All This Will Be Lost Brian Payton

DSCF1100

 

All This Will Be Lost     Brian Payton

 

A few weeks ago I asked Sophie Orme at Pan MacMillan if she had any books that I could review. She asked if I wanted to stick to my usual genre, Police Procedural, Spy, anything legal, and I said no I’ll give anything a go.

That’s how I started of reading my first book with a tag line of “Sweeping epic romance, war-torn drama” on the front page.

All This Will Be Lost by Brian Payton starts off like many good adventure books with 2 people parachuting into enemy held territory after their plane has been shot down. The territory in question this time is the Alaskan Aleutian Islands, and the enemy is the occupying Japanese Army of the Second World War.

The two are an unlikely pair, a young aviator from the USAF, and one of the books protagonists John Easley, a journalist.

The second protagonist is John’s wife Helen.

The story alternates between the two characters, Johns struggle to survive behind enemy lines, and Helens search for her husband who she refuses to believe is dead.

This book kept me reading well into the night, and I picked it up to finish it as soon as I woke up.

It’s not what I expected. There is no mushy love. The love is the love between a woman and the husband she is scared to admit she might have lost; the same love that drives the husband to survive.

There is another relationship in the book, the one that builds between John and the airman he survived with. The battle between the two initially to establish who is the leader becomes an almost brotherly reliance on each other for survival.

There are twists and turns along the way that caught me by surprise. I am not sure whether that’s usual in genre but this story is bought alive by the fact that nothing can be taken fro granted.

It’s not a long book at about 327 pages but it packs all of those pages with a very enjoyable tale.

I try to learn something from all books. With the internet it is easy to research something you read in a book. This little book introduced me to a part of the Second World War that I had never heard of. I have now, and I feel sorry about my ignorance of it before.

Thank you Brian Payton.

Thank you for a good story

Thank you for opening my eyes to a new genre

Thank you for expanding my knowledge.

Every Night I Dream Of Hell Malcolm Mackay

DSCF1098

 

Every Night I Dream of Hell Malcolm Mackay

I love books by this Author. Malcolm Mackay writes from the other side of the law to most. The main protagonists in his books are criminals, they are not people you want to like, but somehow you still end up routing for them.

The book is set in Glasgow amongst an underworld that has recently been disorganised by one of the leaders being imprisoned.

The main character, Nate Logan, is an enforcer for the gang, a violent man with his own rules and values.

The core of the story is an attempted take over of the city’s underworld and the leadership of the gang Logan works for. In a world where nobody can be taken at face value Logan finds himself trying to work out who the enemy is.

Just to confuse matters the mother of his child appears to be trying to reenter his life; and at the same time a Detective Inspector, who is looking into the gang crimes, also makes an approach in an attempt to work with Logan to keep the violence which is erupting to a minimum. Between these two, his young apprentice, and his bosses his loyalties are tested to the limit

The book is a page turner. I’ve used the words morals before but McKay’s books test them like no other.

There is no good guy in this story, just bad ones. The tale is full of twists and turns. Who would you trust in the underworld of one of Britain’s most gang ridden city’s. In this book even their rule book and code of honour is ripped up.

If you want an easy read this is not for you. I read it on two long train journey’s and found that the time had flown by but the most read pages were the 5 at the front, the list of characters with a brief over view of who they are. This is not a criticism, in fact I think more authors should do the same, but without those pages I would have struggled to keep up with who was who, and where their allegiances were.

I don’t use a star ratting or anything like that. I rate a book by who I would recommend it to.

In this case I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book to any of my friends.

Everybody Lies A.D Garrett

Everyone Lies A. D. Garrett

Well I seem to have spent most of 2014 discovering new British authors writing some great crime novels, and it seems that I have left one of the best till last. Amazon suggestions came up trumps when they directed me towards Everyone Lies by A. D. Garrett

This police procedural novel is set in Manchester and the story is based around murders in the sex and drugs industries. If you like gritty, true to life, realistic stories, this is for you. If you don’t like reading about the violence that surrounds the subject then it’s probably best you don’t read this book, but you will be missing out.

From the beginning it is obvious that violence is going to be central to the theme in this book. In some books it’s there for the shock factor, in this one it’s inherent to the tale being told and is used as a tool to describe the viciousness of life within inner city drugs and prostitution trade.

The two main characters DCI Kate Simms and Forensic Practitioner, turned lecturer, Nick Fennimore come together to investigate a spike in drug related deaths and soon uncover a link to the violent deaths of two young prostitutes.

