THE SILENT DOLLS. Rita Herron

The Silent Dolls Rita Herron

Rita Herron is a new author to me, but she shot straight to the top of my list of must read authors after reading this book.

But it was so nearly a different story. The first chapter in this book sets a scene that makes it seem like this book is going to be like a rural Lethal Weapon with the main character being a female Riggs. How wrong was I.

Thank god I went past that chapter because this turned out to be the best US crime book I’ve read for a very long time.

If you like CJ Box and his Joe Pickett books for their settings you’ll love this book, set in the woods and mountains of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia

The main character, Detective Ellie Reeves, is scared of the dark. Why? Because she got lost in the woods on the Appalachian Trail when she was very young.

Now she’s a detective in Bluff County, the home of the starting point for the trail. So when a little girl goes missing it’s up to Ellie to look for her. What she uncovers during the investigation will send ripples all along the trail, and will have consequences close to home.

The girl that goes missing is not the first, but because the perpetrator has been moving along the trail nobody has put together the spasmodic disappearance of young girls in different jurisdictions, and it takes FBI agent Derrick Fox to highlight the link to Ellie.

The problem is Fox thinks two people close to Ellie, her father and a close friend, might be prime suspects.

This is a great story, set in rural, small town, America. It has everything to combine a great crime thriller with an great psychological thriller. A hunt for a missing child in the wild landscape is made harder by the approach of an in coming winter storm, a brilliant use of the occasional local radio weather reports really adds to the tension.

Ellie is a great character, amongst a cast of equally good bit part players, who hopefully will make appearances in future books.

Will there be future books, I hope so. This is billed as the first in a series, and it does end on a hell of a cliff hanger.

Pages: 366

Publishers: Bookouture

Publishing date U.K. 17th July 2020

HIDDEN LAKE. RUHI CHOUDHARY

When she was 12 years old Mackenzie Price came home to find her mother had killed her abusive husband. Together they buried him in the woods.

Price is a fantastic character. Stuck in a prison cell created by her own mind, a Psychological Faraday Cage that refuses to allow her happiness, she suffers constant flashbacks of her childhood, and the abuse her mother suffered before her fathers death.

When the discovery of a body takes her deep into the woods close to her fathers shallow grave she’s worried that the crime will be uncovered and that her life and career will be ruined.

But it’s not her father, it’s the body of Erica, a girl that’s been missing for a year. The high school princes daughter of a rich family there have been posters of her up around the city since she disappeared. Everybody knows her face.

At the same time her body is discovered her Best Friend Abby goes missing, the daughter of a single mother, a mother who works as a waitress in a local strip club, she doesn’t get anywhere near the attention that Erica did.

That annoys Mackenzie, what annoys her even more is she is convinced the two cases are linked, but the senior officers in her department seem determined to keep the two investigations separate, concentrating the majority of their efforts on a girl that’s been dead for a year, instead of on a girl that’s only just gone missing and could still be alive.

What’s more Mackenzies only real friend in the Department, Nick, who is leading Erica’s murder investigation is being alienated by her, and now he’s the only one who seems to be thinking along the same lines as her. Eventually they will have to work together but at what cost.

This is a very simplistic outline of the start of a brilliantly complex plot that had me hooked from the start.

As the story expands, and Mackenzie’s story unfolds, her character becomes addictive. Emotional on the inside but steely on the out, she won’t allow herself stimulants like coffee, or cigarettes. Yet she ploughs through the day fuelled by little but fresh air. It has to take its tole.

Not only has Ruhi Choudhary created, a great character she has created a great scene, a fictional city on the brink of despondency. As she says, it’s a city people are escaping from more than they are being attracted to. Hopefully it’s a Canvas for her to paint many more pictures on as we see Mackenzie fight her demons as much as the city’s crime.

Without doubt she is now one of my must read authors, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Pages: 409
Publishers: Bookouture
Publishing Date UK: 19th August 2020

DEAD PERFECT. NOELLE HOLTEN

Dead Perfect. Noelle Holten

The third book in the Detective Constable Maggie Jamieson series.

Maggie is one of those cops that gets things done, in her own way, and sometimes to the detriment of her relationship with her colleagues, and her friends. She rubs people up the wrong way most of the time but she gets things done. So basically she is what we all want to be. She says it as it is, ignores advice, and ploughs her own farrow.

But she is fiercely protective of her few friends, and one of those friends is Criminal Psychologist Kate Maloney. Kate is another anomaly from the norm, an Irish Goth who specialises in Criminal Profiling. She’s also one of my favourite fictional characters.

So when when a body is found that is dressed, and made-up, to look like Dr Kate, Maggie is both scared that her friend is in danger, and determined to solve the murder.

