THE SECRET ADMIRER. CAROL WYER

The Secret Admirer.      Carol Wyer

When I reviewed the last book in this series I asked, How is Carol going to top that.

Well she has, and she’s done it in style.

The start of the book picks up 3 months after the end of the previous one and finds DI Natalie Ward living on her own, in a small flat, getting ready to return to work for the first time since the shocking conclusion of Blossom Twins.

She’s not sure of how she is going to react to some of the scenes she knows she is going to have to attend, the first one couldn’t be much worse.

A young woman has had Acid thrown in her face and has died a horrible death.

When a second murder follows quit quickly afterwards it appears to be related.

With no time for a gradual reintroduction to work, and battling her own demons, Nat and her team are in a race against time to stop a killer who is quickly escalating.

This book, like all of Carol Wyer’s Books, had me gripped from the very beginning, but where Carols books differ from so many others is that she keeps me hooked with every chapter.

She recognises that many crimes affect small groups of people, and manages to find a way of engaging me with every character, in her small cast of characters

Natalie, herself, is one of the best fictional cops I’ve ever read about. Her story across the series has been fascinating, and at times heart breaking.

The occasional characters which make up her team, and her family, are stunningly written and add a depth to each book with their own intertwining story-lines.

But, in my opinion, the criminals and victims stories always give the books extra edge.

All of these combine in this book. Natalie and her ongoing emotional and mental struggles. The small community of characters involved in the crime, two houses full of students, and their families. The twist in the plot which sees Natalie’s husband come under suspicion.

At 413 pages this book is a bit longer than the average book released these days, but every page holds something. As the DJ’s of old used to say it’s “All Thriller and No Filler”

Could this book be read as a stand-alone? Yes

Should this book be read as a stand-alone. No, why would anybody want to miss out on the rest of the series.

A brilliant read from one of my favourite authors.

Pages: 413

Publisher: Bookouture

Available now.

Buried Deep. SUSAN WILKINS


It seems to be the season for the start of new series in the Crime Book genre. This one will stand out as one of the best and I can’t wait for the next instalment.

Detective Sergeant   Megan Thomas has just transferred from the Met to Devon. Having spent the last 5 years as an undercover officer she is dreading going back to normal policing. Has she still got what it takes to be a “normal” detective. Can she deal with the PTSD that she suffers from following that undercover work. Will the team she is assigned to give her a chance.

What easier way to start with her new team than a murder, and a teenage rape, within a small community. As well as Megan doubting herself she has a fast-rising-star of a Detective Chief Inspector,  who is only interested in protecting her own career, as a boss.

The first body is found in a septic tank and Megan has a panic attack when she crawls inside to establish the position of the body and if it’s accidental or murder.

That’s not the only thing that triggers a reaction from Megan, and as her crisis of confidence escalates, Megan begins to question her future in the Police Force.

The settings for the crimes, and the characters in the story, are compelling. At times my empathy for Megan slipped but I enjoyed reading how she copped with her personal issues. The young DC’s who hold no bias against a Met cop coming into their team is a juxtaposition compared with the old hands who perceive her as a threat.

The fact that Megan is now fighting crime in a town where everybody seems to know every bodies business is also a complete contrast to her old work.  Town gossip is a hindrance and at time her ally but choosing when to use it becomes not just a police issue but also a family one.

Publisher: Bookouture

Pages: 325

Publishing date: April 6th 2020 available to preorder on Amazon

 

 

 

Where The Innocent Die M.J Lee

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This is the latest in a really good Crime Fiction Series. DI Thomas Ridpath is not your stereotypical fictional cop. He is a family man who is really good at what he does and is well liked amongst his peers. Where he is different is that he is a cancer patient in remission. With Senior Officers in the Police worried about his health when he returned to work, he has been temporarily deployed to Manchester’s Coroner as a Coroner’s Investigator.

This has given M.J Lee lots of leeway to put Ridpath into situations not usually encountered by Police Officers as he investigates how people have died. However in this book the streams are crossed and Ridpath finds himself right at the front of a murder investigation, and this time he will not be Mr Popular.

