The Darling Dead. Graham Smith

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Every now and again something stunning comes along, and now is that time.

In The Darling Dead I found a gem of a book.

Not only is the story original, and compelling, but the main character is one of the best fictional Police Detectives I’ve had the pleasure to be introduced to.

I’ll start with the detective. Detective Constable Beth Young is only 23 years old, but she’s already lived a full life. She had been a model, her boyfriend dumped her when she became a cop at the earliest age she could. He wanted a model girlfriend on his arm, not a Police Officer.

Her stunning good looks have been robbed from her by an errant broken bottle in a pub during a night out, and she now carries vicious scars on one side of her face. Does it hold her back? No. In fact she uses the way people react to the scars to help her gauge the type of person they are.

She is a puzzle solver, and has complicated puzzle books on her shelves next to the books on her other interest, serial killers.

She has a strange way of thinking, and uses logic to help her think outside the box. She emphasises with victims, and she understands perpetrators.

Her only problem is she has no filters, her scars redden when she’s angry, and at times there is no filter between her brain and her mouth.

I like this girl a lot.

Beth has just started in Cumbria’s Force Major Investigation Team. A small close knit team she is having trouble integrating into. The first case she works on is grim.

A bride spots a corpse in the grounds of the ruined mansion in which she is having her wedding.

The corpse has been posed and has suffered a horrific death. The investigation leads to the discovery of more bodies posed in the same manner. But the killer is not only escalating they are experimenting, until they have created their perfect murder.

Beth quickly has to find her feet in the investigation and uses her logic to start to piece together information from the different murder scenes. But as the young new detective, will the old hands take her seriously.

This is book has shot right into my top three of this year, and would be pretty close to one of my favourite books of the last 5 or 6 years.

I love the character Beth Young, and hopefully there is a lot of scope for Graham Smith to create a long series with her.

The manner of killing in this book is well written and without being overly graphic, is very gruesome. In fact it will live with me for a while.

A great book, just stunning.

Pages: 362

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 30thNovember 2018.

Fatal Promise Angela Marsons

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If I wasn’t already a massive fan of this series I would have been hooked in the first few pages.

DI Kim Stone is back at work, freshly out of the plaster that protected the leg she broke in the previous book. Her leg may be healing but her emotions, and that of her tight knit team, are still in tatters.

When a body is found in a park, not 2 miles from Kim’s Police she is stunned to find that it is that of a man that was so closely linked to her last investigation.

As more bodies pile there seems to be a link to Russell’s Hall Hospital, but what has this hospital and Heathcrest School got in common?

Is it just a coincidence that the team are investigating a crime that is linked to the place where none of them really want to be, back where one of their friends, a colleague died so recently.

The story looks at the secrets kept by groups and families, and how loyalties can forged on the most ridiculous of assumptions or beliefs.

It looks at how feelings can fester and cause hidden harm.

But as good as the plot of the crimes and the investigations of them are, this book is about much more.

This book is a rollercoaster of a ride through the investigation of some startlingly believable crimes, which is being carried out by a team that is struggling with the loss of a close friend.

If you have read the other books in this series, you will know the cast of characters well. You will understand what they are going through, and you will empathise that they each do it in their own particular ways. Just like in real life this team is trying to pull together in a time of grief, whilst almost self-destructing in their self-imposed isolation.

Then there was always going to be the question of how Angela Marsons would replace one of her main characters that has been an integral part of the previous 8 books.

Well she found a very interesting character that had appeared a couple of times in the previous stories and dropped him into the team.

It was never going to be easy for the team to accept him and the awkwardness in the office is captured beautifully.

Will the team ever accept a replacement, is this the right guy.

Will his eccentricity help him, or hinder his integration?

When book 8 was published social media was full of reviews saying they were in tears at the end, I might have had a bit of dust in my eyes myself.

For me the end of this book is even more emotional.  A conversation between 2 of the main characters wrung so many bells for me it left me with a handful of dust in my eyes.

Every time a new book in this series becomes available I review it and say that it’s the best one yet.

Well its happened again, this is the best one yet.

If you are new to the series this book could be read as a stand-alone, but I would suggest reading the previous book , The Dying Truth, first.

In fact if you are new to the series I would suggest reading them all in order. I can’t think of a better way of recommending 8 fantastic Crime Thriller books.

 

Pages: 409

Published by: Bookouture

Available now on Amazon

Truth and Lies. Caroline Mitchell

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Straight off, I loved this book.

Take a sprinkling of Fred and Rose West and add a pinch of Myra Hindley and there you have the main villain in this book.

