Where The Silence Calls M.J Lee

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DI Ridpath is not your usual cop-character. Recovering from cancer he had been living a single life when his wife and daughter moved out in frustration of his lack of self-care.

Now they are back at home, Ridpath is in remission, and he’s back at work, but on restricted duties. In short life is good.

Working as a DI in the roll of Coroners Officer Ridpath is out of the day-to-day life of a Police Officer, it’s not his job to investigate crimes, it’s his job to gather evidence for the Coroner, to help identify bodies, to pass on the unwelcome news to relatives, but he does miss being at the coal front of an investigation

So when two men are found dead, in a short space of time, in different Police districts, their bodies badly burned, Ridpath’s detective antenna starts to nag at him.

Both Police departments are running at their limits due to cut backs, and when Ridpath tries to show that they may have linked cases, neither are interested. Why would they be, there is no post mortem results yet, and both look like accidental fires, except for one thing, and that’s what gets Ridpath hooked.

As Ridpath struggles to get the Police to take him serious he runs the risk of upsetting the Coroner, and with both Police and the Coroner, looking to cut manpower he could be backing himself into a sticky corner.

Then another burnt body is found.

This is another cracking novel in a great series.

M.J Lee uses the metropolis of Manchester as a great canvas to paint his crime stories. In Ridpath he has given us a character that is different enough from the usual troubled cop to engage in. Ridpath’s personal circumstances run through the series like a vein taking blood to all the important parts. In short Lee went out on a limb with this character, but its paid off, boy has it paid off.

Pages: 351

Publisher: Canelo

Publishing date: 23rdSeptember 2019

The Sleepover Carol Wyer

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I love this series. Carol Wyer has a way of hooking the reader from the very first page. Her continuing characters have their own story going, on which will have new readers engaging with them straight away, and will have those of us who have been reading from the beginning wondering how some things are going to be resolved. Twice I made out-loud exclamations at the antics of two of the characters. Yes it can be read as a stand-alone, but it’s much better to read the series.

Carol also has a way of keeping it real. The crimes she uses in her books are realistic, but so is the investigation. She uses the incestuous nature of those involved in the criminal world, and those on the fringes, to keep the character count down and to ensure that the reader is not trying to remember spurious names. There is always only a handful of characters outside of the main group of her colleagues and their families.

The time frame is always right, cases don’t get solved over-night, forensic results aren’t instant, and the investigation is always factually correct.

I know she does her research, I’ve been one of the people she spoke to about this book and I know how much emphasis she puts on getting even the smallest detail right.

This book starts with a teenage girl arguing with her mother. All of us, who have been parents will know that feeling, but thankfully what most of us don’t experience is that teenager storming out and never coming home again.

Following a fire, in a large detached house on the outskirts of a Staffordshire town, a body is found and DI Natalie Ward and her team are tasked with investigating who it is, and how they died.

The house belongs to two brothers that run a nightclub in the town, which is popular with customers but a pain to the local residents.

The fire was started deliberately so who was the target, the fire victim or the Brothers? And what is the connection between the brothers and the victim.

When a woman is found dead near the house Natalie and her team can’t help but connect it to their investigation.

As the investigation continues there are more questions than answers, and on top of that some of Natalie’s team haven’t got their eye on the ball.

The end of this book just makes me want to reach for the next in the series. Time to be patient again.

There are only two or three authors whose books will  make me drop what I’m reading and start theirs when they are available, and Carol Wyer is right at the top of that list.

With each book this series gets better, and I know there are more on the way.

For now I have to wait for the next instalment, but thanks to little teases on twitter those of us that follow Carol know that something special is on the way. How it can be any better than what has gone already I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out.

Oh, and the fire scenes, brilliant, and my mate Kia, says hi, he’s in the book that’s him below.

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Pages: 411

Publishers: Bookouture

Available now

Unseen Evil Liz Mistry

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Murder, bullying, social media misuse, and stalking, all in one novel which is as much a psychological thriller as it is a crime thriller.

Those of us who have read the previous books featuring Gus Maguire are going to be thrilled with his return, and those of us who are just finding him are going to find a new literary character they are going to want to read more of.

When a snapchat gets sent showing a dead teenager it soon becomes apparent that it’s not a fake, and this is just the first one.

People are dying and somebody is showing off on social media.

The investigation will lead Gus along a path that is very close to home. His Girlfriend Patti works in a local school which seems to be at the centre of the investigation.

Meanwhile Gus has a stalker, and they are beginning to get brazen, leaving him messages in places they should never have access, is it somebody close to him? Is he in danger?

As if he didn’t have anything else to worry about his God-Daughter is starting to go off the rails after a recent discovery in her personal life.

The multiple threads in this story give it a relentless pace, there is no time to take a breath as Gus tries to solve the criminal investigations and sort out matters in his personal life.

Liz Mistry has a wonderful way with setting the pace. She uses situations to ramp up the tension, characters to get the reader engaged, and entwines everything in the perfect setting. She describes Bradford and its diverse population and cultures in a terrific way.

This book is the latest in a series but there’s enough background information for it to be read as a stand-alone.

Pages: 359

Publisher: MB Productions

Available now.

 

The Art of Dying Derik Cavignano

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Art is very much down to personal taste, but in the case of the murderer in this book its very personal.

The Artist us kidnapping people and turning them into art for his own pleasure, before displaying the finished article to the world.

The problem is, at first, nobody realises what is happening, and his first kill leads to a gang war between two old mobs on the streets of Boston.

After the first body is found Detective Ray Hanley is sent to investigate. From the start he is convinced that this is not a normal murder, but everybody else thinks it’s a mob hit.

As the investigation into the first murder gets underway the “Artist” is already working on his next victims.

