The Lost Boys. Rachel Amphlett

The murder of a youth, at a fair leads, to a disturbing investigation

Why is a young teenager miles from where he should be?

Why has he been stabbed and left dead in an alley?

What are the pills found close to his body?

This story covers some of the more scary issues in today’s society. Homeless or desperate young men running County Boundary drugs, Gangs Cuckooing vulnerable people, scared young people making bad decisions.

Detective Sergeant Mark Turpin is part of the investigation team. Both himself and Detective Constable Jan were close-by at the time of the killing, and arrived on the scene quickly. Both are affected in different ways. Jan struggles with the psychological issues raised by the death of a youngster, but for Mark things get a lot more personal.

The story of the crimes, and the investigation, are brilliant, but for me, the thing that elevates this book is the look at how vulnerable Police Officers are. Not every cop becomes hardened by experience. Jan in particular is affected psychologically by the first murder in this book.

The other thing that made me smile was the research that went into the book. Yes I have a personal interest in that, but when I know an author has asked for advice, on what is a relatively small part of the story, and has used that advice so well to make just a few paragraphs realistic, I know that all of the rest of the book is also researched and realistic.

This is a great book in a great series, but it can be read as a standalone story.

Available now

Amok. Sebastian Fitzek

This book took me straight back to some of the best books I read as a young man. The way it is written, and the story that unfolds reminded me of great books like Rivers of Babylon and Cathedral by Nelson Demille, brilliant stories that hooked me into the crime thriller genre

In this book a desperate man takes over a radio station in Berlin during the breakfast show.

Jan is a Psychologist who is convinced his Girlfriend is alive, a year after a Policeman knocked at his door to tell him she’d been killed in a car crash.

To get everybody’s attention he takes hostages and plays an evil game where he changes the radio shows competition. Now people aren’t answering the phone to win a lot of money. They have to use the right phrase to save a hostage. If they don’t…………

Ira is a barely functioning alcoholic who is about to take her own life. That is until she is drawn into the hostage situation as the Police Chief negotiator.

What follows is an intriguing story with that many twists and turns at times I wasn’t sure who were the good guys and who weren’t, but that’s what made it such a good story.

Ira is brought in to take over the negotiations from another Officer, at Jan’s request, but why her. Ira is also a trained psychological but who is analysing who. The dialogue between the two is mesmerising.

There are some brilliant characters in this book, amongst them is the Masseuse, a gang boss with his own unique way of killing. Spine tingling reading.

The complexity of the story kept me gripped to the end. At no time in the book did I get who was going to be on which side of the law. But when the last page was turned it all made sense, and at no time did I get the feeling the story was unrealistic or deliberately misleading.

Sebastian Fitzek is a new author to me, but one I will be looking for in the future.

Pages: 464. Publisher: Head of Zeus. Published 11th November 2021

The Girl at My Door. Rebecca Griffiths

Before I say anything else I’m going to say I loved this book.

Why say that, because I don’t think I’m going to be able to do the book justice.

It’s a slow burner to start with, almost to the point of a “cozy-crime” story, but it’s far from that.

It’s gripping and chilling.

Set in London just after the war, amongst the clubs of Soho the book is filled with great characters, and not all of them are fictional.

Queen is Osbourne is a Jazz singer with a dream. Unfortunately her dream is shattered and she ends up on the door step of a man she has been told will help her.

What she doesn’t know is that she is walking into the hands of a serial killer, John Reginald Christie.

I was surprised I had never heard of this real life killer. A Google search soon put that right, and sent me down a rabbit hole of research for hours.

Christie has been watching Queenie for a long time, today we’d call it stalking, and now she’s at his door.

What follows is a brilliant story that weaves fact with fiction in such a way as it’s almost like reading a true-account story as it happens.

There are some great characters in the book, the settings are atmospheric in a way that suits the story and adds that pinch off suspense.

I really did enjoy this.

If you like books by people like Simon Michael and Ray Celestin you will love this. Fact woven with fiction is a brilliant sub-genre within the crime fiction section of the book shelves.

