Bitter Edge Rachel Lynch

This book has the best opening chapter I have ever read. In that one chapter the story of a young fell runner with everything to live for, until she gets injured and becomes hooked on prescription drugs, which leads to her taking illegal drugs until she can’t take it anymore and kills herself, is laid out and sets the tempo for the whole book.

The book looks at the pressures put onto children at secondary schools and sixth form colleges. The on-line bullying, we all hear about, but more surprisingly the often ignored on-line peer pressure. The pressure that is not just put on impressionable youngsters by their immediate peers, but also by the new breed of celebrity, the “Influencers” on sites such as Instagram.

It looks at the boredom of the youths in smaller countryside towns and the way the drug dealers are moving into the countryside to target these kids.

Rachel Lynch has written some great books in this series. DCI Kelly Porter is a great charter and easy to engage with, but for me it’s the crimes and the locations which make these books so stunning.

Everybody would have an idyllic view of the towns around the Lake District, but I suspect that Rachel Lynch’s version is much closer to the truth.

In this book Porter investigates the sudden deaths of students from the same school. She is convinced that somehow the suicides are linked, and her and her team start to uncover a tale of bullying and drug taking. One teacher is suspended following a complaint by a student which leads to the discovery of some illicit images on his computer, but is he being set up.

The head teacher lives in ignorant bliss, whilst teachers are losing control of the school. Rumours are rife and the investigation is sent off in all directions, but is there any truth behind the rumours, they can’t all be lies.

As the investigation continues a girl goes missing and the team fear she is going to be the latest in the long line of suicides, or if Kelly is right, the latest murder victim.

As well as carrying out the investigation Kelly’s personal life is in turmoil following revelations about her mother and father. Her Mom is battling a terminal disease and trying to find peace in her life before it’s too late.

All of this takes place over Christmas which seems to give an added poignancy to the story.

I started this review by saying the opening chapter was the best I’d ever read. It had me hooked into the book straight away. 

The rest of the book? 

It certainly didn’t disappoint. There were times when I couldn’t put it down, and there were times when I had to put it down, and just take a breath.

This book could be read as a stand-alone.

It’s the 4thin the series and I would recommend reading the others first, just to get the full impact of this one. 

Pages: 296

Publishers: Canelo

Publishing date: 25thFebruary 2019

Perfect Crime Helen Fields


Perfect Crime is the fifth book in the DI Luc Callanach, DCI Ava Turner series.

Luc is an ex-Interpol detective who transferred to Scotland when he was wrongly accused of assaulting a female partner.

He has found solace in the company of DCI Ava Turner, both on a professional level and as a friend, but he is still a bit of a closed book to everybody else. Respected for his work everyone on the team like him as a cop, but some of the men see him as a threat to their manhood.

In this book more of his back story comes to light in a way that puts him at the forefront of the suspects in a murder inquiry, and he finds out who his true friends are.

As the senior officers isolate him, from the investigation he is a suspect in, he carries on working with Ava on an investigation which is looking at the suspicious deaths of people with a history of depression and attempts at suicide.

The investigation against Luc puts the pressure on his relationship with the Scottish Police and even worse may compromise Ava professionally.

This series is really good Police Procedural with the undercurrents of a will-they-won’t-they relationship between Luc and Ava.

In this book that relationship is stretched to the limit. Maybe Luc isn’t the innocent man he has been portraying himself as.

The crimes investigated by Ava, looking at the deaths of people who had previously attempted to take their own lives, is compelling in its own way.

Helen Fields has found a group of vulnerable people who make ideal victims for a serial killer. She explores the reasons these people are depressed and what has led them to the place they now find themselves in.

She looks at the people that attempt to help them; and uncovers the nasty side, the people that pray on their vulnerability.

This book can be read as a stand-alone but I would recommend reading the first four in the series first. They are stunning crime novels, and once you’ve read this one you will want to read them anyway. So why not do it in order

Publishers: Avon Books UK

Publishing Date: 18thApril 2019

Her Pretty Bones Carla Kovach

Her Pretty Bones  Carla Kovach

If Carlsberg made Cops.

DI Gina Harte is back. She is probably the most troubled female Police Inspector on the shelves right now, and at the same time she is probably one of the best fictional cops on the shelves at the moment. 

When a young girl falls from the back of a van it quickly becomes apparent that she has been held against her will, she is undernourished and drug dependent, but who is she.

Harte’s teams first task is to identify the girl, then find out what has happened to her.

But this won’t be the last young girl found. Nor will it be the last one the team have difficulty identifying.