Lillian Grimes is in prison for being one half of a husband and wife team that went from swinging to killing. Carrying out deprived sex attacks and killing their victims after luring them into their home. The victims were buried in the garden, under the cellar floor, and in the walls.

Lillian’s husband killed himself in prison but had already told police there were three other victims. He named them but didn’t say where they were buried.

Now Lillian is using that to her advantage. She wants to drip the information to detectives, but she has a price.

DI Amy Winter is a pocket rocket of a detective. At 5”2 she is not very tall but don’t ever underestimate her.

Amy’s dad was one of the cops who put Lillian in prison, his recent death has left a hole, but she is determined to carry on.

When Lillian gets in touch and says she will only deal with Amy, and will take her to the first burial site, Amy has no idea of the effect it’s going to have on her.

As Lillian plays her mind games a young girl is kidnapped. Amy and her team should be concentrating on the kidnapping, but Amy’s head is with the missing bodies and the revelations Lillian keeps making.

This book is tremendous. I can’t remember a book ever having me hooked so quickly, and kept me hooked so thoroughly until the very last page.

Caroline Mitchell is an ex-Detective and her experience always shines through in the reality of her books; but this book has taken it to another level.

The tension is brilliant. The inter-weaving of the plot lines make the story play out wonderfully.

The reference to Fred and Rose, and Myra Hindley, at the beginning of this blog are not waffle. The crimes Lillian has been convicted of are Fred and Rose’s crimes, or bloody close to them. The fact that Hindley also tried to curry favour by taking the police to the moors to show where the bodies of some of the victims were buried, is also very reminiscent of Lillian’s behaviour.

But there was something else that Rose West and Myra Hindley had in common, and so has Lillian.

What an utterly compelling read. One that had me doing my own research to see if my thoughts were right. Just my kind of book.

Oh, and there’s a twist right at the end. Please let there be a sequel. I want to know what happens next.

Pages: 348

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Publishing Date: 30th August 2018.

The Birthday. Carol Wyer

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2 years after she went missing the body of Ava Sawyer is found buried in the grounds of the Garden Centre she disappeared from during a birthday party.

DI Natalie Wood and her small team are tasked with finding answers the original team to investigate the disappearance didn’t.

But this is no ordinary missing persons/murder investigation. Now that the body has been found it acts as a catalyst for more crimes. More of the girls from the party start  to get killed and are left posed in public places.

The investigation very much becomes a race against time.

The team have to find a killer. There are so many suspects, each one looking like they could be the killer, but each of them ruled out as suspects.

Have the team missed the killer?

Natalie already blames herself for one child abduction and murder case, she worked on, being tragically unsuccessful. She wasn’t the boss on that investigation, but she is on this one.

Has she learnt from others mistakes?

The last case affected her mentally and emotionally. Can she hold it together through this case?

The characters in this book are just what you would expect to find in any police team. DI Wood is struggling to balance her work and personal life. How can she try to keep her marriage going and still conduct such a high profile and emotional case.

Her team are made up of a mix of characters who it are easy to associate with and I’m sure we will get to know as the series progresses. There are friendships and there is conflict, just like the real world.

The best thing about this story is the realism. Carol Wyer hits so many nails on the head with the observations she makes.

She brings to life the frustrations of a real investigation.

The amount of facts that come flooding in and need sorting.

Deciding on what takes priority, and the worry that the decision was wrong.

When is it right to send your team home for rest, when every minute is so vital and may literally mean the difference between life and death.

There is one passage in the book when Natalie is struck by the normality of ongoing life after a traumatic incident.

In my career the thing that always used to get into my head was the disrupted normality. A terrible fire in a bedroom that had claimed lives, yet breakfast places set in the unaffected kitchen downstairs. School coats, which would never be worn again, hanging over the backs of chairs.

Not many authors consider this, and even less describe the feelings and emotions so well. It is only a small passage in the book, but it shows the consideration that has been put into it.

This is the first book in a new series. I think it’s going to be stunning.

Pages: 316

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 27th September 2018.

Searching For Pilar Patricia Hunt Holmes

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Wow, what a story.

The book starts with Pilar (19) happily married to Alejandro and looking after their 9 month old daughter. Life in San Jose is perfect for the young, happily married mother.

Then her husband loses his job and struggles to find work. Answering an advert for a well paid clerical job Pilar goes to Mexico City for an interview.

That’s when things go badly wrong. Kidnapped and forced into the sex trade Pilar fights for survival, and not just hers, she takes the young girls kidnapped with her under her protection and swears to get them through the ordeal alive.

