COLD HEART CREEK. Lisa Regan

There is no two ways about it. I look forward to these books. When the publishers place them on a reviewing website, and say they are available to read, I always have difficulty finishing what I’m reading at the time quick enough so that I can find out what Josie Quinn has been up to this time.

Cold Heart Creek did not disappoint.

From the very beginning the booked had me hooked, Josie has a back story that includes a horrific child hood and upbringing, and she’s having flashbacks in her nightmares.

Meanwhile, a ranger finds two bodies at a campsite, then a third sleeping bag is discovered. Who is missing?

There are clues. Clues which lead Josie and her team on a hunt for the third person but what they find is even more disturbing, than they could have anticipated.

From the beginning of the book the story is addictive. Josie is suffering mentally. Her Boyfriend, and work Partner, Noah knows she is but she won’t let him in to help.

The murder investigation, and the hunt for the third person takes a nasty twist and Josie, Noah and the rest of the team are hampered by the terrain surrounding the small city of Denton, and the weather that nature unleashes on them.

It’s hard to say much about the story without introducing massive spoilers but that doesn’t mean the book has an obvious ending, in fact it’s far from obvious. That’s the beauty about Lisa Regan’s writing. She gives you enough information to let you build your own hypothesis and then, without introducing any “shark infested custard” type scenarios, she delivers the perfect end that sneaks up on you without warning; and definitely leaves you wanting to read the next book.

Pages: 377

Publishers: Bookouture

Available: Now

FIRST BLOOD. ANGELA MARSONS

First Blood.  Angela Marsons

 

For those of us who are already hooked by this series, this is a great prequal. For those of us who haven’t read any of the DI Kim Stone books, this is a great introduction to the best crime series on the shelves right now.

Either way this is a brilliant read which will have people turning the pages at a feverish rate.

First Blood takes us right back to the formation of Kim’s team, and her first day at Halesowen Police Station.

It’s a last chance scenario with Kim having made too many enemies to be accepted at most nicks in the West Midlands.

However she has an ally she knows nothing about, somebody who has known her for many years before she joined the force, and has kept an eye on her career since she joined.

This story looks at why Kim is a bit of a pariah in the force. She is definitely an acquired taste to work with, but her conviction rate should out-weigh that.

On her first day she meets her team. DS Bryant, a middle aged man who should be at least a DI at that stage in his career, so why isn’t he, and how will he react to a young DI.

DS Kevin Dawson, and I’d forgotten what a pain in the behind he was when the series first started. A man capable of disrupting even the most evenly balanced relationship, and certainly not a team player.

Brand new DC Stacey Wood, a shy almost naïve, young woman whose hidden talent is soon found to be “data-mining” from a desk. Not what DS Dawson considers to be real policing.

The first day should be an easy welcome session, but a body is found staked out on the Clent Hills. The body has been stabbed, decapitated and had the genitals removed.

Kim judges the team by how they react to the scene, and as the investigation goes on, she watches the dynamic of the team, how they work, how they bond, all the time sussing out their strengths and weaknesses. At the same time Bryant, Wood, and Stacey are doing exactly the same.

At times the team, and Stone, have as many questions about each other as they do about the case. One of the team decides to research Stone’s past and makes some startling discoveries. Will this affect the way she’s looked at?

The solving of the crimes is the main thread in this book; but just as enthralling is the thread that explores the team members and how they reacted to each other when they first meet, and during this first investigation.

I loved this book from cover to cover. It can be read as a stand-alone, or the first in a series, or as I look at it the latest in the best series there is.

The book fills some gaps and explains the relationship between many of the characters in the series, not all of them on the team.

There is a saying “There is only one chance to make a first impression” In this book we see those first impressions as the team is brought together.

But this book is a contrary to that saying. This is a second chance for those of us who follow the series to have that first meeting with Stone and the gang, and it’s absolutely brilliant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BROKEN SOULS Patricia Gibney

I’ve been with this series from the start and its one of the few that goes straight to the top of my to-be-read pile as soon as it becomes available.

Patricia Gibney has a wonderful talent for writing stories with multiple strands whilst keeping the character count down.

She uses the incestuous nature of criminals, and the vulnerability of victims, to make the books realistic and enthralling.

