The Creak On The Stairs:

A split time book with a murder investigation set in 2017. The seeds for the murder start in 1989, and as the past races towards the current the devastating life of a young girl reveals reasons for the murder, but the end still came as a surprise

I love books set in Iceland, a whole country that can give a story a small town, cosy-crime, feel.

Detective Elma returns to her home town after serving as an officer in Reykjavik. It should be a move to a quiet tranquil area but her first job is to investigate the murder of a woman found on the rocks below the lighthouse

As with all small towns everybody seems to know everybody, but nobody seems to know what goes on behind closed doors.

The victim is a woman that works for an airline and should be on a flight to Canada, or that’s what her husband thought. So why has she been found on the rocks, outside a town she swore she’d never return to, a town she hates.

As the investigation gets underway a second story is told from a young girls point of view, a story of innocence stolen, a story of the building of a monster, but why did nobody intervene.

This is not a complex book. It two main characters, Elma the returning detective, and Elisabet, the little girl growing up in 1989, the body on the rocks.

The mystery lies in the past, the way Elisabet transforms through her childhood, the sufferings that turn her into what she becomes.

Can Elma connect the dots. It’s not easy as much of the information she needs is from Elisabet childhood, from teachers and other school children.

By knitting together peoples half memories, false memories, and imposed memories she may be able to get to the bottom of the current day murder.

Pages: 315. Publisher: Orenda Books Available now

The Body On The Moor. Nick Louth

Usual lead character DCI Craig Gillard takes a bit of a back seat in this book.

That’s because the story revolves more around the people that are involved in a crime from the civilian side.

A local head master is found beheaded in his car.

Who would target a man that is held in fairly high regard by most, but then we find out about the real man, and it seems there could be a few people who would be happy to see him dead.

Then there’s a Barrister who is really down on her luck, financially she is skint, her personal and professional life is stuck in a rut.

When she finds a young runaway living in her garden she finds that strangely the girl knows way too much about her life.

Dizzy, the runaway, has a terrible history, running away from home at 13, abused, by her “boyfriend” who got her addicted to drugs and then forced her into prostitution, working for one of the worst gang bosses in the country, she has escaped and is on the run in fear of her life.

So why chose Barrister Julia McGann’s garden to sleep in, and how does she know so much about her.

Gillard’s team are investigating the death of the headless headmaster, now that would have been a great title for a book. The more they dig into his life the more sleazy it looks.

The various affairs, the reluctant cuckold wife, the aggrieved students, the list of potential suspects seems endless, but the one woman they think most likely is proving impossible to identify.

This is one of those stories that had to be written from outside of the police prospective. It had to be written with Julia McGann as the main character. It is better for showing issues the police could not know about.

It’s a book about choices and the way one choice becomes the first strand of a spiders web, which when complete is a really complex structure.

That’s what this story is, a complex spiders web, and it’s brilliant.

Pages: 352 Publisher: Canelo. Available now

The Crying House B.R Spangler

The book starts 30 years ago with a young boy being abused by his mother, but is this the making of a monster?

The abuse is carried out in a specific way, a way I haven’t heard of before, and that’s not the only first in this book.

The setting for the place the first bodies are found when the story moves to the current day, is the second. Some houses which have been abandoned are being used by local youths to party. The houses are suffering from rising sea levels and costal erosion and could collapse at any time.

The first body appears to be a consequence of careless partying, or is it?

The second body, found in the upper floors has had its blood drained and is mummified in salt, and that is the link back to the abused boy thirty years previously.

Casey White is still convalescing but is keen to lead the investigation into both deaths.

As she looks at old crimes she realises that a similar murder had happened years ago, but that the man who committed it is still in prison. He’s old, he’s frail, he’s incarcerated, he can’t be responsible can he?

Another body, a note held in its hand.

Casey’s daughter s still missing, she still sees her, she still worries about her, the note sends her into paranoia, will her daughter be next.

Spangler writes as if he’s writing for me. He ticks all my boxes, original crimes, a great setting, a main character I can engage with, peripheral characters that hold my interest, and ongoing stories that run through the series, each book its own cracking story.

This is Book 4 in the Detective Casey White series, yes it can be read as a standalone, but it’s much better read in order.