It’s not until a second body, dressed and made-up, in the same way turns up that people that other people, including Kate, start to share Maggie’s concerns

What follows isn’t just a crime thriller, or a police procedural, it’s a cracking psychological thriller.

Noelle Holten has a way of writing that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. The suspense she builds is enough to have me turning the pages well into the night, in fact her books are the very definition of “I couldn’t put it down”

Then there’s what is becoming her trade mark. The last page twist, the last page cliff hanger.

Just when you think the story is ending, and you turn the last page. WHAM!!!

She smacks you in the face and hooks you into the next book.

Absolutely Brilliant.

This book isn’t out until October, so if you haven’t read the first two, Dead Inside and Dead Wrong, you have time. Believe me you won’t be disappointed

Pages: 400
Publishers: One More Chapter
Publishing date: 16th October 2020.

BURIED ANGELS. PATRICIA GIBNEY

Buried Angels. Patricia Gibney

I always look forward to the release of the next Lottie Parker book. Set in the midlands of Ireland there’s always that feeling of a cross over between a big city and small village. The crimes are always big, and complex. The issues raised are always quite personal, whether it’s for the victims, perpetrators, witnesses, or the investigation team. In fact Patricia Gibney writes about the personal tortures better than just about everybody else.

This story starts with one of those personal tortures, a family conflict. A young woman is renovating a house left to her husband. When she breaks through a wall, into a boarded off alcove, she finds a skull, and she’s convinced it’s human. Her husband disagrees, and convinces her it’s a toy and that she shouldn’t call the police.

Meanwhile two boys are playing with a drone over a quiet railway line. When they spot something on the camera they soon realise it’s a body. When the police arrive they find it’s a headless body that has been frozen.

As more body parts start to be discovered the team find out that they are trying to put more than 1 jigsaw back together.

What starts of with a skeletal skull and a frozen torso soon escalates. Although the body parts are old somebody must be responsible for dumping the frozen torso, and other bits as they start to be discovered. It doesn’t matter when the murders took place, somebody today is moving things around. Why now.

Another thing Patricia Gibney is really good at is making complex plots with relatively small pools of characters. With crimes happening in a small town this has to be the case. There is not so much 6 degrees of separation as 2 or 3, and it works brilliantly. The way she weaves the strand of the plot you never really know what’s coming next. Revelations lead to revelations. Relationships are normal except when you least expect it.

Her biggest skill is always making you think. Where did that come from, followed quickly by, how did I not see that coming.

Everything works, everything is realistic, and just like the body jigsaws in this book, all the pieces fit together and you sit back and think, what an amazing picture that has painted.

Can you tell I loved this book.

Yes it’s book 8 in a series.
Yes it can be read as a stand-alone
Yes you should read the other 7, and if this is your first Lottie Parker book I’m pretty sure you’ll be getting your hands on them.

Pages: 451
Publishers: Bookouture
Available now.

Somebody’s Daughter. Carol Wyer

Somebody’s Daughter. Carol Wyer

In about 6 weeks I will be taking part in the blog tour for the publication of SOMEBODY’S DAUGHTER by Carol Wyer, but having just finished it I thought I’d do quick, short, review to let people know just how good it is.

Yes it is the latest in a series but this book can easily be read as a stand-alone, in fact it’s almost a fresh start for the main character as she has recently been promoted and is now Detective Chief Inspector Natalie Ward.

The star of this book is the crime and the victims. I try to never give spoilers and this all happens in the first few chapters so I’m not giving much away. Two young girls who fall for the wrong man, a drug addict who grooms girls, then forces them into prostitution to feed his habit, are murdered.

The investigation team is led by the newly promoted DI Lucy Carmichael, but with so many possible strands to the investigation where does she start. Is this case too big for the new boss.

The story looks at, family relations, bullying, grooming, sex work, drug taking, and that’s just the crime.

Then it looks at the problems caused by new dynamics. Lucy’s new dynamic of being the team leader and dealing with the petty jealousies of some subordinates, whilst worrying about what her superiors think.

Natalie’s new dynamic of being the DCI with a less hands on approach whilst mentoring Lucy through being in charge of her first major investigation. All the time dealing with her new dynamic at home.

The way Carol Wyer keeps it real has always let me enjoy her books more than most others.

Pages: 329
Publisher: Bookouture
Publishing Date: 9th July 2020

HER LAST MISTAKE. Carla Kovach

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A wedding day in a nice Country House Hotel.

Holly, one of the Bridesmaids, is killed in her room.

It almost sound like an Agatha Christie plot. But Miss Christie never wrote like this, in fact I don’t think she would have stood a chance against some of the modern day writers.

Carla Kovach is one of the best of these modern crime fiction authors, and the thing she does best is line up a series of suspects, making each one very plausible. This turns each book into a proper who-done-it.

