with Staffordshire and Worcester.

The crimes and the people that Angela writes about are realistic and believable. Broken Bones is book 7 in the series but can easily be read as a stand-alone novel, but I guarantee that you’ll read the other 6 if you read this one first.

One of the most outstanding things about Marson’s writing is the way she makes the reader invest in her characters. With each book the story of Stone and her team is developed. Along with some recurring peripheral characters, the team become embedded in the mind of the reader. I find myself looking forward to the next instalment to see what is happening in their professional and person lives, almost as much as I look forward to seeing what crime they are going to be faced with next, and how they are going to solve it.

Marsons also deals with crimes prevalent in the modern day; forced labour, the slave trade, drugs and prostitution; and the effect the crimes have on the criminals, their victims, and the families of those involved.

All-in-all Angela Marsons writes the books I want to read.

Realistic, believable, fast paced, criminal physiological thrillers with no promise of a happy ending.

Below is my review of Broken Bones and a preview of the prologue of the book.

The Review

It’s here, the 7th book in the DI Kim Stone series. I tweeted, as soon as it became available, that Angela Marsons was the only author that I put other books down for, to read hers, when they come out. 

Did it live up to my expectations?

Hell Yes!

Detective Inspector Kim Stone and her team are back. The story starts with a young girl sitting on the roof of a Black Country Tower Block on Christmas Day. She gets pushed off.

 Over the next few weeks as the midlands is covered in snow, a baby is abandoned outside Kim’s Police Station, a prostitute is murdered on her patch, and as the team become involved in solving these crimes they become start to uncover a link to illegal Romanian workers.

 The books takes the reader into the underworld of prostitution, drugs, and modern slavery.

 With two main line of inquiry and Kim has to split her small team into pairs.

 With the team are recovering from the events of a few months earlier, Kim pairs up her young Detective Sergeant Kevin Dawson, with her young Detective Constable Stacey Wood. This partnership is the Yin and Yang of policing. Full-on-Kevin is a typically out-going personality that likes to push the limits, and is full of self-confidence. Black Country girl Stacey, is quiet, methodical, and deep thinking. They both have a positive effect on each other, and bring the best out of each other as people, and as Police Officers. As they investigate the abandoned baby case they are thrust into the world of illegal immigrants and forced labour.

 Meanwhile Kim uses her trusted crusty-old Sergeant, Bryant, to keep her on the right side of the line that divides pushing Police Procedures to the limit, and breaking the law.

 Kim and Bryant look into the death of the prostitute and the investigation takes them to the seedier side of two “titutions” that go hand in hand. Destitution and Prostitution.

 Bully boy pimps, gangs, drugs, the horror of street-walking-sex-trade workers, physical abuse, and grooming are day to day occurrences  for the prostitutes of the Black Country.

 Now, just to make matters worse, somebody has killed one of their own. As Kim and Bryant start their investigation they come across some familiar faces and the reader gets to see the other side of their lives. The vulnerable women and the desperation that leads them into the life they live.

 The story covers the investigations into these crimes, and others that get committed, compelling end.

 When I first started blogging I said I was dubious about prolific authors who publish more than 1 book a year. My thoughts, and experiences, were that a good book takes time to write, and that anybody who managed 2, or more, each year was just churning out words and hoping their fans would keep buying.

 Angela Marsons has proved the exception to that. 7 books, in this series, in a little over 2 years; and over 2 million copies sold. Each book raises the bar, each book is better than the last.

 The only other author that has kept me hooked on a series, of Police procedural books, for this long is Tess Gerritsen with her Rizzoli and Isles series; and that is not bad company to be in.

 She remains my favourite author, and there are a lot of good authors out there at the moment.

The Preview
PROLOGUE

Black Country: Christmas Day

Lauren Goddard sat on the roof of the thirteen-storey block of flats. The winter sun shone a grid onto her bare feet dangling over the edge. The cold breeze nipped at her wiggling toes.

The protective grate had been erected some years ago after a father of seven had thrown himself over. By the time she was eleven she had stolen a pair of wire cutters from the pound shop and fashioned herself an access point to the narrow ledge that was her place of reflection. From this vantage point she could look to the beauty of the Clent Hills in the distance, block out the dank, grubby reality of below.

Hollytree was the place you were sent if Hell was having a spring clean. Problem families from the entire West Midlands were evicted from other estates and housed in Hollytree. It was displacement capital. Communities around the borough breathed sighs of relief as families were evicted. No one cared where they went. It was enough that they were gone and one more ingredient was added to the melting pot.

There was a clear perimeter around the estate over which the police rarely crossed. It was a place where the rapists, child molesters, thieves and ASBO families were put together in one major arena. And then guarded by police from the outside.

But today a peace settled around the estate, giving the illusion that the normal activities of robbing, raping and molesting were on pause because it was Christmas Day. That was bollocks. It was all still going on but to the backdrop of the Queen’s Speech.

Her mother was still slurring her way around the cheerless flat with a glass of gin in her hand. Her one concession to the event was the line of tinsel wrapped haphazardly around her neck as she stumbled from the living room to the kitchen for a refill.

Lauren didn’t expect a present or a card any more. She had once mentioned the excitement of her friends. How they had enjoyed presents, laughter, a roast dinner, a chocolate-filled stocking.

Her mother had laughed and asked if that was the kind of Christmas she wanted.

Lauren had innocently nodded yes.
The woman had clicked the television to the Hallmark Channel and told her to ‘fill her boots’.

Christmas meant nothing to Lauren. But at least she had this. Her one piece of Heaven. Always her safe place. Her escape.

She had disappeared unnoticed up here when she was seven years old and her mother had been falling all over the flat pissed as a fart.

How lucky was she to have been the only one of the four kids her mother had been allowed to keep?

She had escaped up here when her mother’s drinking partner, Roddy, had started pawing at her groin and slobbering into her hair. Her mother had pulled him off, angrily, shouting something about ruining her retirement plan.

She hadn’t understood it when she was nine years old but she had come to understand it now.

She had cried up here on her sixteenth birthday when her mother had introduced her to the family business and to their pimp, Kai Lord.

She’d been up here two months earlier when he had finally found her.

And she’d been up here when she’d told him to fuck right off.

She didn’t want to be saved. It was too late.
Sixteen years of age and already it was too damn late.

Many times she had fantasised about how it would feel to lurch forward onto the wind. She had envisioned herself floating to and fro, gently making the journey like a stray pigeon feather all the way to the ground. Had imagined the feeling of weightlessness of both her body and her mind.

Lauren took a deep breath and exhaled. In just a few minutes it would be time to go to work. Heavy rain, sleet, snow, Christmas – nothing kept the punters away. Trade might be slow but it would still be there. It always was.

She didn’t hear the roof door open or the footsteps that slowly strode towards her.

She didn’t see the hand that pushed her forward.

She only saw the ground as it hurtled towards her
Broken Bones by Angela Marsons, out on 3rd November 2017

UK 🇬🇧 http://amzn.to/2wwkvci

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