X Sue Grafton

 

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X  Sue Grafton

Before I go any further I have to admit I have not read all of the other books in this series, and those I did read were very early in the series.

That may be the reason this book failed to grip me. It was an easy read but I found myself drifting away from some sections as the story was overtaken by the descriptions of people and places that didn’t seem to add anything to the plot line.

I gather from reading other reviews that there are some regular readers that are beginning to think that the author is running out of ideas. I can’t agree with that I found the story itself to be good and original, which is quite a feat these days.

The request by a rich woman to find her ex-con son, that she gave up at birth, was never going to be what it seemed when Kinsey Millhone is first retained.

The request from the widow of a fellow PI, and friend, to help with her tax returns, is also a clever ploy to open up a story line, which sees Millhone plunged into danger as she opens her own investigation into a mysterious man that the dead PI left coded notes about.

There are gentle subplots which I did not get, but judging by other reviews are continuations of similar threads in previous books from the series.

This is a short review because, to be honest, I can’t think of much to say about the book.

Will it make me rush to catch up on the series? No

Will it make me want to read the next book? No

Is it a bad book? No, I just think you need to be a Sue Grafton fan to appreciate it.

Baby Doll Hollie Overton

 

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Fast paced from beginning to end, this story starts where most finish and rushes towards the end at a cracking pace.

The story starts with Lily escaping from a basement she has been held captive in for ten years. During that time, she has been physically and mentally abused by the man that took her.

Whilst in captivity Lily has had a child Sky, and when she escapes Sky is released into a world she’s never seen.

Once she has gained her freedom Lily is reunited with her twin sister Abby, and her mother Eve.

Neither of these relatives have survived the years since Lily went missing intact. Once reunited the process of identifying the kidnapper to the police, and ensuring his arrest, takes even greater tolls on the family.

The story is told in chapters which show the unfolding scenario from different protagonists. Obviously Lily is the main one but Hollie Overton manages to get into the heads of each character including not only Lily’s family but the kidnapper, and his wife.

Whilst Lilly and her family work with the investigating team the kidnapper is still trying to manipulate people with truths half-truths and pure malicious misguidance.

The psychology in this book is brilliant, and by using different characters in each chapter takes the reader on a crazy trip of emotions.

This book is like a box set on TV. I kept thinking to myself I’ll just read one more chapter but then read the next because I couldn’t leave the story where it was.

I look forward to reading more of Hollie Overton’s work in the future

Blog Tour Angela Marsons Play Dead

IMG_0950It was great to be asked to be part of the Blog Tour for Angela Marsons new book Play Dead.

I’ve followed The DCI Kim Stones books since they were first published, is that really only just over a year ago.

Four Books in a year and every one of them a great read.

The first section of this blog is my initial review of the book, below that is a few questions Angela was kind enough to respond to, and a few of my thoughts on what makes her one of today’s stand out authors in Crime Fiction.

The Review of Play Dead

This book firmly places Angela Marsons right at the top of the Police Crime Thriller writers.

Detective Chief Inspector Kim Stone and her team are back in another Black Country crime thriller, and just like the 3 previous books this one is stunning.

Having just broken up a paedophile ring Stone and her team are sent to Westerly, a new research facility in Wall Heath. Its location and purpose have been kept a secret from the public for good reason. The West Midlands has a Body Farm.

The trip to the Body Farm is going well until Stone manages to find a body that should not be there. A woman has been killed in a horrific manner and left amongst the other corpses.

As Stones team start to investigate the murder another victim is found at the farm but this one has miraculously survived.

What links the victims and why are they being dumped at the Body Farm.

As the investigations continue one of Kate’s nemesis, the local reporter Tracy Frost, approaches Stone in an attempt to solve a cold case, a murder that has happened a few years before in the neighbouring area of Brierley Hill. The fingerless dead man recovered from a local reservoir has never been identified, nor has his murder been solved.

Why should Stone get involved in a case that’s not her own, why would she help Frost with anything at all, and why is Frost so interested in it. However; the case gets under Stones skin and as she concentrates on the murders at the farm she also looks into the murdered man in the reservoir.

When Stone cannot contact Frost she begins to worry. Is Frost deliberately avoiding her or has she become a victim.

Play Dead is a brilliant book. Once I started reading it I literally could not put it down.

Angela Marsons creates characters that are so real you cannot help but engage with them.

Each character in this book is there for a reason and has a some bearing on the story, although not as obvious as you might first think.

I have a feeling that Marsons has a file for each character and if we could ever read them we’d find a whole story for each.

The recurring characters of her team fit in excellently with Stones personality. The occasional characters which appear in more than one book are just as good. It seems right that a SIO should have a local reporter that is always trying to get one jump ahead and in Tracy Frost Marsons depicts this brilliantly.

