Into the Darkest Corner Elizabeth Haynes

51vRWT6BlUL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX324_SY324_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA346_SH20_OU02_

Elizabeth Haynes is fast becoming one of my favourite writers. This morning I finished Into The Darkest Corner, which she published in 2011.

My wife is used to me reading books and writing my blogs but she said something this morning that made me realise just how much I enjoyed this book. “It must be good. I’ve never known you rave about one like this before”. I hadn’t stopped talking about it for 10 minutes after I put it down.

Into The Darkest Corner, is both the most compelling, and probably the most harrowing, book I have read.

The book is written in the first person narrative style that allows the reader to understand the fear the main character, Catherine, feels. Split over two time periods, alternating chapter by chapter between events that take place in 2003-4, and events that start in 2007.

In 2003 Catherine is an outgoing party girl with little in the way of morals, until she meets the man of her dreams, Lee. Unfortunately for her the mysterious Lee is not all he appears and Catherine is slowly manipulated into becoming a victim of domestic abuse of the worse kind.

In 2007 Catherine is a very damaged young woman, with severe OCD, who is desperately trying to get her life back on track.

Elizabeth Haynes manages to convey the emotions of the younger Catherine as she transitions from a party girl to one being in love. She builds up the tension in the relationship and it becomes almost understandable how women fall into the life of a victim of abuse whilst clinging onto the fact they have found Mr Right. As the abuse becomes more violent Catherine begins to realise that she is in a harmful relationship, but can she get out of it? How bad will it be before she can get out? And what will be the culmination of it all?

Elizabeth describes the suffering of OCD and the fright of everyday life for the older Catherine in a way makes the reader feel every emotion. It is obvious that she has been affected by something in the earlier period of her life but the way the book alternates between the two time periods the reader can never be sure of what until close to the end.

Catherine finds help in the form of a very patient neighbour, Stuart, but is he also too good to be true, can she trust him.

The end of the book is every bit as tense as the rest. No spoilers so no more about the plot.I have reread this blog and have rewritten it twice. Why? Two reasons.

Firstly I don’t think I’m doing the book justice. It really is brilliant.

Secondly, no matter how I try to describe it I make it sound like a book, or story, for women. It isn’t, it’s far from it. I would recommend this book to everybody.

It’s a hard hitting, fast paced, brutal, erotic, thriller that should be read by everybody.

Career of Evil Robert Galbraith

Career of Evil     Robert Galbraith

The third in the Cormoran Strike series is no let down. From the first page it’s a comfortable enjoyable read.

Following on from The Silkworm the book finds Strike and his assistant; don’t call her his secretary, Robin, busy on two low profile cases. That is until a package is sent to their office.

The grisly contents of the parcel send Strike and Robin on a path of not so much a who-done-it, but more of a which-one-done-it.

Strike quickly comes up with a list of suspects that would want to send him a message in such a way.

The possible suspects open up more of Cormoran Strike’s backstory. Is one of the criminals he prosecuted during his time in the Special Investigation Branch of the Army responsible, or is it somebody closer to home from within his extended and confused family, and who is the mystery victim.

As the investigation continues the Police start to look for a possible serial killer. Strike is convinced that the parcels sender is responsible for the killings, but who will be the next victim.

The investigation takes the duo across the country and into Strike’s past. Moving through the seedy world of drug dealers, child abusers, strip joints and domestic violence Robert Galbraith introduces some fantastically realistic characters. As with the previous books every one of them is so well written you have to think that at some time the author has met people of similar ilk.

Each scene, whether it is a London back street pub, or a Hospital ward, is written in a way that effortlessly transports the reader to the time and place the author is describing.

The main story of this book is the unravelling of the puzzle of who sent the parcel, and possibly identifying a the serial killer, but the thing that keeps the story ticking along is the revelations about Strikes past, and his relationship with Robin.

At the end of Silkworm Robin was due to marry her boyfriend but the reader was left in no doubt she had feelings for Strike, and him for her. Neither will openly acknowledge their feelings and this theme continues into this book. In many stories I would consider this an unnecessary diversion but in these books I find it fascinating.

Robin will take risks to prove her worth to Strike, and he will give her duties that will keep her out of danger, but in the end will it all end well. Her safety may well depend on Strike identifying the killer, if he doesn’t will he put her in danger in a place where he thinks she’s out of harms way.

