Catch Your Death Kierney Scott

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This is another one of those series that I really look forward to. A story with Special Agent Jess Bishop in it is bound to be gritty and borderline scary.

Jess is no ordinary agent; her father is a serial killer serving a life sentence, she shot and seriously wounded her one time partner Briggs, and in her last case best friend and fellow agent was killed. She uses random men for sex, quick, dirty sex, often in shady alleys outside equally shady bars to help her keep her mind off her troubles, and she swallows pain killers like smarties to help her with the pain in her disfigured hand, an injury she sustained at the hands of another mass killer.

So when her boss phones her and asks her to go and see her nephew in  nearby academy, because he didn’t sound right on the phone, there is no surprise that she finds trouble.

The nephew Levi is found hung in the shower block, but Jess doesn’t believe it’s the suicide everybody else wants to believe it is. After a bit of digging she finds that there have been a series of suicides linked to an on line game “The Last Super”.

At first it is enough that teenagers are committing suicide to get Jess’s back up and start an investigation, but when she starts to be hindered at every stage of her inquiries she soon starts to piece together an even more disturbing story.

Worried by her previous experiences she is loath to get her team involved in the investigation into their boss’s nephews death, especially as she is beginning to build a conspiracy theory that she believes will put whoever looks into the deaths in danger.

But is it really as bad as Jess thinks, or is she simply, and finally, beginning to lose her mind.

This really is one of the best series on the shelves at the moment. Kierney Scott simply has no filters when it comes to writing her stories. The characters are really put through the mill throughout the books. Jess is one of the most challenging lead cop characters I’ve read but I just can’t help liking her.

These books fly by, it wouldn’t make any difference if they were 200 pages or 500 pages long the last page always arrives at such a pace you just don’t see it coming, and as usual when it arrived this time I was left wanting to dive straight into the next instalment.

Oh well I’m just going to have to wait, hopefully not for too long, to see what happens to the frustratingly good Jess Bishop

 

Pages: 278

Publishers: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 14thApril 2019

The Bones She Buried Lisa Regan

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Josie Quinn is a detective, her partner Noah Fraley is not just her work partner, they are also in a relationship.

So, when the pair go to his mothers, and find her dead in the back garden, it begins an emotional roller coaster of a ride for Josie.

Noah’s mother was Mrs Perfect, she kept a beautiful house, cooked, baked and was generally accepted as being a pillar of the community. Mainly the opposite to Josie.

So when her death is found to be a murder, and it looks like she has been keeping secrets for years, Noah has difficulty believing the evidence. In his sister he has an ally who really doesn’t like Josie.

Noah’s moms house had been searched by whoever killed her, but nobody knows what they were looking for.

When the garden is examined the investigators find a set of Rosary Beads and a file with a name on it. The file is labelled with the name of a famous missing person.

What is Noah’s mom connection with Drew Pratt, an Assistant District Attorney who has been missing since 2006. Is this what the murderer was looking for.

The investigation continues with Josie and her team, minus Noah, trying to solve the murder and re-examine the disappearance of the ADA.

The trail leads them through historic crimes and looks at who is trying to tidy up the mess from years earlier, and why do it now, what has happened to make somebody start to kill people to cover a crime from over 12 years ago.

It’s not just the case that makes this story a good read. It’s the strain it puts on the relationship between Josie and Noah. Both have guarded pasts that not everybody knows about. They rely on each other to keep themselves safe both physically and mentally.

Josie isn’t used to working without Noah, and is less used to him putting up barriers, but as long as she is insinuating his mother knew something about the crimes of the past, the more distant he becomes.

With Noah’s sister feeding the increased fire that is coming between him and Josie it is hard to see the relationship lasting, and if it does fracture can it ever be repaired.

This is a cracking series of books. I love the relationship between Josie and Noah. I love the big city investigations in what is little more than a big town, with a small town Police Force.

The crimes are always realistic and are set in a great area.

This book takes the series to a whole new level. The investigation of a crime that involves a family member has brought a tension to the text that is palpable.

I really could not put this one down, this is the book they invented the phrase “page turner” for.

Roll on the next book in the series. I really need to know what happens next.

 

Pages: 342

Publishers: Bookouture

Available now

Out Of The Ashes Vicky Newham

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I have rarely read a book which has so many possible motives for one crime.

