COLD HEART CREEK. Lisa Regan

There is no two ways about it. I look forward to these books. When the publishers place them on a reviewing website, and say they are available to read, I always have difficulty finishing what I’m reading at the time quick enough so that I can find out what Josie Quinn has been up to this time.

Cold Heart Creek did not disappoint.

From the very beginning the booked had me hooked, Josie has a back story that includes a horrific child hood and upbringing, and she’s having flashbacks in her nightmares.

Meanwhile, a ranger finds two bodies at a campsite, then a third sleeping bag is discovered. Who is missing?

There are clues. Clues which lead Josie and her team on a hunt for the third person but what they find is even more disturbing, than they could have anticipated.

From the beginning of the book the story is addictive. Josie is suffering mentally. Her Boyfriend, and work Partner, Noah knows she is but she won’t let him in to help.

The murder investigation, and the hunt for the third person takes a nasty twist and Josie, Noah and the rest of the team are hampered by the terrain surrounding the small city of Denton, and the weather that nature unleashes on them.

It’s hard to say much about the story without introducing massive spoilers but that doesn’t mean the book has an obvious ending, in fact it’s far from obvious. That’s the beauty about Lisa Regan’s writing. She gives you enough information to let you build your own hypothesis and then, without introducing any “shark infested custard” type scenarios, she delivers the perfect end that sneaks up on you without warning; and definitely leaves you wanting to read the next book.

Pages: 377

Publishers: Bookouture

Available: Now

HUNTING GROUND L.J Morris

 

For years my genre of choice was cold war, or espionage books, by authors such as Robert Ludlum, Nelson DeMille and Tom Clancy, but new books like these have been few and far between for years.

At last somebody is filling the gap with quality material.

L.J Morris has written a brilliant post-cold war book that sees the security of the UK, and the stability of world politics at risk.

Stuck in a Mexican Prison ex-special agent Ali Sinclair is frightened for her life and wondering why she has been abandoned to her fate.

Meanwhile her handler, from British Intelligence, is working on her release when an urgent request from another agent, Frank McGill, ramps up the urgency of Sinclair’s release.

Somebody is making an attempt to take over the UK Government from within. A journalist had been on the track of the conspirators but has been murdered. He didn’t give away any information, but he has left a document outlining his findings.

Only his boyfriend can decipher the clues that he left to the documents location.

McGill had been tasked with locating the boyfriend and getting the document, but somebody nearly beats him to it, and McGill and the boyfriend go into hiding.

McGill will only trust Sinclair and so she is sent to meet him.

What follows is a brilliant story of subterfuge and espionage which sees McGill and Sinclair teamed up with a most unexpected ally.

The story moves a break-neck pace but retains its plausibility, which is a writing skill in itself.

What makes the story all the more incredible is, when you look at British Politics over the last couple of decades, the story is very credible.

Had Morris been writing in Clancy, DeMille, and Ludlum’s, era they would have had a worthy contemporary fighting for position at the top of the Best Seller List.

I loved this book.

Pages: 358

Publisher: Crows Foot Books

Available NOW

FIRST BLOOD. ANGELA MARSONS

First Blood.  Angela Marsons

 

For those of us who are already hooked by this series, this is a great prequal. For those of us who haven’t read any of the DI Kim Stone books, this is a great introduction to the best crime series on the shelves right now.

Either way this is a brilliant read which will have people turning the pages at a feverish rate.

First Blood takes us right back to the formation of Kim’s team, and her first day at Halesowen Police Station.

It’s a last chance scenario with Kim having made too many enemies to be accepted at most nicks in the West Midlands.

However she has an ally she knows nothing about, somebody who has known her for many years before she joined the force, and has kept an eye on her career since she joined.

This story looks at why Kim is a bit of a pariah in the force. She is definitely an acquired taste to work with, but her conviction rate should out-weigh that.

On her first day she meets her team. DS Bryant, a middle aged man who should be at least a DI at that stage in his career, so why isn’t he, and how will he react to a young DI.

DS Kevin Dawson, and I’d forgotten what a pain in the behind he was when the series first started. A man capable of disrupting even the most evenly balanced relationship, and certainly not a team player.

Brand new DC Stacey Wood, a shy almost naïve, young woman whose hidden talent is soon found to be “data-mining” from a desk. Not what DS Dawson considers to be real policing.

The first day should be an easy welcome session, but a body is found staked out on the Clent Hills. The body has been stabbed, decapitated and had the genitals removed.

Kim judges the team by how they react to the scene, and as the investigation goes on, she watches the dynamic of the team, how they work, how they bond, all the time sussing out their strengths and weaknesses. At the same time Bryant, Wood, and Stacey are doing exactly the same.

At times the team, and Stone, have as many questions about each other as they do about the case. One of the team decides to research Stone’s past and makes some startling discoveries. Will this affect the way she’s looked at?

