In Bitter Chill Sarah Ward

In Bitter Chill           Sarah Ward

It is not often I can say I have found an original plot line. One that I have not come across before, and when I do I usually find them contrived. After all a Police procedural based around a murder can only be done so many ways, can’t it?

From Arthur Conan Doyle, through to Lynda La Plante somebody somewhere must have covered just about every plot, or so I thought until I read In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward.

DI Sadler and his team, DS Palmer and DC Childs, are called to investigate an apparent suicide in a Hotel in Bampton within the Derbyshire Peak District. Not an incident they would normally be involved with, but the dead woman is the mother of one of two girls who were kidnapped in 1978, a case that was never solved.

Their boss Superintendent Llewellyn had been a recruit PC in 1978 and wants his team to re-examine the kidnap whilst investigating the apparent suicide.

One of the two girls, Rachel Jones, was found 3 hours after initially been taken and now works in the same town, as a Genealogist. She has no little of the incident, but the suicide of her friend’s mother starts a turn of events that begins to bring back memories.

As the Police carry out their investigations Rachel starts her own using her skills, and knowledge, as a local historian, but who if anybody will unravel the facts that will bring either case to a close.

The book looks at the effects of the kidnap on the surviving girl. How she has developed into a slightly introvert expert in her field. It looks at the psychological effects it has on her, and how the investigation into the death of her friend’s mom’s suicide makes her question her own family and how they dealt with her disappearance.

The story is complex but easy to follow. The reason its easy to follow is because its hard to put down. I didn’t put it down long enough to come anywhere near forgetting what I had previously read.

The use of a Local Historian/Genealogist as one of the main protagonists in the book is a stroke of genius. It is this that makes this story unique. Interlinking crimes set in the same community but separated by nearly 40 years. The Police investigation is shackled by passage of time and the real expert being one of the victims. How much leeway can they give Rachel without compromising any findings, or her welfare?

I made extensive notes to help me write this review, but I don’t want to give away any of the story so I won’t be using them, I will say that the main characters, and many others, in the book have interesting storylines within the main context of the book. They are all developed as the story moves along and by the end of the book I was left hoping that there would be more to come in future instalments.

Here’s hoping that In Bitter Chill will be the first of many books by Sarah Ward.

When I researched Sarah I found out that this is her first book, and that she has written a lot of reviews for other books in her own blogs at www.crimepieces.com

For me that makes the originality of this book even more impressive. They say everybody has a book in them, and with my experiences I would like to think I had one in me, but every time I sit down to try and come up with a plot I always think “no that’s already been done”, or “no I’ve read that before somewhere”

Well Done Sarah. I look forward to many more tales from the Derbyshire Peak District.

Under A Silent Moon Elizabeth Haynes

Under A Silent Moon     Elizabeth Haynes

This is the second book written by Elizabeth Haynes that I’ve reviewed. It’s the first book in what will hopefully be a long series about DCI Louisa Smith.

The book revolves around the murder of Polly Leuchars, a woman with very loose morals. Living in a small community it seems she has slept with most of the population, both male and female, at some time.

Such a promiscuous person is bound to make enemies but who killed her? Was it a crime of passion, or did somebody kill her because she got too close to the local criminal family, the Maitland’s.

A few hours after Polly is discovered the body of a local woman is found in her car at the bottom of a quarry close to the house Polly was found in. Are the two deaths related?

Freshly promoted DCI Smith leads the investigation. As the reader is introduced to her, and her team, it is quickly evident that Louisa is single, but at one time she has had a relationship with one of her team, DI Hamilton, who had neglected to tell her that he was married at the time. Will their relationship effect the investigation, or will DI Hamilton’s loose morals lead him to become compromised during the investigation.

As the story moves forward it becomes apparent that many of the suspects have had an affair with Polly, or another mysterious woman that Polly had been involved with.

The story looks at the affect that one woman can have on a local community. Some of the relationships she formed were with strong-minded people, but she also allowed the vulnerable to fall in love with her. It leads to a complex who-done-it, who-did-who, and how-many-murders, are there tale.

I love Elizabeth Haynes’s books. She writes real world stories with a no holds barred. She approaches murder scenes with the same manner as she approaches some of the more intimate moments. Everything is written perfectly.

Her experience of working with the Police has given her a wonderful insight into what a real Major Investigation is like.

