The Birthday. Carol Wyer

51MKNErvlOL

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

IMG_2433

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.

The Affair. Sheryl Browne

IMG_2426

I have to say I have read some mixed reviews of this book, it seems to divide people, and everybody is entitled to an opinion.

My Opinion?

It’s a great story

But it’s going to be hard to review it without giving anything away in the way of spoilers.

The story, a bit like life itself, is a like a domino rally. In this case one of those where two different dominos are tipped over in different strings, at the same time, and start a chain reaction that culminates in that final slab falling, with one hell of a bang.

The first domino in the first string. Alicia has been telling a lie for a while now. It’s not a malicious lie, more the type of lie that involves not telling your family about a piece of your past which is a bit murky.

But when somebody from that past turns up in the present, and has a malicious streak about them, then things start to go wrong.

More lies are told to try and cover up the past, and the tumbling dominos gather speed.

Alicia’s husband is shattered after finishing a long night shift at the hospital. Because she’s been distracted Alicia has forgot to fill her car with fuel, and when it doesn’t start her husband piles Alicia, and their two children, into the car to drop them off to work, school, and the child minders.

And so the first domino of the second string is toppled.

Together the two strings gather pace, weaving across each other until the traumatic culmination and the dropping of the final tile, right in the centre of everything.

This book really plays with the emotions, there are times when I empathised with the main character but hated her. There were other times when I hated what she was doing but loved her.

I really liked it.

 

Pages: 351

Publishers: Bookouture

Publishing date: 10th August 2018.

Murder on the Marshes. Clare Chase

IMG_2388

Set in, and around, Cambridge University this is a murder story with a list of characters that are firmly in the “Have” and “Have not” brackets.

Every character is either from a really privileged background, or a working-class background.  But just because they are in these categories doesn’t mean that they are normal balanced people.

The book opens with a mystery of a young girl walking in on a horrific scene, a scene that is alluded to throughout the book, but who is it that’s witnessing the scene and what bearing will it have on the present day.

The present day see’s the body of a young professor, Samantha Seabrook, being found drowned in a fountain in a locked courtyard of one of the colleges in the University, a bit of a locked room puzzle.

Frighteningly a journalist Tara Thorpe is sent a warning on the same night Samantha is killed, it’s the same warning the Professor received a few weeks before she was killed.

DI Garstin Blake is the SIO for the murder but also goes to interview Tara. Together they form an unlikely alliance, and the investigation into the life and death of Samantha Seabrook takes on two lines, the Police investigation and the journalistic investigation.

It’s a good way of introducing information into the story, and allows the author to get away with introducing information which would not be obtained by either the police or the journalist if they were working alone.

Garstin and Tara both have issues, and just like everyone else in the story they are split by the working class, privileged divide. Tara from a very well-to-do background hasn’t had the best of lives, and now something, or somebody, is preying on her insecurities. Garstin, the working class copper, is separated from his wife and is torn apart by not been able to see his young daughter every night. So can Garstin keep his eye on the ball and can Tara stay safe.

The investigation is a bit pedestrian at times but the story is well worth reading.

This book is a bit like two of my favourite TV series combined, inevitably the Cambridge Oxford thing leads to Morse, and the writer and detective leads to Castle. The pace of the book is definitely more Morse.

Will I read the next book in the series, Yes

 

Pages: 322

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 31st July 2018

Tell Me A Secret Samantha Hayes

Tell Me A Secret    Samantha Hayes

Earlier this year I reviewed The Reunion by Samantha Hayes, and I said “I was figuratively peeping between my fingers when I read parts of it”. Well its happened again.

Samantha really knows how to pick at those parts of the mind that hold the fear factor.

When a young girl catches her dad having sex, with the lodger, it’s bad enough. When her Mother finds out and goes crazy, it’s about as bad as it gets; but when her dad hangs himself and blames her, in his suicide note, because she caught him and the lodger, her life is damaged beyond recovery. That is all in the first few pages. Wow what a start to a book.

In the following chapters we meet Lorna, a Counsellor with an anal routine, who is really trying to forget one of the men in her life. Until she decides to make contact with him through a on line dating service.

That’s when things really start to go to wrong.

Lorna knows it’s impossible, after all the dead can’t talk, but when a dead person starts to message her things take another twist.

I don’t want to say anymore, because I don’t want to give anything away.

If you love psychological thrillers you will love this book.

I wasn’t just peeping through my fingers at this book, I was hiding behind the sofa. What a great read.

The bit below here is an extract from Samantha Hayes biography and it gives a bit of a clue as to why she writes such good books.

“Samantha Hayes grew up in Warwickshire, left school at sixteen, avoided university and took jobs ranging from private detective to barmaid to fruit picker and factory worker. She lived on a kibbutz, and spent time living in Australia and the USA, before finally becoming a crime-writer.”

She’s lived a bit, and it shows.

 

Pages: 361

Publisher: Bookouture

Available now

Nobody’s Child Victoria Jenkins

IMG_2341

The legend at the top of the book says unputdownable, so did it live up to the gumph?

