THEIR LAST BREATH Sibel Hodge

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There are three main strands in this book. The investigation into a crime, and the life of the Officer who investigates it, and the life story of a victim.

The Crime, is one of the most hideous there can be, people trafficking. But this is only discovered after a fire in a building, a fire that leaves six women dead.

The fire was accidental but the circumstances the women are found in is anything but accidental. They are all chained up, in different rooms, they are all unidentifiable because there is no record of them, they are illegal immigrants, but why have they been brought to the country.

The Officer, Detective Carter, recently retired and suffering the death of his wife, he responds to a call for help from his old colleague. Staffing is short due to the cut backs and the Police are running short of experienced detectives.

Carter is lured back and starts to investigate the death of the women in the fire, what he discovers will shock the core of the Force.

The victim, a strong woman, a refugee, a woman so desperate she allows herself to be conned into being smuggled to Britain in the back of a Lorry. From escaping her own horrors in her own country to being trapped in a burning building, this could have been a book on its own.

This is a great story. It is the latest in a series. I haven’t read any of the previous books featuring Detective Carter, but I’m going to track them down and read them.

Books that make me think, as well as entertain me, are always my favourite. Without giving the plot away there was a couple of things that sent me to the internet, and my knowledge is better for it.

Pages: 376

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Available now on Amazon

The Sleepover Carol Wyer

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I love this series. Carol Wyer has a way of hooking the reader from the very first page. Her continuing characters have their own story going, on which will have new readers engaging with them straight away, and will have those of us who have been reading from the beginning wondering how some things are going to be resolved. Twice I made out-loud exclamations at the antics of two of the characters. Yes it can be read as a stand-alone, but it’s much better to read the series.

Carol also has a way of keeping it real. The crimes she uses in her books are realistic, but so is the investigation. She uses the incestuous nature of those involved in the criminal world, and those on the fringes, to keep the character count down and to ensure that the reader is not trying to remember spurious names. There is always only a handful of characters outside of the main group of her colleagues and their families.

The time frame is always right, cases don’t get solved over-night, forensic results aren’t instant, and the investigation is always factually correct.

I know she does her research, I’ve been one of the people she spoke to about this book and I know how much emphasis she puts on getting even the smallest detail right.

This book starts with a teenage girl arguing with her mother. All of us, who have been parents will know that feeling, but thankfully what most of us don’t experience is that teenager storming out and never coming home again.

Following a fire, in a large detached house on the outskirts of a Staffordshire town, a body is found and DI Natalie Ward and her team are tasked with investigating who it is, and how they died.

The house belongs to two brothers that run a nightclub in the town, which is popular with customers but a pain to the local residents.

The fire was started deliberately so who was the target, the fire victim or the Brothers? And what is the connection between the brothers and the victim.

When a woman is found dead near the house Natalie and her team can’t help but connect it to their investigation.

As the investigation continues there are more questions than answers, and on top of that some of Natalie’s team haven’t got their eye on the ball.

The end of this book just makes me want to reach for the next in the series. Time to be patient again.

There are only two or three authors whose books will  make me drop what I’m reading and start theirs when they are available, and Carol Wyer is right at the top of that list.

With each book this series gets better, and I know there are more on the way.

For now I have to wait for the next instalment, but thanks to little teases on twitter those of us that follow Carol know that something special is on the way. How it can be any better than what has gone already I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out.

Oh, and the fire scenes, brilliant, and my mate Kia, says hi, he’s in the book that’s him below.

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Pages: 411

Publishers: Bookouture

Available now

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

Whispers in the Night. D.K Hood

As a child what can be more scary than waking up in the middle of the night and seeing a stranger in your room

As a parent what can be more scary than your child coming into your room saying there’s a stranger in her room

What could be more scary than checking the room and finding nothing, only for the child to go missing

Or you could be the Detective that’s sent a video of the missing child and are told you only have a few hours to find her before she dies.

Detective Jenna Alton is the detective who receives the video, and assembles her team the start the search

Too soon another message arrives from the kidnapper, and it’s not what Jenna wants to hear

That is just the start to a book which had me engrossed from start to finish.

