The Pupil. Ros Carne

Mel and Natasha, two very different people at very different stages in their lifes.

Mel, a single mother of a hormonal teenage boy, a successful Barrister working out of a top London Firm.

Natasha, a young woman who lives beyond her means, shop lifts for fun, and strings her boyfriend along whilst carrying on affairs as her alter ego Lola.

Natasha has just become Mels trainee, on her second six months of training, and is hoping to be selected for a full time job, but can she curb her self destructive personality.

Meanwhile Mel is on a downward spiral, she’s struggling at work, making mistakes in court, and Natasha’s watching, not getting on with her son, and Natasha notices.

Using her alter ego, Lola, Natasha starts to flirt on line with Mels son, and at every opportunity undermines her at work.

And so it starts, a twisting turning plot of a psychological thriller.

I have to admit for the first third of the book I couldn’t make up my mind who to sympathise, or empathise with, which was really clever writing; because when the plot starts to unfold I was torn between which of the two characters I was rooting for, even though it was fairly obvious who was the good guy, and who was the victim.

I really enjoyed this book. It turned me upside down and inside out with my conscience being pulled like a tug of war rope. I love books that make me reach for google to research something. This was was different. It had me looking into my own mind. Clever, very clever.

Pages: 312

Publishers: Canelo

Publishing date: 6th August 2020

THE BODY UNDER THE BRIDGE Nick Louth

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DCI Craig Gillard is a detective in the Surrey Police. As the main character in a series of books by Nick Louth I’ve come to enjoy the character, and like all series his story ticks along throughout. Unlike many other series though, they only play a minor part of the books, which allows each of them to be read individually without deterring from the main plot.

This instalment sees Gillard trying to crack an unfathomable crime. A young woman, the daughter of a German Cabinet Minister, has gone missing. She is not underage, nor does she appear vulnerable, in fact far from it. She is the lead violin in a string quartet and an accomplished performer on stage, she is also trained in self defense. But as the daughter of a foreign diplomat pressure is put on the Police to find her.

The strange thing is that the investigation uncovers images of her on a commuter train to London, then she just disappears between stops. Her phone coverage continues but when  it’s traced only leads to more confusion.

Meanwhile one of the Detective Inspectors under Gillard’s command finds out his wife is having an affair and takes his eye-off-the-ball during the investigation to uncover his wife’s infidelity. A distraction he, Gillard, and the rest of the team could do without.

As the investigation continues a storm hits the South East of England, and the ensuing floods lead to the discovery of more dead people, not all of who have died as a result of the storm.

This book is a great read. It rattles along at a hectic pace and just when you think you have it sussed, it wriggles down another route, until the last few pages unveil a brilliant conclusion.

Nick Louth is the only author I’ve come across that has used the floods that the UK suffered in 2019 and 2020 as tool for his story, and it works really well. In fact it raised some good questions in my mind……but I won’t share them for fear of spoiling the book. Needless to say this is right up my alley and I spent hours navigating Google to see if anything like this has happened in the real world.

As I write this blog we are in week 3 of “self-solation” during the Covid19 virus outbreak. I wonder if this will feature in future books. If it does I wouldn’t be surprised to see Nick Louth being one of the first, and no doubt using it to great effect.

Pages: 288

Publisher: Canelo

Publishing Date: 30 April 2020, Available to pre-order on the usual sites.

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

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

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 Body In The Snow. Nick Louth

The Body In The Snow Nick Louth

When a young, newly qualified, Forensic Scene Investigator goes out jogging in the snow the day before her first day on duty she didn’t expect to be a witness to a murder.

First on the scene she attempts to protect it from being destroyed by the victims dog, and preserve tacks that are being lost as the snow melts.

Her knight in shining armour arrives in the form of Senior Investigating Officer Craig Gillllard, one of Surreys Murder Investigation Team.

The victim is Tanvi Roy, the owner of a large Indian Cuisine Company and the matriarch of the dysfunctional Roy Family.

The family are Hindus and run their business, and their family affairs, in a traditional manner.

Mrs Roy’s husband had died before the story starts but his influences run right through the book. The multi-million pound fortune is tied up in a Codicil which sees unequal sharing of equities, with Sons, Grandsons, and even Son-in-Laws, being given much more value than, wives, daughters and granddaughters.

The unequal distribution of share holding’s means that it’s nearly impossible to get a group decision, and one rival company has been trying to buy the Roy’s business for years

This gives just about everybody in the family a reason to see Mrs Roy dead.

