The Blue Pool Murders & The Lighthouse Murders. Rachel McLean

Books seven and eight in the Dorset Crime series, which in itself is a spin off from the Birmingham Crime Series, both of which have interwoven themes, running storylines and shared characters

Although these books can be read as standalone stories I would really suggest, and highly recommend, that the reader invested in the books that come before, because this is a brilliant continuing story, that will have fans of the TV series Line of Duty salivating.

DCI Lesley Clarke moved from the West Midlands to Dorset as a form of recovery following an injury during a terrorist attack. There were a few of things she didn’t expect.

Firstly that Dorset was going to be the scene of so many murders.

Secondly that she would be dealing with major crime lords

Thirdly, and most significantly that she would fall into a situation that would involve her investigating the death of her predecessor, a death formally recorded as suicide, but which is beginning to look more and more suspicious.

Her investigations into the death of retired DCI Mackie seems to be inextricably linked to her current investigations and, because she doesn’t know who she can trust, she turns to a selective few of her new colleagues, one of her old ones and surprisingly a local journalist.

That is the running theme throughout this series and it’s addictive

Book 7 The Blue Pool Murders, sees Lesley and her team investigating the death of a Local Crime Boss.

His body is found floating in an isolated pool in a nature reserve. The one piece of evidence at the scene points to somebody very close to her. Should she hide it, there’s already enough duplicity and underhand behaviour in the force, does she need to add to it. Or is somebody trying to discredit her, or have her removed from the Major Investigation Team by having her credibility as a neutral investigator brought into question.

As the bodies mount, and Clarke and her team get closer to the truth, the links to Mackie also start to add up.

Book 8 The Lighthouse Murder starts with a body discovered in Portland Bill Lighthouse. The victim is linked to Lesley. Her team in Birmingham put him away just before she moved south.

He should still be in prison but his escape was rigged when he was being transferred from one of the Dorset Prisons.

The big question is why was he killed within hours of escaping.

Again the bodies mount up but Clarke is without one of her team. A major player, her DS has been arrested and suspended.

She feels like it’s getting harder to keep investigations on the right track.

When Police Officers start “running interference” on her investigations, in apparent careless but innocent ways her paranoia of who to trust deepens.

She returns to Birmingham as part of the investigation and starts to interact with her old DI Zoe Finch, the one copper she knows she can trust.

These two books almost finish off the running story.

Book 9, The Ghost Village is out this summer and according to the publicity material it is the book in which the story concludes

I quickly became hooked on Rachel McLeans books when I read the first of the Zoe Finch books set in Birmingham. Now her works is amongst my favourite Crime Fiction being written today.

As her books are published they go straight to the top of my reading pile, and never get relegated.

Brilliant.

The Fossil Beach Murders. Rachel McClean

DCI Lesley Clarke is back for her 6th outing in the Dorset Crime Series.

An earth slip on the coast near Lyme Regis uncovers two bodies. They could have been there for days, weeks, years, even centuries. When the forensic teams start the examination it reveals they’ve been there about ten years, and that they were murdered.

What starts off as a routine investigation, into what appears to be a decade old crime, quickly starts to have ramifications today.

There has been a story winding through this series. The story of a Police Officers suicide, that Clarke is becoming convinced was anything but a suicide. The story of a local businessman who is anything but the straight and narrow pillar of the community they like to portray.

The exposure of the bodies during the landslide leads to an investigation that starts to bring the story to a head.

It’s a tense, unputdownable story. Clarke is carrying out the investigation in the shadow of veiled threats from her boss, and a possible parallel investigation into the suicide of her predecessor by a journalist.

Why is her boss being so cagey.

Political issues start to raise their head as a neighbouring force refuses to release information on the current case unless they are involved.

Why won’t they share their information with Dorset MIT

This is a six-out-of-five story. Utterly compelling and a must read for any crime fiction fan

Rachel McClean came in my radar last year and is now firmly one of my favourite authors

When I read a book I keep notes for my reviews, just a list of characters and a simple outline of the plot. It helps me with these reviews, and lets me go back and remember stories later on in a series.

It is a testament to this story that I wrote the title at the top of the page, then got so engrossed that I forgot to write another word.

Print length: 338 pages. Published by: Ackroyd Publishing. Available now. Search Dorset Crime on Amazon for the series and offer prices.

The Monument Murders. Rachel McLean

Straight off I’m going to say this is one of my favourite series. I enjoyed the original books set in Birmingham, and these Dorset based books.

The Dorset books are neither a continuation of the Birmingham books, or a separate series, they are very much a spin-off with overlapping characters.

Rachel McLean has a way of making realistic, normal paced, modern policing exciting.

She has a great skill for a flamboyant murder scene which always puts a different spin on the scene examination.

But what I think she has mastered is the ability to take a very thin twine of a thread of a story, and weave it through all of her books.

As with the Birmingham series there is the hint of Police misdoings. A problem that is niggling away at DCI Lesley Clarke, a problem that her boss seems to want her to look into, but at the same time won’t acknowledge the exists.

In each of the Dorset series this thread is intertwined with the main crime to be investigated.

I mentioned flamboyant scenes. The first murder victim in this book is found spread eagled over the local landmark, the Swanage Globe.

An architect has had his throat cut and a note has been left with the body, Go Home, is written in his own blood.

The fact that the victim is black, and the words on the note, instantly raise the possibility of a race crime. But he’s an out-of-towner working on a controversial project, so the reference to going home may not be race based.

With the investigation team split between the two hypotheses cracks start to appear.

Can Clarke keep everything together, the team, the main investigation, the side investigation into a crime that may not even have happened, and her relationship with a criminal defence barrister who just happens to be representing one of her main suspects.

What a book, and what a clever ending………..

I can’t wait for the next one.

Pages: 352. Publisher: Ackroyd Publishing. Available now.