Their Silent Graves. Carla Kovach

If ever a book hit the right buttons for a psychological thriller it’s this one. Hitting one of the most basics of our primordial fears, being buried alive.

The first murder is nearly a quarter of a century ago, but now the same method is being used again, and to make matters worse, the first victim is murdered at Halloween

DI Gina Harte has had a tough past, her back story has come out in previous books in this series, but her mental baggage really comes to the fore during this investigation.

She is being sent threats that would only make sense if they came from her husband, her dead husband. So is somebody playing with Gina’s head whilst she tries to investigate the latest series of murders. Does somebody connected with the murders have intimate knowledge of her past, or is the unthinkable happening.

There are two threads to this story. The murders, and Gina, and both are written in a way that gripped me from the start and I got lost in this book from page one, right up to the last page.

Carla Kovach has written a series of books that can all be read as stand alone but to get the best out of the series, it’s best to read them all in order. If you haven’t started the series yet I’m jealous, because you are in for a hell of a ride.

Gina Hart, and the regular characters in the series, are so realistic I feel like I’ve actually met them. The crimes and the way they are portrayed are so realistic it’s almost as if you’re reading news reports of something that’s happening now

But the most striking thing is the way Kovach seamlessly stitches them all together. If ever a book series was screaming out to be made into a TV series this is it.

Pages: 380

Publisher: Bookouture

Available now.

Containment. Nick Thacker

A British family on holiday in Canada accidentally cross the boarder into the US. Picked up by a local cop for illegal entry they end up in a small town police station. Days later the adults are dead.

At first it seems they have picked up a deadly virus. But soon it becomes apparent that there’s more to it than that.

Internal politics in the US Immigration and Customs sees Director Derek Biggs need to find an outside source to help him get to the source of the contamination

Enter ex US Army, and ex Boston Police Officer, Jacob Parker, a loner living a life of solitude in rural Massachusetts.

Parker puts together a small team, Beau Shaw a serving Boston Detective, and a virus expert Eliza Mendoza.

As more people become affected by the virus the team become more suspicious as the breakouts are connected to remote immigration centres across America

Is this a naturally occurring disease, or is it some kind of terrorist attack.

The race is on, not everybody is in this to help, not everybody is playing the team game, but who is the odd one out.

A great modern day story that really does not need any big leaps of faith from the reader.

The relationship between the team and the government, the internal relationships in the team, are all part of the suspense.

Will the team find the source of the infections, and is there somebody who is trying to bring chaos to America, or is it a more personal target.

Or, is it just another virulent disease that could bring the country to its knees. Sound Familiar?

A good suspenseful read that had me enthralled for a whole weekend, and then had my mind racing for weeks.

Pages: 315. Publisher: Bookouture, Available now.

Her Shallow Grave. D.K. Hood

Her Shallow Grave.  D.K. Hood

If I say “There’s another serial killer in Black Rock Falls” it sounds like I’m about to start a bad review, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Yes this is the 9th in the Kane and Alton series but it’s not a series that gets old. This book, just like all the others is a page turning crime thriller which crosses into the psychological thriller genre really nicely.

For those that haven’t read these books before Sheriff Jenna Alton is a former DEA Special Agent who is living under a new name to keep her safe. Her deputy, Dave Kane, is ex special forces, who is grieving for his wife years after she was killed by a car bomb.

In fact all of the small team that carries out investigations in Black Rock Falls have fascinating ongoing stories.

So when body parts are found arranged in a tree close to a popular ski resort the team are immediately in the thick of it.

Those body parts belong to more than one person, and as the story unwinds more weird body dumps are found, none stranger than the chimney scene, but no spoilers.

But why are no people getting reported missing, who are the victims and where are they coming from.

The team gets close a couple of times but the discoveries continue.

Meanwhile a young woman has been kidnapped and nobody has noticed she’s missing. We can all guess how she’s going to end up, but what is going to happen to her before she dies.

I’ve mentioned this before, but it describes this series perfectly for the British readers. Black Rock Falls is like Midsummer on crack.

A great series that just seems to get better with each book.

Publishers: Bookouture

Pages: 350

Available now.

Somebody’s Daughter. Carol Wyer

This is one of those blogs I write with a bit of trepidation.

The thing is I love the series. I love the tribulations that, the now DCI, Natalie Ward has been through, not just professionally but in her personal life.