I love the way she uses a Police Memo, from Louisa’s boss, Detective Chief Superintendent Buchanan as a preface to allow the reader a reference point for all of the characters. Charts at end of the book show the digital tactical situation boards that would have been used during such an investigation, brilliant.

If writing’s all about going the extra mile Elizabeth has gone an extra ten.

If you love reading this type of book, or are interested in the writing process, Elizabeth Haynes has a website worth looking at.

http://www.elizabeth-haynes.com

Little Black Lies Sharon Bolton

Little Black Lies   Sharon Bolton

1994 in the Falkland Islands and children are going missing. 3 so far and the community are split. Is there a serial offender on the Islands or are they simply having accidents in the baron wilderness of the islands and not been found.

Catrin is a mother who lost her 2 boys in a car crash two years ago. Her friend Rachel was looking after them when the accident happened. Again the islanders are split, some take Rachel’s side but many blame her for the deaths. Catrin more than anybody else, and she is plotting revenge.

The latest boy to disappear may be hampering Catrin’s plans, from the start of the book the reader is told she is on a tight schedule to kill somebody, it quickly becomes clear its Rachel.

Catrin has separated from her husband who has moved on since his son’s death. An ex-squaddie Calum, haunted by the events of the Falklands war 12 years earlier is now living on the island and is in love with Catrin, but she ignores it.

Calum is adamant that there is a killer on the island but the more he delves the worse it looks for Catrin.

She has a plan to kill Rachel and the sudden interest she is gaining from the locals is making her task difficult.

The missing boy is found but one of Rachel’s children goes missing. Is it the work of a serial offender, or is it Catrin’s revenge.

This story is told from the viewpoint of a grieving parent and a retired squaddie wit PTSD. It revolves around a closed community spread over a huge area. The description of the landscape, along with an appreciation of the life of a Falkland Islander, adds to the darkness of the souls of the main character.

Behind Closed Doors Elizabeth Haynes

Not only did I not want to put this book down once I started it, but I didn’t want it to end either.

Unusually for me I have read this book out of sequence. In fact it stands alone so well as a novel that I didn’t realise it was the latest in a series until I started to research Elizabeth Haynes for this blog. I will be reading the first two soon.

Behind Closed Doors is the best split-time book I’ve ever read. Elizabeth Haynes skilfully mixes her two main storylines. In 2013 DCI Smith investigates a series of crimes that appear to be linked to the Maitland-McDonnell’s criminal gangs. Whilst in 2003 Scarlett Rainsford, a 15 year old girl, is kidnapped whilst on a family holiday in Crete.

When a brothel is raided in 2013 England one of the woman found in the premises is Scarlett, missing for over 10 years. What is she doing in the flat, how did she get there, and where has she been in the intervening years.

The book follows the investigation into the crimes in 2013 England, whilst Scarlett’s story progresses from 2003 to catch up. Haynes interlinks the narratives in a way that neither gives away what is about to happen in the other.

Scarlett’s story alone is a great tale of survival, and would have made a fantastic book on its own.

The Police procedural part of the book, in which Smith leads her team’s investigation into the gang world, whilst assisting on the investigation of the reappearance of Scarlett, is written with an insight that can only be gained by someone who has worked closely with the Police. Elizabeth Haynes has, and it shows.

The final few chapters bring the stories together, and keep you guessing right to the end.

I loved this book and would recommend it to anybody

Where They Found Her Kimberly McCreight

Where They Found Her   Kimberly McCreight

I have to say I usually like a complex plot that challenges me as a reader, but on this occasion it was too complex for me.

The story begins with the discovery of the body of a small child on a University Complex.

Molly Sanderson, an ex lawyer who is in therapy following a still birth, and who is now working on the local newspaper as the arts and designs correspondent is despatched to cover the story, because all the other staff have personal issues they are dealing with.

The story evolves to introduce different people; all of who seem to be interrelated throughout and all have personal issues and problems that also all seem to be interwoven into the plot.

As the story progresses random transcripts of therapy interviews with Molly and her psychiatrist appear and although relevant in the end just add to the confusion of the story.

As Molly post her reports online the story starts to include readers comments, which may eventually prove relevant, as may the social media posts, which are included into the book.

For me what could have been a good story has been overly confused. The plot jumps around and too many characters have too much going on.