And now there is a new writer in their ranks Rebecca Griffiths has written an absolute cracker

Pages: 379. Publisher: Bookouture. Available now. Audio and ebook

Little Bones. Patricia Gibney

For anybody that hasn’t found series of books, by Patricia Gibney, featuring DI Lottie Parker, you are missing out on one of the best Police Thriller series on the shelves.

For those of you that have, you are in for a treat with this one, I think it’s the best so far.

Lottie is called to a gruesome murder the victim has an old fashioned razor blade in her hand.

A woman receives a hand written note with three Rusty Razor Blades inside, she knows she’ll be dead within days, if not before the end of the day. Especially when she sees news of a murder on the news.

Somebody is coming for her. She knows why. She’s scared and so she should be.

Somebody is watching the Police. He wants to help, he has information, but he also suffers blackouts and doesn’t know if he’s the killer.

And all of that in the first few chapters.

Lottie and her team have their work cut out with this investigation.

You can rely on Patricia Gibney to keep it real, and this is no exception. Her books are like the written version of the real life, fly-on-the-wall, crime documentaries that follow live investigations. But her books are access all areas.

She takes you inside the head of the detectives, the criminals, the witnesses and the victims. She shows you the affect of a crime on everybody it touches, and throughout the series she has shown us the affect the work has on DI Lottie Parker and her family.

This book arrived in my inbox on a Friday morning, it went straight to the top of my to-be-read list, and was finished by Sunday, it gripped me from the first chapter. Brilliant.

Pages: 407. Publisher: Bookouture. Available now.

Angel Maker. Morgan Greene

So. Is this the start of a new series or not.

Who cares it’s absolutely brilliant, and is one of my must reads of 2021.

I read this book in 2 days, and would have read it in one sitting if I had the time.

Why do I ask if it’s the start of a new series, because there are several places where it fleetingly mentions big cases the main character, DI Jamie Johansson, has worked on in the Met.

The question is answered by the author at the end of the book. He thanks the reader for reading the book and explains that there have been previous books about Jamie’s cases in London, but that he has always wanted to write Scandium Noir, and that this is the real start of The Jamie Johansson series

It works, it really works, and for me, yes it is the start of a new series and I’ve just downloaded the next, Rising Tide, on to my Kindle. Will I read the previous books? Yes but I’m in no rush. I’ll read them as a prequel at some time.

The story

Jamie Johansson is a British Police Officer who moved to the U.K. with her mother following a messy Divorce from her Swedish Detective father.

Her father committed suicide not long after capturing and incarcerating the Angel Maker, a man who had raped and killed teenage girls before posing them as a praying Angel with tree boughs carved and pushed through the bodies.

The Angel Maker has just died in prison and now a new body has been found, a fresh kill, carried out and posed in exactly the same way as the other seven.

Swedish Police Detective Andres Wiik has requested Jamie’s attendance as he believes that she may know something about the original cases that was lost when her father died. She had been the little girl often seen around the police station with her dad. The apple of his eye he took on hunting and fishing trips. She may have been told something about those original investigations, and she is a cop with a huge reputation for solving cases.

When she arrives she’s taken to the scene, surprisingly still well preserved because of the cold weather.

From there she’s taken to a house, and this might be why she’s really there. It’s her fathers old house, the one she thought her mother had sold, but it’s actually hers and hasn’t been touched since her fathers death. It’s a time capsule that takes her back to the good, and not so good, days with her father.

His old note books hold a wealth of information but not much about the Angel Maker case.

The story of the investigation into the current crime obviously throws doubt on the original conviction based on her dads investigations, but that is the least of her worries.

This is a cracker of a story, one of, if not the best, I’ve read this year

There are twist and turns in the plot which had me thinking I had the crime solved, then I hadn’t. I knew who the murderer was, I didn’t. How the book was going to end, I really didn’t.

The end of this book is a real hook, and I swallowed it.

I didn’t see the last chapter coming, and it made what was already a great read, into the opening of what I think is going to be a great series.

I don’t do star markings, but if I did, this would be one more than the top mark six out of five. No hesitation.

Pages: 444. Publisher: Mercury Books. Available now

Under A Dark Cloud. Louisa Scarr

A closed room murder with a twist.

The room is a van, on top of a multi-storey car park, in Reading, in the middle of a storm.