Stones past is no secret. She was in the never ending circle of Social Service Children’s Homes and Foster parents. The story of her past is slowly being revealed in each book, but it doesn’t distract from the story, in fact it adds to it.

Another occasional character in the books makes a return in this one. Dr Daniel Bate is a Forensic Osteo-archeologist. He makes no bones, sorry no pun intended, of the fact he likes Stone. The awkwardness of her reaction is so realistic it almost made me blush.

Another recurring character is Dr A. This woman needs her own books. I don’t know if I’m supposed to chuckle every time she opens her mouth but I do.

One of the big stars is The Black Country. I live there. Stones Police Station is about a mile from my house. The way Angela Marsons describes the locations she uses in these books is so good I know exactly where she is talking about.

So I’m off to Find Westerley-The Body Farm, it has to be there Angela Marsons wrote about it.

I don’t do a 5 star ranking system but if I did this book would get 6.

My Conversation with Angela Marsons

 Ok, conversations a bit of a stretch, I submitted the questions through her publishers Bookouture and I have to say thank you to Kim for being the messenger. Having said that I have to say I have spoken to Angela several times via social media and she does seem like one of the nicest authors I’ve spoken to.

So what did I learn.

Q. You describe places around the Black Country very accurately. Accurate enough to be recognised by those of us that live here. But what comes first, the idea or the place. Do you think of the situation and then go and find somewhere to set it, or do you find somewhere and think that’s a great place to set the scenario?

A. The idea comes first. In my head I know the type of area I’m thinking of. For the site of Westerley I wanted it based on the outskirts of the Black Country in a semi-rural area that bordered another Police Force so I chose Wall Heath.  In Evil Games I knew the type of area that I wanted to base the final confrontation so chose an area of the canal that is close to where I live.

Q. Is there any likelihood Dr Alex Throne will make an appearance in future books. A great character and she got inside Kim Stones Head.

A. Yes, Dr Alex Thorne returns in book 5. She was such an interesting character that I had to bring her back. The scenes between Kim and Alex were some of my favourite ones to write.

Q. The care home in Rowley Regis in the first book. Was Angela aware of the home and the fire, if so what made her base her story around it.

A. Yes, I was aware of the care home.  It was very close to where I went to school but there was an air of mystery that surrounded the kids that were there. There seemed to be a general opinion they were there because they’d been bad in some way and I just didn’t believe that and it just stayed with me.

Q. You mentioned that you were aware of the care home and the rumours surrounding it. Have any local crimes influenced any of your stories if so which ones. If they haven’t would you ever research some and use the scenario for a modern investigation

A. Excellent question. I’ve not been influenced by local crimes although I have referred to some (notably Lesley Whittle).  I would like to base a book on historic crimes in the Black Country but I would probably not use recent cases to avoid causing any distress to family members.

Q. On a personal level how have you managed the transition from being employed elsewhere to becoming a full time author, and has the fact that you are now contracted to write future books put more pressure on you or taken any of the fun out of writing

A. The transition has been overwhelming and exciting. I still pinch myself every day and appreciate the fact that I now get to do something I love as my work.  Except it never feels like work because I used to do it every spare minute around a full time job anyway.  And the fun is definitely still there.  Once an idea bites my house could fall down and I wouldn’t notice and that feeling never goes away.

What do I really think of these books

I grew up in Birmingham but moved to the Black Country about 25 years ago. I live right in the middle of where Angela bases her books; in fact, Halesowen Police Station, Kim Stones base, is my local nick. If you have ever read my biography on this site you’ll know I am a Forensic Specialist and have worked with the Police on hundreds of cases and, I’m proud to say, my daughter now works with the Police in a specialist role.

I mention this, not to big myself up, but to add a bit of credence to what I say next.

These books are about as accurate as you can get in the fictional world.

The characters portrayed in the books; their professional and person relationships, their lifestyles and their interaction with each other, whether it be Police-Criminal, Police-Victim, Police-other professions, or visa-versa is very realistic.

She catches the mood of an investigation nicely. I love the way she includes the frustrations of working within guidelines, but also how DCI Stone always manages to have a foot either side of the line to get a result without a wild jump into fantasy.

I love the way that she uses real places to set her crimes, and I wouldn’t mind betting she bases her characters on people she knows or has met.

As you can see from one of the questions she used a notorious Children’s Home in Rowley Regis to set her first book. Everybody who lives by me has a story about that place, but nobody else has had the imagination to build a whole book storyline around it.

The introduction of Dr Alex Cross has given the storyline across the series an edge. Stone is not infallible, she has weaknesses and Cross is one person who can exploit them. I’m glad she’s coming back.

I think the best answer to my questions was the final one.

Angela’s obviously had a passion for her writing. I can only imagine the frustration she had writing all of these stories and having no one read them. I think I read in another blog that she used to write them and put them away in a draw. That in itself is criminal.