Will there be a happy ever after ending.

There’s only one way to find out.

Read the book.

Playing With Fire Tess Gerritsen

51v584gXV-L._AA324_PIkin4,BottomRight,-59,22_AA346_SH20_OU02_ 61VFFb1OtgL._SL160_

Playing With Fire   Tess Gerritsen

Julia is a musician; she has a successful Husband who loves her, and a beautiful three-year-old daughter who she dotes over. Life is pretty much perfect.

The book starts with Julia buying a book of Gypsy Music whilst on a trip to Rome. Within its pages she finds an original piece of music by an unknown composer. Reading the music and playing it in her head Julia finds it complicated but beautiful.

When Julia arrives home she plays the piece for the first time she waits till her three year old daughter Lily is playing quietly by herself, before taking out her violin and playing the piece. As she reaches the end of the piece her daughter comes running into the room covered in blood and holding a gardening fork. From that point on Julia’s life changes; the relationship with her family is affected by her thoughts and at the centre of it all that piece of music: Incendio.

In Julia’s attempts to discover the origins of the music another story unfolds and the reader is transported to 1930’s Italy where a young musician, Lorenzo, is given his grandfathers violin and asked to take part in a duet competition with a young lady he has never met before. They are from different backgrounds and would never have met if it wasn’t for the music, but there blooming relationship has one major problem. Lorenzo and his family are Jewish and the Italian Fascists are beginning to act like their German allies and alienate the Jews. The young lady and her family try to warn Lorenzo’s family of the change in attitudes towards the Jewish community and convince them to escape before they are interned and transported to Poland with the rest of the Jews caught up in the horrors of Hitler and Mussolini’s reign.

The 2 stories play out through the book. Lorenzo experiences in Europe during the 1930’s and 1940’s. Julia’s fight to prove her own sanity in America in the 21st Century.

Eventually the two stories inevitably come together in a spine tingling conclusion to a story that, at times, made the hair on my arms stand up.

It is very hard to do this book justice without giving away too much of the plot. As a rule I usually am happy to comment on anything that happens in the first half of a book but nothing in the second, to avoid the dreaded spoilers. I could happily write about this book all day but that would just ruin it for everybody else, and everybody should read this.

Whilst I was reading the book I had in my head the haunting violin piece from the film Shindler’s List. My daughter is a good violinist and I have seen her reduce people to tears playing that piece, and there is the obvious connection between the film and this story.

Then I discovered that Tess Gerritsen has composed a piece of music, Incendio, and had it recorded by one of the top violinists in the world. I had it playing whilst I wrote this blog. Just as it is described in the book it is a beautifully haunting waltz with a tumultuous finale.

So I guess this is not only a book review but in a way my first music review.

All I can say is both are 10/10. I loved the book, I loved the music. What a talented woman

Thank You Tess Gerritsen

Heavy Hour Patrick Brown

Heavy Hour Patrick Brown

Is a murder at a wedding related to an incident that happened 10 years before? I’m sure this has been the basis of many books in the past, but not many will have evolved into a story as good as this one.

On Jelly and Dillon’s wedding day Dillon is cruelly murdered. The Police investigation identifies no suspects so the family turn to a friend, local security expert Salem Reid.

As Salem begins his investigation it draws him towards a mysterious man. The man is violent and a sexual predator. What’s worse is he makes and distributes violent pornography.

Can Dillon have been involved, or is it coincidence that joins them.

Patrick Brown is a very descriptive writer. During the scenes of sexual violence he does not hold back and it is rare for me to say a book goes too far but this one came close. However it didn’t cross the line, I didn’t put it down and I have to say I really enjoyed the story.

This story is told from an independent point of view, the main protagonist is a family friend who helps the grieving widow. There is no abundance of the scientific methods used by the police in a modern investigation. Salem Reid uses observations. He follows people, he thinks things through, makes connections and then acts on them.

This is a good book with a good story. Its told from an unusual point of view. It kept me reading from start to finish. That has to be a good sign

Would I recommend this book? Yes but not to anybody feint-hearted

The Wrecking Crew Taylor Zajonc

The Wrecking Crew   Taylor Zajonc

The book starts with a plane full of scientists being shot down whilst they are investigating a mysterious red kelp off the Horn of Africa, continues with a prison escape, luxury yatch theft and that’s just the first few pages.