In this one there is the mystery boyfriend, the local drug dealer, and a childhood friend of the bride who has never forgiven Holly for taking her friend away from her all those years ago.

All this in the first 30% of the book. (I read it on a Kindle)

Every time I thought I knew who the killer was there a little twist that made me change my mind. Not the type of twist where you think “Crikey where did that come from” just a tiny nuance, or hint, just a little thing to lead my mind down a different path.

From there the story just gets better and better. It’s a fast paced book which takes place over a few days, and leads to a wonderful conclusion.

The characters in a book are as important as the plot as far as I’m concerned. DI Gina Harte is one of the best. Every book in this series could be read as a stand-alone but the Gina-plot, which runs through all of the books, is one of the best stories I’ve read. Her story alone would have made an excellent book.

Keep them coming Carla Kovach, I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Pages: 358

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 11th May 2020

 

THE SECRET ADMIRER. CAROL WYER

The Secret Admirer.      Carol Wyer

When I reviewed the last book in this series I asked, How is Carol going to top that.

Well she has, and she’s done it in style.

The start of the book picks up 3 months after the end of the previous one and finds DI Natalie Ward living on her own, in a small flat, getting ready to return to work for the first time since the shocking conclusion of Blossom Twins.

She’s not sure of how she is going to react to some of the scenes she knows she is going to have to attend, the first one couldn’t be much worse.

A young woman has had Acid thrown in her face and has died a horrible death.

When a second murder follows quit quickly afterwards it appears to be related.

With no time for a gradual reintroduction to work, and battling her own demons, Nat and her team are in a race against time to stop a killer who is quickly escalating.

This book, like all of Carol Wyer’s Books, had me gripped from the very beginning, but where Carols books differ from so many others is that she keeps me hooked with every chapter.

She recognises that many crimes affect small groups of people, and manages to find a way of engaging me with every character, in her small cast of characters

Natalie, herself, is one of the best fictional cops I’ve ever read about. Her story across the series has been fascinating, and at times heart breaking.

The occasional characters which make up her team, and her family, are stunningly written and add a depth to each book with their own intertwining story-lines.

But, in my opinion, the criminals and victims stories always give the books extra edge.

All of these combine in this book. Natalie and her ongoing emotional and mental struggles. The small community of characters involved in the crime, two houses full of students, and their families. The twist in the plot which sees Natalie’s husband come under suspicion.

At 413 pages this book is a bit longer than the average book released these days, but every page holds something. As the DJ’s of old used to say it’s “All Thriller and No Filler”

Could this book be read as a stand-alone? Yes

Should this book be read as a stand-alone. No, why would anybody want to miss out on the rest of the series.

A brilliant read from one of my favourite authors.

Pages: 413

Publisher: Bookouture

Available now.

DEAD WRONG. NOELLE HOLTEN

Two years ago DC Maggie Jamieson was a major player in putting mass murderer Bill Raven behind bars. Maggie had been the main interviewer as Raven confessed to chopping up at least 3 women, and although he named them, he didn’t say where their remains were, and they were never found.

Now he wants to retract his confessions, throwing doubt onto everything about the original conviction, including the in Jamieson’s integrity.

Then dismembered body parts start to show up. Forensic tests show that they belong to the women that Raven confessed to killing. The problem is he’s been in jail for 2 years, and the women have only been dead a matter of days. Where have these women been, and who is killing them.

The clock is ticking as Maggie tries desperately to solve the murders and tries and link Raven to them before he is released on appeal.

Maggie’s visits to interview Raven are a complete mind game. She knows it but is having trouble convincing her own colleagues, let alone the legal system.  So she turns to her friend, Dr Kate Maloney, to help with a psychological profile.

What a story. Noelle Holten is fan of Crime Fiction, and a skilled writer. This book played on every perceived conception I had as I was trying to work out who was the killer. She has written it in such a way that I was kept guessing right up to the end, and what an ending it is.

The characters are fantastic. Maggie is close to being insubordinate, yet insecure at the same time. Bill Raven is brilliantly written, as good a nemesis as I have ever come across.

This book will take your breath away more than once, but don’t relax, one of the biggest gasps comes right in the very last line of the book.

Pages: 432

Publisher: One More Chapter

Available now 

Silent Scream. Five years anniversary

Five years ago today the first DI Km Stone book was published. I read that first book a few months later and immediately read the second.

I haven’t stopped reading them since, with book 12, Killing Mind, out soon I thought I’d look back at my first review which looked at both Silent Scream, book 1, and Evil Games, book 2

Silent Scream & Evil Games Angela Marsons

Two books one blog. There’s a reason for that. I read the last page of Silent Scream and immediately opened the first page of Evil Games.