Somebody once told me that, “if you find a job that really interests you, you will never work another day in your life. Somebody will pay you to do your hobby” I’ve been lucky enough to experience that. Now it looks like Angela Marsons is too. Long may it last and may we have many more books to look forward to.

Just before I finish this happened this morning.

I was driving along the Grange Road in Halesowen when a large motorbike overtook me, it turned onto the Queensway and then into Laurel Lane. The driver was a young lady. It couldn’t have been, could it???????

 

Just in case you haven’t read them I’ve put links to my reviews of the previous books below

https://nigeladamsbookworm.wordpress.com/2015/07/26/silent-scream-evil-games-angela-marsons/

 

https://nigeladamsbookworm.wordpress.com/2015/11/15/lost-girls-angela-marsons/

Look Closer Rachel Amphlett

Look Closer Rachel Amphlett

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 Rachel Amphlett, not a name I was familiar with until a few months ago, now I’ve read two of her books and wonder why it’s took me so long to discover her work.

Look Closer is a great read. It’s one of those books you want to read in one sitting, and it’s just long enough to let you get away with it.

The book follows Will Fletcher, a worker at one of London’s Museums, as he tries to follow a string of clues left by Amy.

Amy lives with Will, she’s a reporter for one of the big UK newspapers and she’s on the trail of Ian Rossiter, a politician that has been catapulted to the head of his party and looks favourite to be the next Prime Minister.

Will and Amy argue just before she goes to interview Rossiter. Whilst he’s at work Will gets informed that Amy has been hurt when somebody tried kill Rossiter.

With Amy in a serious condition in hospital Will finds a message on a phone that leads him to start making his own inquiries. What was Amy really investigating for her latest article.

The story weaves around London and the home counties, is anybody who they seem to be?Can Will trust anybody? What will he discover?

I found this book when I searched political thrillers on Amazon.

It certainly is that, and more. It has been a long time since I read a book like this.

I can compare it to early Robert Ludlum and Nelson DeMille.

The story is strong and intriguing. There is no reliance on violence. Most importantly of all the plot engages the reader.

I challenge anybody to see the end of this book coming before it arrives. That is not because of a curve ball thrown by the author, it’s because the story is so well written.

I enjoyed this book so much I’ve just downloaded 3 more of Rachel Amphletts novels to my Kindle.

Not to read now, but to save for six weeks time when I’m sat around the pool on holiday, and that is about the best compliment I can give.

 

Play Dead Angela Marsons

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Play Dead      Angela Marsons

This book firmly places Angela Marsons right at the top of the Police Crime Thriller writers.

Detective Chief Inspector Kim Stone and her team are back in another Black Country crime thriller, and just like the 3 previous books this one is stunning.

Having just broken up a paedophile ring Stone and her team are sent to Westerly, a new research facility in Wall Heath. Its location and purpose have been kept a secret from the public for good reason. The West Midlands has a Body Farm.

The trip to the Body Farm is going well until Stone manages to find a body that should not be there. A woman has been killed in a horrific manner and left amongst the other corpses.

As Stones team start to investigate the murder another victim is found at the farm but this one has miraculously survived.

What links the victims and why are they being dumped at the Body Farm.

As the investigations continue one of Kates nemesis, the local reporter Tracy Frost, approaches Stone in an attempt to solve a cold case, a murder that has happened a few years before in the neighbouring area of Brierley Hill. The fingerless dead man recovered from a local reservoir has never been identified, nor has his murder been solved.

Why should Stone get involved in a case that’s not her own, why would she help Frost with anything at all, and why is Frost so interested in it. However; the case gets under Stones skin and as she concentrates on the murders at the farm she also looks into the murdered man in the reservoir.

When Stone cannot contact Frost she begins to worry. Is Frost deliberately avoiding her or has she become a victim.

Play Dead is a brilliant book. Once I started reading it I literally could not put it down.

Angela Marsons creates characters that are so real you cannot help but engage with them.

Each character in this book is there for a reason and has a some bearing on the story, although not as obvious as you might first think.

I have a feeling that Marsons has a file for each character and if we could ever read them we’d find a whole story for each.

The recurring characters of her team fit in excellently with Stones personality. The occasional characters which appear in more than one book are just as good. It seems right that a SIO should have a local reporter that is always trying to get one jump ahead and in Tracy Frost Marsons depicts this brilliantly.

Stones past is no secret. She was in the never ending circle of Social Service Children’s Homes and Foster parents. The story of her past is slowly being revealed in each book, but it doesn’t distract from the story, in fact it adds to it.

Another occasional character in the books makes a return in this one. Dr Daniel Bate is a Forensic Osteo-archeologist. He makes no bones, sorry no pun intended, of the fact he likes Stone. The awkwardness of her reaction is so realistic it almost made me blush.

