The Dinner Party R.J. Parker

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Should secrets remain secret. When friends meet up in their couples for a dinner party one of the women suggests a game. A game of non-disclosed confessions, followed by unconditional forgiveness.

At first the game doesn’t seem that sinister but by sunrise next day one person from the party will be dead, and nobody else’s life will ever be the same.

The book is written with the host of the party being the main character. Ted is married to Juliet and they have a small circle of friends. All married couples, all about the same age, all with their own stories, all with their own secret.

This is a crime novel from a different point of view. The main character is caught up in the middle of the crime and the subsequent investigation. Only getting information from the Police as he is questioned and as he talks to other people who were at the party.

For three days his life is turned upside down. He and Juliet are as confused about the happenings as everybody else; and it soon becomes apparent to Ted that everybody is keeping secrets.

The story is brilliant.

The unusual point of view it is written from gives a completely different aspect to a crime.

The grief Ted feels in finding out about the murder of one of his closest friends is completely believable.

The frustration he feels at being questioned by the police, the realisation that people around him are not letting him in on secrets, lead him into an emotional rollercoaster, that I could not help but empathise with.

The pace of the book is breath taking. I read it in one sitting.

A captivating, compulsive stand-alone novel.

 

Publishers: One More Chapter (Harper Collins digital)

Available now.

THE STING Kimberley Chambers

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This is my first, but certainly not my last, Kimberley Chambers book.

The Sting is a glorious read for everybody, but especially for people who had their teenage years in the 1970’s.

The story follows the life of a young lad Tommy Boyle and picks him up as a 12 year old. To say he has a hard upbringing is an understatement. His father is a bullying wife beater who works on the oil rigs and makes family life a misery when he’s at home.

As the story progresses Tom ends up in a children’s home for reasons beyond his control.

The friendships he forms there should last for life, but again life takes a cruel twist.

The story follows him through his family life, through to his life in care, and sees him change from an innocent lad to the fearsome teenager, and ultimately into a violent man.

When his time in care comes to an end on his 16thbirthday Tom has already been spotted by a criminal family and they soon take him into their inner circle.

Tom has had a hard time, but the new family mean everything to him, and so begins a life in organised crime.

Lurking in the shadows throughout the story are secrets. Secrets that will inevitably come to the surface and lead the book to a fantastic end.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. My usual read is crime fiction, which this falls well and truly into, but it’s from a completely different perspective to what I’m used to.

This is all about a boy gone bad, a boy whose transition to manhood is guided by the actions of the people who should have loved and protected him.

Having grown up on a council estate in Birmingham in the 70’s I can recognise so many of the characters in this book. The nostalgia for that era is reflected in the music that is mentioned throughout the book and which had me calling out to “Alexa” on numerous occasions.

A cracking read.

Pages: 448

Publishers: Harper Collins

Available now

TAKE IT BACK KIA ABDULLAH

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I cannot remember who recommended this book, but whoever it was thank you.

The story is based around two main characters, Zara Kaleel, a gifted woman who finished top of Law School and landed a top job in good Chambers in London. Her life was mapped out for her, an arranged marriage, and a good job. Until she got rid of both the husband and the job, and took a job at a charity who looked after abused women.

The second character is Jodie Wolfe, a sixteen year old white girl with a severe facial deformity. The daughter of a single parent, an alcoholic mother, and living in a rundown house on a rough estate her life is not easy.

Jodie walks into Zara’s life when she accuses a group of four boys from her school of gangrape. The boys are all Muslim and from good families. They deny the accusation and give their own version of events.

Will anybody believe Jodie’s account over the four lads, and if they do, can they prove it beyond reasonable doubt.

This book is about so much more than just the rape of a young girl. It’s about attitudes, both preconceived, and actual, which are prevalent in today’s society.

The story itself is stunning. As a reader I was swayed in both directions. At different times I believed both Jodie and the four boys alternatively.

Some of the lads in this book lead a life of entitlement that their parents may have earned, but which they wrongly bask in.

The hatred that is extended to Jodie, by people who should be supporting her is unimaginable, but realistic in the way it is portrayed.

Worse still is the hostility extended to Zara by her own community.

Had the book been written by anybody else I don’t know how much emphasis I’d have put on the feelings that are running through the Muslim Community when it comes to the unwavering belief they have in the word of the young men, and the hold these young men have over their families.

I looked Kia Abdullah up on the internet, she is definitely qualified to right about this community in a way that most of us may never fully understand. But this book may go a long way to helping us.

