I have been lucky enough to be in to this series since it started, and here, in book 12, we have the best one yet.
Where Angela Marsons manages to pull new, original, and gripping plots from, whilst keeping us engaged in her cast of central characters, is a mystery but long may it continue.
Detective Inspector Kim Stone works out of Halesowen Police Station. A perfect place to set a crime series as it sits right on the edge of the Black Country and the rambling countryside, giving Angela plenty of scope to have realistic crimes in real areas.
This book stretches across both. Vulnerable people are being recruited around Dudley and introduced to a “retreat” at the remote Unity Farm.
That alone wouldn’t come on Kim’s horizon but, when a girl is found dead that does. At first inspection it looks like a suicide but something pricks at Kim’s mind and she looks a bit deeper. Before long she is convinced the girl has been murdered and that the scene has been staged.
Why did the girls social media footprint end 3 years ago. Why are her parents behaving suspiciously when they talk to the Police.
Meanwhile more bodies are found and some tenacious work by one of the team manages to link the finds with people who went missing under dubious circumstances
Eventually Unity farm becomes the focus of inquiries but how can the team penetrate the façade that the owner puts up of an innocent retreat.
I’m not taking this any further because I don’t want to give the plot away. Needless to say it’s a gripping story, and for those of you who have read the other books you know that nobody is safe and that not all of the books have a happy ending.
This made this book even more suspenseful. There were time when I caught myself holding my breath. There were other times when I exclaimed out loud, prompting raised eyebrow from my wife.
For those of us who are already hooked by this series, this is a great prequal. For those of us who haven’t read any of the DI Kim Stone books, this is a great introduction to the best crime series on the shelves right now.
Either way this is a brilliant read which will have people turning the pages at a feverish rate.
First Blood takes us right back to the formation of Kim’s team, and her first day at Halesowen Police Station.
It’s a last chance scenario with Kim having made too many enemies to be accepted at most nicks in the West Midlands.
However she has an ally she knows nothing about, somebody who has known her for many years before she joined the force, and has kept an eye on her career since she joined.
This story looks at why Kim is a bit of a pariah in the force. She is definitely an acquired taste to work with, but her conviction rate should out-weigh that.
On her first day she meets her team. DS Bryant, a middle aged man who should be at least a DI at that stage in his career, so why isn’t he, and how will he react to a young DI.
DS Kevin Dawson, and I’d forgotten what a pain in the behind he was when the series first started. A man capable of disrupting even the most evenly balanced relationship, and certainly not a team player.
Brand new DC Stacey Wood, a shy almost naïve, young woman whose hidden talent is soon found to be “data-mining” from a desk. Not what DS Dawson considers to be real policing.
The first day should be an easy welcome session, but a body is found staked out on the Clent Hills. The body has been stabbed, decapitated and had the genitals removed.
Kim judges the team by how they react to the scene, and as the investigation goes on, she watches the dynamic of the team, how they work, how they bond, all the time sussing out their strengths and weaknesses. At the same time Bryant, Wood, and Stacey are doing exactly the same.
At times the team, and Stone, have as many questions about each other as they do about the case. One of the team decides to research Stone’s past and makes some startling discoveries. Will this affect the way she’s looked at?
The solving of the crimes is the main thread in this book; but just as enthralling is the thread that explores the team members and how they reacted to each other when they first meet, and during this first investigation.
I loved this book from cover to cover. It can be read as a stand-alone, or the first in a series, or as I look at it the latest in the best series there is.
The book fills some gaps and explains the relationship between many of the characters in the series, not all of them on the team.
There is a saying “There is only one chance to make a first impression” In this book we see those first impressions as the team is brought together.
But this book is a contrary to that saying. This is a second chance for those of us who follow the series to have that first meeting with Stone and the gang, and it’s absolutely brilliant.
As if this series needed a hook to get you into a book. Yet Angela Marsons has started this one with the most original, and toe curling, murders of the series.
The book starts with a murder in a kids playground. It’s a bit of a mystery where this murder fits in as its set years before the main body of the book, but fit in it does, and it’s part of a brilliant mystery.
Moving forward to the present day Kim and her team are called to a murder in a local park (and when I say local its where I take my dog for a walk most days). The murder victim is posed and the murderer has left a signature, but what does it all mean.