Meanwhile the one member of her family who knew where she was going is riddled with guilt. Diego, her brother, gave her a lift and left her in the city to go and watch a football team train. When he returned to pick her up she wasn’t there.

The story splits between Pilar’s captivity and Diego’s attempts to find his sister.

Pilar’s story is horrific, but must be reminiscent of so many poor people.

Diego’s story is a tale of love, dedication, and determination.

No spoilers so I’m not going to say how this ends.

This is a great story and I really enjoyed it. I have seen some other reviews which have mentioned the fact that it includes the rape of two young girls, and sexual violence to the main character aged 19 when we first meet her. Yes, these small paragraphs are in the book, but they are written in a way that is not overly graphic or shocking. Yes, it is a horrific subject, but it is dealt with well by Patricia Hunt Holmes, and in my opinion the story needs this to reflect the true horrors of the people smuggling and sex trade, that unfortunately exists across the globe.

Well done Patricia for using this book to bring it into the spotlight.

Pages: 322

Publishers: River Grove Books

Available on Amazon

Perfect Dead Jackie Baldwin

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When this book came up for review I liked the look of the blurb that went along with it. It was the second in the DI Frank Farrell series, so naturally I downloaded the first in the series and read that first. Thank God I did, I have discovered a great new Police Crime Series.

Frank Farrell is a great character for a book. An ex-priest who leaves the proesthood because he broke the sacrament of the confessional, and helped the police catch a murderer. It was only natural that once out of the Church he would become a cop, and so he started a distinguished career in the Big City and made his way up to DI.

Then he moved back to his hometown of Dumfries, which is where we find him in this series.

I won’t go on about book 1 Dead Man’s Prayer, take it from me it’s a fantastic read, because this blog is about Perfect Dead, which is just as good if not better.

Perfect Dead sees the MIT in Dumfries overwhelmed with 4 cases, murders, missing persons and art forgery, in the small town of Kirkcudbright.

Farrell is one of 2 DI’s tasked with breaking the cases along with his childhood friend DCI Lind, and their small band of Detectives.

The cases all seem to be centred around a small community of artists which provide a great cast of characters for the story. Each one is wonderfully written, and the way they weave into the story is fascinating.

This story is multi-layered and takes loads of twists, but all the time it stays within the realms of possibility.

Jackie Baldwin has created a wonderful set of characters. DI Farrell is still conflicted between his faith and his job, and when it comes to personal relationships he really does struggle. His main sidekick is DC Mhairi McCleod, a young woman that had, until Farrell arrived in her nick, built up a reputation as a party girl, but he sees the potential and relies on her for a lot of his work.

There are many others, all with great side stories, in the cast of police characters. Just as much effort is put into the criminals, with great effect.

The crimes in this book are perfectly written and they all add to the story, but what is the link. I didn’t work it out until the last chapters.

And talking of the last chapters, what a climax to a book.

I started this review saying I read the first book in the series before I reviewed Perfect Dead. That’s because I like to read books in chronological order. But this can be read as a stand-alone-novel, and a brilliant story it is.

Jackie Baldwin is a new author to me, but has gone straight onto the must read list.

 

Publisher: Killer Reads, Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 15th June 2018

Available to pre-order for the Kindle

Grave Island Andrew Smyth

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Have you ever wondered where your prescription drugs and medicine come from. No? Neither had I until I read this book.

Army investigator Philip Hennessey finds himself discharged from the service when evidence is planted on him to suggest he has broken military protocol. Out on civvy street he is asked to use his investigative skills to look into the death of a friend-of-a-friend.

This leads to him digging into the private hospitals of London and where they get their drugs from.

What a can of worms that opens. The illicit trade in drugs is massive. Drugs brought cheap in 3rd world countries and repackaged for the UK market, and sold at UK prices, are making people a semi-legitimate profit. But people who are prepared to do that are one step away from buying out of date drugs, which are worse than useless. People who are prepared to do that are one step away from buying completely illegal counterfeit drugs to supply to hospitals.

It’s not long before Hennessey is embroiled in an investigation which takes him around the world, putting him in danger from more than one quarter.

This is a really good story from a modern day Hammond Innes. Believable and realistic it leads the reader on a race around the globe to stop the trade in illegal drugs.

I loved this story. It took me right back to the thrillers I used to read back in the 70’s and 80’s, but with all the modern twists.

I enjoy books that get me reaching for google to research places and crimes, and this book had me doing that a lot.

A great read for people who are looking for an adventurous yarn, perfect for holiday reading or just sitting down at home and escaping the real world.

Pages: File Size 1899KB

Publisher: Bloodhound Books

Available now