 

When two people are killed in a shop fire on Brick Lane the possible motives are endless, bigotry, jealousy, hatred, anti-Semitism, racism, revenge, anti-gentrification all of them could be the reason the shop was torched, and worryingly they are all realistic motives in today’s society.

 

So, DI Maya Rahman has her work cut out, but she is the ideal Officer for the job. As a 41 year old Bangladeshi who grew up on, and around, Brick Lane she is used to the mixing pot of a society that live and trades on the famous street. She even knows some of the residents who live near the fire.

 

The investigation is hindered by the damage at the shop. The fire has destroyed everything and the bodies are not easy to retrieve.

 

The fire happened as a Flash Mob descended on the street dancing to loud house music. Could this be a coincidence or are the two things related.

 

The investigation follows Maya and her team as they track through the world of young people who follow a cause on line, for no other reason than the promise of a bit of cash and some free drugs. Are they being manipulated to cause a distraction or are they responsible for the fire.

 

They encounter homeless refugees, some of which are young orphans, and see the way they are used by some of the lower forms of life in the community who are either too clever, or too scared, to do their own dirty work.

 

The story revolves around the investigation into the fire and the deaths that occurred in it, but the main story for me is the story of life on Brick Lane.

 

I have a feeling this book gets very close to the truth of some of the matters that involve the people of Brick Lane, and other suburbs of the bigger cities in the UK.

 

Generations of traders struggling to make a living in an ever increasing society that buys into the latest fad of “artisan” traders and over inflated property prices.

 

And of course, where money is the driver crime is not far behind.

 

I really enjoyed this book and was surprised to find it’s is the second in a series. I’m off to find the first now and then I shall look forward to the third.

 

Pages: 384

Publishers: HQ Harper Collins

Publishing date: 30thMay 2019

Where The Dead Fall M.J Lee

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DI Tom Ridpath is an unusual main character for a crime series.

Separated from a wife who still loves and cares for him, missing his daughter, and recovering from cancer. He has a strange job. Having had months off with his illness he has been seconded to the Coroner’s Office, and is tasked with investigating deaths which are suspicious in more ways than just the common murders encountered in most books.

This has brought him into conflict with his colleagues on the Major Investigation Team of Greater Manchester Police in the past, but he is determined to prove he is fit to return to the team.

Keeping in the spirit of originality the story has a cracking opening scene. As Ridpath is driving home through the early evening rush on the motorway a naked man runs out in front of him. Ridpath stops in time but the man is hit and killed seconds later.

Amongst the horror of the accident Ridpath sees a man on the hard shoulder holding a gun, but he is gone in an instance and no sign of him is left behind, and nobody else saw him.

Sticking to his guns Ridpath closes the Motorway at its busiest time and suffers the wrath of the traffic police.

All this in the first few pages.

What follows is a great story as Ridpath tries to identify the mystery man, if he ever existed, and find out why he was chasing the naked man onto a busy motorway.

It’s not long before another death occurs and puts Manchester on the edge of a gang war.

Working as a Coroners Officer Ridpath tries to engage his old team but not everybody wants him back.

This is a great story. Ridpath is a great character and MJ Lee has a really good way of bringing the story to life.

Ridpath’s frustrations at being side lined are almost palpable. The scenes are vividly described as are the victims and perpetrators.

Can anybody stop Manchester erupting into violence, not if they don’t start working together.

This is a really good read. Roll on the next book in the Ridpath series

Pages: 344

Publisher: Canelo

Publishing date: 11thApril 2019

The Girl From The Sea Shalini Boland

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When a pretty young woman is found washed up on a beach with a head injury everybody wonders who she is, including the woman herself.

With no recollection of who she is, or how she got on the beach the Police are left to check the missing persons reports.

A boyfriend quickly comes forward and identifies the woman as Mia James.

This doesn’t help Mia, she doesn’t even recognise her own face in the mirror.

Written in the first person this book follows Mia from the moment she is found through the frustrations of her trying to find out who she is, and how she ended up on the beach.

It will be no surprise that not everybody is the person they portray themselves to be. Actually they are who they say they are, it’s their personality, and motive for being close to Mia that they make up. So who can she trust and who should she be afraid of.

Mia it turns out is a young, pretty, independent woman with a bit of money to her name.

