Hold Still Tim Adler

Hold Still     Tim Adler

A fascinating fast paced thriller.

Kate Julia is in Tirana with her husband, Paul, for the funeral of one of his family.

Back in their hotel room Paul receives a text. At the same time Kate takes a picture of him on her phone. Seconds later he is lying dead on the ground, a long way below their penthouse balcony.

In a foreign country, where she doesn’t speak the language Kate, is left to answer the local police’s questions. Looking at the photograph she took of Paul just before his death Kate thinks she can see somebody on their balcony looking through the curtains, but will the police believe her.

Returning home to England with her husband’s ashes Kate becomes even more convinced that her husbands death is suspicious especially when she see’s the picture message that he received immediately before his death.Tirana is run by Mafioso type gangs involved in drugs, gun running and human trafficking. Was Paul involved with the gangs. If he was, was his death related to them and is Kate safe.

There is no doubt that the gang has members in England but who are they, where are they, what are they involved in, and how was Paul involved?

The story follows Kate’s quest for the truth.

Who can she trust, is anybody who they say they are?

This book is a great psychological thriller. Tim Adler has managed to find a country, Albania, in which he can realistically set a great story.

A country that is run on corruption and fear, a country who’s gangs are beginning to surface in the UK.

Kate’s plight is so believable, that at it makes the book fly by.

It would be a bit cliché to say there are twists-and-turns on every page but there are in every chapter. This book full of them, but the plot still flows at a pace that makes it almost impossible to put down.

Tim Adler has a great talent of ending a chapter in such a way that it makes you want to start the next. Which is probably why I was still reading it a 2.30 in the morning.

A great read I would highly recommend. Just make sure you have nothing pressing to do when you start, because this one is nigh-on impossible to put down.

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Readers Block

It’s been a while since I blogged about a book and there’s been two reasons for that.

The first is I’ve been unbelievably busy. Usually I spend at least an hour in the evening reading to unwind no matter how much work I have.

To say I haven’t been reading would be wrong, and here’s the second reason I haven’t blogged and a question for all you bookworms.

I have started about 7 or 8 books since the start of the new year, and I’ve given up on all of them. I never give up with less than half the book read, I have this thing about giving it a chance, but if it hasn’t hooked me by half way through its gone.

There have been various reasons; the story was not good and was going nowhere, the story starts off great then meanders into boring mundane nothingness, the author hasn’t done their research and keep making annoying basic mistakes.

An example of the later is a book I started that was set in the current day. The Police Officers kept referring to the forensic teams as SOCO’s. To my knowledge there haven’t been any SOCO’s for at least ten years, they are now FSI, or CSI, or Forensic Support. The same author had a Detective Superintendent as one of the main characters. His team kept referring to him as the DS, I’m sure he would have been chuffed with the demotion to Detective Sergeant. Everyone I know refers to any Superintendent as the “Super”. The worst part of this though is that it was a really good story. I just couldn’t get past the silly errors

So have I just had a bad run, am I just being picky because there are so many good books out there. Or am I having some version of what writers call “writers block”. Have I got “readers block”

Some people have asked why I don’t tell people about the books I don’t enjoy. Well I have some simple rules for my blogs

I never put anything in them which would be classed as a spoiler.
I try not to comment on anything in the story after the halfway point just in case.
I never pull authors up on technicalities.
If I don’t like a story it doesn’t mean nobody else will so I don’t blog about books I don’t like.

There may be an exception to the last rule. I am on a great site called net galley. They ask for negatives as well as positives, and there’s a facility for me to talk directly to the publishers and authors so I can explain my thoughts. So if you see any of my posts on that site, the negatives are there because they sent me a book and asked for honest feedback.

So that’s why I haven’t blogged since Christmas. The good news is work has steadied out and I am back to reading a bit at night.

Follow Me Angela Clarke

Follow Me       Angela Clarke

 

This is another one of those books that turned up as a suggestion based on what I have read before, and Thank God I listened.

Follow me is Angela Clarke’s first crime novel, although she is an established writer as a journalist with a published memoir and playwriting experience, and it shows.

Follow Me is one of the most original plots for a crime thriller I’ve read for a long time.

