Matthew Farrell is a new name to my reading list. In fact, I only found him because of a suggestion from his publisher’s twitter.
A quick look at the synopsis for I Know Everythingon a bloggers review website and I knew this was a book I wanted to read.
When a car runs of the road, and over a cliff, the woman inside is found dead behind the wheel. A rich and generous philanthropist Amanda had everything to live for, she had just been given a prestigious award and was on her way home to her husband.
Her husband, Randall, is devastated at her death, but this quickly turns to confusion when a stranger arrives and tells him his wife’s death was no accident, and that she had secrets. But he won’t tell Randall what the secrets are unless he confesses to his own.
Shortly afterwards the Police investigation, led by Investigator Susan Adler, uncovers the fact that Amanda was dead before the RTC and begin their own investigation with Randall as one of the main suspects.
What follows is a complex story that follows some extraordinary characters.
Susan Adler, the Investigator, is a single mom recently divorced from her husband and relying heavily on her mother to help bring up her young twins.
Her new partner Tommy Corolla a recent transferee from out of town.
Dr Randall Brock, a research Dr who is looking at ways treating people with psychopathic fantasies.
Plus, many more who I can’t mention without somehow spoiling the story.
It has to be said that throughout this book I had opinions on who I though was the killer, and, thanks to the wonderful writing of Matthew Farrell, I kept changing my mind on who that was. Right up to the end of the very last chapter he had me second guessing myself.
That is what makes this such an interesting, and compelling, book to read.
Each chapter had me second guessing, in the best way, and that meant I wanted to read the next one to find out if I was right.
That kept the pages turning and I ended up reading this book over two days.
It was one of those books that had me hooked so tight I didn’t realise I was devoting so much time to it, until I came up for air and realised that another few hours had passed me by.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It is original, it is well written, the characters are great, the story is amazing and I think there may have been a very subtle little cliff hanger in the last two lines of the epilogue.
I hope so, because I want to read more from Matthew Farrell, using some of the same characters that are in this book.
This book has the best opening chapter I have ever read. In that one chapter the story of a young fell runner with everything to live for, until she gets injured and becomes hooked on prescription drugs, which leads to her taking illegal drugs until she can’t take it anymore and kills herself, is laid out and sets the tempo for the whole book.
The book looks at the pressures put onto children at secondary schools and sixth form colleges. The on-line bullying, we all hear about, but more surprisingly the often ignored on-line peer pressure. The pressure that is not just put on impressionable youngsters by their immediate peers, but also by the new breed of celebrity, the “Influencers” on sites such as Instagram.
It looks at the boredom of the youths in smaller countryside towns and the way the drug dealers are moving into the countryside to target these kids.
Rachel Lynch has written some great books in this series. DCI Kelly Porter is a great charter and easy to engage with, but for me it’s the crimes and the locations which make these books so stunning.
Everybody would have an idyllic view of the towns around the Lake District, but I suspect that Rachel Lynch’s version is much closer to the truth.
In this book Porter investigates the sudden deaths of students from the same school. She is convinced that somehow the suicides are linked, and her and her team start to uncover a tale of bullying and drug taking. One teacher is suspended following a complaint by a student which leads to the discovery of some illicit images on his computer, but is he being set up.
The head teacher lives in ignorant bliss, whilst teachers are losing control of the school. Rumours are rife and the investigation is sent off in all directions, but is there any truth behind the rumours, they can’t all be lies.
As the investigation continues a girl goes missing and the team fear she is going to be the latest in the long line of suicides, or if Kelly is right, the latest murder victim.
As well as carrying out the investigation Kelly’s personal life is in turmoil following revelations about her mother and father. Her Mom is battling a terminal disease and trying to find peace in her life before it’s too late.
All of this takes place over Christmas which seems to give an added poignancy to the story.
I started this review by saying the opening chapter was the best I’d ever read. It had me hooked into the book straight away.
The rest of the book?
It certainly didn’t disappoint. There were times when I couldn’t put it down, and there were times when I had to put it down, and just take a breath.
This book could be read as a stand-alone.
It’s the 4thin the series and I would recommend reading the others first, just to get the full impact of this one.
Its not often I’m lost for words, but I’ve run out of superlatives to describe this series. Ten books ago Angela Marsons introduced us to a series of characters based in the Black Country.
The main character is DI Kim Stone. A DI in the Major Investigation Team in Halesowen Police Station in the West Midlands.
Halesowen is a small town on the outskirts of the urban sprawl that makes up the Metropolitan Borough of the West Midlands. Its right on the border of what most people would call the area of greater Birmingham, and the sprawling countryside of Worcester.