The stories in this series are set in Black Rock Falls, a large sleepy town that is growing in size by the month

The small Police Department runs well with the main Detectives Jenna Alton and her Deputy David Kane investigating some serious crimes involving serial killers

The series is like Midsummer Murders on steroids, and as well as the main characters there are some great bit-part-players, the best of which is the local Medical Examiner who doubles up as the Police Departments CSI, he’s even recruited his daughters to help him

I’ve read all of this series, and I’m always richly anticipating the next. Whispers in the Night didn’t disappoint. It’s is fast paced, without being frantic. It’s gritty, without being gory. It is far from a cosy Crime drama, but illicit a cosy read

I really can’t wait till the next one comes out

Pages: 355

Publisher: Bookouture

Available now

The Liars House Carla Kovach

 

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A murder involving a participant in a “partner swapping” party, but how and why did the victim end up walking home alone?

DI Gina Harte is faced with the questions, but this murder is also going to make her face her past, and hope that it doesn’t ruin her future.

Gina Harte has a secret that most of her team don’t know. She was the victim of domestic abuse at the hands of her husband, abuse of the worst most degrading type. Her husband has been dead for years but the memories will never go away.

When the team start digging into the lives of the people who attended the party they find that not everybody is a happy participant, and that’s enough to bring the memories of her past flooding back to Gina, but she can usually handle those memories.

Not this time. This time there’s a link to her past which will threaten Gina’s sanity, let alone her ability to act as the SIO for the investigation.

To make matters worse Gina has been using a dating app and has a very attentive man who just won’t take no for an answer.

Another party, another victim, and more pressure on Gina.

This book is not just the story of a murder investigation. This story looks at the effects domestic abuse has on people long after it has been made to stop.

It looks at the effects of a dominant partner coercing a spouse into doing things that they’d rather not, but end up doing to save a relationship.

It looks at the pressures put on Police Officers, who most people take for granted as they are “just doing their job”.

There is a lot going on in this book. To say I read it in one sitting would be a lie, but I didn’t get much else done from the time I first picked it up, till the last page was read.

This is the forth outing for DI Gina Harte. I really enjoyed the previous books but this one is the best. Can it be read as a stand-alone? Yes. It’s written so well that the back story is filled in so a new reader doesn’t miss out. But please read the others, its one hell of a series.

Pages: 337

Publishers: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 2ndJuly 2019

THE DARE Carol Wyer

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What would you do if your daughter went missing?

What would you do when she turned up after 48 hours and stated she had been taking part in a social media craze?

What would you do if your daughter went missing for 48 hours, and you were hoping she was taking part in the craze, but was then found murdered?

Social media is responsible for a lot these days and teenagers are particularly vulnerable to the trends, or should I say they are influenced.

What a concept to set a murder story around, and Carol Wyer has pulled it off to perfection.

The first girl to go missing, and later turn up dead is Savannah, and her mom will always blame herself for not being home when she should have been.

This is where DI Natalie Ward and her team start the investigation. An investigation that will be hindered by the social media trend, some of the girls going missing are simply hiding away for effect. Others are not so fortunate.

So, is somebody using the missing for 48 hour game to find their victims, or is there a murderer who is targeting random teenage girls.

As Natalie and her team carry out the investigation they uncover the secret lives that teenage girls keep from their parents, and I couldn’t help but think how realistic that is.

Shop lifting and dating older men are just two of the things these girls have been up to, and the perceived loyalty of their friends in keeping secret their slightly nefarious activities is hindering the Police’s investigation.

As girls go missing, and bodies start to be found, the team are in a race against time to identify the killer.

But has this killer found the best way yet of putting the Police of their scent. Not every missing girl ends up dead, but they all need investigating and its taking time. Time the Police can’t afford to waste on false leads.

Natalie is very aware of the lives of teenagers as she is the mother of two of them, and receives very little support from her husband in bringing them up.

In fact Natalie’s home life is slowly going down the pan and its beginning to distract her at a time when she least needs distracting.

Will she keep her mind on the game? Will she and her team, identify the killer before the body count gets out of hand?

This is book three in the DI Natalie Ward Series. All three have been brilliant stories, and have all had very original plots. The story of Natalie hooks me as nearly as much as the crimes she’s solving.

As a character Natalie Ward stands out as being one of the most realistic. Her problems are everyday problems, her family is a normal family, but her husband has got a problem and its driving a wedge between them.

The thing I find about these books is how on point they are. The issues with social media are very current and are most parents nagging worries with their teenagers, and Carol Wyer exploits that fear in this book.

The problem her husband has is one of Britain’s growing problems, he’s a gambler, and a again Carol explores the problems with living with somebody who’s gambling in a brilliant manner.