This could have been a true story and it would not have had more of an impact on me. I felt like I was following a news story in fast forward.

It’s not often a book has me hooked as much as this one did. Thankfully I was in holiday so sitting reading all day was permissible, which was good, because once I’d started this, I was never going to put it down

Pages: 383

Publishers: HQ HarperCollins

Publishing date: 8thAugust 2019

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.

Dead Man’s Daughter Roz Watkins

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Roz Watkins has a way of writing books that I find refreshing and fascinating. Taking a piece folk law, or urbane myth, and interweaving a modern crime she arrives at a book which is a realistic crime thriller with a touch of horror novel. In fact I can’t make my mind up who would be the most proud to call her a student of their genre, Colin Dexter or Stephen King. If you are a fan of either you’ll love this book, if you are a fan of both, this is really going to get your juices flowing.

DI Meg Dalton is a recent transferee to Derbyshire from Manchester Met Police. She not only has to battle the “she’s a know it all from the big Force” brigade but also prove herself better than the men from Derbyshire she was promoted over to get her job as SIO in one of the MIT’s covering the Peak District.

When she stumbles across a crime scene Meg is suddenly immersed in an investigation that seems to have one strikingly obvious outcome.

A man is dead in his house, his daughter is found running through the woods covered in blood. When Meg traces the child’s steps back to the house, she realises the crime has happened in a premises where the Police have had numerous calls to report a stalker but have done little or nothing about it.

The investigation leads Meg and her team down one route, the little girl appears to have killed her father, but Meg is not convinced.

So, why is this book a bit on the horror genre, well the little girl, her name is Abbie, has had an organ transplant, and everything seems to suggest that somehow the organ she has received is affecting the way she now behaves.

To add to that the house that the murder took place in is wrapped in folk law and has connections with a past series of sacrificial killings.

It’s up to Meg to work out who the murderer is, and what the motive was behind the killing.

This story is complex in places with different characters swapping hypothesis to suit their own agenda, more than one of which is purely because they want Meg to fail.

But the story is absolutely brilliant. Like all the best books it had me Googling about things I wasn’t aware of, such as Cellular Memory Phenomenon, and yes it does exist.

What a subject to identify to base a crime story on, and to keep it so realistic. Brilliant.

This book is the second in the series, The Devils Dice is the first, but can easily be read as a stand alone but once you’ve read it you will want to read first.

I really can’t wait for the third book in the series.

Pages: 384

Publishers: HQ, Harper Collins

Available now

Out Of The Ashes Vicky Newham

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I have rarely read a book which has so many possible motives for one crime.

 

When two people are killed in a shop fire on Brick Lane the possible motives are endless, bigotry, jealousy, hatred, anti-Semitism, racism, revenge, anti-gentrification all of them could be the reason the shop was torched, and worryingly they are all realistic motives in today’s society.

 

So, DI Maya Rahman has her work cut out, but she is the ideal Officer for the job. As a 41 year old Bangladeshi who grew up on, and around, Brick Lane she is used to the mixing pot of a society that live and trades on the famous street. She even knows some of the residents who live near the fire.

 

The investigation is hindered by the damage at the shop. The fire has destroyed everything and the bodies are not easy to retrieve.

 

The fire happened as a Flash Mob descended on the street dancing to loud house music. Could this be a coincidence or are the two things related.

 

The investigation follows Maya and her team as they track through the world of young people who follow a cause on line, for no other reason than the promise of a bit of cash and some free drugs. Are they being manipulated to cause a distraction or are they responsible for the fire.

 

They encounter homeless refugees, some of which are young orphans, and see the way they are used by some of the lower forms of life in the community who are either too clever, or too scared, to do their own dirty work.

 

The story revolves around the investigation into the fire and the deaths that occurred in it, but the main story for me is the story of life on Brick Lane.

 

I have a feeling this book gets very close to the truth of some of the matters that involve the people of Brick Lane, and other suburbs of the bigger cities in the UK.

 

Generations of traders struggling to make a living in an ever increasing society that buys into the latest fad of “artisan” traders and over inflated property prices.

 

And of course, where money is the driver crime is not far behind.

 

I really enjoyed this book and was surprised to find it’s is the second in a series. I’m off to find the first now and then I shall look forward to the third.

 

Pages: 384

Publishers: HQ Harper Collins

Publishing date: 30thMay 2019

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