Another recurring character is Dr A. This woman needs her own books. I don’t know if I’m supposed to chuckle every time she opens her mouth but I do.

One of the big stars is The Black Country. I live there. Stones Police Station is about a mile from my house. The way Angela Marsons describes the locations she uses in these books is so good I know exactly where she is talking about.

So I’m off to Find Westerley-The Body Farm, it has to be there Angela Marsons wrote about it.

I don’t do a  5 star ranking system but if I did  this book would get 6.

Just in case you haven’t read the first 3 books in the series I’ve attached links to my reviews below.

Play Dead isn’t published till mid May so you have plenty of time to get your hands on the back catalogue and pre order Play Dead on Amazon

https://nigeladamsbookworm.wordpress.com/2015/07/26/silent-scream-evil-games-angela-marsons/

https://nigeladamsbookworm.wordpress.com/2015/11/15/lost-girls-angela-marsons/

A Tapping At My Door

A Tapping At My Door        David Jackson

Detective Sergeant Nathan Cody is a troubled man. Working in the Major Investigations Team in Liverpool he has recently finished a spell as an undercover officer that has left him emotionally wrecked.

Cody pours himself into work and, as it becomes obvious that a serial killer is working the streets of Merseyside, Cody finds himself drawn deeper into the investigation. What he doesn’t need is distractions. Distractions like a female Senior Officer taking way too much interest in her new DS; like and old flame turning up as a DC on his team on the same day they discover a serial killer is on the lose; like an over enthusiastic journalist second guessing his every move; and like a killer with a twist.  But that’s what he gets.

Unfortunately for me there are just too many clichés in this book.

The troubled protagonist, the unrequainted love interest from an older woman, the love he can never have with the ex from the past, and the haunting memories.

The story travels down a predictable path ticking all the boxes with an easily anticipated ending.

The only thing that I found original was the motive of the killer.

This book took me nearly 2 weeks to read, that in itself speaks volumes.

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Maestra L.S. Hilton

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Maestra            L.S. Hilton.

The protagonist for this book is Judith Rashleigh.

Judith’s story starts with a glimpse further into the book with the first chapter ending with her asking the question, how did this all begin. The first half of the book is retro that point, but still narrated in the present first person tense. The rest of the book remains in the first person and advances the story.

The story is good. Judith a young woman with a passion for fine art, and qualifications to back it up, is working in one of the big auction houses in London. However, her lot there is not a good one. Working as an intern but treated like a dogs-body Judith watches on as a young pretty air-headed girl arrives at the house and is positioned into her place.

A chance meeting with a woman she used to go to school with leads Judith to a part time job as a Hostess in a London club. There’s a no touch rule but the underlying atmosphere is that of an establishment that sits just on the right side of legal. That’s OK with Judith because she has a secret.

Judith likes stranger-sex, in fact she likes rough stranger sex. L.S Hilton uses this as a tool to allow Judith to get into the situations that allows the story to advance.

Whilst still working at the Auction House she uncovers some elicit dealings but is sacked when she tries to expose the crime.

Judith’s moral is low and she allows herself to manipulate a client at the club into taking her on holiday. From then on her life changes.

As she tries to re-establish herself she manipulates, uses, men to make money. Drifting around the top upper-class resorts of the Mediterranean her moralistic code slips deeper and deeper allowing her to make choices and take actions that the Judith at the start of the story never would have.

Dealing in art, and the underworld leads her commit the most hideous of crimes, all the time seemingly justifying her own actions. Each crime gets worse but Judith’s morals seem to allow her to commit each one without conscience. As her crimes get worse so does the depravity of her actions in her sex life.

The book races through the story but the end is very open. Hilton uses the phrase “To be continued” at the end of the last chapter. I have to say it doesn’t feel so much of a cliff hanger as an anti-climax.

I have some issues with this book.

It is a great story, but, why do we need such graphic descriptions of the sex. I’m no prude and I enjoy a bit of sex in a book, but this is full on hard-core. I understand that the reader needs to understand that Judith’s behaviour is either escalating or spiralling downwards, depending on your point of view, but personally I would have been more comfortable with a little less eyes-on, and a little more insinuation.

For me the sex scenes distract from the story. It felt like they were deliberately there to shock, and that may be Hilton’s intention, but they were out of place with the rest of the writing.

The book is set in some of the nicest places in Europe, amongst people wearing fashionable and expensive clothing, all beautifully described. As is the art, Hilton obviously has a passion for the art world and has found a nice outlet for a good tale. It is almost as if two people wrote this book, or is it just a really good author showing the split personality of her main character. If it is, she has done a very good job of it.

Who would I recommend this book to. Anybody with an open mind, male or female, there’s something in this for everybody.

If you’re easily offended steer clear.