So why do I write in trepidation, because this is the last in the series for a while whilst Carol Wyer concentrates on a new series, which by the way is brilliant.

So what can you expect from Somebody’s Daughter.

A fantastic story? Definitely

Good Characters? Most definitely

A defining end to suggest the end of the series? Most definitely NOT. The door is certainly left open for Natalie to return.

Yes it is the latest in a series, but this book can easily be read as a stand-alone, in fact it’s almost a fresh start for the main character as she has recently been promoted and is now Detective Chief Inspector Natalie Ward.

The star of this book is the crime and the victims. I try to never give spoilers and this all happens in the first few chapters so I’m not giving much away. Two young girls who fall for the wrong man, a drug addict who grooms girls, then forces them into prostitution to feed his habit, are murdered.

The investigation team is led by the newly promoted DI Lucy Carmichael, but with so many possible strands to the investigation where does she start. Is this case too big for the new boss.

The story looks at, family relations, bullying, grooming, sex work, drug taking, and that’s just the crime.

Then it looks at the problems caused by new dynamics. Lucy’s new dynamic of being the team leader and dealing with the petty jealousies of some subordinates, whilst worrying about what her superiors think.

Natalie’s new dynamic of being the DCI with a less hands on approach whilst mentoring Lucy through being in charge of her first major investigation. All the time dealing with her new dynamic at home.

The way Carol Wyer keeps it real has always let me enjoy her books more than most others.

So, not the end for Natalie Ward, just a break for a while.

I’m already looking forward to see how Carol Wyer reintroduces her. How long it will be till she come back, I don’t know, but it can’t come soon enough.

Pages: 329
Publisher: Bookouture
Publishing Date: 9th July 2020

KILLING MIND. ANGELA MARSONS

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I have been lucky enough to be in to this series since it started, and here, in book 12, we have the best one yet.

Where Angela Marsons manages to pull new, original, and gripping plots from, whilst keeping us engaged in her cast of central characters, is a mystery but long may it continue.

Detective Inspector Kim Stone works out of Halesowen Police Station. A perfect place to set a crime series as it sits right on the edge of the Black Country and the rambling countryside, giving Angela plenty of scope to have realistic crimes in real areas.

This book stretches across both. Vulnerable people are being recruited around Dudley and introduced to a “retreat” at the remote Unity Farm.

That alone wouldn’t come on Kim’s horizon but, when a girl is found dead that does. At first inspection it looks like a suicide but something pricks at Kim’s mind and she looks a bit deeper. Before long she is convinced the girl has been murdered and that the scene has been staged.

Why did the girls social media footprint end 3 years ago.  Why are her parents behaving suspiciously when they talk to the Police.

Meanwhile more bodies are found and some tenacious work by one of the team manages to link the finds with people who went missing under dubious circumstances

Eventually Unity farm becomes the focus of inquiries but how can the team penetrate the façade that the owner puts up of an innocent retreat.

I’m not taking this any further because I don’t want to give the plot away. Needless to say it’s a gripping story, and for those of you who have read the other books you know that nobody is safe and that not all of the books have a happy ending.

This made this book even more suspenseful. There were time when I caught myself holding my breath. There were other times when I exclaimed out loud, prompting raised eyebrow from my wife.

Did I enjoy the book? Hell yes!!

Pages: 430

Publisher: Bookouture

Available now.

 

 

THE SECRET ADMIRER. CAROL WYER

The Secret Admirer.      Carol Wyer

When I reviewed the last book in this series I asked, How is Carol going to top that.

Well she has, and she’s done it in style.

The start of the book picks up 3 months after the end of the previous one and finds DI Natalie Ward living on her own, in a small flat, getting ready to return to work for the first time since the shocking conclusion of Blossom Twins.

She’s not sure of how she is going to react to some of the scenes she knows she is going to have to attend, the first one couldn’t be much worse.

A young woman has had Acid thrown in her face and has died a horrible death.

When a second murder follows quit quickly afterwards it appears to be related.

With no time for a gradual reintroduction to work, and battling her own demons, Nat and her team are in a race against time to stop a killer who is quickly escalating.

This book, like all of Carol Wyer’s Books, had me gripped from the very beginning, but where Carols books differ from so many others is that she keeps me hooked with every chapter.