The main protagonist is Freddie Venton. Freddie is a young woman in her early twenties. A university graduate she works as a barista in a London coffee shop whilst trying to break into the world of journalism. She is not immediately the most likable character, she’s goby, smokes, doesn’t appear to be overly keen on personal hygiene, lives on a sofa in a shared flat, and has a tendency towards using casual sex as a copping mechanism for any stress she has.

Freddie has been writing an anonymous, unpaid column for an online newspaper but struggles to find a paid job. One of the pieces of advice she is given is find the big story, be in amongst it, have a perspective nobody else has.

That chance is presented to her when she is taking a timeout from her job at the coffee shop. Having just been given a rollicking by her manager for fighting off the amorous advances of a drunk she is brooding outside the shop, having a cigarette, when she sees an old friend she hasn’t seen since school.

Detective Sergeant Nasreen Cudmore is everything Freddie isn’t, tall, slim, confident-without being cocky, and apparently successful in her chosen career.

From the instant they meet it is obvious that the two women have history. As the story develops the reader discovers that the two were best friends at school but that something happened that drove them apart. This little sub-plot is good at establishing the relationship between the girls, but unlike some books doesn’t take up great swathes of the story or act as a distraction.

Freddie is a social media and app freak. She is into everything and when she meets Cudmore she manages to sign her onto a social media app that allows Freddie to follow Cudmore via her phone. Realising that Cudmore is in the Police and is about to go on some kind of early morning raid, or investigation Freddie uses the app to follow her. What happens next is for the reader to enjoy and not for me to spoil but Freddie ends up working for the Police as a Social Media advisor.

Why?

Because the Police have a murder on their hands and its been played out on Twitter. The murder has their own account, and the un-savvy police haven’t got the first clue when it comes to the protocols and habits of twitter users.

Freddie has already annoyed the investigating team, led by DCI Moast, and including DS Cudmore, when she is asked to consult on the case by Superintendent Gray. At first it appears to be a “tick-in-the-box” political correctness ploy by Grey but Freddie soon proves her worth and the team reluctantly accept her.

DCI Moast is one of Freddie’s biggest haters but that is because he suffers from Confirmation Bias during the investigation. The condition that a lot of investigators suffer from, Jump to a conclusion then make the evidence fit the theory.

After all Moast and his team are dedicated and experienced Police Officers. Freddie is just a scruffy little coffee shop girl with a big mouth what could she possibly know that they don’t.

When the murders start to stack up more of the team start to think Freddie is getting it right.

This book is one of the best I’ve read for a very long time. It’s told from the point of view of a civilian that is thrown into a Police Investigation.

Freddie encounters crime scenes at their worst. Angela Clarke gets into Freddie’s head brilliantly for this. It’s not glamorous and it can have lasting effects on people, Clarke describes it as if it has happened to her.

She also describes the feeling of an outsider trying to get her convictions across and the frustrations of being treated as an inconvenient sideshow thrust upon the investigation team by a Senior Officer. Whilst also struggling with the emotions of a lost friendship with Cudmore.

The end of the book is great. One of the best things about finding a new author is you are never sure how things will end. Are they a Happy-ever-after writer, or are they a Cop-for-this-shocker writer.

Do you know what? You’ll have to make your own mind up. Right up to the last line of the last page I was hooked.

Who would I recommend this book to?

If you like Marnie Riches you will love this book

If you like Marri Hannah, Angela Marsons or any other British Police Procedural writer you have to read this and see the story from a civilians point of view. You won’t be disappointed.

But most of all. If you love a good story, you’ll love this book.51U5fVAiqeL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_

Nations Divided Steve P Vincent

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I came across this book by accident. So imagine my shock when I found out that this is the third in a series. A series I have been looking for, for years. Those of you that have read my reading history will know that I loved Robert Ludlum’s cold war books and Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan series.

I have been on the lookout for a new author to bring to life the same style of writing for the world as it is today.

That is exactly what I found in this book.

Jack Emery is a Special Advisor to the President of the United States and the main character of the book. The story starts with a massacre at a Hospital in Gaza and quickly moves into peace talks between Israel and Palestine.

