THE DARE Carol Wyer

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What would you do if your daughter went missing?

What would you do when she turned up after 48 hours and stated she had been taking part in a social media craze?

What would you do if your daughter went missing for 48 hours, and you were hoping she was taking part in the craze, but was then found murdered?

Social media is responsible for a lot these days and teenagers are particularly vulnerable to the trends, or should I say they are influenced.

What a concept to set a murder story around, and Carol Wyer has pulled it off to perfection.

The first girl to go missing, and later turn up dead is Savannah, and her mom will always blame herself for not being home when she should have been.

This is where DI Natalie Ward and her team start the investigation. An investigation that will be hindered by the social media trend, some of the girls going missing are simply hiding away for effect. Others are not so fortunate.

So, is somebody using the missing for 48 hour game to find their victims, or is there a murderer who is targeting random teenage girls.

As Natalie and her team carry out the investigation they uncover the secret lives that teenage girls keep from their parents, and I couldn’t help but think how realistic that is.

Shop lifting and dating older men are just two of the things these girls have been up to, and the perceived loyalty of their friends in keeping secret their slightly nefarious activities is hindering the Police’s investigation.

As girls go missing, and bodies start to be found, the team are in a race against time to identify the killer.

But has this killer found the best way yet of putting the Police of their scent. Not every missing girl ends up dead, but they all need investigating and its taking time. Time the Police can’t afford to waste on false leads.

Natalie is very aware of the lives of teenagers as she is the mother of two of them, and receives very little support from her husband in bringing them up.

In fact Natalie’s home life is slowly going down the pan and its beginning to distract her at a time when she least needs distracting.

Will she keep her mind on the game? Will she and her team, identify the killer before the body count gets out of hand?

This is book three in the DI Natalie Ward Series. All three have been brilliant stories, and have all had very original plots. The story of Natalie hooks me as nearly as much as the crimes she’s solving.

As a character Natalie Ward stands out as being one of the most realistic. Her problems are everyday problems, her family is a normal family, but her husband has got a problem and its driving a wedge between them.

The thing I find about these books is how on point they are. The issues with social media are very current and are most parents nagging worries with their teenagers, and Carol Wyer exploits that fear in this book.

The problem her husband has is one of Britain’s growing problems, he’s a gambler, and a again Carol explores the problems with living with somebody who’s gambling in a brilliant manner.

Yes this is book 3 in the series, but it can be read as a stand-alone.

My recommendation would be read all three, in fact if you are looking for some books to read around the pool, or on the beach this summer, get all three and save them to binge read. You won’t be disappointed.

Pages: 378

Publisher: Bookouture

Available: Now.

Final Betrayal, Patricia Gibney. Blog Tour

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Today sees the publication of the latest in the DI Lottie Parker series by Patricia Gibney. So is book 6, FINAL BETRAYAL, as good as the rest of the series? Of course it is.

I recently read that the series had reached the milestone of 1,000,000 copies being sold. This should have come as no surprise. At the end of each year I get a break down of the statistics from my web site. In 2017 and 2018 the reviews of Patricia’s books were in the top three most viewed on my site. The stats also show that many of the hits come from the US. In the “gumph” sent out by her publishers, Bookouture, it states that she is a best seller in the UK, USA, Canada, and Australia.

All of this has to be a testament to how good these books are, but why do so many people take Lottie to heart and follow her investigations in the Irish town of Ragmullin.

Well a lot of it is down to just how realistic the crimes are, how engaging the characters are, and how the story always weaves its way through several story lines, knitting together a tale that has the reader hooked from start to finish.

That can only be done by a really skilled writer, but there’s more to it than that. I find that the best writers are the ones who have lived a life and experienced the real world. Patricia has certainly done that. Widowed way too early, and left with a family to bring up I’m sure there is more than a bit of her in the main character Lottie Parker. Lottie is also a widow bringing up a family. I don’t think Patricia’s family is anything like Lottie’s, but I suspect a lot of the worries of a single Mom are used in the stories, and to great effect.

Just beneath this paragraph is my review of FINAL BETRAYAL. Book 6 in one of the best crime series available at the moment. I can’t wait to read Books 7, 8, 9………. And hopefully lots more.

Final Betrayal   Patricia Gibney

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

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

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

Where Angels Fear D.K. Hood

When a couple of young women are flagged down to help a motorist stranded in a winter storm the nightmare begins.

One of the girls escapes and makes it to Black Rock Falls but the other wakes in what she thinks is a hospital. That illusion lasts as long as it takes her to realise that she is tethered to the bed and that the person in the next bed is being threatened with unspeakable pain an death.

Ella, the girl who has escaped, tries to convince the local police that they should take her seriously, but it takes more disappearances until they realise they have a serial killer on their hands

The investigation is headed by Sheriff Jenna Alton and Deputy Dave Kane. Both of these investigators have hidden pasts and are living new lives.

Jenna has given evidence against one of Americas biggest gang leaders and is living under a new identity, but has it been blown.

Dave is still recovering from injuries he sustained in a previous investigation and his budding relationship with Jenna is under threat as his recent memories are being overtaken by the grief he felt when his first wife was killed.