Everybody around her seems to have motive for either being nice to her, or at least giving the pretence of being nice to her, after all, she can’t remember anything. That is until the dreams start, or are they actually memories resurfacing.

It wasn’t an accident that led to her being found half dead on the beach.

This story is written really cleverly. Boland deliberately leads the reader along different paths. Likeable characters and horrible characters come and go.

Trust issues are a constant in Mia’s new life, but is this because of her past, or has she always been a bad judge of character.

Reading the book had me wondering what I would make of my life if I woke up one morning with no memory. It’s not just a case of working out who you are, can you trust the people around you.

What would it be like to make a completely new start.

There is a crime at the centre of this story, but what is it and who committed it.

A clever story.

Pages: 306

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing date: 20 March 2019

MANHUNT Colin Sutton

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Over the last few months I’ve spent a lot of time traveling for work and have started to listen to audio books. Not the usual fiction I love reading, but real life accounts and memoirs.

A few months ago, a TV series caught my eye, Manhunt staring Martin Clunes. The true story based on the book MANHUNT, the memoir of Retired Detective Chief Inspector, and Senior Investigating Officer, Colin Sutton.

Having watched, and enjoyed the series, I went onto Amazon to look for the book, but it also gave me the opportunity to use a credit to buy the audio book. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made so far this year to download the audio to my iPhone.

The file is just over 9 hours long and is narrated by the brilliant Peter Noble, the perfect person to give Sutton a voice.

The account starts with an early memory from Sutton about why he became a Police Officer. Heading for life in Criminal Law he was sat doing work experience with Defence Counsel. Although every criminal has a right to a defence, Sutton quickly realised this is something he could not do. In fact, he decided he wanted to get justice for all of the victims of crime and decided against a, probably more lucrative, carrier in Law and decided to join the Police.

The story then jumps to the point where he returns to the Met as DCI of one of the Major Crime Teams having spent some time in Shire forces.

One of the first cases he picks up is a murder. A woman is found battered to death in Twickenham. She is quickly identified as the French woman Amelie Delagrande.

That is the starting point to one of the biggest criminal investigations the Met has carried out.

DCI Colin Sutton, acting as SIO, directs his team in an investigation which leads him to link the murder to that of Marsh McDonnell.

Once that link was made Sutton began to think that there may be other murders that were also linked and recorded an action for his team to look into any unsolved serious assaults and murders that fitted the pattern.

Suttons tenacity to detail found him some critics in the force, and maybe in his own team, in that he will leave no stone unturned and run down every possible piece of evidence. It was this tenacity that led to the breakthrough in the case though. The insistence that every piece of CCTV be found and watched, the insistence that every vehicle in the are caught on CCTV be identified.

More crimes started to come to light which may have been connected to the murder of Amelie, and one of the crimes in particular allows the story of one of the bravest victims of crime I have ever heard of being recounted.

Kate Sheedy was knocked over by a vehicle which then stopped and reversed over her. Her injuries were horrific, but it didn’t stop her phoning for help, give good factual evidence to the Police, and ultimately give evidence in court about the man who was eventually charged with the murders of Amelie and Marsha, and the attack on herself.

The man was Levi Bellfield, a man who is more notoriously remembered for killing Milly Dowler.

Colin Sutton recounts the story of his team’s investigation into the murder of Amelie and how it spread to incorporate many other serious crimes. It shows the working life of a detective working a serious crime, the sacrifices that have to be given, the emotions it evokes and the damage that can do to people and relationships professional and personal.

It lays bare Suttons though processes, which at times, although logical, must have been frustrating to some that worked with him.

It shows the all consuming effect investigating a serious crime can have on people, and in this case the serious crimes just kept mounting up the more they looked.

Once they had identified Bellfield, they were certain they had their man but did not have enough evidence to arrest him. One section of the book looks at how they put him under surveillance but the questions was for how long, and what happened if he committed a crime whilst they were watching him. Intervein in its early stages and show their hand before they had enough to charge him on all of the other crimes? What a decision to have to make.

This is not a spoiler because we all know what happened to Bellfield so I can talk about it. The worries and concerns about getting information and further evidence following his arrest. Interviewing him in a way that they can out wordsmith him and trap him in his own words.

The worry of the SIO, and his team, about taking evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service to see if they could proceed with one, some, or all of the crimes they want to charge Bellfield with.