At the same time a mother is looking for her runaway daughter, could either of the two unidentified girls be her daughter, or could their story hold the key to finding her.

This book looks into the homeless runaways we see sleeping rough on our streets.

Not all of them come from unloving homes and many of them have families who are frantically looking for them, scared of every knock on the door in case its bad news.

Hartes team run their investigation without knowing about the desperate mom, are both looking into the same thing.

People on the streets tell their story to the mother, where they won’t talk to the Police. As a reader frustration builds when the two sides aren’t communicating. When the mother is left to walk the streets talking to people in the hope that she will uncover some clue to her daughters whereabouts.

The things she hears are hardly comforting, drugs, prostitution, shop lifting, abuse, assaults are day to day experiences for some of the rough sleepers.

This book made me stop and think more than many others have over the years.

Carla Kovach has written a wonderful story. Gina Harte is one of my favourite characters, but for me the star of this book is that Mom who is looking for her daughter.

I cannot begin to imagine what a parent would go through when a child goes missing. And yes I know what goes on, on the streets, but somehow it was all brought home in this book. The horrors of sleeping rough, making allegiances with people that can only bring danger, but in a weird way offer security.

This is a subject that I have read about in other books, but this is by far the best.

Pages: Kindle 2265KB

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 17thJanuary 2019

Gallowstree Lane. Kate London

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The Gallowstree Lane in the title refers to a Road in London where street kids on push bikes selling drugs, and of women selling their bodies because they are hooked on the same drugs.

The book is about a gangs and the Police, but it is so, so, much more than that.

It’s about two sets of politics.

When a young boy Spencer, a foot soldier in the Buds, a drug seller, is stabbed in front of his friend and dies before he can be got to hospital, it looks like the start off the usual tit-for-tat crimes.

For the Police this is a problem, politics and territory kick in.

DI Sarah Collins is the Senior Investigating Officer for the murder, and she is determined to catch the killer before the tit-for-tats start.

DI Kieran Shaw is the head of an undercover operation that is hours away from making its big arrest, which will take some heavy duty weapons off the street and take out the head of the Buds gang. He doesn’t want to jeopardise his operation by sharing information critical to Sarah’s case.

The bosses are on both their cases but have to consider whose crime trumps whose. Is the death of one more street seller worth compromising an investigation which is about to take death off the streets.

DC Lizzie Griffiths is caught between to camps. Stationed on Sarahs team at the start of the investigation, but seconded to Kierans’ almost immediately, her alligencies are torn.

Meanwhile gang politics kick in. Why was Spencer killed and who set him up. Gallowstree Lane is Buds territory and it looks like somebody new is trying to muscle in.

As much as the story focuses on the police investigations it also follows the gang members. Ryan, the in-too-deep teenager that was with Spencer when he was killed.

Lexi a £10 street whore who is full of good intentions, but whose life is controlled by the need for the next fix.

Shakiel, the head of the Buds, and somewhat of a father figure to Ryan.

The politics of the street kicks in. Shakiel doesn’t want to lose face, or territory, or trade. Ryan wants instant revenge but Shakiel sees the bigger plan.

This book is absolutely stunning in its authenticity and one look at Kate London’s bio will tell you why.

She did her time in the Met dealing with the crimes she writes about. That experience is what elevates this book to a whole other level above most of the people writing crime fiction.

Pages: 368

Publisher: Corvus

Publishing date: 7thFebruary 2019

Available to pre-order on Amazon

The Last Lullaby. Carol Wyer

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The second book to feature DI Natalie Wood, a middle-aged woman trying desperately to be a good wife, and mother, at the same time as leading a Major Investigation Team.

When the body of a woman is found brutally murdered in her bedroom suspicion is immediately placed on the husband.

The more the team look into him the more lies and untruths are uncovered but are they anything to do with the murder.

The victim was an entitled woman that thrived on playing people off against each other. The husband is an ex-con who has set up a gym in an underprivileged estate.

The investigation is set spinning in circles by the stories told by locals, and by the mixed messages they are receiving about the victim.

With the investigation going down one cul-de-sac after anther the team are getting nowhere. Then another woman is found dead in very similar circumstances and it becomes clear that it’s the same killer.

The investigation is still going nowhere quick until………you’ll have to read the book to find out.

This is a great story. The frustrations of the police are laid bare as they are sent on one false lead after another by people trying to protect their own back, or simply deciding they don’t want to help the Police.