The main character is Lottie Parker, and those familiar with the series will be aware of the ups and downs of her life and the life of her family. Although the family are front and centre in most of the books, all of them can easily be read as stand-alone crime thrillers. Just as much detail is put into her team and their continuing story.

But as well as her family, and her team, the main threads of each story revolve around the crimes, and they are all brilliant.

Broken Souls starts with the discovery of a woman hanging in a bathroom, dressed in a wedding dress. Nobody thinks this is suicide but when another woman dies in similar circumstances everybody’s  worst  fears are confirmed.

But, there are more crimes taking place and Lottie becomes convinced that the life of a young girl is in danger.

Never one for sticking too closely to the rules Lottie goes a bit maverick in her efforts to solve the crime and locate the young girl.

In doing so will she put herself into danger.

This book is a real page turner, if I had the time it would have been a one sitting read, unfortunately things like work get in the way.

The story is addictive and fast paced. It’s not often a cup of coffee gets chance to go cold on me but I got so carried away towards the end of this book, one went stone cold.

An absolute gem of a series, and absolute gem of a book.

Pages: 446

Publisher: Bookouture

Available now

FEAR IN THE LAKES Graham Smith

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The beautiful DC Beth Young is back, and back with a sickening crime to investigate.

A man has been attacked in his home, nearly every bone in his body has been broken in a systematic attack. What is even more disturbing is the reveal of how the attack took place.

As the man fights for his life in hospital Beth tries to find his attacker, but the motive for such a specific attack is evading her and her small team, and it doesn’t help that the man’s wife knows nothing about his early life.

With such an unusual crime it is a surprise when another victim is found with similar wounds.

The team continue to struggle to find any leads until they get a break……but that would spoil the book, so I’ll leave it there.

Graham Smith has created a great character in Beth Young. I if you have read any of the previous books you will know that her beauty is mired by a wicked scar on one side of her face. It happened before she joined the police and the police never caught the person who bottled her in a pub, but she got a look at a distinctive tattoo on the neck of one of the men who was fighting when she got in the way and received the injury.

She’s been looking for that tattoo  since she joined the police. This has formed a great back story through the series, and the cliff hanger in the last book was she found her man. But what is she going to do about it?

This forms a brilliant backdrop to the main story in this book. How does a cop get revenge for a crime that happened to her years ago…….again no spoilers

This series is set in the Lake District, and area which most people consider a nice quiet area of countryside to holiday in. Graham Smith looks at it from another angle. Transient communities, big isolated houses, remote areas where nobody can witness crimes. It is an ideal place to set a crime series, and Graham uses it to its full extent.

Don’t be fooled by the setting. This is not some cosy-crime story. This is a full-on story of a terrible series of crimes that would rock any community. It is a terrific read.

Pages: 356

Publishers: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 12thJuly 2019

CHILDS PLAY Angela Marsons

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As if this series needed a hook to get you into a book. Yet Angela Marsons has started this one with the most original, and toe curling, murders of the series.

The book starts with a murder in a kids playground. It’s a bit of a mystery where this murder fits in as its set years before the main body of the book, but fit in it does, and it’s part of a brilliant mystery.

Moving forward to the present day Kim and her team are called to a murder in a local park (and when I say local its where I take my dog for a walk most days). The murder victim is posed and the murderer has left a signature, but what does it all mean.

Kim lets her team work to their strengths. Stacy is set to work trawling the internet, whilst Kim and Bryant hit the streets.

The newest member of the team, Penn, is called back to his old team, and the story that unfolds for him is every Police Officers worst nightmare. Has he put the wrong man in jail. This story alone would have made a great book.

Kim is also fighting the Brass in the Police force. Owing to recent reviews showing that officers are burning out, along with the constrictions of austerity, she is forced to make her team work the case on a 9-5 basis, she and they hate it.

To make up for the lack of Penn, and the lack of available work hours, Kim is given a new officer, a 24 year old PC called Tiffany, who is a bubble of energy and enthusiasm. At first Kim, and Stacy, try to reject the help but soon realise they are stuck with their new yappy (and for us from the Black Country Yampy) puppy of an officer.

As the bodies mount Kim’s team are stretched to the limit. Will burn out claim any of them?

Book 11 in the DI Kim Stone series and again Angela Marsons has given us a brilliantly crafted book.