With a peace agreement in place and a Palestinian State agreed all looks well in the world but a secretive group of Zionists plan to wreck the agreement.

The Zionists acquire weapons and plant them strategically around the world threatening to detonate them if the peace agreement is not overturned.

Emery is in a race against time to find the weapons and the people responsible for planting them.

At the same time a unique and disturbing back up plan is put into place by the terrorists in case the initial plan is disrupted.

The book flies along with plots and sub-plots. As in the real world different countries have different agenda’s. Whilst political moves are made at the highest of levels, Emery works with and against an increasingly complex group of advocates at street level.

It is difficult to say more about the storyline without spoiling the plot for the reader, so I won’t. What I will say is the finale is breathtaking.

This book is great. I feel like I have found what I’ve been looking for since the last Jack Ryan book, and who would have guessed it would be a book with another Jack as the protagonist.

Like Ludlum and Clancy at their best Steve P Vincent uses up to date world politics to paint a background of imminent danger. This book is a must read for fans of those writers.

My only regret is I am late to the party and will have to read the first two in the series out of order, but this book stood alone and it would read easily as a stand-alone novel.

Too Soon A Death Janet O’Kane

Too Soon A Death

Janet O’Kane has written a second book with Dr Zoe Moreland as the main protagonist, and what a book it is.

Dr Zoe is not your usual main character, she is neither the Police Officer or Private Detective trying to solve a case; nor is she the perpetrator, she is just a woman who happens to be a Doctor in a rural GP surgery in a village where crime occurs. The crime is seen through Zoe’s eyes and via village gossip. In fact the story is told in a way that 99% of us would see it, if it happened close to us.

The story starts with Dr Zoe being called to a riverbank close to her home. The body of a young man has been found. He has suffered injuries to his hands that appear to have been treated and she is only there to see if she recognised him as a recent visitor to her practice.

At the scene she meets Detective Sergeant Trent, a local Police Officer Zoe has become used to seeing, and who she aims to assist identifying the body. As in real life they swap pleasantries but the Sergeant only gives her the basics of the investigation, and continues to during the investigation, but she is never an integral part of it.

When She returns home Zoe is met by her dog Mac and her best friend Kate Mackenzie. As in the first book the deaf Kate is Zoe’s best friend and confidant. As well as being a single mom she is a Genealogist and works from home trying to uncover family histories.

Zoe and Kate’s relationship is more like sisters and Kate’s family have become Zoe’s adopted family.

A series of events in the village start to make it look like Dr Zoe is being stalked. Then another incident affects Kate’s family. Are these events and the body in the river connected?

Janet O’Kane’s narrative, unravelling the story from Zoe’s perspective alone, shows how easy it is to become afraid. How conclusions can be made and how worrying it can be to be either at the centre of a crime, or on the peripheries and not have the full picture.

The suspense is built up naturally as more small incidents happen without any explanation.

Is Zoe being targeted, if so why?

Has Kate dug too deeply into somebody’s family history?

And then there are the dogs. Local farmers are reporting attacks on their livestock. Where have they come from and are they connected?

This book was just like the first, No Stranger To Death; it kept me turning the pages. Unlike a lot of modern fiction Too Soon A Death does not rely on blood, guts, and sex, to keep the story moving along. The suspense that kept me reading was generated by a really well written story. It will work your mind, you will try to make connections, and kick yourself when you don’t get them.

If you like TV programs like Midsummer Murders, and Lewis you will fall in love with Janet’s writing.

If you are more of a Luther fan don’t dismiss this book it will be your loss.

I could happily recommend this book to anybody who likes reading. How would I describe the experience of reading it? Have you ever had that feeling when it’s raining or snowing and you’re sat inside with your feet up, in front of the fire, with a warm drink? That’s how I felt reading this book.

Janet. Thank you for this story and I look forward to reading many more of your books in the future.

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Lost Girls Angela Marsons

Lost Girls   Angela Marsons

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This is the latest instalment in the excellent DCI Kim Stone series. All of the previous books have been 10/10 thrillers. This is no exception as Angela Marsons ramps up the tension in her best book yet.

The story starts with a kidnapping, but this is a kidnapping where the ransom will raise moral dilemmas.