As Ray looks at the mob angle he has his mind set more towards a sick individual. Unfortunately the gangs have brought into the war theory and have started attacking each other.

As Boston is faced with a bloody gang war, and a sick serial killer, Hanley tries to pacify the mobs and find the real killer.

This is one of those books that is going to live with me for a long time. There will be comparisons with Silence of the Lambs, and rightly so, but this is a written in todays society. More is possible today, the killer can keep his victims alive for longer, can make them suffer more, and can reek havoc on society as his victims are soon displayed on news web sites in all their gore.

Somehow this makes this book a little bit more realistic, more plausible, more frightening.

This book won an award for Horror in the General Category of the American Fiction Awards and was a finalist in the Thriller, Crime Category. I think it fits nicely into both these categories.

So. If you like a good psychological thriller wrapped around a good police thriller you will love this book.

Pages: 293

Publishing Date UK: 20thSeptember 2019

CHILDS PLAY Kia Abdullah

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A month ago I reviewed the new book by Kia Abdullah, Take it Back, a dark story based around a rape accusation. When I read that book, I noticed that Kia had written another, Childs Play, and decided to give it a go, and I’m glad I did.

Here’s the “but” that usually follows a statement like that, it’s a tough read on a tough subject, and Kia holds no punches, its explicit where it needs to be and that makes the story really good, but it’s not going to be to everybody’s taste.

Allegra seems to have it all, her dream job in a small graphic design company, a nice home, and a successful boyfriend that thinks she’s amazing.

Then one day her boss announces he’s sold the company and that the small workforce has no place in the new multi-national business that has taken it over.

Days before this Allegra had been approached by Michael who wanted to recruit her to a specialist agency working for the government, but it’s not her graphic design skills he thinks will make her a good agent. It’s her childish looks.

The agency specialises in catching paedophiles by baiting them with legal age women, and men, that look underage.

Allegra can pass as a sixteen year old at the best of times and is always getting ID’d at pubs, this team can make her look 13, and they have a very specific target that they want her to go after.

There are subplots running throughout this story, all of which revolve around Allegra, and the most compulsive for me, was the way she changes during her training, going from being horrified at what she sees, to becoming totally desensitised.

The cover of this book says “If James Paterson wrote 50 Shades of Grey”. I couldn’t disagree more, Kia Abdullah is a much better writer than Paterson, and the book is more like a domestic version of Red Sparrow.

If you like gritty, thought provoking crime drama, this book is right up your street, but if you are put off by graphic scenes, maybe it’s not for you, but you’re missing out on a great book.

Pages: 250

Publishers: Amazon media and Revenge Ink

Available now

THE ESSENCE OF EVIL Rob Sinclair

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I loved this book, not because its set in my home city of Birmingham, not even because the main character is wonderfully flawed, or because the story is brilliant, even though all of those are true. I loved this book because it is at least three stories in one, all wonderfully woven together to make a story that will stay with me for quite a while.

DI Dani Stephens, what a character, is returning to work in the Homicide Team of the West Midlands Police after two years off following an injury.

Dani is returning after being attacked by a killer, who nearly took her life, and worse still it was her twin brother.

As she returns she is immediately involved in a murder investigation, one of the strands of the story, but she is teamed up with a friend as joint SIO. Is this part of her rehabilitation into the team, or is she just not trusted?

Talking about rehabilitation, that’s the second thread of the story. In flash-back chapters we find out how she was injured, and are taken through her two years of rehab, the first six months of which were in hospital as she recovered from a Traumatic Brain Injury.

The third strand of the story is how she received the injury, the relationship  she now has with her twin brother who is serving a life sentence for murders he committed.

Dani is a great character, fiercely independent to the point of pushing everybody away. Paranoid to the point of hysteria, and mucked up in the head by the medication she is still taking, even though she should be cutting back.

So when she develops a theory about the murder she’s investigating it’s not surprising that nobody takes her seriously.

As Dani carries on her investigation she starts to doubt herself, has the brain injury robbed her of the one thing she loves in life, the ability to do her job; or has she got it all right, and should everybody else actually be listening to her instead of doubting her.

This is a belter of a book.

I love complex, dark stories, that could all so easily be real, and this book sits firmly in that category.

 

Pages: 394

Publishers: Canelo Hera

Release date:  12thSeptember 2019

THE STING Kimberley Chambers

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This is my first, but certainly not my last, Kimberley Chambers book.

The Sting is a glorious read for everybody, but especially for people who had their teenage years in the 1970’s.

The story follows the life of a young lad Tommy Boyle and picks him up as a 12 year old. To say he has a hard upbringing is an understatement. His father is a bullying wife beater who works on the oil rigs and makes family life a misery when he’s at home.

As the story progresses Tom ends up in a children’s home for reasons beyond his control.

The friendships he forms there should last for life, but again life takes a cruel twist.

The story follows him through his family life, through to his life in care, and sees him change from an innocent lad to the fearsome teenager, and ultimately into a violent man.

When his time in care comes to an end on his 16thbirthday Tom has already been spotted by a criminal family and they soon take him into their inner circle.

Tom has had a hard time, but the new family mean everything to him, and so begins a life in organised crime.

Lurking in the shadows throughout the story are secrets. Secrets that will inevitably come to the surface and lead the book to a fantastic end.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. My usual read is crime fiction, which this falls well and truly into, but it’s from a completely different perspective to what I’m used to.

This is all about a boy gone bad, a boy whose transition to manhood is guided by the actions of the people who should have loved and protected him.

Having grown up on a council estate in Birmingham in the 70’s I can recognise so many of the characters in this book. The nostalgia for that era is reflected in the music that is mentioned throughout the book and which had me calling out to “Alexa” on numerous occasions.

A cracking read.

Pages: 448

Publishers: Harper Collins

Available now