The Darling Dead. Graham Smith

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Every now and again something stunning comes along, and now is that time.

In The Darling Dead I found a gem of a book.

Not only is the story original, and compelling, but the main character is one of the best fictional Police Detectives I’ve had the pleasure to be introduced to.

I’ll start with the detective. Detective Constable Beth Young is only 23 years old, but she’s already lived a full life. She had been a model, her boyfriend dumped her when she became a cop at the earliest age she could. He wanted a model girlfriend on his arm, not a Police Officer.

Her stunning good looks have been robbed from her by an errant broken bottle in a pub during a night out, and she now carries vicious scars on one side of her face. Does it hold her back? No. In fact she uses the way people react to the scars to help her gauge the type of person they are.

She is a puzzle solver, and has complicated puzzle books on her shelves next to the books on her other interest, serial killers.

She has a strange way of thinking, and uses logic to help her think outside the box. She emphasises with victims, and she understands perpetrators.

Her only problem is she has no filters, her scars redden when she’s angry, and at times there is no filter between her brain and her mouth.

I like this girl a lot.

Beth has just started in Cumbria’s Force Major Investigation Team. A small close knit team she is having trouble integrating into. The first case she works on is grim.

A bride spots a corpse in the grounds of the ruined mansion in which she is having her wedding.

The corpse has been posed and has suffered a horrific death. The investigation leads to the discovery of more bodies posed in the same manner. But the killer is not only escalating they are experimenting, until they have created their perfect murder.

Beth quickly has to find her feet in the investigation and uses her logic to start to piece together information from the different murder scenes. But as the young new detective, will the old hands take her seriously.

This is book has shot right into my top three of this year, and would be pretty close to one of my favourite books of the last 5 or 6 years.

I love the character Beth Young, and hopefully there is a lot of scope for Graham Smith to create a long series with her.

The manner of killing in this book is well written and without being overly graphic, is very gruesome. In fact it will live with me for a while.

A great book, just stunning.

Pages: 362

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 30thNovember 2018.

Dead End Rachel Lynch

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This is the third book in the DI Kelly Porter series.

Kelly is one of the most realistic of fictional cops, and as such I find it really easy to empathise with her.

Coupled with the fact that I think Rachel Lynch is writing some of best crime fiction out there at the moment, means I was really looking forward to this book.

I wasn’t disappointed.

When the “Lord of the Manner” Xavier Paulus the second is found hanging by his grandson it appears to be nothing but a tragic suicide.

When the Police first look at the scene they tend to agree but somethings not right. As Kelly and her team start to look into the family, its history, and the strange relationships that seem to have been forged in the mansion, they become aware of its hedonistic past.

Meanwhile 2 girls go missing from a camp site in the Lakes. Kelly and her team also become involved in the hunt for them and start to find a history of girls, who look similar, also going missing.

As they investigate both cases a body is discovered, but who is it. With so many girls having gone missing it could be any one of them. It’s a surprise when they find out which one it is, and how long she’s been dead for.

Then there is always the red herrings that Rachel Lynch always writes into her stories so wonderfully. Find me a Police Officer who hasn’t gone barking up the wrong tree, I don’t suspect there are many around.

This book had me reading into the early hours. At times it’s a bit of a cosy read. Then just when you least expect it, it grabs you by the throat.

Can this be read as a stand-alone? Yes, but why would you want to miss out on the first 2.

Pages: 299

Publisher: Canelo

Available now

Tell Nobody, Patricia Gibney, Blog Tour

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Today it’s my turn on the blog tour celebrating the publication of Patricia Gibney’s TELL NOBODY. Book 5 in the DI Lottie Parker series.

I’ve been  a big fan of this series since the first book was published.

Patricia Gibney spins some serious multi-layered crime thrillers, with a remarkable set of characters living out some very realistic crimes.

Each book has had me hooked from the first pages and this one is no exception.

I recently recommended the series to a friend who was looking for some books to read on holiday. When they got home his wife gave me a hard time because he’d had his head buried in his Kindle for most of the holiday. He like me was hooked.

The fact that he’s a Policeman can only be a testament to just how good the stories are, and just how realistic the crimes and characters are.

Here’s my original blog, written a few weeks ago.

TELL NOBODY Patricia Gibney

Patricia Gibney has a way of hooking me from the very start of each book.

This one starts with an unknown woman running away from something or someone. She is in terrible pain and blacks out.

The story cuts to a boys football match, a final, everybody should be happy, but not everybody has a caring and loving family to support them.

Mikey Driscoll had scored the winning goal in the Cup Final, as he is on his way home he is picked up and given a lift. Two days later his body is found.

What comes next is a story that follows DI Lottie Parker and her team as they investigate Mikey’s murder. Then more bodies start to be found, and the pressure is on to find the killer.

But that is far too simplistic a description of the book.

This book doesn’t just look at the murders.  Patricia Gibney looks at family dynamics, and how not everything in the family is how it seems to somebody looking in from the outside.

Latch key kids, bingo moms, single men and women bringing up families, teenage angst, unlikely friendships, all play a big part in the story.

And it’s not just the victims and criminals that are having a hard time.

Lottie, her son, two daughters and grandchild, are all living with her Mom, and its driving her crazy.

Her home had been destroyed in a fire and she is renovating her new house. But even that comes at a cost, to her and somebody close to her.

