A Truth For A Truth. Carol Wyer

Carol Wyer

 

Wow. Where do I start.

This has been a great series from the start and its got even better with the addition of this book.

Kate Young has been trying to break the ring of abusers she thinks is responsible for her husbands murder. The problem is the ring includes at least one Senior Police Officer.

Throughout the series she has been driven by the voice in her head, that of her husband.

But now she’s killed somebody, somebody in power, somebody who was part of the ring.

The Police, and probably her team, will be asked to investigate his death.

But first they have to find the body, at first its just a missing persons case and Kate is doing her best to carry on as if she has nothing to do with the death.

Then there’s the bigger problem. Her husbands voice of reason is being fought against, and at times replaced, by another voice. The voice of the man she murdered, and he’s ridiculing her.

As much as this is a great crime story its also the story of a woman having a breakdown, she’s functioning but her mental health is really on the edge.

Can she keep her mind long enough to escape blame.

Can she break the ring and expose everybody involved.

The very last page made me gasp out loud.

There has to be another book. It can’t end there, or can it.

Pages: 411. Publisher: Thomas & Mercer. Publishing Date: 4th April 2023

Don’t You Dare. Jessica Hamilton

As far as dark psychological thrillers go, this is one of the best I’ve read for years.

A totally believable story. A main character that is both engaging, and at times, frustrating. A touch of “spice” but totally in context and not gratuitous. An ending that I just didn’t see coming.

Three friends spend their college years in a tight little group. They are a introverted group playing an ever increasingly dangerous game of dare and forfeit. But who is the manipulator, who is the one really stirring the pot

Years on Hannah is married with two girls, but she still hankers after her best friends Scarlett, who moved to the other side of the world, and Thomas who was her first love, and who she hasn’t seen since college.

Then Thomas returns and initiates a game of dare between just the two of them.

That is when things start to go wrong.

Hannah is the narrator of the story. She’s a functioning alcoholic, even if she won’t admit it. Her husband is at the end of his tether and their relationship is purely functional, for the girls sake.

When Thomas returns the old flame is ignited and she finds a new purpose.

Like before the dares get more dangerous.

Somebody is spying on Hannah and Thomas.

There is a prowler in her neighbourhood and somebody is sending her husband information about her relationship with Thomas.

Can she keep her marriage together, does she even want to.

More importantly can she survive an ever increasingly dangerous situation.

This book drips the story at a constantly steady pace. The tension builds from the first chapter like a dripping tap filling a sink to the point that it’s overflowing without you noticing one specific thing that’s raised the level.

It’s not often these days that a book holds me enough to read it in a day, but this one did. A genuine “I read it in a day” and I loved every page of it.

Pages: TBC. Publishing Date: 16th May 2023 Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

The Deptford Murder. Jez Pinfold

Detective Chief Inspector Bec Pope. A new Police Officer on the book shelves, and hopefully one here to stay.

The Deptford Murder introduces Pope in spectacular fashion.

The first body is found posed in a church, with a personal message to Pope, in the form of a formal invitation, placed neatly on the body.

The second body appears within hours, another message to Pope.

This is the beginning of a cracking story that had me turning the pages well into the night.

Pope is a great character. Typical of a Police Officer her job takes president over her family, even she admits it.

She works late, drinks when she gets home, has trouble sleeping. She lives with her husband and his kids, but it’s not an easy relationship.

As another attack takes place more pressure is put on Pope’s team, mainly born of her own professionalism, but they crack on and work long hours to find the killer before there are more victims.

Inevitable there is strain on family relations, and almost as inevitably there is a close bond between Pope and one of her colleagues. But will “that” line ever be crossed.

As the investigation, and the book, fly along, surprising connections start to be made and the final twist is a real surprise, without being out-of-the-blue, or unrealistic.

This is hopefully the first of a series. Pope, and her team in Londons Met, are really well conceived. As individuals there is great promise, as a team the scope for the stories to come is wide and I can’t wait to read whatever is to come

Print length: 302 pages. Publisher: Joffe. Published: 3rd December 2022.

Their Burning Graves. Helen Phifer

Detective Morgan Brookes is back in the 8th instalment of this series.

One of the things I like about this series is the fact that the lead character is a DC and as such is unburdened by the management of an investigation. She is a cog in a machine that relies on all of the cogs working together towards the same cause, but only managing one line of the investigation.

The isolation of working that single thread, and taking her thoughts and findings back to the regular team meetings is what sets her apart.

Morgan is a huge crime fan, loving true crime documentaries and books, as well as some fictional crime.

She has a way of seeing the hidden meaning, the motivation for a crime, before most of her colleagues. It doesn’t mean she’s always right, but her hypothesis are fascinating, and if they are dispelled still aid the investigation by narrowing down the lines of inquiry.

In this book she’s the first investigator on the scene of a serious house fire. A family of three is dead inside, but not in one of the burned out rooms, in fact there isn’t even any smoke damage in the room in which they are found.

The fact that they are all sitting at the dining table, with plastic bags over their heads, and each with a hand missing, only adds to the intrigue.

Morgan and the rest of the team are soon embroiled in an investigation in a tight knit community within a small town.