She recognises that many crimes affect small groups of people, and manages to find a way of engaging me with every character, in her small cast of characters

Natalie, herself, is one of the best fictional cops I’ve ever read about. Her story across the series has been fascinating, and at times heart breaking.

The occasional characters which make up her team, and her family, are stunningly written and add a depth to each book with their own intertwining story-lines.

But, in my opinion, the criminals and victims stories always give the books extra edge.

All of these combine in this book. Natalie and her ongoing emotional and mental struggles. The small community of characters involved in the crime, two houses full of students, and their families. The twist in the plot which sees Natalie’s husband come under suspicion.

At 413 pages this book is a bit longer than the average book released these days, but every page holds something. As the DJ’s of old used to say it’s “All Thriller and No Filler”

Could this book be read as a stand-alone? Yes

Should this book be read as a stand-alone. No, why would anybody want to miss out on the rest of the series.

A brilliant read from one of my favourite authors.

Pages: 413

Publisher: Bookouture

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 

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

See Them Run Marion Todd

See Them Run   Marion Todd

A new author and the start of a new series.

After years of mainly American Crime books on the shelves in bookshops and supermarkets there has been a resurgence of good British Crime over the Last few years. Series by people such as Angela Marsons, Graham Smith, Carol Wyer are best sellers, and are flying of the physical and e-shelves.

Marion Todd is going to be right at home with this crowd.

This book introduces us to DI Clare Mackay, who is working out of a Police Station in the golfing and tourist town of St Andrews. It’s a bit quieter than her old posting in Glasgow, as part of the Armed Response Team, but she’s settling in nicely.

Called out to an early morning hit-and-run should be a tragic, but routine incident, until it’s found that the man was hit by a car which then reversed back over him to finish the job.

During the scene examination a card with the number 4 written on it.

The next day the same again, this time with a card with the number 3.

There’s obviously a killer out there working their way through a list with at least two other victims out there, but how does Mackay and her small team identify them. First, they have to find the thing that links the first two victims, and they couldn’t be two more different people.

As the new-comer from the “Big City” Mackay is watched closely by her boss to see if she’s up to carrying out this high profile investigation, whilst at the same time having the full backing of her team.

Mackay has another thing niggling at her mind throughout the investigation. As a Fire Arms Officer she had shot and killed a man. Although it was cleared, by the Police, as a justifiable act the family of the man are looking to take out a private prosecution.

This is where Marion Todd has me hooked with her main character. The effect, on a Police Officer after they have been involved in a shooting, is often brushed over. The macho “it’s part of the job” attitude employed, by both sexes, is not real. Todd has done a really good job of looking at the effect it has on an Mackay.

I’m hoping this is going to be the beginning of a really good series, it’s definitely got off to a cracking start.

 

Pages: 292

Publisher: Canelo

Available now

BROKEN SOULS Patricia Gibney

I’ve been with this series from the start and its one of the few that goes straight to the top of my to-be-read pile as soon as it becomes available.

Patricia Gibney has a wonderful talent for writing stories with multiple strands whilst keeping the character count down.

She uses the incestuous nature of criminals, and the vulnerability of victims, to make the books realistic and enthralling.

The main character is Lottie Parker, and those familiar with the series will be aware of the ups and downs of her life and the life of her family. Although the family are front and centre in most of the books, all of them can easily be read as stand-alone crime thrillers. Just as much detail is put into her team and their continuing story.

But as well as her family, and her team, the main threads of each story revolve around the crimes, and they are all brilliant.

Broken Souls starts with the discovery of a woman hanging in a bathroom, dressed in a wedding dress. Nobody thinks this is suicide but when another woman dies in similar circumstances everybody’s  worst  fears are confirmed.

But, there are more crimes taking place and Lottie becomes convinced that the life of a young girl is in danger.

Never one for sticking too closely to the rules Lottie goes a bit maverick in her efforts to solve the crime and locate the young girl.

In doing so will she put herself into danger.

This book is a real page turner, if I had the time it would have been a one sitting read, unfortunately things like work get in the way.

The story is addictive and fast paced. It’s not often a cup of coffee gets chance to go cold on me but I got so carried away towards the end of this book, one went stone cold.

An absolute gem of a series, and absolute gem of a book.

Pages: 446

Publisher: Bookouture

Available now