It’s actually in the borough of Dudley, one of the seven boroughs that make up the West Midlands, but more importantly it’s part of the Black Country.
That is what makes it such a special place to set crime stories.
Dudley has some of the most affluent parts of the West Midlands, close to the country, and some of the poorest parts where it borders Sandwell. It has rich gated communities, run down industrial areas, and some of the poorest social housing estates in the UK. Its population commute into Birmingham City Centre to sit in smart offices and high end retail shops, or work in the manufacturing, scrap meatl, or haulage business.
The black Country has a hard working history, and this ethic is seen daily in its population; but just like everywhere else there are the freeloaders who never intend to do a day’s work as long as the state will give them benefits.
Then there are the people who pray on both ends of the community. Drug sellers target the rich with designer drugs and well cut class A drugs, and at the same time pray on the vulnerable with less well, and dangerously cut, class A drugs and marijuana.
Addicts are addicts and once hooked will look to fund their next hit. The desperate will turn to crime.
Prostitution has been forced indoors over the last decade with sex being sold in private flats or thinly veiled massage parlours. This has led to illegal immigrants being forced into the sex trade alongside some desperate local people.
Illegal immigrants are also being used as slaves in retail and manufacturing.
Street kids are turning to violence.
Post code gangs are frequently a problem, fighting for territory to sell their wares, both human and chemical.
But most of its population are just your average family members trying to get along with their neighbours.
So, as you can see, Angela Marsons has chosen a great area to set her crimes. Just about anything that could make up a serious crime happens in the area, and so can be portrayed realistically in her books.
The characters she writes about are just as real as her crimes.
Kim Stone is epic. A kid-from-care made good.
In the first few books her character is established as one of the best cops in British Crime Fiction, her back story is slowly revealed showing how her life has evolved and how she has become the successful detective she has.
Her team also have good back stories. The ever reliant Bryant, her Detective Sergeant is every bit as fundamental to these stories as Lewis is to Morse, or Watson is to Holmes. He acts as her stabiliser and suffers the frustration of seeing Stone struggling through some investigations, but more significantly her personal life.
DC Stacy Wood, the quiet detective that is really good at information trawling and working on a computer, but not so good on face to face encounters. Watching her develop through the series, as she finds her confidence, and becomes a tour-de-force of a cop, is something that would not ever be achieved this well in a single book, or short series.
DC Kev Dawson, young, handsome, cock-sure, but an integral part of the team. His character changes as much as Woods, but in a totally different way.
Then there’s the fringe characters that keep recurring, Keats the pathologist with his love hate relationship with Stone. The Forensic Teams, and Senior Police Officers
Then there’s reporters. One in particular, that has a strange relationship with Stone, to say they use each other when they want something is an understatement. But they both know they need each other and their fraught working relationship is entertaining throughout the series.
Of course, there’s the criminals. A vast array of them over the ten books, all realistically written, all with back stories to help the reader engage with them. Some of them recurring through several stories; and for every criminal there’s a victim who is equally well portrayed, often eliciting as much empathy as sympathy from the reader.
That brings us back to this book. DEAD MEMORIES finds Stone and the team looking at some of their past investigations as a murderer appears to be using Stone’s history to set their crimes. Is it a message to her, or is it the prelude to an attack on her. Is somebody trying to ruin her reputation, her life, or kill her.
I love this series, and as I said at the beginning of this blog I’ve run out of superlatives to describe the books in this series.
Safe to say Silent Scream, book one in the series, was one of the best books I’ve ever read, and each book has just got better and better.
My review of DEADLY MEMORIES will be on-line in February as part of the Blog Tour, but if you haven’t found Angela Marsons yet get yourself on Amazon, or down to the bookshop, and treat yourself to what I think is the best crime series out there.
Right from the off, I am going to say I loved this book.
I loved the main character, a journalist, Aloa Snow.
I loved the little bunch of old men she hangs out with, Tic, Doc and P-Mac, collectively known as the Brain Farm.
I loved the plot.
Right, so what got me so impressed with this book.
The story is based around the murder of a woman, a woman who lives a good life style with her husband, a paraplegic ex FBI Interrogator.
A man has been accused, a University Professor who is a poet. A bit of a strange bod which every piece of the investigation points at as being guilty. But he has one person on his side, a man he’d rather not be there at all, his father.
His father just happens to be Tic from the Brain Farm.
Tic and his friends decide to ask the unofficial forth member of the Farm to help them, Ink, aka Aloa Snow.
She is an investigative journalist and has worked with the Farm before.