Against the backdrop of the investigation into the serial killer the investigators go on their guard against a possible attack on Jenna, and try to rebuild their relationship

As Jenna conduct the investigation she uncovers similar crimes in which young people go missing on the same stretch of road and are never seen again. The pure amount of missing people is astonishing and the evidence given by Ella is the only clue they have to what is going on.

This is a small community and somebody must know what is happening. In fact it’s that small there is every possibility that everybody knows the killer, they just don’t realise it is who it is.

This is a good book with at least 3 strands to a story that weaves its way to a climatic end. 

There is no time to switch off. Even when they are at home off duty Alton and Kane have to be on guard. 

There is no time in this book when somebody is not in danger.

I like stories like this, they keep the pages turning, in fact they kept the pages turning so much I read the whole thing over two days.

Pages 288:

Published by: Bookouture

Available now

Dead Memories. Angela Marsons Pre-Review


Its not often I’m lost for words, but I’ve run out of superlatives to describe this series. Ten books ago Angela Marsons introduced us to a series of characters based in the Black Country. 

The main character is DI Kim Stone. A DI in the Major Investigation Team in Halesowen Police Station in the West Midlands.

Halesowen is a small town on the outskirts of the urban sprawl that makes up the Metropolitan Borough of the West Midlands. Its right on the border of what most people would call the area of greater Birmingham, and the sprawling countryside of Worcester. 

It’s actually in the borough of Dudley, one of the seven boroughs that make up the West Midlands, but more importantly it’s part of the Black Country.

That is what makes it such a special place to set crime stories. 

Dudley has some of the most affluent parts of the West Midlands, close to the country, and some of the poorest parts where it borders Sandwell. It has rich gated communities, run down industrial areas, and some of the poorest social housing estates in the UK. Its population commute into Birmingham City Centre to sit in smart offices and high end retail shops, or work in the manufacturing, scrap meatl, or haulage business. 

The black Country has a hard working history, and this ethic is seen daily in its population; but just like everywhere else there are the freeloaders who never intend to do a day’s work as long as the state will give them benefits.

Then there are the people who pray on both ends of the community. Drug sellers target the rich with designer drugs and well cut class A drugs, and at the same time pray on the vulnerable with less well, and dangerously cut, class A drugs and marijuana. 

Addicts are addicts and once hooked will look to fund their next hit. The desperate will turn to crime.

Prostitution has been forced indoors over the last decade with sex being sold in private flats or thinly veiled massage parlours. This has led to illegal immigrants being forced into the sex trade alongside some desperate local people.

Illegal immigrants are also being used as slaves in retail and manufacturing. 

Street kids are turning to violence.

Post code gangs are frequently a problem, fighting for territory to sell their wares, both human and chemical.

But most of its population are just your average family members trying to get along with their neighbours.

So, as you can see, Angela Marsons has chosen  a great area to set her crimes. Just about anything that could make up a serious crime happens in the area, and so can be portrayed realistically in her books.

The characters she writes about are just as real as her crimes.

Kim Stone is epic. A kid-from-care made good. 

In the first few books her character is established as one of the best cops in British Crime Fiction, her back story is slowly revealed showing how her life has evolved and how she has become the successful detective she has.

Her team also have good back stories. The ever reliant Bryant, her Detective Sergeant is every bit as fundamental to these stories as Lewis is to Morse, or Watson is to Holmes. He acts as her stabiliser and suffers the frustration of seeing Stone struggling through some investigations, but more significantly her personal life.

DC Stacy Wood, the quiet detective that is really good at information trawling and working on a computer, but not so good on face to face encounters. Watching her develop through the series, as she finds her confidence, and becomes a tour-de-force of a cop, is something that would not ever be achieved this well in a single book, or short series.

DC Kev Dawson, young, handsome, cock-sure, but an integral part of the team. His character changes as much as Woods, but in a totally different way.

Then there’s the fringe characters that keep recurring, Keats the pathologist with his love hate relationship with Stone. The Forensic Teams, and Senior Police Officers

Then there’s reporters. One in particular, that has a strange relationship with Stone, to say they use each other when they want something is an understatement. But they both know they need each other and their fraught working relationship is entertaining throughout the series.

Of course, there’s the criminals. A vast array of them over the ten books, all realistically written, all with back stories to help the reader engage with them. Some of them recurring through several stories; and for every criminal there’s a victim who is equally well portrayed, often eliciting as much empathy as sympathy from the reader.

That brings us back to this book. DEAD MEMORIES finds Stone and the team looking at some of their past investigations as a murderer appears to be using Stone’s history to set their crimes. Is it a message to her, or is it the prelude to an attack on her. Is somebody trying to ruin her reputation, her life, or kill her.

I love this series, and as I said at the beginning of this blog I’ve run out of superlatives to describe the books in this series.

Safe to say Silent Scream, book one in the series, was one of the best books I’ve ever read, and each book has just got better and better.

My review of DEADLY MEMORIES will be on-line in February as part of the Blog Tour, but if you haven’t found Angela Marsons yet get yourself on Amazon, or down to the bookshop, and treat yourself to what I think is the best crime series out there.