I don’t like giving plots away so I’m not going to talk too much about the story line of each of these, I’ll just talk about the writing and main character.

I enjoyed these books more than most others I’ve read over the last few years. Angela Marsons has created a brilliantly complex character in Detective Inspector Kim Stone and hopefully we’ll have a few more outings with her and her team in the future.

Silent Scream introduces DI Stone in a tale centred on child abuse at a Local Authority Home. Are current day murders linked with abuse at the home? In todays society we are becoming more aware of these abuse cases and it makes the book relevant and up to date.

Stones own history mirrors that of the children who stayed at the home, and her back-story is slowly revealed as the book moves on.

The conclusion of the book is not as easy to predict as some stories of the same genre, and with twists and turn to the very end this book is a great read.

Evil Games follows on, but can be read separately, from Evil Games.

In this book Stone identifies the link between several serious crimes, including a murder. More of Stones back-story is revealed and the reader is given a greater insight into her psyche.

Along the way Stone comes into contact with her nemesis and an intellectual and psychological battle takes place that kept me enthralled right to the end of the book.

Twists and turns throughout show that Angela Marsons has a knack for complex plots without resorting to fanciful and unbelievable stories.

Angela Marsons has set these books close to where I live. Her descriptions of the places and people are perfect. It is a testament to her that at one time in the Evil Games I shouted out loud that she had something wrong, only to realise she was inventing a shop in which a suspect child abuser was working, maybe it is best to use a fictional premises in that case.

Further testament to her research skills is found in the derelict children’s home she uses in Silent Scream. It used to exist, it had a bad reputation amongst the locals, and it had a fire. I know this because I investigated it when I was still in the Fire Service.

I have a feeling that, like many other authors, Angela Marsons is only published locally.

One of the great things about e-books and companies like Amazon is it has allowed me to read books by people I would never have had access to by simply walking into my local shop.

So wherever you are in the world, get a copy of these books. Sit back and enjoy

Her Silent Cry, Lisa Regan, Blog Tour

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Her Silent Cry is the 6thBook in the Josie Quinn series written by Lisa Regan.

I have been lucky enough to have been on board with this series from the start, and I’ve loved every book. So could this one live up to my expectations. Definitely.

The main character Josie Quinn has had a rough ride, from childhood to Detective, and that story alone would be worthy of its own book, but you won’t be left behind if you read this as a stand-alone.

Lisa Regan has a way of writing that I rarely come across. She manages to make the read comfortable, whilst covering the most horrific of crimes. This is never “cosy-crime”, but the stories always slide by really quickly.

Her characters are amazing, Quinn is feisty, pretty, stubborn, and a hell of a good cop.

Her partner Noah is a bit of a mystery to those that don’t know him, and there’s a good reason for that, but Quinn knows him, and they spark together brilliantly

The victims suffer, and boy do some of them suffer, at the hands of some of the best criminals in fiction at the moment.

The setting is perfect Denton, a small town in the US surrounded by forests and mountains means Regan can set just about any crime she wants in a realistic surrounding, but the best part is the isolation she finds in scenes set in the wilds. If it was a film I’d be watching from behind the sofa

So here’s my review of Her Silent Cry, book six in my favourite American Crime series

Her Silent Cry    Lisa Regan

For once Detective Josie Quinn is having some time off and has taken a friends young son to the park for a day out. The piece is soon shattered when a 7 year old girl goes missing, right from under her parents noses, in the same park.

Off duty or not Josie is soon directing operations to try to find the girl. Joined by her team, and a good proportion of the local community the search proves fruitless.

Against her boss’s best wishes Quinn calls in a specialist FBI team that specialise in investigating the abduction of children.

The FBI and Quinn’s team are at a loss to identify the abductor, until a phone call to the parents strikes fear to everybody’s hearts. Their demand, or lack of it, is chilling, and would be every parent’s nightmare.

Quinn has formed a good relationship with the family and the FBI begin to rely on this, but is she getting all the information she needs from them.

This is a cracking story.

One simple crime, an abduction, strikes fear into the community, but things start to get worse.

Lisa Regan has built a strong community of characters in this series. She uses their emotions and feelings to permutate through the story and build up the suspense.

Unlike most series any of these books can be read as a stand-alone. The reader will learn bits of the back stories of the main characters, without being left wondering what is going on.

The setting is perfect. A small City with plenty of isolated rural areas, which allows Regan to set parts of the book in a built up area, whilst having all the suspense of settings in remote country areas.

This book, and this series, ideal for fans of crime series written by the likes of Angela Marsons, Patricia Gibney, Carol Wyer and Graham Smith.

 

Publishing Date: 14thAugust

Publishers: Bookouture