This time the investigation takes her around San Francisco, where she is drawn into the world of drug users. This leads her into The Jungle, an area under the freeway where homeless addicts live in a tented village. Not a nice place but a place which has a code of ethics, a code which would usually keeps its occupants safe from the outside word. Usually.
She becomes involved with a strange Christian cult, The Church of the Sacrificial Lamb, a cult which would be unbelievable in most countries, but seems strangely believable in America.
The Police are convinced that Tic’s son is guilty and are busily building a case against him. Aloa is not immediately convinced of his innocence, but because of a feeling of duty to the Brain Farm she starts digging.
The deeper she digs the more convinced she is that the Poetry Professor is innocent. Not a nice man, but innocent.
This book is set in San Francisco during an unusual winter fog. The fog makes the city drab and unfriendly, and best of all, the ideal backdrop for the story.
Aloa is a great character, a bit off-the-wall in her methods, she takes chances and makes leaps of faith that would scare a cop, but she isn’t tied by staying on the right side of any procedures.
I think that’s what I liked about the book. Whilst Aloa does think outside the box, it is done in a way that I would like to think I would do it. Yes she puts herself in danger at times, but it’s never an anticipated danger, it’s just the next logical step, and she’s in trouble before she knows it.
I’m not sure how well known Peggy Townsend is in the UK, I have to admit this is the first book of hers I’ve read, and it’s the second in a series, but it won’t be my last. In fact I’ve just uploaded the first book, See Her Run,to my Kindle and it will be my next read.
If she isn’t that well known yet I have a feeling that once people start on this series she’s going to become one of our must read crime fiction authors.
The second book to feature DI Natalie Wood, a middle-aged woman trying desperately to be a good wife, and mother, at the same time as leading a Major Investigation Team.
When the body of a woman is found brutally murdered in her bedroom suspicion is immediately placed on the husband.
The more the team look into him the more lies and untruths are uncovered but are they anything to do with the murder.
The victim was an entitled woman that thrived on playing people off against each other. The husband is an ex-con who has set up a gym in an underprivileged estate.
The investigation is set spinning in circles by the stories told by locals, and by the mixed messages they are receiving about the victim.
With the investigation going down one cul-de-sac after anther the team are getting nowhere. Then another woman is found dead in very similar circumstances and it becomes clear that it’s the same killer.
The investigation is still going nowhere quick until………you’ll have to read the book to find out.
This is a great story. The frustrations of the police are laid bare as they are sent on one false lead after another by people trying to protect their own back, or simply deciding they don’t want to help the Police.
The main character, Natalie, and her team are flat out. Carol Wyer writes about the affect their career has on their relationships better than any other writer at the moment.
She looks at the almost selfish attitude they have towards keeping the investigation going, usually at the cost of their nearest and dearest.
And the transient characters are equally as good
The first murder victim Charlotte is a woman that wants everything everybody else has, then once she’s got it, she gets bored and gets rid of it. The book could easily have been called Marmite Girl, because people in the book either love her or hate her.
Her Husband is a thug that makes it easy for the reader to want him to be guilty. The people he hangs out with are all rouges that think themselves above the law.
It’s not often that a Police Procedural is based around one murder, and although this one isn’t either, it very nearly is. And its brilliant. It allows the characters to be explored fully and develop. I have a feeling that some of them may make appearances in future books.
This is book 4 in the Detective Josie Quinn series, my favourite American crime series of the moment.
Quinn is career Detective working in the Denton Police Department. Denton is a small City with a small Police Force, but enough crime to keep everybody busy.
Quinn picks up the worst of the cases, with good reason, she solves them.
But this case is going to tax her and her team to the limits.
One of the other detectives on her team is missing, and a young man has been found dead at her home, shot in the back.
As much as everybody wants to think Gretchen is innocent, and that there is a good explanation, nobody except Quinn is really convinced she is not responsible for the young man’s death.
When Quinn begins to look into the case she realises just how little she knows about Gretchen, even though she hired her, and she had become one of her closest confidants.
The investigation leads Quinn to New York where she finds out more about Gretchen than she imagined. The woman had lived a nightmare for years and nobody knew.
The investigation takes in historical murders, under-cover cops and outlaw biker gangs.
The threads of this web weave one hell of a story that gradually leads to an outcome that I never saw coming.
Lisa Regan writes great stories. I love the character Josie Quinn. She is tough but vulnerable. Her back story is laid out in the first 3 books in the series and I can’t recommend reading them highly enough.
It’s no secret that I love crime series books that have underlying stories for the characters. This is one of the best, and as usual when I finished it, I wanted to read what Quinn is up to next.
Every now and again something stunning comes along, and now is that time.
In The Silent 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.