It’s no secret this is my favourite series in the crime fiction genre. I do wonder sometimes if it’s because the books are set where I live, but then I read the blogs from other reviewers around the world, and realise that if they were set in Mongolia I’d still love the stories.

Angela Marsons has created a fictional team in a real world. The crimes she writes about are all too realistic. The worries and concerns of the Police Officers, the Victims, the Witnesses, and the Criminals are written in a way that lets the reader engage. Empathy and sympathy for some characters, and anger at others are emotions which each of the books evokes aplenty.

In my very first blog, about my life and how reading has been my companion, hobby, and at times escape, I recall how I read all of the Sven Hassle war books on my first ship. I wrote how when I’d finished the series I felt like I’d lost some friends. I don’t know when this series is going to end, I hope not for a while yet, but I have the feeling I’m going to miss Kim and her Team just as much, and probably a lot more.

 

Pages: 397

Publishing Date: 11thJuly

Publishers: Bookouture

The Girl In The Grave Helen Phifer

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Introducing Forensic Pathologist Beth Adams. A woman in her mid-thirties who carries the physical and mental scars of an event that happened 7 years ago.

Beth is a great character, she is living in a big house on a lake, in solitude, avoiding unnecessary contact with strangers. The house has the best of security systems and even a panic room. As the main story unfolds a second story describing the events of 7 years ago are told explaining why Beth is so introvert and reclusive.

Having said that she is beginning to come out of herself with the help of a few trusted friends, and one of her best friends is DS Josh Walker.

So when Beth is sent to the scene of an exhumation of a recently buried woman, where a second body has been found underneath the coffin, she is glad to see Josh is there as the head of the Police team.

The investigation into the death of the young woman found in the grave gives Beth a chance to flex her brain, and ignoring her fears, she starts to look at the girl’s death and how she ended up in the grave.

This leads to a closer working relationship with Josh, and Beth actually starts to feel normal again for the first time in years.

Just like all crime thrillers this peace of mind doesn’t last long. Somebody is stalking Beth and starts to leave her little surprise presents.

This story runs along at a cracking pace. It’s a Police Procedural, with Josh and Beth, being the lead characters. It’s a psychological thriller with the stalking of Beth, and the pressure put on her by the crimes which take place during the investigation.

It’s also an introduction to a series which I can’t wait to develop.

The character of Beth is brilliantly written as a vulnerable yet determined woman.

The story that Josh brings is just as enthralling. I had a lot of empathy for this guy.

There seems to be more crime series than ever on the shelves at the moment, and I have to admit to yearning for more one offs where I could just read-and -forget.

But, there is plenty of room on my shelves for Beth Adams, not only will she always be welcome, but I’m looking forward to meeting her again.

Pages: 264

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing date: 16thJuly 2017

The Liars House Carla Kovach

 

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A murder involving a participant in a “partner swapping” party, but how and why did the victim end up walking home alone?

DI Gina Harte is faced with the questions, but this murder is also going to make her face her past, and hope that it doesn’t ruin her future.

Gina Harte has a secret that most of her team don’t know. She was the victim of domestic abuse at the hands of her husband, abuse of the worst most degrading type. Her husband has been dead for years but the memories will never go away.

When the team start digging into the lives of the people who attended the party they find that not everybody is a happy participant, and that’s enough to bring the memories of her past flooding back to Gina, but she can usually handle those memories.

Not this time. This time there’s a link to her past which will threaten Gina’s sanity, let alone her ability to act as the SIO for the investigation.

To make matters worse Gina has been using a dating app and has a very attentive man who just won’t take no for an answer.

Another party, another victim, and more pressure on Gina.

This book is not just the story of a murder investigation. This story looks at the effects domestic abuse has on people long after it has been made to stop.

It looks at the effects of a dominant partner coercing a spouse into doing things that they’d rather not, but end up doing to save a relationship.

It looks at the pressures put on Police Officers, who most people take for granted as they are “just doing their job”.

There is a lot going on in this book. To say I read it in one sitting would be a lie, but I didn’t get much else done from the time I first picked it up, till the last page was read.

This is the forth outing for DI Gina Harte. I really enjoyed the previous books but this one is the best. Can it be read as a stand-alone? Yes. It’s written so well that the back story is filled in so a new reader doesn’t miss out. But please read the others, its one hell of a series.

Pages: 337

Publishers: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 2ndJuly 2019