Pages: 281. Publisher: Bookouture. Available now

Next of Kin Kia Abdullah

This is the third book I’ve read by Kia Abdullah and I think I might have to admit to a bit of an obsession.

Her books come from a completely different perspective to everybody else’s

She looks at multiple layers, giving characters equal weight, each developing their own prospective on what is happening through the story.

In this book two sisters Leila and Yasmin are close, both geographically and emotionally.

Leila is a successful Architect, a busy woman, who has had trouble starting a family and is living apart from her partner.

Yasmin is a happy family woman with a 3 year old son.

That is until one day Yasmins husband asks Laila to drop the boy off at day care because he’s had an urgent phone call from work.

The problem is, on the way to day care, Leila also gets an urgent phone call, and with the little boy asleep in a car seat behind her, she forgets he’s there, parks the car, and runs into the office.

It’s the hottest day of the year.

When Yasmin’s husband gets a welfare phone call asking why his son hasn’t been dropped off at day care he phones Laila immediately. Then she remembers the little boy is still in the car.

What follows is a compulsive story that looks at the family dynamics between the two sisters and their partners.

It looks at the blame, and guilt, it explores peoples hidden feelings, emotions, empathies, and guilts, or lack of.

Add into the mix a tenacious Detective Sergeant who just keeps digging and chipping away at everybody’s story and you have one hell of a book.

Is this a tragic accident caused by a busy lifestyle, or is it something more sinister.

Should somebody be officially blamed, and charged with the boys death.

Does anybody blame themselves, or more to the fact is there anybody who doesn’t.

The best thing about Kia Abdullah’s writing is the way it plays with your mind. This book like the previous two I’ve read had me changing allegiances time and time again.

The one thing that is also certain about her books is it ain’t over, till it’s over.

Pages: 384. Publisher: HQ Release Date: 2nd September 2021

Previous reviews of Kia Abdullah Books

Child’s play. https://nigeladamsbookworm.com/2019/08/19/childs-play-kia-abdullah/

Take it Back. https://nigeladamsbookworm.com/2019/07/07/take-it-back-kia-abdullah/

Cross My Heart. D.K Hood

I read on another review that this book had a very dark beginning. That was an understatement.

This is the 12th book in the Kane and Alton series and if you are a fan you will know that DK Hood can come up with some chilling storylines, but in this one she’s surpassed herself.

With her sidekick, partner, and protector Dave Kane away at a conference Sheriff Jena Alton is home alone, in her house, in the woods.

What she doesn’t yet know is that there is a man in the mountains, capturing women and teasing them, by allowing them to escape and then hunting them down like game animals. Until he gets fed up of them, then he………..I’ll leave that to your imagination but I’d bet you won’t come up with what.

As Jenna lies alone in bed with just Dave’s dog, and her cat for company a vicious storm hits, and during it somebody launches an attack on her house.

After the storm the a grisly discovery is made attached to her house, with a message.

The message, and the method of attack, lead the team to think of one man. The problem is he is prison, for life, and Jenna put him there.

What follows is a story that is a heady mix of CJ Box and Greg Iles. Box for the way the story leads to the mountain trails and into the woods, Iles for the unfiltered psychological edge. Stunning

Some of the scenes in the book are so well portrayed I found myself sweating for no other reason than the tension that was in the story.

It ticks all the psychological fears that are inherent in most people, storms, fires, being out in the woodlands on mountains in the dark, being stalked by somebody you just can’t get away from. Hood has written what many people see in their nightmares.

But it’s all well within the realms of believable realism and at no point did I think “no, that’s not going to happen”

A great book in a great series.

Does it need reading in the correct sequence, it would be better, but it could be read as a standalone.

Publisher: Bookouture. Pages: 290

A Place To Bury Strangers. Mark Dawson

In my last review of one of Mark Dawson’s books I said Atticus Priest was a mix of Sherlock Holmes and Cormoran Strike, I should have said “ the perfect mix”

Priest is just the on the right side of arrogance, just on the right side of ignorant, just on the right side of insecure about his feelings.

But he is very much on the right side of genius when it comes to observations, deductions, and making connections other people would take ages to get to.