Ultimately the trials and tribulations, the emotional rollercoaster of the trial. Years of work put in front of a Judge, and Twelve people from the “Clapham Omnibus”, and waiting to see if you have done enough to get the conviction that you know you deserve because, without doubt, this man is guilty.

What did surprise me was how Collin Sutton Felt after the trial. Not immediately because he felt the pride and joy that anybody in his position would have felt, but in the months afterwards with a few years left till retirement.

This is not just the story of Collin Sutton. It is a true reflection of his character that he includes many people in his memoir, some for outstanding praise, some for criticism.

He has no hesitation in showing admiration for his team, his peers, even if sometimes some drove him to distraction. He heaps praise on some witnesses, on the remarkable mother and father of Amelie, and shows his admiration of Kate Sheedy and her bravery in giving evidence.

He relates his frustrations at some previous investigations, that if carried out properly may have led to Bellfield being identified and arrested much earlier. He does not hold back at showing us his thoughts and frustrations with some Senior Officers within the Met and other forces. The fact that Bellfield was eventually convicted of the murder of Milly Dowling was more down to Sutton and his team than the actual SIO investigating her murder.

What he does is tell the truth, no filters, just the truth.

For those of us living in the naive belief that this country doesn’t have a problem with serial killers, “that’s an American thing” is something I often hear opined. This book will introduce you to one that terrorised London and the home counties for years. It was just that, until Colin Sutton came along, no one realised there was a serial killer on the loose.

The crimes that he committed, and that are laid out in this book, are unfathomable to most.

Unfortunately they won’t  come as a surprise to those working in the Police and some of their partner agencies.

This book hooked me for many reasons. Not least in how any things I empathised with. Like Colin Sutton I won’t work for a defence team, I have been asked many times but always politely turned them down.

As an expert witness I have sat in Court with Prosecution teams and seen the torment they go through during a trial.

I have stood on the stand giving evidence and felt the eyes of the defendant boring into me during murder trails.

I have never seen those feelings so well recounted as they are in this book.

This is the story of a criminal investigation into one of England’s most notorious killers. But it is so much more than that.

It’s the story of the man who shouldered the burden of responsibility in a professional and personal manner.

It’s the story of the victims and their suffering

It’s the story of a Monster Amongst Us.

It is a fantastic listen as an audio book, and soon the book will sit amongst my reference books in my office.

Final Betrayal

The sixth book in the series, where has that time gone, and every bit as good as the rest.

The small Irish town of Ragmullin is again going to be devastated by murder.

When two women go out on the town together, they get separated, one of them pulls and the other can’t be bothered to wait around for her friend.

When one of the women is reported missing Lottie starts to investigate, she soon finds out that both are missing, and it’s no surprise when they are found murdered.

The killer has left a clue, or is it their signature, but what does it mean.

At same time two other things are happening. A man is released from prison after doing 10 years for a serious assault which eventually ended in his victim dying; and Lottie’s family comes under threat from within.

With Lottie concentrating on the murder of the young women, the last thing she needs is her half-brother meddling in her life, but he does, and he opens a real can of worms.

Part of the investigation see’s the Police covering old ground. A property developer is renovating the Old Courthouse. He’s not the most honest of people and has been on the peripheries of investigations in the past. Has he stepped over the line this time, or is he just a puppeteer trying to manipulate people to get his deals done.

Inevitably this book races to a thunderous end. 

Patricia Gibney has a way of writing a story that has so many threads. It’s a bit like the rail tracks just outside of a main station. Lines running parallel to each other, and occasionally crossing, before they end up at the same destination.

In this case the threads cross numerous times as the different incidents, and investigations, drew close to each other and either crossed or veered off again. This made for an epic  compelling story

I look forward to getting reacquainted with DI Lottie Parker every time a new book comes out, and I’m yet to be disappointed. In fact, every time one comes out, I make the same mistake of picking it up and starting, not realising I’m going to get very little done until I’ve finished it. Yes, it happened again, I read this book over two days, well I did have to stop to sleep.

This is book six in the series. Can it be read as a stand-alone, yes. Should it be read as a stand-alone, no. 

If you haven’t met Lottie Parker yet start with first book and read them in order. You will get so much more out of them if you do.

Pages: 484

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication Date: 18thApril 2019