At work, her boss has it in for her, and would like nothing more than to see her fail.

The chemistry between Lottie and her DS is still bubbling along, but she is terrified to take comfort in his arms.

This series of books is great. The attention to detail that Patricia Gibney gives to the stories make them amongst the most realistic books I’ve read.

As well as the crimes in the books there is the ongoing story of Lottie, her family, and her team, and for me, that’s where she has the edge over most Crime Writers these days.

I love these books, and look forward to each new one that’s published.

This is the 5thin the DI Lottie Parker series set in the mid-Ireland City of Ragmullin.

Although it can be read as a stand-alone novel to get the best out of it I would recommend reading the series in order. Follow Lottie her family and her team as Patricia develops and grows the characters and their relationships.

Believe me it’s worth it.

The Birthday Carol Wyer Blog Tour

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Today it’s my turn on the blog tour which celebrates the publication of Carol Wyer’s THE BIRTHDAY, the first of a new series featuring DI Natalie Wood.

I blogged about the book when I first read it a couple of months ago and raved about it then. With the amount of books I read I would usually struggle to remember the plot of the book after that much time, and have to refer to the notes I made when I read it.

Not this time, I remember it as though I’d only finished it this weekend. It’s an original story that has introduced a great new character in Natalie Wood.

There was one thing in particular that struck me as showing how realistic this book was, and I mention it in my original blog. It’s how one of the characters is struck by the normality of a scene following a crime.

This just shows how much Carol Wyer knows about the people who investigate crime, and the thoughts and emotions they have.

It’s a great book and I am really looking forward to what faces DI Wood next

My Original Blog

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.

About Carol Wyer

Carol Wyer garnered a loyal following as an author of romantic comedies, and won The People’s Book Prize Award for non-fiction (2015). In 2017 she stepped from comedy to the “dark side” and embarked on a series of thrillers, featuring the popular DI Robyn Carter, which earned her recognition as a crime writer.

The Staffordshire-based writer now has more crime novels in the pipeline, although she can still sometimes be found performing her stand-up comedy routine Laugh While You Still Have Teeth.

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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

The Goodnight Song. Nick Hollin

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This is one of the most original psychological thrillers I have ever read wrapped up in a very believable Police procedural story.

DI Katie Rhodes has an unusual partner, in all ways, in Criminal Psychologist Nathan Radley.

Katie and Nathan have been hiding away,  in an isolated cottage, since the end of the last case they worked on together.

They have no intension of coming back to the real world, until a blogger starts to put posts on line that implicate Nathan in a murder.

Nathan had a troubled childhood, and one of his coping methods was to write a journal. Years later the journal surfaced with a few pages missing. The pages with his darkest thoughts about murders he might commit.

It’s these pages that the blogger has found and is publishing. But where did they get them from.

And how is it that the techniques Nathan wrote about all those years ago are being used on victims today

This is enough to bring Katie and Nathan out of their self-inflicted isolation.

The investigation sees the relationship between the two stretched, even Katie is having trouble understanding how the murder can so closely resemble Nathans writings, although she knows he was with her when the murder was committed.

This is a story of doubt. Nathan doubts himself, as do just about everybody else.

Katie begins to doubt herself and wonder if she has been manipulated.

Nick Hollin has created two of the most compellingly unique characters in current fiction. In Nathan Radley he has introduced a mind that is more crazed-axe-man than cop.

In Katie Rhodes he has taken a normal enthusiastic cop and put her through a set of circumstances that has led her to be an introvert, who manages to doubt what she has achieved in the past, and wonder about the future, well at least at the start of the book.

If you like your books to make you think whilst you’re reading them. If you like a story that’s challenging, and if you like a plot that has you hooked from the first page to the last. Then this book is for you.

The Goodnight Song is the second in the series and can be read as a stand-alone, but I would suggest reading Dark Lies. A link for my review of which is below.

https://nigeladamsbookworm.com/2018/03/26/dark-lies-nick-hollin/

Pages: 283

Publishers: Bookouture

Available now

In The Silence. M.R. Mackenzie

 

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Zoe is a Dr of Psychology who specialises in crimes against women. She lives and works in Rome, but spent much of her youth in Glasgow.

Returning for a friends party she does not realise she is about to bump into an old acquaintance at the party. She also doesn’t know that that acquaintance is going to end up dying in her arms in a park in the very early hours of the morning.

At first Zoe is a suspect, in fact she’s a suspect all the way through the book, but she decides to keep some information from the police and try to investigate the killing herself.

Doing this she discovers some nasty truths about some of the people she used to know, she also allows a supressed memory to surface.

The question is not just who is the killer, but why, and how many other people are they going to kill. The Police seem clueless. Zoe is beginning to make headway but is also putting herself in danger.

The story is good, the characters are good but there was one thing in this book that really got on my nerves.

Zoe comes home to visit party girl Anna, and M.R Mackenzie has written her dialog in phonetic Scottish. I’ve seen this work in books before but for some reason this just seems a bit OTT in this book.

If you can get past the way Anna speaks this book has a great story.

I like the crime book which concentrates on people outside of the Police Force. People who are affected by crimes; the witnesses, the families, people caught up in an event.

Mackenzie has found a great way to unravel a crime mystery using this technique. It makes the book feel a bit more like “that could be me”, and that’s what makes it such a good thriller.

Publishers: Bloodhound Books