The death of a Chinese woman in a detention centre, the day before she is due to be deported, is found to be a case of suicide by the Police Officer who carries out the investigation.

The Coroner is not convinced. It’s the latest in a line of deaths in detention centres across the country, most of which have been recorded as suicide. This one has happened in Manchester, and there is no way the Coroner is going to let it slip by without proper investigation, and she tasks Ridpath with taking a second look at the circumstances surrounding the woman’s death.

Ridpath soon finds out that the Police Investigation was slipshod at best. Unfortunately, for him, it was carried out by a popular Detective Sergeant who is 3 months from retirement and stands to lose his pension if Ridpath is correct in his theory that the woman was murdered.

The discovery of another body only adds credibility to  Ridpath’s hypothesis and he is “invited” to lead the investigations into both deaths as part of the MIT.

The Coroner has made it impossible to carry out a deep investigation as she refuses to put back the date of the inquest, giving Ridpath less than a week to gather the evidence he needs to establish the woman was murdered and, if so identify the killer.

Meanwhile, understandably, Ridpath is working every hour available and his family are worried about the effects on his health.

This is a great book. In effect it starts as a “locked-room-mystery” but soon develops into something much more sinister.

At the end of the book Ridpath is left with a decision to make. I, for one, can’t wait to read the next book to see what he has decided.

 

Pages: 352

Publisher: Canelo

Publishing Date: 7th May 2020

POISON Jacqui Rose

This “Gangland” genre of fiction is getting more popular, so I thought I’d give it a go. Poison is not the first of the type I’ve read but it’s certainly the best.

Franny is in Prison on remand, she’s a hard woman who’s used to being the boss, but in prison she’s just another inmate who gets targeted by the hard knocks. There’s a hierarchy and as the book starts Franny is far from the top of it.

As the story unfolds we find out why Franny’s in prison. Not just the crime she’s alleged to have committed, but also the duplicity that has taken place to put her behind bars.

Meanwhile outside, the prison, the triangular relationship between a 16 year old drug addict who is trying to straighten out her life, a young drug addict father who is trying to pay back massive debts, and a Criminal who is a friend of both and is trying to look after them, is putting everybody in danger, including Franny.

Throw into the mix a very crocked Police Officer and this is one hell of a story.

Misplaced loyalties within the criminal fraternity provide some great twists and turns but all of the strands of the story run together in a very neat plot.

For crime fiction lovers this story is a diversion from the usual cop-hunts-criminal type of tale. It still holds intrigue, and poses dilemma’s, but from  a completely different side of life.

The things that most people would think are wrong, drug taking, drug dealing, prostitution, abuse, money sharking, are all part of day to day life for the characters in this book. It’s hard to find anybody in the book to actually class as the ultimate victim, as all the characters are victims of some type. For me that means that although I have no sympathy, or empathy for any of them, I can understand and tolerate their behaviour.

That made the book easy for me to read. I loved it.

Pages: 403

Publishers: Avon

Publishing Date: Available now

Cyberstrike: London. James Barrington & Professor Richard Benham

This is a story of an attack on the City of London, not in the manner in which we have come to expect, no lone terrorist with a machete, no small group with backpacks stuffed with homemade explosives.

This time the people trying to bring down the City, and cripple the country is another country.

How do they manage this? They give one of the most feared and blood thirsty criminals they have one last chance, work for them and bring down a foreign power or die in a horrific way.

But how does a man who is used to using brute force manage to bring down a country.

Easy, he kidnaps a man who is in the right social circle, and gets information on all the main players in the city. Information that can be used to blackmail them into doing things that will cripple the City.

There is a group of people that work for the Government whose job it is to identify threats before the terrorists have chance to carry out an attack. One of them, Ben Morgan, is a cyber expert, but his job is usually to monitor trends in communications before an attack to identify who was involved and anticipate future attacks.

This time he’s at the forefront of the fight to stop the attack, or limit the effect it has on the country.

