THE ESSENCE OF EVIL Rob Sinclair

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I loved this book, not because its set in my home city of Birmingham, not even because the main character is wonderfully flawed, or because the story is brilliant, even though all of those are true. I loved this book because it is at least three stories in one, all wonderfully woven together to make a story that will stay with me for quite a while.

DI Dani Stephens, what a character, is returning to work in the Homicide Team of the West Midlands Police after two years off following an injury.

Dani is returning after being attacked by a killer, who nearly took her life, and worse still it was her twin brother.

As she returns she is immediately involved in a murder investigation, one of the strands of the story, but she is teamed up with a friend as joint SIO. Is this part of her rehabilitation into the team, or is she just not trusted?

Talking about rehabilitation, that’s the second thread of the story. In flash-back chapters we find out how she was injured, and are taken through her two years of rehab, the first six months of which were in hospital as she recovered from a Traumatic Brain Injury.

The third strand of the story is how she received the injury, the relationship  she now has with her twin brother who is serving a life sentence for murders he committed.

Dani is a great character, fiercely independent to the point of pushing everybody away. Paranoid to the point of hysteria, and mucked up in the head by the medication she is still taking, even though she should be cutting back.

So when she develops a theory about the murder she’s investigating it’s not surprising that nobody takes her seriously.

As Dani carries on her investigation she starts to doubt herself, has the brain injury robbed her of the one thing she loves in life, the ability to do her job; or has she got it all right, and should everybody else actually be listening to her instead of doubting her.

This is a belter of a book.

I love complex, dark stories, that could all so easily be real, and this book sits firmly in that category.

 

Pages: 394

Publishers: Canelo Hera

Release date:  12thSeptember 2019

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.

Christmas Recommendation, A Deadly Game, Joanne Griffiths

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A Deadly Game; Joanne Griffiths my second Christmas Present Recommendation

In September I reviewed a book by  a new author, A Deadly Game by Joanne Griffiths

I loved this book for two reasons. The first was that it approaches the crimes in a different way to most books. The book gives a lot of time to the after effects of the crime on the families that become involved. The emotions of the victim’s families and their frustrations when the police don’t seem to be making any headway in finding the killer.

The second thing I loved is the area the crimes are set. I know the area well and Joanne Griffiths does a great job of describing Aston, in Birmingham, and the people who live there. A mix of industry and low-income housing with people struggling to make ends meet, and now the worry of a serial killer equals a perfect mix for this crime thriller.

This book would make a great Christmas present for anybody who likes a good Crime/Psychological Thriller with a decent bit of who-done-it thrown in.

The link below is to my original blog

https://nigeladamsbookworm.wordpress.com/2017/09/21/a-deadly-game-joanne-griffiths/

A Deadly Game Joanne Griffiths

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This book is one of the best I’ve ever read in crime fiction.

What makes it stand out?

This book looks deeper at the families of the victims than any other book I’ve read.

There is only a short lead up to each victim and the reader hardly gets to know them, but the detail put into the effects on the family which are left behind is mesmerising.

Joanne Griffiths has written about a murderer who she manages to keep anonymous right up until his arrest; but its only his name we don’t know.

We know everything he thinks, we know his wife and child, we know that he is an egotistical, sociopathic, wife beater.

The book follows the investigation into a series of sexual assault murders in the Aston area of Birmingham.

As each victim is murdered the Investigating team seem to get nowhere near identifying the killer.

In turn the killer starts to mock the Police through letters sent to the local media.

As in all investigations there are wrong turns, and the frustration of the Police is reflected in the main Police character DS Jim Wardell

Wardell is a transferee, too West Midlands Police, from Yorkshire via Nottingham, and is escaping a failed marriage. He is a decent man but the frustrations of the investigation are beginning to bear down on him.

The scenes in which he and his partner DC Angela Watkins attend the crimes, and then have to interview families, are written in a way that it is hard not to feel the emotions the officers go through.

The story follows the investigation as the Police openly admit that they are nowhere near catching the killer, only for him to kill again. The phrase “waiting for a lucky break” plays a part in every major investigation and it is no different in this book.

But, will that break ever come…

I highly recommend this book to anybody who enjoys crime fiction, or anybody that just enjoys a well written story.

 

Pages: 322

Publisher: Bloodhound Books

Available on Amazon