CHILDS PLAY Kia Abdullah

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A month ago I reviewed the new book by Kia Abdullah, Take it Back, a dark story based around a rape accusation. When I read that book, I noticed that Kia had written another, Childs Play, and decided to give it a go, and I’m glad I did.

Here’s the “but” that usually follows a statement like that, it’s a tough read on a tough subject, and Kia holds no punches, its explicit where it needs to be and that makes the story really good, but it’s not going to be to everybody’s taste.

Allegra seems to have it all, her dream job in a small graphic design company, a nice home, and a successful boyfriend that thinks she’s amazing.

Then one day her boss announces he’s sold the company and that the small workforce has no place in the new multi-national business that has taken it over.

Days before this Allegra had been approached by Michael who wanted to recruit her to a specialist agency working for the government, but it’s not her graphic design skills he thinks will make her a good agent. It’s her childish looks.

The agency specialises in catching paedophiles by baiting them with legal age women, and men, that look underage.

Allegra can pass as a sixteen year old at the best of times and is always getting ID’d at pubs, this team can make her look 13, and they have a very specific target that they want her to go after.

There are subplots running throughout this story, all of which revolve around Allegra, and the most compulsive for me, was the way she changes during her training, going from being horrified at what she sees, to becoming totally desensitised.

The cover of this book says “If James Paterson wrote 50 Shades of Grey”. I couldn’t disagree more, Kia Abdullah is a much better writer than Paterson, and the book is more like a domestic version of Red Sparrow.

If you like gritty, thought provoking crime drama, this book is right up your street, but if you are put off by graphic scenes, maybe it’s not for you, but you’re missing out on a great book.

Pages: 250

Publishers: Amazon media and Revenge Ink

Available now

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

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

GONE Leona Deakin

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People are going missing, nothing unusual in that, people go missing every day, but some of these people are being given a card with a message on it just before they disappear.

On the card is the message “Happy First Birthday. Dare To Play The Game” For some reason the Police aren’t linking the cases, and where they do, they deem the missing person to be old enough, and in good enough health, for them not to be seen as vulnerable.

Dr Augusta Bloom is a Psychologist who has teamed up with Ex MI6 officer Marcus Jameson to carry out independent investigations.

One of the woman that goes missing is related, in a tenuous way to Marcus, and he is asked to look into the case.

Between him and Dr Augusta they start to identify a worrying trend in the type of person that has gone missing after being invited to play the game.

But why are people being asked to play, and what is the end game.

As the two investigate secrets are uncovered which surprise everybody, and scare more than a few.

Can Dr Augusta, the shy almost introvert Psychologist, get into the mind of whoever is collecting these people. While she tries Marcus uses his investigative skills, and a few contacts from his Secret Service past to try to link all of victims.

The main part of this story is the hunt for the missing people, but what I found really intriguing was who was being invited to play the game, and the purpose they were asked to join in. It would not be a big leap of faith to see this happen in real life, and with frightening consequences.

A good read.

 

Pages: 384

Publisher: Black Swan

Publishing Date: 3rdOctober 2019

FEAR IN THE LAKES Graham Smith

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The beautiful DC Beth Young is back, and back with a sickening crime to investigate.

A man has been attacked in his home, nearly every bone in his body has been broken in a systematic attack. What is even more disturbing is the reveal of how the attack took place.

As the man fights for his life in hospital Beth tries to find his attacker, but the motive for such a specific attack is evading her and her small team, and it doesn’t help that the man’s wife knows nothing about his early life.

With such an unusual crime it is a surprise when another victim is found with similar wounds.

The team continue to struggle to find any leads until they get a break……but that would spoil the book, so I’ll leave it there.

Graham Smith has created a great character in Beth Young. I if you have read any of the previous books you will know that her beauty is mired by a wicked scar on one side of her face. It happened before she joined the police and the police never caught the person who bottled her in a pub, but she got a look at a distinctive tattoo on the neck of one of the men who was fighting when she got in the way and received the injury.

