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

The Perfect Silence. Helen Fields.

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Every now and again a book come along and stops me in my tracks. Perfect Silence is one of only a handful to have done this in 40 odd years of reading psychological thrillers.

The book starts with a woman crawling along a country lane. Badly injured having been viciously abused by her kidnapper, who has left her to die slowly, and alone, with no chance of anybody finding her in time to save her.

When she is found the Edinburgh Major Investigation Team is tasked with finding the killer.

DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach make a great team. She is young and ambitious but a great officer, he is the French transferee from Interpol who has adopted Scotland as his homeland, even if it is somewhat reluctantly.

Together with their team they start the investigation into the murder of the woman but quickly realise that another woman has been taken. From then on it becomes a race against time as the kidnapper kills the women before taking the next victim. Every time they take a new victim they leave behind their uniquely grotesque calling card.

But how many women will go missing and be killed before Ava and her team catch the person responsible.

If that’s not bad enough somebody is attacking the drug fuelled vagrants across the City, and Ava is desperately trying to protect them as well as catch their attackers. This investigation leads her into a conflict it doesn’t look like she can win.

Will this distract her and her team from finding the killer of the women.

This book had me hooked from page one. By the end of the book I was breathless.

Helen Fields has a way of writing that keeps the reader turning the page. A lot of authors can do that. But she can do something not very many can. There are chapters in this book where the very last sentence made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up in horror. Not the grislily sort of horror, the psychological sort. Wow

Last year I was lucky enough to read Perfect Remains by Helen Fields, but because it was part of a judging system for a literature prize, I wasn’t able to review it on my blog. It was one of the best books I’ve read.

Well I can shout from the roof tops about this one. It’s the best book I’ve read this year, and right up there in the list of the best books I’ve ever read.

Pages: 432

Publisher: Avon

Publishing Date: 23rd August 2018

Available to pre-order on Amazon

The Devil’s Dice Roz Watkins

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I love crime thrillers with a difference. This book blends a hint of Dan Brown, with a rich mix of Angela Marsons, and is set in the Derbyshire Countryside.

Where does the hint of Dan Brown come in? From the very start. A man is found dead in an ancient cave house. As the forensic teams start to examine the scene the lead detective, DI Meg Dalton finds an old carving of the Grim Reaper with the legend “Coming for PHH” The dead man is PHH, the carving is over 100 years old, he died today.

The cave is tied by local legend to the story of people being found hanged in the cave and tunnel system close by. They are called the Labyrinth and are close to the rock formation, The Devils Dice.

Close to the Devils Dice is an old cottage on the edge of a quarry face. For years people have thought of the cottage as being cursed. People who live there are prone to committing suicide, or worse. Guess where PHH lived.

The rich mix of Angela Marsons? Rox Watkins has created a character in DI Meg Dalton that is as fascinating as Angela Marsons’ DI Kim Stone.

Dalton is a single woman dealing with major family issues, which she is trying to keep to herself and not let them disrupt her work. She has a team member DS Jai Sanghera who is determined to help her, but will she let him.

Then there is the crime. Although the crime is wrapped up in ancient folk law it is very much a modern crime, and its investigated in a very realistic manner which makes the story not only believable, but also very enjoyable to read.

As the investigation continues into the death of PHH more deaths occur, are they linked, are they even suspicious, or is all the talk of the curse beginning to affect even the most cynical of Police Officers.

The story has many threads and it’s not until the last couple of chapters that they all come together to create a brilliant end to the book.

It’s not often that I read a crime novel these days which is so full of originality. After all there are only so many ways a crime can be committed, and there are only so many reasons why. I’m sure somebody will point out there have been similar stories, but I haven’t read them, and certainly not in the same book.

A great read and I can’t wait for the next book from Rox Watkins

Pages: 384

Publisher: HQ

Publishing Date UK: 8th March 2018, available to pre-order on Amazon

Born Bad Marnie Riches

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Manchester has its own Mario Puzo

This book is stunning.

Say hello to the gangland of Manchester.

The O’Brien family run one half of the City. The Boddlington Gang runs the other.

There has to be conflict and, bloody hell is there conflict, very bloody conflict

The head of the O’Brien family, Paddy, is a ruthless gangster that treats those close to him as badly as he treats his enemies; but his family love him.

His brother Frank runs one of Manchester’s top night clubs, at which his son is a celebrity DJ

His enforcer, or Loss Adjuster, ss he calls himself, is Conky McFadden.

Conky is a fascinating character. A man that thinks nothing of beating people to a pulp or carrying out revenge shootings, yet he is into the classics and thinks deeply. He reminds me of Colin Dexter’s Morse gone rogue.

Then there’s Paddy’s wife Sheila. His punch bag and sex toy, when he’s not using younger versions in Franks club. Sheila runs her own cleaning company, a semi legit business she’s quite proud of.