Are the uber-rich causing the pollution in the gulf fro their mega-structure in the sea? One mans greed and vision has created a land that belongs to no kingdom but is it working as well as he thinks it is.

Dr Fatima Nassir was that crashed. Her son breaks Jonah Blackwell out of prison to help him find justice for his mother and to recover her research.

Blackwell is one of the most complex characters of have encountered recently in a book, but what a character a cross between Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan and Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne. That alone is worth reading this book for.

Every good adventure thriller needs a bad guy, and it’s easy to dislike Charles Bettencourt from the start. Rich, obnoxious, corrupt and outright nasty, the perfect villain

This book has everything a Clive Cussler fan would like, at times I forgot I was reading a book and was transported back to the boys own tales of the Warlord comic I used to read in the 60’s and 70’s.

Did I like this book? Yes.

Would I recommend this book? Yes but, I think it’s a male thing, and without being sexist I really don’t see many of my female friends liking it.

Mr Zajonc I look forward to your next book.

City on Fire Garth Risk Hallberg

City on Fire     Garth Risk Hallberg

This is a mammoth book running in at well over 900 pages. Each one is carefully crafted a takes the reader on several journeys, I think each of which may have made a good book on their own.

Set in the mid 70’s New York my baby boomer generation saw as a gang ridden dangerous city, where big money lived next to ghettos, where the music scene was in full swing, as disco was giving way to punk.

Hallberg could not have chosen a better city to paint his literary tapestry, nor better people to use as his characters.

The book introduces us to a diverse set of characters that seem entirely unrelated; but as a blizzard hit New York prepares to ring in 1977 two shots ring out.

The investigation into the shooting brings more characters into the story. Like cogs in an engine they all play their role, the actions of one inadvertently affecting those of others. Eventually the cogs start to rotate as one, and during the Blackout of July 1977 a revelation.

If you like Edward Rutherfurd’s style of writing; but prefer Ed McBain’s stories this book will be perfect for you.

If, like me, you love a good book then this one is definitely for you, but be prepared its long and it doesn’t get put down very often.

The Silent Room Mari Hannah

IMG_1756

You know that feeling? The one when your favourite author diverges from their series to write a stand-alone novel. The feeling when you hope it’s as good as the series but you’re disappointed the usual characters aren’t in the story.

That feeling lasted about 2 pages when I was reading The Silent Room. The book had me hooked so quick I read half of it the first day I had it.

Mari Hannah introduces some fantastic new characters in this book. The main protagonist Detective Sergeant Matthew Ryan is depressed that his ex-boss, and best friend, Jack Fenwick has been charged with a serious crime Ryan does not think he committed. But when a prison transfer van is hijacked and Fenwick is released and disappears, it appears that Fenwick may have been guilty after all.

To make matters worse Detective Superintendent Eloise O’Neil and her sidekick Detective Sergeant Maguire, of Northumbria Professional Standards Department, are tasked with investigating the escape Ryan immediately comes under their scrutiny.

Ryan quickly starts to make his own inquiries whilst the official police investigation carries on.

The two investigations run parallel to each other with the added friction of Ryan and Maguire being in constant conflict.

The end of the book comes quick. As with all of her books Mari Hannah doesn’t give the reader an easy ride on the way, and the twists and turns continue right to the end. I usually read on a Kindle but was lucky enough to have a paperback copy of The Silent Room. With what appeared to be only a few pages left I was beginning to think I was home and dry and that all of the drama was over, I should have known better. All the way to the last paragraph of the last page this book delivers.

This is a great book. Mari Hannah has written a story that quickly draws the reader in. It is set, like all of her books in the stunning countryside of Northumbria, allowing her to use remote destinations with the full attention of “Big City” Policing.

The characters are great. The reader will instantly form an empathy with Matthew Ryan. As with all of her characters there are some great, and believable, back-stories. I have a feeling she must write a complete bio for each character, even the bit part ones, as they all fit together and into the story amazingly.

If you are a Fan of the Kate Daniels series of books you are going to love this book.

If you are a new reader to her books, enjoy this and then read her others.

Mari Hannah has a unique way of getting it right. Her stories are believable. Her procedures are accurate. Her characters come to life on the page.

I recently wrote a blog titled Killer-Lady-Writers, about how lucky we are in the UK to have some women writing fantastic Police Procedural thrillers.

This book cements Mari as being right at the top of the list.