Nobody can be ruled out, but he closer the investigation gets to identifying the killer the harder it’s seems to be.

I loved this book. The prologue chapter telegraphs the motive for the killing, but the link, and the identity, of the killer is cleverly hidden right up till the last couple of chapters

Morgan is a great character, as are the main recurring characters. It’s her addiction to crime documentaries and books that originally got me hooked, after all it could have been me that was being written about, but the books and the stories now demand my attention.

This is one of those series I now look out for. As soon as one’s available they go straight to the top of my to-be-read list and become my next read.

They never disappoint.

Pages: 265. Publisher: Bookouture. Publishing Date: 19th December 2022

In the interest of being transparent I must admit to having a vested interest in this book. I gave advice to Helen Phifer on the Fire Scene and the involvement of the Fire Service during the investigation.

I’d like to thank Helen for the generous mention in the acknowledgements section and the choice of name for the Brigade Fire Investigator in the book.

Hidden Scars. Angela Marsons

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Without exaggeration the best book I’ve read

It may be because it’s written by my favourite author.

It may be because it’s the latest in a cracking series.

But I think it’s probably because the author put a lot of emotion into what was written.

Kim Stone nearly died in the last book, Six Graves, this one starts several months later and finds her struggling psychologically and physically.

Her team has been in the hands of another DI whilst she recovered and she can see it being slowly destroyed by his incompetence as a Detective and as a boss, and his failings as a human being.

Will she recover to take the team back from him whilst it’s still intact.

It takes a nasty murder, which he is happy to pass off as a suicide, to tip her over the edge and try and bring the “old Kim” back.

Will she manage it.

This book looks at the roller coaster of recovery from serious injury. How Kim has to struggle internally to get herself in the right place to be effective. Her team is more than her team, it’s her family and they need her.

The crimes in this book are psychologically horrific.

Based on a centre that offers “Correction Therapy” to young gay people.

I’ve not lead a sheltered life but I had no idea this happened. I’m not kidding when I say I disappeared into a Google worm hole for hour’s researching it.

Angela Marsons has dealt with the subject brilliantly.

Every page in this book is gripping as Kim struggles to find her old self.

Her team are there for her every step of the way but it’s a struggle at times.

The dual stories of the investigation into these horrific crimes, and Kims struggles to find, and deal with, her new normality are breathtaking.

And the very last sentence. Wow

Pages: 356. Publisher: Bookouture.

Audio book length: 8 hours 39. Narrator: Jan Cramer

The Soho Killer. Biba Pearce

The latest in the DCI Rob Miller series and it’s another cracker.

For some reason this series flew under my radar until earlier this year, but when I found it i binge read the series and have been waiting for this one ever since.

It didn’t disappoint.

Miller is called to an incident in Soho. It’s to a body which has been dumped in full public view. The victim is dressed in bondage gear, complete with a mask and ball gag. The terror frozen in the victims expression sears into Miller mind and he’s convinced from the start that this death is not the result of a sex game gone wrong.

Millers Superintendent wants the case closing quickly.

When another man is found in similar circumstances Miller is called to the scene by the SIO who is initially assigned the case.

It becomes apparent that the man is a high ranking official in the Secret Services and before the Police can even start the investigation it is taken off them by MI5.

For once Millers Superintendent shows a bit of fortitude and sides with her officers in her disgust at the way they are isolated and gives Miller the green light to carry on investigating this death in relation to the first murder.

I love books that teach me things I didn’t know I didn’t know. In this case it was a bit strange finding out that there are different codes of dress for different preferences in the gay bondage scene.

The story takes the investigation into the bay bars and clubs of Soho.

It looks at one person, within the Police teams, repressed sexuality and the internal struggle they have with themselves.

The main story is great, but it’s the stories within the story that makes this series as good as it is.

I really enjoyed this book, my only regret is I can’t binge read straight into the next one.

Pages: 314. Publisher Joffe Books. Publishing Date: 17th November 2022

Mystic Wind. James Barretto

This book reminds me of the early John Grisham books. A defence attorney battling the odds to save a man from a guilty verdict which will lead to the death penalty.

Jack Marino was a star prosecution attorney, but following an attack on him in his own home he is forced to stand down. He is going through the motions as a corporate lawyer for his father-in-laws huge firm when a request comes out of the blue.

He is asked to defend a man who is charged with murder. What he doesn’t know is that he has been hand picked by his former boss, set up to fail.

Why, because the District Attorney is running in the local election and wants a landmark case under his departments belt to help him get the votes he needs.

What they didn’t take into consideration was that Jack was back on his game. There is no way he is going to let the prosecution railroad his client into the death penalty.

The case agains the man Jack is defending is flimsy. It relies on the testimony of a man who has been granted immunity in the case, a man that Jack thinks is the actual killer.

Blocked at every turn Jack fights the prosecution team, and a Judge who likes to railroad his court along his own lines.

This is a brilliant book. John Grisham was one of my favourite authors for years but I’ve found his recent books have been a bit of a disappointment. James Barretto has filled the hole that Grisham left.