Yes this is book 3 in the series, but it can be read as a stand-alone.

My recommendation would be read all three, in fact if you are looking for some books to read around the pool, or on the beach this summer, get all three and save them to binge read. You won’t be disappointed.

Pages: 378

Publisher: Bookouture

Available: Now.

DEAD INSIDE. Noelle Holten

 

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A few months ago I heard that one of the staff at a publishers I follow had written a book. In fact I began to hear a few mentions of DEAD INSIDE by Noelle Holten.

I had to read it, but I was worried, what if I didn’t like it. I talk to this woman a lot and do book reviews for some of the authors she’s responsible for. This could have been nasty.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. I should have known better. If you represent the authors Noelle represents, and write the reviews she puts on line of other books she reads, I should have known she loves the same type of fiction as I do.

But she’s gone one step further than me, she’s written a book, and what a book!

Dead Inside is going to be up there with this year’s top releases.

Noelle has written this book in a way that not many, if any, other books I’ve read have been written before. Although it is billed as “Maggie Jamieson Crime Thriller Book 1” there is no real lead character. Everybody seems to get equal billing and the story is brilliant for it.

I was trying to find a way of explaining this and eventually came up with the analogy that the books characters are like those from a TV soap, everybody is important to the story, when it’s their turn they are front and centre, but it’s the story that takes precedent. The plot is lead chronologically by the character that means the most at that time. So although Maggie is a thread throughout, she gets no more or less page time than anybody else. I really like this style.

So who is Maggie, well she’s a DC who has been moved from a Murder Investigation Team in Staffordshire Police to a new unit. Why has she been moved? Her back story indicates that she was heavily involved in a serial killer investigation, and that maybe she suffered a bit during that investigation.

The newly formed team is the Domestic Abuse and Homicide Unit, and is a multi-agency team set up to quell the growing problem of Domestic Violence, and the deaths associated with it, across Staffordshire.

When the team was set up I would imagine that they thought the Homicides would be mainly women who had suffered abuse at the hands of their partners. So on Maggie’s first day it’s a bit of a shock when the body of a man who was an abuser turns up.

The team start an investigation as the man was known to them and involve the Probation Service in their inquiry, as he was also known to them.

A big part of this story is a group of people that represent a section of society we all know exists but hopefully never have an involvement with.

Women, a lot with drink or drugs problems, gravitating to men with the same problems, or men who will exploit those women when they are at their lowest ebb. Women who get abused physically and mentally, and when they find the courage to move on, nearly always end up in another abusive relationship.

In this story one woman should not be in that category, she should know better, she works with women that suffer abuse, then she goes home and behind closed doors she becomes one of the abused. At times the sections of the story that looks at Lucy and her Husband are hard to read but compelling at the same time.

As the bodies start to pile up another character is introduced to the team. Dr Kate Maloney is a Criminal Psychiatrist, a young Irish woman who dresses in full Goth clothing and has a tongue as sharp as a knife. What a character.

Maggie works the case and introduces the rest of the team as the investigation continues. All of the team have their opinions, and as the book moves on their individual characters are laid open for the reader. Each of them is realistic and everybody who has ever worked in a team will recognise the dynamics, there are some we will love, and there are others who will infuriate.

The story continues with more violence in the almost incestuous community of abusers and victims.

The Police battle against the closed nature of the group and the absolute denial of some of the victims.

But somebody out there is doing something about it, and the way they’re doing it is murderous. Spine-tingly murderous.

So now the abusers are becoming victims will anybody have any sympathy for them. How will the investigating team deal with looking out for peoples safety, when they have been trying to take them off the streets for years.

This book had me hooked from start to finish. It had me holding my breath and making out-loud exclamations. It had me reading way past my usual bedtime and then waking up early to carry on and find out who was safe and who wasn’t.

I had sympathy for the victims of abuse, and at the same time I was frustrated by their lack of helping themselves, and their constant denial of there actually being a problem. Yes, it is very real.

Like all good books it ends on a cliff hanger. One that I really didn’t see coming, but which opens the door for Maggie Jamieson Book 2.

In a strange way I would love to have come across this book after 3 or 4 had been published so that I could have binge read them.

But I am really chuffed to have been in from the start. I hope I’m about to ride a wave that includes many a venture for Maggie and her team.

Noelle Hurry up and write the next one please.

Pages: 293

Publisher: Killer Reads

Publishing Date: 31stMay 2019….Just in time to buy for a the summer holiday books.