In this book Priest is approached by his ex-colleague, ex-boss, ex-lover DCI Mackenzie (Mack) Jones to help her work out where the rest of the body, that goes with the femur found by a dog, is located.

When he finds a disrupted grave in an abandoned grave yard, in an abandoned village, on a military firing range he has no idea what a large investigation it is going to lead to. Nor does he know just how involved he is going to become, and has been involved with.

It sounds complex, but it’s not. It’s a brilliant story that flows brilliantly but is hard to comment on without giving away spoilers.

The book starts with the end of the trial that resulted from the investigation Atticus carried out in the last book.

His business is booming because of the publicity the case brought.

So it’s surprising when he takes on the case of a missing teenager.

It’s not so surprising that when Mack comes calling he goes to her aid.

Trying to concentrate on both cases Atticus is also caught up in his feelings for Mack, but typically he doesn’t know how to deal with them.

Can he keep his mind straight enough to not miss something.

The body count at the abandoned church rises, and the bodies are much fresher in the ground than they should be.

I would highly recommend reading this book, but I’d make sure you read the other book in the series first click the link below for my review of that one. ⤵️⤵️

https://nigeladamsbookworm.com/2021/06/10/the-house-in-the-woods-mark-dawson/

Publisher: Unputdownable. Pages: 436

Circles of Confusion. JJ Graftoon

A unique book for me. One that doesn’t look at a crime from the police point of view. One that doesn’t look to solve a murder or other serious crime.

This one is a story of abuse. The story of a young woman graduating from University. One with an empathy for street prostitutes.

Jilly is about to submit her final project. A photographic assignment in which she has documented the lives of local, street based, sex workers.

Her boyfriend Rob has never liked her associating with, in his words “prossies” But in her own way Jilly has used him in the same way the sex workers use their clients, for gain.

She doesn’t love him, in fact she doesn’t really like him, but he has put a roof over her head, kept her fed and safe, and brought her a high end computer to do her work on, so she can put up with the sex.

What she can’t put up with is his increasing mental, and occasional physical abuse, especially when he’s drunk. And when he starts to humiliate her in front of his best friend and drinking buddy Nige, she decides it’s time to move on.

But not before she does a favour for a friend, and goes to a sex workers house to take some “nice family photos” for her.

Tina is too old to be on the streets, her husband, and pimp, Noel is against the photos but he, and their son Leon, take part in the session.

It’s when one of the candid shots make it into the national press that things start to spiral out of control.

Jilly wants to help Gina, but how, without making things worse.

This is a cracking book that enthralled me from page one.

Circles of Confusion is a great title but it’s misleading, there is nothing confusing about this story.

Spirals, free falling, out of control are much more descriptive.

The characters in this book are great.

The violence and abuse are alluded to without graphic depictions, and in my opinion that makes the book more tense.

It’s a tough read in parts but the subject is treated well by the author, without reducing the serious issues it covers.

A great read

Pages: 283. Publisher: Independently Published. Available on Amazon

The Corfe Castle Murders. Rachel McLean

I would say this is the start of a new series but actually it’s more of a spin-off from McLeans “Deadly ….” series set in Birmingham

In this series DCI Lesley Clarke is seconded to Dorset, to recover from her injuries suffered during a Bomb attack in Birmingham

But if she thought she was in for a gentle introduction, to a quiet life, she would be very disappointed

24 hours before she is due to start her new duties she is the first Officer on a the scene when a body is discovered at an archaeological dig. This body is fresh, in fact it’s one of the team carrying out the dig.

The investigation into the murder takes Clarke and her new team into the world of academia, the murky ways of a wayward Professor, who has a liking for young ladies, and the money involved in funding major projects.

The crime investigation is a great story but the way McLean has used it to set up the next books in the series is brilliant.

Clarke herself is a great character, abrasive with a colourful approach to language. She is used to working her teams flat out in a busy metropolitan setting.

What she finds when she arrives in Dorset is a way more laid back approach, and her main man, her Sergeant, is something that she has never come across before.

DS Dennis Frampton is set to be one of the great DS’s in current crime fiction.

Frampton is a church going, throwback who seems to still think Policing is a mans job, and to Clarke’s horror, he employs a swear box in the office.