Death at Whitewater Church Andrea Carter

Death at Whitewater Church     Andrea Carter

Set in rural Ireland this story follows Ben (Benedicta) O’Keefe, a Lawyer practicing in the small town of Glendara.

The story starts with Ben and a local Surveyor acting for a local businessman who is selling a disused church for development. Whilst looking around the church they discover a crypt, and inside the crypt a skeletonised body. Not only is the body too recent to be there legitimately but it also appears that whoever it is, was locked in and left to die.

Rumours begin that the body is that of a man who has been missing since the morning of his wedding day.

Missing for nearly seven years is the body that of local man Danny Devitt.

Although O’Keefe has been living in the village nearly as long as Devitt has been missing she is unaware of the circumstances surrounding his disappearance.

Glendara is a typical Celtic rural village, family histories interweave, and everybody knows everybody else’s business As the local Lawyer, and member of the local dramatics group, O’Keefe comes into contact with various characters, all of who seem to have an insight into the mystery but nobody has a definitive answer.

To help with identifying the body the local Garda enlist the help of a Forensic Anthropologist, a face from O’Keefe’s past who brings back memories O’Keefe would rather be left forgotten.

O’Keefe deals with the past whilst working on the present day crime in a semi-professional manner.

A series of break-ins in the town may be related to the body in the crypt but how. During her research O’Keefe becomes aware of a terrorist incident in which a ship was sunk just outside the local docks. The sinking of the ship was attributed to the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Is this also related to the body in the crypt?

The last few pages reveal the answers, and they’re not easy to anticipate.

This debut novel is a really good read. From start to finish it kept me enthralled.

The story is set at a pace that makes it easy to read but very hard to put down.

The characters are all fascinating without being overpowering.

The description of the settings makes Glendara feel real, yet it is a place made up by the Author Andrea Carter.

Set in the winter the isolation of the area seems more sinister, perfect for the plot.

I can only hope this is the first book of many from Andrea Carter.

Everybody Lies A.D Garrett

Everyone Lies A. D. Garrett

Well I seem to have spent most of 2014 discovering new British authors writing some great crime novels, and it seems that I have left one of the best till last. Amazon suggestions came up trumps when they directed me towards Everyone Lies by A. D. Garrett

This police procedural novel is set in Manchester and the story is based around murders in the sex and drugs industries. If you like gritty, true to life, realistic stories, this is for you. If you don’t like reading about the violence that surrounds the subject then it’s probably best you don’t read this book, but you will be missing out.

From the beginning it is obvious that violence is going to be central to the theme in this book. In some books it’s there for the shock factor, in this one it’s inherent to the tale being told and is used as a tool to describe the viciousness of life within inner city drugs and prostitution trade.

The two main characters DCI Kate Simms and Forensic Practitioner, turned lecturer, Nick Fennimore come together to investigate a spike in drug related deaths and soon uncover a link to the violent deaths of two young prostitutes.

As the investigation progresses and the bodies mount up political, and hierarchical, pressures are put on to DCI  Simms. Her relationship with her colleagues is strained and she increasingly relies on the help of Fennimore. Whilst the story is told it becomes obvious that the two have history and that they have both suffered professionally, and in Fennimore’s case personally, during a previous investigation. Although rules are broken the story remains believable.

The forensics in this book are second to none I have read in a work of fiction, and it came as no surprise to find out that A D Garrett is the pen name of a writing duo; Margaret Murphy a prolific writer of crime novels; and Proffessor Dave Barclay, a Forensic Practitioner/ Lecturer who I cannot help but wonder if the character of Nick Fennimore was at least partially based on.

There are places in the book where it is tough reading not just because of the violence but because of the science. Fennimore is a great believer in applying Bayesian Statistical Analysis, and uses it to build his initial hypothesis, which is great as long as you understand it. Thankfully I do.

Margaret Murphy has a section on her web site where she discusses the use of graphic violence in her novels. I agree with everything she said in the article, and this book is a perfect example of her reasoning. The violence is there. Is it graphic, in my opinion yes but not shocking. She describes violent actions which people would rather not accept are happening, they are. Without those passages in this book it would have been just another crime novel.

So we have a collaboration between a no-holds-barred novelist, with an up to date Forensic Practitioner. What’s not to like.

The second book in the series is already on my Kindle and hopefully it won’t be the lasteveryone-lies-200px