Kim lets her team work to their strengths. Stacy is set to work trawling the internet, whilst Kim and Bryant hit the streets.
The newest member of the team, Penn, is called back to his old team, and the story that unfolds for him is every Police Officers worst nightmare. Has he put the wrong man in jail. This story alone would have made a great book.
Kim is also fighting the Brass in the Police force. Owing to recent reviews showing that officers are burning out, along with the constrictions of austerity, she is forced to make her team work the case on a 9-5 basis, she and they hate it.
To make up for the lack of Penn, and the lack of available work hours, Kim is given a new officer, a 24 year old PC called Tiffany, who is a bubble of energy and enthusiasm. At first Kim, and Stacy, try to reject the help but soon realise they are stuck with their new yappy (and for us from the Black Country Yampy) puppy of an officer.
As the bodies mount Kim’s team are stretched to the limit. Will burn out claim any of them?
Book 11 in the DI Kim Stone series and again Angela Marsons has given us a brilliantly crafted book.
It’s no secret this is my favourite series in the crime fiction genre. I do wonder sometimes if it’s because the books are set where I live, but then I read the blogs from other reviewers around the world, and realise that if they were set in Mongolia I’d still love the stories.
Angela Marsons has created a fictional team in a real world. The crimes she writes about are all too realistic. The worries and concerns of the Police Officers, the Victims, the Witnesses, and the Criminals are written in a way that lets the reader engage. Empathy and sympathy for some characters, and anger at others are emotions which each of the books evokes aplenty.
In my very first blog, about my life and how reading has been my companion, hobby, and at times escape, I recall how I read all of the Sven Hassle war books on my first ship. I wrote how when I’d finished the series I felt like I’d lost some friends. I don’t know when this series is going to end, I hope not for a while yet, but I have the feeling I’m going to miss Kim and her Team just as much, and probably a lot more.
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.
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.
What a way to start a book. The prologue see’s DI Kim Stone struggling with a broken leg as she tries to warn people not to enter part of a building where she knows they will be in mortal danger. But who are the people running into the building and what exactly is the danger.
Cut to chapter one, a few days before the prologue. The death of a young girl at a posh, private school.
It’s classical mystery writing technique but, I don’t think I’ve ever read it written in a better way.
As the story builds Kim is supported by all her usual crew, trusty Bryant, laddish Wood, and the quiet Black Country Lass Stacey. Will any of these be charging into danger at the end of the book.
The team are investigating a suspicious death at the private Heathcrest Academy. A private co-ed school, where the elite of midlands society send their children to study alongside sporting, and academic, high achievers.
Not surprisingly amongst the students there are secret societies that have seen generations of the same family pass through them. The societies employ horrific initiation ceremonies and even more horrific discipline methods.
When the body of the first victim is found, after she apparently committed suicide by jumping from one of the highest points in the school, Kim and Bryant are the first Officers on the scene.
Kim is not happy with the circumstances of the death and her suspicions are bourn-out when Keats carries out the autopsy and confirms that the girl was murdered.
The investigation is thwarted at every turn by the family, who are trying to hide their own secrets; by the school, whose principle will only entertain suicide as the cause, as murder would be bad for business; and by the students, who are either in one of the secret societies, or are scared of the pupils that are.
As the story unwinds Kim has to turn to an unlikely ally for advice, which itself holds dangers which I’m sure will hold recriminations.
As the body count begins to rise, and the climax of the book gets ever closer, the tension rises. Right up to the end it’s impossible to find out, or guess, who is running into danger, and how it will play out.
When the end comes it is no anti-climax. I had already read quotes on twitter where people said the they were left “broken” at the end, and that it was an “emotional ending”.
I thought I was ready for it, but no. It is emotional, and I was broken.
This is book 8 in the DI Kim Stone series. It can be read as a stand-alone novel, and it works well as one, but to get full impact read the others.
I was lucky enough to find Angela Marsons when the first Kim Stone novel was released, and have been onboard from the beginning.
I am a prolific reader and I can think of no bigger recommendation than, every time an new book in this series is made available, I put down whatever I’m reading and read what Stone and her team are up to. This one was the best yet.