The main character, Natalie, and her team are flat out. Carol Wyer writes about the affect their career has on their relationships better than any other writer at the moment.

She looks at the almost selfish attitude they have towards keeping the investigation going, usually at the cost of their nearest and dearest.

And the transient characters are equally as good

The first murder victim Charlotte is a woman that wants everything everybody else has, then once she’s got it, she gets bored and gets rid of it. The book could easily have been called Marmite Girl, because people in the book either love her or hate her.

Her Husband is a thug that makes it easy for the reader to want him to be guilty. The people he hangs out with are all rouges that think themselves above the law.

It’s not often that a Police Procedural is based around one murder, and although this one isn’t either, it very nearly is. And its brilliant. It allows the characters to be explored fully and develop. I have a feeling that some of them may make appearances in future books.

A great read and I can’t wait for book 3

Pages: 333

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing date: 7thDecember 2018.

The Liars Wife. Samantha Hayes

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Samantha Hayes has a way of writing that gets the hairs standing up on the back of my neck, and has me turning the lights on at the first hint of darkness.

Imagine being in a desperately abusive relationship and finally having the courage to escape. That is what happened to Ella, and now she is building a new life.

Having dodged the dreaded works night out she is on her way home when she’s involved in a hit and run that leaves her in an induced coma in hospital.

When she wakes up she’s told how lucky she is to have such a wonderful husband as the man that’s been by her side since just after she arrived in hospital. The only thing is she has no recollection of being married, until she sees him. Her ex has the hospital staff wrapped around his little finger and is going to take Ella home and look after her.

If she tries to escape, or raise the alarm, he has a video of something from her past which he will give to the Police. She’s trapped.

All that in the first few chapters, and what follows is a fast paced psychological thriller of the finest order.

Ella needs to get away, her ex isn’t going to let her and if she does he’s going to ruin her. There’s one ray of hope. Liam, a person she has been working with in her new life, is missing her. But if he pokes around too much is he going to put himself and Ella in danger.

The story of what is happening now, is interspersed with events that lead up to what is captured on the video that Ella is being threatened with. Both make compelling stories on their own but woven together they are chillingly good.

Pages: 372

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 22ndNovember 2018.

Last Night Helen Phifer

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Well here’s something you don’t come across very often, a prequel to a series. This is the book that tells the story of Lucy Harwin’s first case as a Detective Inspector, and what a gruesome one it is to cut your teeth on as the Senior Investigating Officer.

When a bunch of 13 year olds decide to go ghost hunting in a derelict church they get more than they bargained for. A woman is hanging upside down, on a crude crucifix made from burnt wood, with her throat cut.

Newley promoted Detective Inspector Lucy Harwin is sent to the scene as the duty SIO and meets up with her, DS Mattie Jackson.

It’s every Police Officers worst scenario, a brutal murder with no clues to work on, and a newly promoted Lucy finds it particularly frustrating. Her team are chasing around trying to identify the body and find any sort of evidence when a second body is found.

This second body brings with it another nightmare for every Police Officer and puts Lucy under even more pressure.

As the body count rises other factors start to lead Lucy and the team down some lines of enquiry that not everybody is comfortable with.

The first time I read one of Helen Phifer’s books I was taken aback by the way she writes, using the correct procedures and terminology, keeping the pace of the book up all the way through. Right up to the very end I was captivated by the pace of the story.

There’s more to her writing than that though. The stories are great, and just like the others this one kept me engrossed from start to finish.

From the first chapter I was sucked into a great scenario. Helen has chosen to use a once prosperous English seaside resort as her setting. I have recently worked in a couple of these towns and didn’t realise how much they had become run down. How they had become great places to set crime stories.

I would usually comment on whether a new book, in an already established series, could be read as a stand-alone.

Well, as this is a prequel the answer is obviously yes.

So, I’ll comment on whether people already reading the series will be disappointed by Helen going back to the start of Lucy Harwin’s career as a DI.

No, they most certainly won’t. What a great tool for giving us more of the back story to some of the key characters in the series, especially Lucy.

And what a tool for getting new readers hooked on a series that is already out there, because if this is the first DI Luck Harwin book you read, I can guarantee you will read the rest of the series and wait for the next instalment as eagerly as me.

Follow the links below for my reviews of the previous DI Lucy Harwin novels

https://nigeladamsbookworm.com/category/the-lost-children/

https://nigeladamsbookworm.com/2017/10/19/dying-breath-helen-phifer/

 

Last Breath Published by Bookouture on November 16th 2018, available to pre-order on Amazon now