I think this is the first spin-off series I’ve ever read, and certainly the first I’ve commented on. It works. Clarke was a strong, if occasional, character in the previous series, and she certainly deserves an outing in stories of her own.

The move from writing stories based in a big city, to ones based in the slow pace of the Dorset countryside has also worked. The setting for this book is stunning and fits the story perfectly.

But perhaps the biggest gamble on Rachel McLeans part was hitting the right note when it came to integrating a successful City cop into a County Force. The obstacles that Clarke has to overcome, without being the big “I am”. The relationships she needs to form, especially with DS Frampton.

But that gamble is the reason the book has worked so well. McLean has dealt with it all perfectly. I can only hope this is the first in a long series.

Pages: 352. Published by: Ackroyd Publishing. Available now to preorder Published on 15th July 2021

10 Days. Mel Sherratt

10 days. That’s how long 4 women have suffered for. Taken off the street, kept in a locked room, physically and mentally abused, and then released without explanation.

What could be worse?

This could.

Journalist Eva Farmer has interviewed all of the women after they were released. She knows what the women went through. So when she is taken she knows what to expect, almost on a day to day basis.

Eva, like the police, couldn’t make a connection between the apparently random victims, but she’s about to learn there is one, and that she, like the others, is not a random victim.

Written from two points of view, Eva’s, and her captors, the story unfolds on a daily basis, with occasional chapters being made up of the reports Eva wrote after the interviews with the earlier victims.

But this story is not just about Eva whilst she’s being held, it’s about who she was, and things she’s done in her past.

Could her captive have known all along.

Then there’s her captor. They too have an interesting back story.

I loved this book. It’s gets more complex as it unfolds. There are so many strands that knit together perfectly.

The underlying tension built up by the fact that Eva knows what happened to the first 4 women is tangible.

The demons it brings into her head as she sits in a dark room with only her own thoughts, and memories, is frightening.

A brilliant story that kept me turning the pages until way into the night.

This is a great standalone read.

Pages: 284. Publisher: Bookouture. Available now

A Cut For A Cut

DI Kate Young is a brilliant detective. She gets investigations solved. She gets on well with her team, in the main. But she’s flawed, and I mean really flawed.

Her husband was murdered and she was one of the first cops on the scene.

Now she’s having trouble letting him go, in fact she’s talking to him, and she’s beginning to get caught by others and the excuses are running out.

Is she up to carrying out a major investigation. She’s about to find out.

The first body is found dumped by a reservoir. Killed, raped and has MINE carved into her back.

The method of killing is very specific and would require training in martial arts.

When a second body turns up with the same method used to kill them, and the same message carved into them, it is obvious that they have a serial killer in the area.

Kate starts to see links to a previous case, but is that just what she wants to see, is the voice in her head influencing her decisions.

The links she wants to see will implicate a Senior Officer in the death off an underage boy at a sex party.

Her husband was investigating corruption within the Police, and connections to sex parties.

Is reality blurring with whatever Kate has going on in her own mind.

There are connections but if Kate doesn’t get things right people are going to get away with hideous crimes.

The main investigation in this book is the series of murder rapes from which the book takes its title.

The running story of Police corruption bubbles along really nicely adding a great second dimension to the book.

But it’s the third dimension that lifts this book to the levels of must be read, best seller.

Kate Young is brilliant. She is battling demons in her mind. Carol Wyer has really got into her thoughts. At times you would swear Young is talking to a person that is in the land of the living, and then you realise she’s talking to her dead husband.

At times it’s like she’s trying to reason something out, but she’s using her husbands voice as the prompt or counter argument.

That gives this book a real edge.

At times I was concerned for Kates sanity, at other times I was impressed with her deductive reasoning, all the time she is on the very edge of sanity.

Her team are brilliant. They support her throughout but even they are beginning to have concerns.

I love Carol Wyer’s writing. Her books always hold me from page one, and that in itself brings me concerns. Every time I start one of her books I wonder if it’s going to be the one to disappoint. It’s never happened yet. She is the very definition of raising the bar with each story.

This series, is her best series yet. Her best characters, her best crimes, her best stories.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

But be warned, not all of Carol’s books have a happy ending, or an easy ride for all of the characters.

Pages: 365. Publisher: Thomas & Mercer. Available now

https://amzn.to/3pCnXyX