The solving of the crimes is the main thread in this book; but just as enthralling is the thread that explores the team members and how they reacted to each other when they first meet, and during this first investigation.

I loved this book from cover to cover. It can be read as a stand-alone, or the first in a series, or as I look at it the latest in the best series there is.

The book fills some gaps and explains the relationship between many of the characters in the series, not all of them on the team.

There is a saying “There is only one chance to make a first impression” In this book we see those first impressions as the team is brought together.

But this book is a contrary to that saying. This is a second chance for those of us who follow the series to have that first meeting with Stone and the gang, and it’s absolutely brilliant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Huntress. Kate Quinn

This is conundrum of a story, but don’t let that put you off.

Four stories in one, all set in different time periods, all integral to the main story, and all charging to a  brilliant conclusion.

During the war.

The Huntress. A killer, a woman working for, or in sympathy, with the German SS during World War Two. A woman who has escaped the war crimes hearings in Nuremberg.

Nina Markov. A Russian woman with a passion for flying. One of Stalin’s famous Night Witches. A woman with a very good reason for finding the Huntress.

After the war

Ian and Tony, two men who specialise in finding war criminals and bringing them to trial, but one woman  is right at the top of Ian’s list. The Huntress was responsible for killing his brother, and he wants to see her face her crimes.

Jordan McBride. A young woman in America dreaming of becoming a photographer covering wars around the world. Her father, a widow has a new woman in his life, Anneliese, a woman that Jordan is convinced is a not telling the truth about her past.

This story is magnificent in the way it is told. The storylines of all of the main characters interweave from start to finish. The way the author establishes the crimes committed by the Huntress during the war is clever.

Introducing Nina as one of the famous Night Witches of the Soviet Aviation Group 122 is perfect for the story. I thought I was good on my Second World War history, but I’d never heard of this group. A quick Google search led me down an internet wormhole that lasted for hours whilst I read about this extraordinary group of woman.

Tony’s story, and the story about the tracking down of the illusive Huntress after the war, is the main backbone of the book and it is one of those tales which has you reading well into the night.

But will you guess the end of the story? Is everybody who they appear to be? Are the allegiances that are formed all they seem to be. Will the Huntress get caught?

There’s only one way to find out. Read the book, and I have to say it’s up there in my best books read this year.

Pages: 560

Publisher: Harper Collins

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

The Dinner Party R.J. Parker

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Should secrets remain secret. When friends meet up in their couples for a dinner party one of the women suggests a game. A game of non-disclosed confessions, followed by unconditional forgiveness.

At first the game doesn’t seem that sinister but by sunrise next day one person from the party will be dead, and nobody else’s life will ever be the same.

The book is written with the host of the party being the main character. Ted is married to Juliet and they have a small circle of friends. All married couples, all about the same age, all with their own stories, all with their own secret.

This is a crime novel from a different point of view. The main character is caught up in the middle of the crime and the subsequent investigation. Only getting information from the Police as he is questioned and as he talks to other people who were at the party.

For three days his life is turned upside down. He and Juliet are as confused about the happenings as everybody else; and it soon becomes apparent to Ted that everybody is keeping secrets.

The story is brilliant.

The unusual point of view it is written from gives a completely different aspect to a crime.

The grief Ted feels in finding out about the murder of one of his closest friends is completely believable.

The frustration he feels at being questioned by the police, the realisation that people around him are not letting him in on secrets, lead him into an emotional rollercoaster, that I could not help but empathise with.

The pace of the book is breath taking. I read it in one sitting.

A captivating, compulsive stand-alone novel.

 

Publishers: One More Chapter (Harper Collins digital)

Available now.

THEIR LAST BREATH Sibel Hodge

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There are three main strands in this book. The investigation into a crime, and the life of the Officer who investigates it, and the life story of a victim.

The Crime, is one of the most hideous there can be, people trafficking. But this is only discovered after a fire in a building, a fire that leaves six women dead.

The fire was accidental but the circumstances the women are found in is anything but accidental. They are all chained up, in different rooms, they are all unidentifiable because there is no record of them, they are illegal immigrants, but why have they been brought to the country.

The Officer, Detective Carter, recently retired and suffering the death of his wife, he responds to a call for help from his old colleague. Staffing is short due to the cut backs and the Police are running short of experienced detectives.

Carter is lured back and starts to investigate the death of the women in the fire, what he discovers will shock the core of the Force.

The victim, a strong woman, a refugee, a woman so desperate she allows herself to be conned into being smuggled to Britain in the back of a Lorry. From escaping her own horrors in her own country to being trapped in a burning building, this could have been a book on its own.

This is a great story. It is the latest in a series. I haven’t read any of the previous books featuring Detective Carter, but I’m going to track them down and read them.

Books that make me think, as well as entertain me, are always my favourite. Without giving the plot away there was a couple of things that sent me to the internet, and my knowledge is better for it.

Pages: 376

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Available now on Amazon