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

Truth and Lies. Caroline Mitchell

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Straight off, I loved this book.

Take a sprinkling of Fred and Rose West and add a pinch of Myra Hindley and there you have the main villain in this book.

Lillian Grimes is in prison for being one half of a husband and wife team that went from swinging to killing. Carrying out deprived sex attacks and killing their victims after luring them into their home. The victims were buried in the garden, under the cellar floor, and in the walls.

Lillian’s husband killed himself in prison but had already told police there were three other victims. He named them but didn’t say where they were buried.

Now Lillian is using that to her advantage. She wants to drip the information to detectives, but she has a price.

DI Amy Winter is a pocket rocket of a detective. At 5”2 she is not very tall but don’t ever underestimate her.

Amy’s dad was one of the cops who put Lillian in prison, his recent death has left a hole, but she is determined to carry on.

When Lillian gets in touch and says she will only deal with Amy, and will take her to the first burial site, Amy has no idea of the effect it’s going to have on her.

As Lillian plays her mind games a young girl is kidnapped. Amy and her team should be concentrating on the kidnapping, but Amy’s head is with the missing bodies and the revelations Lillian keeps making.

This book is tremendous. I can’t remember a book ever having me hooked so quickly, and kept me hooked so thoroughly until the very last page.

Caroline Mitchell is an ex-Detective and her experience always shines through in the reality of her books; but this book has taken it to another level.

The tension is brilliant. The inter-weaving of the plot lines make the story play out wonderfully.

The reference to Fred and Rose, and Myra Hindley, at the beginning of this blog are not waffle. The crimes Lillian has been convicted of are Fred and Rose’s crimes, or bloody close to them. The fact that Hindley also tried to curry favour by taking the police to the moors to show where the bodies of some of the victims were buried, is also very reminiscent of Lillian’s behaviour.

But there was something else that Rose West and Myra Hindley had in common, and so has Lillian.

What an utterly compelling read. One that had me doing my own research to see if my thoughts were right. Just my kind of book.

Oh, and there’s a twist right at the end. Please let there be a sequel. I want to know what happens next.

Pages: 348

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Publishing Date: 30th August 2018.

The Birthday. Carol Wyer

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2 years after she went missing the body of Ava Sawyer is found buried in the grounds of the Garden Centre she disappeared from during a birthday party.

DI Natalie Wood and her small team are tasked with finding answers the original team to investigate the disappearance didn’t.

But this is no ordinary missing persons/murder investigation. Now that the body has been found it acts as a catalyst for more crimes. More of the girls from the party start  to get killed and are left posed in public places.

The investigation very much becomes a race against time.

The team have to find a killer. There are so many suspects, each one looking like they could be the killer, but each of them ruled out as suspects.

Have the team missed the killer?

Natalie already blames herself for one child abduction and murder case, she worked on, being tragically unsuccessful. She wasn’t the boss on that investigation, but she is on this one.

Has she learnt from others mistakes?

The last case affected her mentally and emotionally. Can she hold it together through this case?

The characters in this book are just what you would expect to find in any police team. DI Wood is struggling to balance her work and personal life. How can she try to keep her marriage going and still conduct such a high profile and emotional case.

Her team are made up of a mix of characters who it are easy to associate with and I’m sure we will get to know as the series progresses. There are friendships and there is conflict, just like the real world.

The best thing about this story is the realism. Carol Wyer hits so many nails on the head with the observations she makes.

She brings to life the frustrations of a real investigation.

The amount of facts that come flooding in and need sorting.

Deciding on what takes priority, and the worry that the decision was wrong.

When is it right to send your team home for rest, when every minute is so vital and may literally mean the difference between life and death.

There is one passage in the book when Natalie is struck by the normality of ongoing life after a traumatic incident.

In my career the thing that always used to get into my head was the disrupted normality. A terrible fire in a bedroom that had claimed lives, yet breakfast places set in the unaffected kitchen downstairs. School coats, which would never be worn again, hanging over the backs of chairs.

Not many authors consider this, and even less describe the feelings and emotions so well. It is only a small passage in the book, but it shows the consideration that has been put into it.

This is the first book in a new series. I think it’s going to be stunning.

Pages: 316

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 27th September 2018.

Her Final Hour Carla Kovach

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Straight off I’m going to say this is one of my Books of the Year.

I was hooked from the first chapter.

In 1993 a girl is drugged and raped.

In the present day a woman is struggling to escape an abusive marriage when she is killed.

DI Gina Harte has just landed after a few days away on holiday and is called in to lead the investigation into the death.

Gina is a good DI with a proven tack history and is well respected amongst her colleagues. What they don’t know is that she was in an abusive marriage for years, and this investigation is going to resurrect memories and take her to a really dark place.

The murder is almost perfect, and it quickly becomes apparent that the team are looking for somebody who is forensically aware and is going to be difficult to identify.

What is the connection to the rape in the prologue, that would be too much of a spoiler, but it’s just one of the strands of this plot that weaves a great story.

Nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors, not everybody is living in a happy-ever-after way.

The story also shows the consequences of actions taken by the Police, and the perceptions some people have of them on a personal basis.

Gina manages to put herself in mortal danger, as well as the emotional turmoil she is in as she remembers her late husband.

Her emotions lead this to become a very personal investigation and she will have to dig deep to come out of the investigation with her mind and body intact.

This story made me think. There is something about the crime, and the perpetrator, or is it perpetrators, (you’ll have to read it to find out) that is strikingly obvious, but that I’ve never read about or considered before.

Carla Kovach has come up with an original plot with one hell of a twist at the end.

I didn’t see it coming but it gave me one of those “Of Course. That makes perfect sense” moments

The story starts of fast and just keeps going. I have used the phrase, “ I couldn’t put it down” before, and usually it just means I read it in a few sittings over a couple of days. This one I really couldn’t put down. If I didn’t have to sleep it would have been a one sitting read.

This is the second book in the Gina Harte series. Below is a link to my review of the first The Next Girl

https://nigeladamsbookworm.com/2018/04/04/the-next-girl-carla-kovach/

 

Her Final Hour

Pages: 316

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing date: 23rd August 2018.