TV personality, and Storm Chaser, Dr Simon Sharp lies multilateral in the van full of high-spec tech. With him, alive and unharmed is Dr Finn Mason. The van is locked from the inside and Finn is refusing to come out unless his best friend is called.

His best friend just happens to be DS Robin Butler of Hampshire Police.

Butler arrives and Finn is taken from the van. But what has happened inside. The local police think they have a nailed-on case of murder with Finn as the only logical suspect.

Butler admits that is the case, but still thinks it’s out of character for his friend, until he starts to dig, and then he realises Finn is not the person he thought he knew so well.

Meanwhile Butler’s side kick DC, Freya West is tasked to help new Acting DS Josh Smith with the investigation into the death of a homeless man found in an abandoned freezer the morning after the storm.

Whilst concentrating on her own case she worries about Butler and soon finds herself helping him try to work out why Finn might have changed so much, and why he might have killed a fellow scientist in such a grisly manner.

This is the second book in the DS Butler series, and just like the first, it’s original and intriguing.

The storyline had me coming up for the occasional breath between chapters. It’s simple, yet complex.

The frustrations Butler feels when he realises he doesn’t know his friend as well as he thought he did, and in some way has let him down, is really well written into the plot.

The relationships between Butler and Finns family is stretched. The building friendship with his DC, Freya, is addictive.

The story as a whole had me not must hooked, but left me wanting more. Always a good sign.

Pages: 297. Publisher: Canelo Crime. Published on: 9th September 2021

When The Guilty Cry. M.J Lee

Right up to date. Set against the political fallout of Greater Manchester Police being placed into Special Measures, a lack of Officers as we come out of the latest lock-down, and pressure on Officers, from those above, to perform beyond their time stretched capabilities, this is a cracking portrayal of today’s policing.

Ridpath is back, and he’s still working for the Coroner, but with MIT pushed to breaking point, and most of the team crunching numbers, it’s inevitable that he’s going to get drawn back to work for the Police.

When 3 severed hands are found in a backpack, in an abandoned Children’s Home Ridpath originally attends as the Coroners Officer. GMP see this as a no win situation, a cold case which appears to be unsolvable. Passing it off to Ridpath seems the ideal opportunity to get the investigation off their books.

At the same time a mother and father have applied for a Declaration of Death certificate for their daughter who has has been missing since 2009.

Last seen heading off to a Music Festival, the then 16 year old girl hasn’t been seen since. Her mother is close to death and wants closure before she dies.

The Coroner is sympathetic and decides to hold the inquest in an impossibly short time frame and tells Ridpath to investigate the circumstances of the disappearance within a week.

That is the starting point for a fast paced story that had me captivated from page one. And if you’ve ever read any of MJ Lee’s books you’ll know that you have to read to the very last sentence, this one is no exception.

The home where the back-pack was found is associated with child abuse, and the name Jimmy Saville just adds to the spin chilling presumptions of what happened their.

The hands provide a series of complex forensic issues, how old are they, can any fingerprints or DNA be recovered, whose are they? And where are the rest of the bodies they belong to.

MIT’s Senior Officer wants this case off her books, and she gives Ridpath the same time frame constraints as the Coroner, She wants it wrapped up or moved on in a week. Impossible!

I love this series. I recently read a post, on one of the book readers forums, that they were fed up with Detectives private lives intruding into Crime Novels.

I couldn’t disagree more, and Lee’s Ridpath is a prefect example of why.

Struggling to balance his work and being a single Dad, taking life advice from his young daughter, when he should be guiding her through life, and still grieving his wife’s death, he just carries on. Because that’s what people do. But the pages devoted to the relationship between him and his daughter are brilliant, and just add so much to an already great story.

This is one of the best books I’ve read this year. A great addition to one of the best Police Crime Series on the shelves today

Publisher: Canelo Crime Pages: 368. Publishing date 21st September 2021

The Cliff Top Murders. Rachel McLean

The speed that Rachel McLean turns books out would usually be a red flag to me, but in this case I would be very wrong. Her books are not only good, they’re addictive, and as far as I’m concerned, the quicker she publishes them the better.

Her first series, set in Birmingham was brilliant. This, her second series is a spin off from that, and is just as good, if not better.