As the investigation progresses and the bodies mount up political, and hierarchical, pressures are put on to DCI  Simms. Her relationship with her colleagues is strained and she increasingly relies on the help of Fennimore. Whilst the story is told it becomes obvious that the two have history and that they have both suffered professionally, and in Fennimore’s case personally, during a previous investigation. Although rules are broken the story remains believable.

The forensics in this book are second to none I have read in a work of fiction, and it came as no surprise to find out that A D Garrett is the pen name of a writing duo; Margaret Murphy a prolific writer of crime novels; and Proffessor Dave Barclay, a Forensic Practitioner/ Lecturer who I cannot help but wonder if the character of Nick Fennimore was at least partially based on.

There are places in the book where it is tough reading not just because of the violence but because of the science. Fennimore is a great believer in applying Bayesian Statistical Analysis, and uses it to build his initial hypothesis, which is great as long as you understand it. Thankfully I do.

Margaret Murphy has a section on her web site where she discusses the use of graphic violence in her novels. I agree with everything she said in the article, and this book is a perfect example of her reasoning. The violence is there. Is it graphic, in my opinion yes but not shocking. She describes violent actions which people would rather not accept are happening, they are. Without those passages in this book it would have been just another crime novel.

So we have a collaboration between a no-holds-barred novelist, with an up to date Forensic Practitioner. What’s not to like.

The second book in the series is already on my Kindle and hopefully it won’t be the lasteveryone-lies-200px

Killing for Keeps Mari Hannah

Killing for Keeps    Mari Hannah

Earlier this year I wrote a blog about the first four books in The DCI Kate Daniels series written by Mari Hannah. I said then that she was the best British Crime Writer I had read; this latest book confirms her place at the top of my reading list.

Killing for Keeps starts with a violent assault quickly followed by a gruesome murder. I wrote about Deadly Deceit that there was an original story line with one of the murders. In the first murder of this book Mari Hannah takes it up another notch. The description of DCI Daniels and her Crusty Trusty Sergeants arrival at the incident, and the scene they encounter, was so realistic I could imagine it being told by some of my old colleagues around a pub table. Again this murder was original to me in a book of fiction, but so well detailed I cannot believe that it hasn’t happened somewhere and that maybe Hannah has researched it, if not what an imagination.

The story brings back all of the characters in Daniels Team, although in this book they take more of a back seat with Daniels and Gormley taking the majority of the story-line. Along with the established members of Kate’s team and Jo Soulsby, her will-she-won’t-she love interest, we are introduced to a list of criminal characters from some old style “Family” gangs.

The book takes the reader from Newcastle to Scotland and on to Spain. Each destination is described perfectly and is there for a reason, you don’t get unnecessary padding in any of Hannah’s books.

The story is excellent. I was hooked from page one and finished it within 2 days. I will not put any spoilers in this blog which would give the game away but with families involved the plot obviously revolves around revenge, but for what, and by whom exactly. At one point towards the end of the book I actually caught myself not breathing. The suspense gets built up in several places and you fear the worst but when it comes, it comes out of nowhere.

I like to think that I can usually predict the ending of most books but I must have had about half a dozen different guesses at this one before getting to the end and finding out for sure.

What I Like most about Mari Hannah’s writing is that I never have to suspend reality. The subjects she covers are real; the procedures, or sometimes lack of them, are real; the main characters are realistic, as are their strengths and weaknesses; the criminal characters are as realistic as I’ve ever read.

I could happily recommend this book to friends who are in the Police and know that they will enjoy it for its realism as much as me.

I recently found out that Pan MacMillan have Mari Hannah contracted for another two books following this one. Please let it be more, and soon.

It has also been announced that a company has acquired the TV rights. If they stick to the storylines in the books, those programs will be brilliant

.IMG_0672

The G File HÅKAN NESSER

The G File HÅKAN NESSER

I read this book knowing it was the last in a series and the big question is will I be reading the back catalogue?

The book is big, running to just over 600 pages; the first half is set in 1987, the second in 2002. I couldn’t help thinking that Nesser had two stories left to tell and put them both into the same book, although the same mystery runs throughout.

It begins with a young lady acquiring the services of Maarten Verlangen, a washed out ex-police investigator turned private detective, to keep watch on her husband. The inevitable murder soon occurs and forms the spine of the story that runs through the book.

The murder is officially investigated  by Police Officer Chief Inspector Van Veeteren. Van Veeteren has history with the main suspect, going back to when they were children. His investigation is marred by his feelings for the suspect and he proceeds on a personal campaign to prove him guilty. These feelings are based more on Van Veeterens guilt, with not having curtailed the suspect’s activities when they were in their youth, than any evidence for the current case.