Stone is given the task of conducting the investigation into the disappearance of the two young girls who have been taken. The mother of one of the girls is Karen. Karen spent her childhood in care, moved between council run homes and foster parents. As did Stone, and they have met but have very different recollections of their previous encounters. Will this hinder the investigation?

The missing girls are good friends and so are the families. The two families are brought together in one home to wait for news, but secrets in the families are bubbling just below the surface introducing an interesting dynamic that affects both the families and the investigating team.

As the hunt for the girls gets under way it becomes apparent that whoever has the girls has carried out at least one other kidnapping, and that they like to play games.

With the arrival of a text, sent to both families, the game begins.

It is a horrible game. I thought that been the parent of a kidnapped child would be a terrible experience. It is one of the things every parent dreads every time their child leaves the house. But this game will turn each family against the other and the police. It will also turn family members against family members. This is a parent’s worst nightmare.

Can Stone and her team bring the girls home? It doesn’t help that a reporter from a local newspaper is in the middle of a feud with Stone, and seems to be on to the fact that two girls are missing, despite a press blackout.

The race against time that is a kidnap becomes accelerated by the race to solve the crime before the journalist publishes the news of the missing girls.

Marson’s main character, Stone, is backed up by her small team, each of who is a character in their own right. Although this book can be read as a stand alone to get the best out of it, get to know these characters from the start by reading the previous books in the series.

As well as her usual team Stone is given two specialist officers to help, Alison the behaviour analyst and Matt Ward the negotiator. Hopefully we will get to see more of these two characters in future books.

Stone is a Detective Inspector based in Halesowen in the West Midlands. Marsons describes the places and the people of the area brilliantly.

I loved the part of the book where Stone politely explains why she is not a Brummie. This will not mean much to most but it will endear the readers from the Black Country.

Another brilliant book from what I am proud to say, to me, is a local Author.

Into the Darkest Corner Elizabeth Haynes

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Elizabeth Haynes is fast becoming one of my favourite writers. This morning I finished Into The Darkest Corner, which she published in 2011.

My wife is used to me reading books and writing my blogs but she said something this morning that made me realise just how much I enjoyed this book. “It must be good. I’ve never known you rave about one like this before”. I hadn’t stopped talking about it for 10 minutes after I put it down.

Into The Darkest Corner, is both the most compelling, and probably the most harrowing, book I have read.

The book is written in the first person narrative style that allows the reader to understand the fear the main character, Catherine, feels. Split over two time periods, alternating chapter by chapter between events that take place in 2003-4, and events that start in 2007.

In 2003 Catherine is an outgoing party girl with little in the way of morals, until she meets the man of her dreams, Lee. Unfortunately for her the mysterious Lee is not all he appears and Catherine is slowly manipulated into becoming a victim of domestic abuse of the worse kind.

In 2007 Catherine is a very damaged young woman, with severe OCD, who is desperately trying to get her life back on track.

Elizabeth Haynes manages to convey the emotions of the younger Catherine as she transitions from a party girl to one being in love. She builds up the tension in the relationship and it becomes almost understandable how women fall into the life of a victim of abuse whilst clinging onto the fact they have found Mr Right. As the abuse becomes more violent Catherine begins to realise that she is in a harmful relationship, but can she get out of it? How bad will it be before she can get out? And what will be the culmination of it all?

Elizabeth describes the suffering of OCD and the fright of everyday life for the older Catherine in a way makes the reader feel every emotion. It is obvious that she has been affected by something in the earlier period of her life but the way the book alternates between the two time periods the reader can never be sure of what until close to the end.

Catherine finds help in the form of a very patient neighbour, Stuart, but is he also too good to be true, can she trust him.

The end of the book is every bit as tense as the rest. No spoilers so no more about the plot.I have reread this blog and have rewritten it twice. Why? Two reasons.

Firstly I don’t think I’m doing the book justice. It really is brilliant.

Secondly, no matter how I try to describe it I make it sound like a book, or story, for women. It isn’t, it’s far from it. I would recommend this book to everybody.

It’s a hard hitting, fast paced, brutal, erotic, thriller that should be read by everybody.