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

See Them Run Marion Todd

See Them Run   Marion Todd

A new author and the start of a new series.

After years of mainly American Crime books on the shelves in bookshops and supermarkets there has been a resurgence of good British Crime over the Last few years. Series by people such as Angela Marsons, Graham Smith, Carol Wyer are best sellers, and are flying of the physical and e-shelves.

Marion Todd is going to be right at home with this crowd.

This book introduces us to DI Clare Mackay, who is working out of a Police Station in the golfing and tourist town of St Andrews. It’s a bit quieter than her old posting in Glasgow, as part of the Armed Response Team, but she’s settling in nicely.

Called out to an early morning hit-and-run should be a tragic, but routine incident, until it’s found that the man was hit by a car which then reversed back over him to finish the job.

During the scene examination a card with the number 4 written on it.

The next day the same again, this time with a card with the number 3.

There’s obviously a killer out there working their way through a list with at least two other victims out there, but how does Mackay and her small team identify them. First, they have to find the thing that links the first two victims, and they couldn’t be two more different people.

As the new-comer from the “Big City” Mackay is watched closely by her boss to see if she’s up to carrying out this high profile investigation, whilst at the same time having the full backing of her team.

Mackay has another thing niggling at her mind throughout the investigation. As a Fire Arms Officer she had shot and killed a man. Although it was cleared, by the Police, as a justifiable act the family of the man are looking to take out a private prosecution.

This is where Marion Todd has me hooked with her main character. The effect, on a Police Officer after they have been involved in a shooting, is often brushed over. The macho “it’s part of the job” attitude employed, by both sexes, is not real. Todd has done a really good job of looking at the effect it has on an Mackay.

I’m hoping this is going to be the beginning of a really good series, it’s definitely got off to a cracking start.

 

Pages: 292

Publisher: Canelo

Available now

The Blossom Twins Carol Wyer

When DI Natalie Ward is told of a missing persons case involving two girls her mind is immediately taken back to one of the first cases she worked as a detective, the Blossom Twins murder. Then a man had been put away but her mind will always go back to the case.

Is she subconsciously thinking about how the case was solved?

When the similarities in the missing girls case, and the Blossom Twins case start to pile up Nat becomes more than a little concerned.

She hadn’t been convinced the right person was put away years ago, now the uncertainty is creeping back as similarities between the new, and old case start to mount up

To make matters worse a face from the past proves to be an unwelcome annoyance during her investigation.

Carol Wyer’s books are nothing short of brilliant. Over the series she has led the reader to develop a relationship with her characters, often with side stories that are equally as good as the main investigation thread of the plot.

This book is no exception.

I often wonder if writers plot story lines books in advance, or whether they just let the story flow in its own direction whilst they write it.

Either way the end of this story is a real bolt from the blue. If it was planned, and it was done to make the reader sit slack jawed, it worked. If it just flowed to the point that had me gasping, it was a brave decision to include it in the final draft. What an ending.

Am I looking forward to the next instalment. Oh my god yes!!!!!

Pages: 399

Publisher: Bookouture

Available now

COLD HEART CREEK. Lisa Regan

There is no two ways about it. I look forward to these books. When the publishers place them on a reviewing website, and say they are available to read, I always have difficulty finishing what I’m reading at the time quick enough so that I can find out what Josie Quinn has been up to this time.

Cold Heart Creek did not disappoint.

From the very beginning the booked had me hooked, Josie has a back story that includes a horrific child hood and upbringing, and she’s having flashbacks in her nightmares.

Meanwhile, a ranger finds two bodies at a campsite, then a third sleeping bag is discovered. Who is missing?

There are clues. Clues which lead Josie and her team on a hunt for the third person but what they find is even more disturbing, than they could have anticipated.

From the beginning of the book the story is addictive. Josie is suffering mentally. Her Boyfriend, and work Partner, Noah knows she is but she won’t let him in to help.

The murder investigation, and the hunt for the third person takes a nasty twist and Josie, Noah and the rest of the team are hampered by the terrain surrounding the small city of Denton, and the weather that nature unleashes on them.

It’s hard to say much about the story without introducing massive spoilers but that doesn’t mean the book has an obvious ending, in fact it’s far from obvious. That’s the beauty about Lisa Regan’s writing. She gives you enough information to let you build your own hypothesis and then, without introducing any “shark infested custard” type scenarios, she delivers the perfect end that sneaks up on you without warning; and definitely leaves you wanting to read the next book.

Pages: 377

Publishers: Bookouture

Available: Now