Oh Yes!

What a great story.

Set in a small town in the Welsh valleys a series of assaults and arson attacks are investigated by DI Alex King and her team.

When a body is found, amongst the debris in a fire at a derelict hospital, it could appear to be a homeless person that has been involved in an accident. But when the post mortem confirms he had been killed prior to the fire King and her team have a murder on their hands.

When a local convenience store is torched is it a coincidence?

As the investigation into the two incidents continues the team are confronted with a series of assaults and arsons which have them desperate to find the culprits.

Meanwhile King is struggling in her own life. Somebody is sending her a message and it’s not a nice one.

As is typical in real life the story revolves around 3 or 4 families in a small community that are making life difficult for everybody else.

Internal wrangling’s, and feuds between the families seem to be the reason the crimes are taking place but trying to unravel the threads is proving impossible for the team.

Can they find out who is responsible for the crimes before more people get hurt?

No, the trail of human and property destruction gets longer, and the team follow it to what is one of the most tense climaxes of a book I’ve read for a while.

Ok, so any book which involves fire as part of the crime gets my attention. It’s what I do for a living, so it would do.

Yes, I do get a bit knit-picky and hyper-critical. Not with this book.

This is Book 3 in the series and I hadn’t read the first 2. Did I get the feeling I was joining the party half way through?

Actually, no I didn’t, this is a great stand-alone story which I have no doubt is complemented by the 2 previous books, which I have just downloaded onto my Kindle to read around the pool on holiday.

I’ll be eagerly waiting book 4.

Pages: 277

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 19th June 2018

Dying Truth Angela Marsons Blog Tour

7845F70E-1D28-4D66-BA8A-EC21FA18EFB9

DI Kim Stone book 8

I often look forward to getting my hands on a book I know is about to become available, but there’s only Angela Marsons, at the moment, that actually gets me excited when she is  about to release a new book.

Why is this?

Simple really, in my opinion Angela is the best Crime Fiction author out there at the moment. The books are gritty and realistic. They pull no punches, and cover the world as it is. Prostitution, human trafficking, drugs, murder, they all feature in this series of books.

She has her main character, the wonderful DI Kim Stone and her regular team. They all have a great back story, and at some time have all played a big part in one or more of the books.

She writes about the victims and the perpetrators of the crimes with equal measures, showing the effect crimes have on the victims and how the bad guys became bad guys.

In this book she takes tension and emotion to another level. In fact most of the reviews I’ve read have suggested having a box of tissues handy. They aren’t  wrong.

There has also been a few #DrAlexThrone, Oh yes the ultimate criminal is back.

Here’s my review of Dying Truth

What a way to start a book. The prologue see’s DI Kim Stone struggling with a broken leg as she tries to warn people not to enter part of a building where she knows they will be in mortal danger. But who are the people running into the building and what exactly is the danger.

Cut to chapter one, a few days before the prologue. The death of a young girl at a posh, private school.

It’s classical mystery writing technique but, I don’t think I’ve ever read it written in a better way.

As the story builds Kim is supported by all her usual crew, trusty Bryant, laddish Wood, and the quiet Black Country Lass Stacey. Will any of these be charging into danger at the end of the book.

The team are investigating a suspicious death at the private Heathcrest Academy. A private co-ed school, where the elite of midlands society send their children to study alongside sporting, and academic, high achievers.

Not surprisingly amongst the students there are secret societies that have seen generations of the same family pass through them. The societies employ horrific initiation ceremonies and even more horrific discipline methods.

When the body of the first victim is found, after she apparently committed suicide by jumping from one of the highest points in the school, Kim and Bryant are the first Officers on the scene.

Kim is not happy with the circumstances of the death and her suspicions are bourn-out when Keats carries out the autopsy and confirms that the girl was murdered.

The investigation is thwarted at every turn by the family, who are trying to hide their own secrets; by the school, whose principle will only entertain suicide as the cause, as murder would be bad for business; and by the students, who are either in one of the secret societies, or are scared of the pupils that are.

As the story unwinds Kim has to turn to an unlikely ally for advice, which itself holds dangers which I’m sure will hold recriminations.

As the body count begins to rise, and the climax of the book gets ever closer, the tension rises. Right up to the end it’s impossible to find out, or guess, who is running into danger, and how it will play out.

When the end comes it is no anti-climax. I had already read quotes on twitter where people said the they were left “broken” at the end, and that it was an “emotional ending”.

I thought I was ready for it, but no. It is emotional, and I was broken.

This is book 8 in the DI Kim Stone series. It can be read as a stand-alone novel, and it works well as one, but to get full impact read the others.

I was lucky enough to find Angela Marsons when the first Kim Stone novel was released, and have been onboard from the beginning.

I am a prolific reader and I can think of no bigger recommendation than, every time an new book in this series is made available, I put down whatever I’m reading and read what Stone and her team are up to. This one was the best yet.

Roll on Book 9

News just in. It’s not just me that likes these books. The Australians get the 18th May 9 hours before us; And Dying Truth is already number 1 down there.

IMG_2335