She’s been looking for that tattoo  since she joined the police. This has formed a great back story through the series, and the cliff hanger in the last book was she found her man. But what is she going to do about it?

This forms a brilliant backdrop to the main story in this book. How does a cop get revenge for a crime that happened to her years ago…….again no spoilers

This series is set in the Lake District, and area which most people consider a nice quiet area of countryside to holiday in. Graham Smith looks at it from another angle. Transient communities, big isolated houses, remote areas where nobody can witness crimes. It is an ideal place to set a crime series, and Graham uses it to its full extent.

Don’t be fooled by the setting. This is not some cosy-crime story. This is a full-on story of a terrible series of crimes that would rock any community. It is a terrific read.

Pages: 356

Publishers: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 12thJuly 2019

Whispers in the Night. D.K Hood

As a child what can be more scary than waking up in the middle of the night and seeing a stranger in your room

As a parent what can be more scary than your child coming into your room saying there’s a stranger in her room

What could be more scary than checking the room and finding nothing, only for the child to go missing

Or you could be the Detective that’s sent a video of the missing child and are told you only have a few hours to find her before she dies.

Detective Jenna Alton is the detective who receives the video, and assembles her team the start the search

Too soon another message arrives from the kidnapper, and it’s not what Jenna wants to hear

That is just the start to a book which had me engrossed from start to finish.

The stories in this series are set in Black Rock Falls, a large sleepy town that is growing in size by the month

The small Police Department runs well with the main Detectives Jenna Alton and her Deputy David Kane investigating some serious crimes involving serial killers

The series is like Midsummer Murders on steroids, and as well as the main characters there are some great bit-part-players, the best of which is the local Medical Examiner who doubles up as the Police Departments CSI, he’s even recruited his daughters to help him

I’ve read all of this series, and I’m always richly anticipating the next. Whispers in the Night didn’t disappoint. It’s is fast paced, without being frantic. It’s gritty, without being gory. It is far from a cosy Crime drama, but illicit a cosy read

I really can’t wait till the next one comes out

Pages: 355

Publisher: Bookouture

Available now

The Girl In The Grave Helen Phifer

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Introducing Forensic Pathologist Beth Adams. A woman in her mid-thirties who carries the physical and mental scars of an event that happened 7 years ago.

Beth is a great character, she is living in a big house on a lake, in solitude, avoiding unnecessary contact with strangers. The house has the best of security systems and even a panic room. As the main story unfolds a second story describing the events of 7 years ago are told explaining why Beth is so introvert and reclusive.

Having said that she is beginning to come out of herself with the help of a few trusted friends, and one of her best friends is DS Josh Walker.

So when Beth is sent to the scene of an exhumation of a recently buried woman, where a second body has been found underneath the coffin, she is glad to see Josh is there as the head of the Police team.

The investigation into the death of the young woman found in the grave gives Beth a chance to flex her brain, and ignoring her fears, she starts to look at the girl’s death and how she ended up in the grave.

This leads to a closer working relationship with Josh, and Beth actually starts to feel normal again for the first time in years.

Just like all crime thrillers this peace of mind doesn’t last long. Somebody is stalking Beth and starts to leave her little surprise presents.

This story runs along at a cracking pace. It’s a Police Procedural, with Josh and Beth, being the lead characters. It’s a psychological thriller with the stalking of Beth, and the pressure put on her by the crimes which take place during the investigation.

It’s also an introduction to a series which I can’t wait to develop.

The character of Beth is brilliantly written as a vulnerable yet determined woman.

The story that Josh brings is just as enthralling. I had a lot of empathy for this guy.

There seems to be more crime series than ever on the shelves at the moment, and I have to admit to yearning for more one offs where I could just read-and -forget.

But, there is plenty of room on my shelves for Beth Adams, not only will she always be welcome, but I’m looking forward to meeting her again.

Pages: 264

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing date: 16thJuly 2017