Throughout the investigation Gillard uncovers years of resent within the family.

I love a book that gives me new knowledge as well as entertains me. This book has done just that. I fell into a Google worm-hole that lasted for hours looking at Hindu family traditions, including Codicil Wills, arranged marriages and Castes.

Nick Louth has written a wonderful book. Some people will do as I did and research the Hindu faith, and I’m sure will learn they did not know as much as they thought.

I think this was a brave book to write. It looks at a religion and bases a family murder firmly in the way that people of that faith act. It looks at the differences between generations, and the conflicts between the older, first generation of immigrants, and their more westernised younger generations, and the problems that it can.

A wonderful book that kept me reading when I should have been doing other things.

Publishing Date. 31st January 2020

Publishers. Canelo

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 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

BOLD LIES. Rachel Lynch

The Lake District

DI Kelly Porter is back for her 5th outing in this cracking series. This time the crimes aren’t just focused on her patch in the Lake District. This time the crimes are connected to London and Kelly’s old team are investigating.

Kelly has a close knit team covering the North of the Lake District, and she has a close knit series of friends who support her when she’s on, and off, duty.

So, when one of those friends finds the body of a man on a boat he has been restoring Kelly and her team start their investigation, little knowing how far reaching the investigation would be, and who would end up being involved.

As the body is found in the Lake District a hit is made on an underground chemistry lab in London, and 2 respected research chemists are killed. It’s not long before a link is made to the three deaths and Kelly’s Team start to work with their colleagues in London.

So what is the link between the three murder victims, what were they working on, and who wanted to stop them.

The Police are not the only ones investigating the crimes, a freelance journalist is also on to the story, and as Kate travels south to work with the London team, the journalist heads north to follow up on her lead.

As the investigations continue more people are put at risk. The high tech approach of the Met is shown in stark comparison to the hands on local investigation of the Lakes team. Can they, between them, identify the motive for the killing, and ultimately the killers.

Rachel Lynch’s stories are always well narrated around a central cast of characters and are set in a beautiful part of the country. By branching out and sending Kelly back to London in this book she has introduced a whole new dynamic to the books. And it’s not just the crimes and the countryside that’s different. A bit of Kelly’s previous life is coming back and trying to get to know her, making working life in London very unhappy, will it affect her work? Will it affect her relationships back home?

This book is about more than the murders at the beginning of the book. It’s about power, and influence. It’s about relationships, past and present. It’s about Kelly’s new life, and her old, and many other strands that make this book one that I didn’t want to put down.

Will the crime get solved, will Kelly’s old life return to ruin the new life?

This is a great read, the whole series is stunning. Can it be read as a stand alone. Yes, but some of the nuances of the story might be missed if you read this before reading the others.

Pages: 313

Publishers: Canelo

Publishing date: 27th May 2019.

Where The Dead Fall M.J Lee

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DI Tom Ridpath is an unusual main character for a crime series.

Separated from a wife who still loves and cares for him, missing his daughter, and recovering from cancer. He has a strange job. Having had months off with his illness he has been seconded to the Coroner’s Office, and is tasked with investigating deaths which are suspicious in more ways than just the common murders encountered in most books.

This has brought him into conflict with his colleagues on the Major Investigation Team of Greater Manchester Police in the past, but he is determined to prove he is fit to return to the team.

Keeping in the spirit of originality the story has a cracking opening scene. As Ridpath is driving home through the early evening rush on the motorway a naked man runs out in front of him. Ridpath stops in time but the man is hit and killed seconds later.

Amongst the horror of the accident Ridpath sees a man on the hard shoulder holding a gun, but he is gone in an instance and no sign of him is left behind, and nobody else saw him.

Sticking to his guns Ridpath closes the Motorway at its busiest time and suffers the wrath of the traffic police.

All this in the first few pages.

What follows is a great story as Ridpath tries to identify the mystery man, if he ever existed, and find out why he was chasing the naked man onto a busy motorway.

It’s not long before another death occurs and puts Manchester on the edge of a gang war.

Working as a Coroners Officer Ridpath tries to engage his old team but not everybody wants him back.

This is a great story. Ridpath is a great character and MJ Lee has a really good way of bringing the story to life.

Ridpath’s frustrations at being side lined are almost palpable. The scenes are vividly described as are the victims and perpetrators.

Can anybody stop Manchester erupting into violence, not if they don’t start working together.

This is a really good read. Roll on the next book in the Ridpath series

Pages: 344

Publisher: Canelo

Publishing date: 11thApril 2019