DCI Lesley Clarke is on a sabbatical from the West Midlands Police after sustaining an injury during a bomb attack in Birmingham. She has been seconded to a Dorset Police for a quite rehabilitation. The problem is there are murders that need solving even on the idyllic prehistoric coastline.

When the body of a young Lawyer is found at the foot of a cliff it’s not immediate clear if it’s the result of an accident, suicide, or murder. It soon becomes apparent it’s murder.

Still struggling to form relationships with all of her team Clarke is frustrated by their insular approach and the snails pace the local pathologist works at. But one relationship she has formed outside of work is going to become a problem on this case.

When a second body is found at the base of another cliff it throws up more questions. One of which is posed by one of her new colleagues, and it relates to the death of her predecessor.

In the Birmingham series one of Clarke’s DI’s uncovered police corruption on an epic scale, is it about to happen all over again in sleepy, but affluent Dorset.

Midsomer Murders meets Line of Duty but one hell of a lot better.

Please don’t read this as a standalone. Look through Amazon and pick up the first book in the series. The Corfe Castle Murders you will love it and get so much more from this one if you do.

If you want to spend a bit more money, and invest a bit more time, look for McLeans Birmingham Series starting with Deadly Wishes, it’s a cracking set of 6 books set in Birmingham and will give you a gateway into these Dorset books.

Pages: 342. Publisher: Ackroyd Publishing. Available now

The Body On The Moor. Nick Louth

Usual lead character DCI Craig Gillard takes a bit of a back seat in this book.

That’s because the story revolves more around the people that are involved in a crime from the civilian side.

A local head master is found beheaded in his car.

Who would target a man that is held in fairly high regard by most, but then we find out about the real man, and it seems there could be a few people who would be happy to see him dead.

Then there’s a Barrister who is really down on her luck, financially she is skint, her personal and professional life is stuck in a rut.

When she finds a young runaway living in her garden she finds that strangely the girl knows way too much about her life.

Dizzy, the runaway, has a terrible history, running away from home at 13, abused, by her “boyfriend” who got her addicted to drugs and then forced her into prostitution, working for one of the worst gang bosses in the country, she has escaped and is on the run in fear of her life.

So why chose Barrister Julia McGann’s garden to sleep in, and how does she know so much about her.

Gillard’s team are investigating the death of the headless headmaster, now that would have been a great title for a book. The more they dig into his life the more sleazy it looks.

The various affairs, the reluctant cuckold wife, the aggrieved students, the list of potential suspects seems endless, but the one woman they think most likely is proving impossible to identify.

This is one of those stories that had to be written from outside of the police prospective. It had to be written with Julia McGann as the main character. It is better for showing issues the police could not know about.

It’s a book about choices and the way one choice becomes the first strand of a spiders web, which when complete is a really complex structure.

That’s what this story is, a complex spiders web, and it’s brilliant.

Pages: 352 Publisher: Canelo. Available now

The Crying House B.R Spangler

The book starts 30 years ago with a young boy being abused by his mother, but is this the making of a monster?

The abuse is carried out in a specific way, a way I haven’t heard of before, and that’s not the only first in this book.

The setting for the place the first bodies are found when the story moves to the current day, is the second. Some houses which have been abandoned are being used by local youths to party. The houses are suffering from rising sea levels and costal erosion and could collapse at any time.

The first body appears to be a consequence of careless partying, or is it?

The second body, found in the upper floors has had its blood drained and is mummified in salt, and that is the link back to the abused boy thirty years previously.

Casey White is still convalescing but is keen to lead the investigation into both deaths.

As she looks at old crimes she realises that a similar murder had happened years ago, but that the man who committed it is still in prison. He’s old, he’s frail, he’s incarcerated, he can’t be responsible can he?

Another body, a note held in its hand.

Casey’s daughter s still missing, she still sees her, she still worries about her, the note sends her into paranoia, will her daughter be next.

Spangler writes as if he’s writing for me. He ticks all my boxes, original crimes, a great setting, a main character I can engage with, peripheral characters that hold my interest, and ongoing stories that run through the series, each book its own cracking story.

This is Book 4 in the Detective Casey White series, yes it can be read as a standalone, but it’s much better read in order.

Pages: 281. Publisher: Bookouture. Available now