The case remains unproved in 1987 but is revisited, by a now retired VanVeeteren, in 2002 when Verlangen disappears leaving a mysterious note.

I would be surprised if any crime fiction fan does not solve this murder pretty quickly, but you will have to plod your way through another 500 pages to confirm your thoughts.

The writing in this book reminds me of Colin Dexter, the backdrop and characters are beautifully described. All the way through I was reminded of the Morse series.

Some of the spoken word is a little old fashion and I couldn’t help but wonder if it was written in that way or was it as a result of a “direct translation”; or is it that actually Scandinavians use better English than the modern day British reader is used to.

I think I did suffer from not reading the other books first. This story feels like Nesser is retiring a much loved character, and many of his fans will probably enjoy it a lot more than I did.

So will I read any of the back catalogue. Maybe, but it will not be top of my reading list.

The Night The Rich Men Burned Malcolm Mackay

The Night The Rich Men Burned. Malcolm Mackay

 

This book falls into a new genre for me. It’s the first time I have read a book that’s written purely from gang member perspectives.

The book starts with two young friends, Oliver Peterkinney and Alex Glass, looking for work, any work. They live in a rundown area of Glasgow where legal work is hard to come by so they take on a money collection for a loan shark.

I won’t spoil the book by going into detail but the rest of the story revolves around their very different journeys in the gangland life. As one flourishes and moves through the ranks the other is outcast and becomes a victim.

Their lives intertwine throughout the book and it is interesting to see the way Mackay shows the scene through different eyes. The emotionally void morals of the loan sharks and the people who work for them; the fear and downward spiral of the people they prey on.

He describes the sparring leading to an inevitable war between different gangs. The way leaders manipulate situations using thugs but never get their own hands dirty. He describes the way money lenders sell their clients debts onto ruthless collectors, and shows some of the ways the debts are collected why alluding to others.

Inescapably the book leads to a tumultuous end as the gangs try to take over the city, with Peterkinney and Glass involved to the very end.

The story is fast paced, split into short chapters that had me thinking “I’ll just read one more chapter” It was never just one more I read the book in 2 nights.

This book is dark and gritty without being gruesome. It made me think about how easy it would be to become involved in the downward spiral of owing money to a loan shark.

Above all the book is very realistic. Those of us that have had to work in the aftermath of similar events that occur in this story will recognise how accurate this book is. Most people, I hope, will only visit the scenes on pages of books. If they do they will not find a more realistic account than this.

This is the first of Malcolm Mackay’s books that I have read. It won’t be the last

DSC_0002

Whom Evil Touches D.E. Royce

Whom Evil Touches  D.E.Royce

 

Early in this book Royce gives us the origin of the phrase “The real McCoy”, so was this book the real McCoy.

If I was browsing book shelves, or trawling through Amazon I might have missed this book. At 203 pages it’s a bit small for me, but it was recommended to me by somebody I had been talking to on Twitter so I gave it a go.

The prologue guides us through the natural history of the New England coast and neatly ties in the start of the story.

From the start it is hard to see who the main character of the book is; but that is not a problem, all the characters have equal billing and are only on the page when they are required. This gives a round balanced and refreshingly unusual angle to the narrative that lets you see the whole picture.

The Police characters are given brief introductions, to give them personality, but none are weighed down with the usual baggage; they are there to solve the crime not to give us moral dilemmas regarding their drinking, gambling, or current divorce, at last real people as Police Officers

The characters involved in the crime, are the type of people Law and Order Officers meet on a daily basis and their characters are well described without needless flamboyancy.  

The story is one of a missing woman, Judy, who it quickly becomes obvious is dead, and the mess she has been involved in.  As the story unfolds it is apparent that the Bank in which she worked is under investigation, and working out who was involved with the irregularities at the bank seems to become central to the murder investigation.

Judy is a complex character and had lived a life of lies; but to what end, and did they lead to her being killed. Everybody she is involved with seems to have a reason to be the one that killed her. Every time you think you know who the murderer is something happens to make you change your mind.

The end comes quickly and if I’m honest a little too quickly for me but it’s not a disappointment.

Comparing books to TV series, If you like programs like Luther or Whitechapel, this book might not be for you but give it a go it’s worth it. If you prefer Midsummer Murder, or Lewis then this book will be right up your street.

Was This book the “Real McCoy” for me Yes it was and I look forward to the next one, hopefully using some of the same characters.