The book holds no punches and grips from the start. Jack Marino is a great character that is easy to engage with. His frustrations in the court, and with the investigation translate to a great story.

Just like Grisham you are not guaranteed a happy ending. That is what makes this book so good. The reader has no idea how it’s going to end. Who is going to come out on top. Right up to the last page there are surprises.

The book is advertised as Book 1 in the Jack Marino series, which gives me a great anticipation of what is to come. Bring on book 2

Publisher: Oceanview Publishing. Pages: 401.

Audio Book running time: 9 hours 10 minutes. Narrator: Dylan Walker

Behind Closed Doors. Carol Wyer

30 years ago Stacey was kidnapped.

Now she’s an investigative journalist missing a little finger and part of her ear. Reminders of a kidnapping she has forced deep into the “forgotten box” in her memories.

The one thing she does remember is the fact that her father refused to pay the ransom, even when bits of her were sent to him, and for that she’ll never forgive him.

When her ex-husband turns up on her doorstep to tell her that his daughter, her step-daughter, had been kidnapped; and that the kidnapper was demanding £500,000, whilst saying they would kill the girl if the Police were informed, Stacey’s memories start to bubble back to the surface.

But why has her ex husband chosen her to be his confidente, is it just her journalistic skills or does he have a more sinister motive.

This is more than just the story of a kidnap. It’s a story of emotions and betrayal, whether that betrayal is actual or just perceived, trust and the psychology of the memory.

It’s a cracking story full of twists and turns, more than once I was convinced my hypothesis were right, only to have them shattered in the next chapter.

Carol Wyer is good at this, it’s a trait of many of hers stories.

Her other traits are realism, believable stories, great characters that I can engage with, or take an instant dislike to.

All of these are right here in this book.

I enjoyed every page.

Pages: 335. Release Date: 6th December 2022

The Silent Dead. Marnie Riches

Detective Sergeant Jackie Cooke is not your average fictional Police Officer, but I think she’s probably one of the most realistic.

A newly separated single mother with twins boys, one of who is the “child from hell” and a few months old little girl.

She is battling her ex partner, who wants to take her for a much as he can, having contributed very little, and relies on her mother, who lives in a granny-flat in the basement, for child care.

When she’s at work she’s worried about her kids and the over reliance she places on her mom. When she’s at home she can’t stop thinking about her cases.

Her work is suffering because of her home life, and her home life is suffering because of her work.

The icing on the cake for Cooke is that she was a DI, but stood down when she became pregnant with her daughter, and the new DI is, in her opinion, inept.

So that’s the backdrop to the story and it really adds a touch of reality that helped me engage with Cooke.

When she attends a murder scene to find out that it’s an old school friend of hers who has been killed, she is caught slightly off guard.

When the investigation starts to take her into the world of, online dating, and seedy hook ups she wonders what her old friend had got herself into in the years they had been out of contact.

The fact that more murders show a similar MO, leads Cooke and her Sergeant into the murky world of on line hook ups.

I have come across the phrase Incel in a few books recently, but Marnie Riches seems to have hit the right balance of menace and desperation that people that fall into that category exude and suffer.

I love the main characters in this book.

The crimes are really well considered and fit the story perfectly.

A great read.

Pages: 325. Publisher: Bookouture. Publishing Date 1st November 2022

The Body In The Stairwell. Nick Louth

The latest in the DCI Craig Gillard series, and a great story. I just think that if you’re a Gillard fan you are going to be a bit disappointed, as although he’s the lead Police Character, he doesn’t actually appear much in the book.

The story is one of revenge. An English accountant has just served 6 months in an American jail for laundering drugs money for an American gang.

He got a short sentence compared to the gang bosses because he gave evidence against them. Now two of them are dead and one, the fiercest of all of them, has sworn revenge.

The Reptile, as he is known because of a skin condition, is out of segregation and plotting his revenge. Still locked in a maximum security jail in the middle of the desert he shouldn’t be a threat.

But he gets his hand on a smart phone, how hard should it be to find the English Accountant.

Meanwhile the Accountant is in serious financial difficulties. He had a life style funded by his cut of the laundered drug money and was living well beyond his means.

He has a wife and a teenage daughter, they both know, and are both trying to fly below the radar, staying off social media and out of the headlines.

The Reptile is determined and working with the slimmest slither of information starts to use his smart phone to track down the Accountant.

The story centres on the naivety of young teenagers and the information they share. The dogged determination of a desperate man, out for revenge.

Ultimately it’s a bit of an eye opener. It’s a psychological thriller based around internet stalking and grooming.

Young girls desperate for an internet presence, sharing hat they think is trivial information. All of this acting as a mosaic letting the Reptile gradually build a picture of a lifestyle and ultimately a location.

Then it’s time to wreak revenge, and he’s really going to make somebody suffer.

I really enjoy this series. Nick Louth brings a lot of realism to his books and although I mentioned Gillard is not in this book very much, it doesn’t distract from what is a very good story and a cautionary tail.

I wondered how easy it is to dig into a persons life, via social media, whilst I was reading this book. So I gave it a go. Believe me it’s scary.

Pages: 274. Publisher: Canelo Crime. Publishing date: 22nd September 2022