A new decade and a new type of crime, but in all honesty,  I read this thinking how easy it would be to carry out this attack, and how difficult it would be to stop it. A politician once said that the “security forces have to get lucky all of the time, the terrorist only has to get lucky once” .

I can’t help thinking that one day I’m going to be watching the news thinking, this was in that book.

A brilliantly written, origin plot, which has developed a cracking story.

Pages: 353

Publisher: Canelo

Publishing date: 9th March 2020

Perfect Kill. Helen Fields

Helen Fields has a way of writing things which take you just to the edge. Just to that point where you have had enough of the scenario to know what’s going to happen next, then cutting away to the next scene or the aftermath. This makes her books really good. Sometimes that little bit left to your own imagination can have so much more of an impact.

Perfect Kill is a perfect example of this with the description of some of the crimes being “peep-through-your-fingers” frightening, whilst maintaining a real believability.

In Edinburgh a young man is kidnapped and drugged. Waking up in a container he is soon swapped for a group of young women. Where is he being taken and what is in store for him.

In France a body is discovered minus its vital organs.

Back in Edinburgh a low level gang leader is running a bunch of brothels, using women that have been forced into the sex trade; but he has a side line that earns him much more money, and it’s not good news for some of the girls in the brothels.

In Scotland DCI Ava Turner takes the lead on the investigation into the kidnap of the young man. Meanwhile her partner DI Luc Callanach is back on his home turf of France acting as a liaison officer for Police Scotland and Interpol, and starts to investigate the the case of the man with the missing organs.

Inevitably the two cases are linked, and Turner and Callanach are thrown into a joint investigation.

This book is the 6th in the series. I’ve been on board from the start and I’m hooked. The characters in the series are amongst my favourites in Crime Fiction. Turner and Callanach have a unique relationship. Callanach has a past that has a lasting impact on him, he suffers from a form of PTSD that affects him in ways that can only be described as frustrating.

But he is a really good police officer, and after winning the respect of Turner, and her MIT, it all went wrong when part of his past came back to haunt him. This led to him being moved back to France, on a temporary basis, but now everybody wants to build bridges and get him home to Scotland.

This book is a roller-coaster of a story. Horrific in places, haunting in others, emotional throughout, but this just makes it readable. In fact I hardly put it down from start to finish.

Pages: 416

Publisher: Avon Books

Available 6th February 2020

The Waxwork Corpse. Simon Michael

Simon Michael’s books are up there with my favourites.

This series of legal thrillers set through the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s are fictional, but, and it’s a big but, each book is set around things that actually happened.

Readers will recognise some of the Gangland names that the Barrister Charles Holborne meets and deals with. They will recognise some of the periphery characters and will be aware of some of the crimes that took place, some of which are almost urban legend, some of which were national headlines.

In this case Simon Michael has used a less well known case and spun his own story around it, a story that so closely resembles the real life happenings that it is almost a documentary of the crime and the court case. There is even a nod to one of the main, real life protagonists,  in the name of one of the main characters in the book.

When the body of a woman is fished from the depths of Britain’s deepest lake it has the appearance of a waxwork dummy wrapped in plastic sheeting. What it actually is, is the remains of a woman that has been missing for over 10 years.

Her husband quickly becomes a suspect in her murder and Charles Holborne is asked to help prosecute the man.

Charles battles with the dilemma of sitting at the prosecution table, he usually represents the defendants, and the possible outcomes of prosecuting such a high profile defendant.

The case makes national headlines, as did the real one, and Holborne is thrust into the limelight. This brings someone from his past life, during the early years of World War Two, out of the woodwork. Somebody who Charles would rather not have to deal with.

In another reflection of true life Charles is battling anti-Semitism inside and outside of the court. As a “lapsed” practitioner of the Jewish Faith he is also battling with his own family.

Every page of this book brings something to the story.

The crime and trial are addictive reading on their own, but throw in all of the issues in Charles’ own life, and it moves to a whole new level of crime writing.

An absolutely stunning addition to what is already a brilliant series.

Pages: 336

Publishers: Sapere Books

Available now