On the other side of the City Tariq Khan and Jonny Margulies run The Boddlington Gang, an operation every bit as nasty as the O’Briens. They traffic young girls and force them into prostitution, make and distribute drugs, run guns, and destroy everything that comes into their path.

Just like the O’Briens, the Boddlingtons are all about family, but unlike Paddy Tariq and Jonny treat their families like human beings, and keep them in the dark about how they actually earn their money. So somebody’s in for a shock.

Just like the O’Briens, the Boddlingtons have an enforcer, Smolensky, The Fish Man. Why is he called the fish man, because he runs a fish mongers, and also because he guts and displays his victims like a dressed salmon, what a character, he even leaves sliced cucumber along the side of bodies.

After a conflict in Franks club, with a young drug dealer from the Boddlingtons, that leaves Paddy in hospital following a heart attack, the last thing I expected was that Paddy would say enough is enough and decide to retire to Thailand, but he does.

And that’s when the problems start, Paddy decides to sell up and he wants to do business with Jonny and Tariq. It is never going to be easy and somebody really doesn’t want him to sell up.

What ensues is a gangland battle that affects both gangs. Both enforcers are chasing around the city trying to find out who carried out the latest attacks, and carrying out revenge attacks of their own.

Paddy’s family is torn apart, so are the families of Tariq and Jonny.

Meanwhile Sheila is suffering in silence, with an admirer who can’t do anything about his feelings for her. Conky, the misfit of an enforcer hates, the way Paddy treats Sheila but his loyalty is to his boss.

There are subplots in this book that will have the reader loving a character on one page, and hating them the next. There are moralistic twists and turns which will see the reader empathising, and having disdain, with a person all at the same time.

The interwoven lives of the gang members earning illicit money through drugs, prostitution, and violence, should make the reader hate them all. But they are human, they have problems and you just can’t help liking them at times.

The book starts of really well, and right up to the very last page, just keeps getting better and better.

Somebody has to make this book into a film. Guy Ritchie, or Danny Boyle this story should be your next blockbuster, just don’t change anything its perfect as it is.

Under A Silent Moon Elizabeth Haynes

Under A Silent Moon     Elizabeth Haynes

This is the second book written by Elizabeth Haynes that I’ve reviewed. It’s the first book in what will hopefully be a long series about DCI Louisa Smith.

The book revolves around the murder of Polly Leuchars, a woman with very loose morals. Living in a small community it seems she has slept with most of the population, both male and female, at some time.

Such a promiscuous person is bound to make enemies but who killed her? Was it a crime of passion, or did somebody kill her because she got too close to the local criminal family, the Maitland’s.

A few hours after Polly is discovered the body of a local woman is found in her car at the bottom of a quarry close to the house Polly was found in. Are the two deaths related?

Freshly promoted DCI Smith leads the investigation. As the reader is introduced to her, and her team, it is quickly evident that Louisa is single, but at one time she has had a relationship with one of her team, DI Hamilton, who had neglected to tell her that he was married at the time. Will their relationship effect the investigation, or will DI Hamilton’s loose morals lead him to become compromised during the investigation.

As the story moves forward it becomes apparent that many of the suspects have had an affair with Polly, or another mysterious woman that Polly had been involved with.

The story looks at the affect that one woman can have on a local community. Some of the relationships she formed were with strong-minded people, but she also allowed the vulnerable to fall in love with her. It leads to a complex who-done-it, who-did-who, and how-many-murders, are there tale.

I love Elizabeth Haynes’s books. She writes real world stories with a no holds barred. She approaches murder scenes with the same manner as she approaches some of the more intimate moments. Everything is written perfectly.

Her experience of working with the Police has given her a wonderful insight into what a real Major Investigation is like.

I love the way she uses a Police Memo, from Louisa’s boss, Detective Chief Superintendent Buchanan as a preface to allow the reader a reference point for all of the characters. Charts at end of the book show the digital tactical situation boards that would have been used during such an investigation, brilliant.

If writing’s all about going the extra mile Elizabeth has gone an extra ten.

If you love reading this type of book, or are interested in the writing process, Elizabeth Haynes has a website worth looking at.

http://www.elizabeth-haynes.com

The Girl Who Broke The Rules Marnie Riches

The Girl Who Broke The Rules   Marnie Riches

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George McKenzie is back, the story picks up four years on from the end of The Girl That Wouldn’t Die and from the first page I knew it would be an excellent sequel.

The story is again set in the seedy underworld of prostitution and pornography and takes place in Holland and the UK.

George has returned home and is working to make ends meet as she researches for her PHD. Meanwhile Chief Inspector Paul van den Bergen is still working in the serious crime department in Amsterdam.

As George interviews a convicted violent sex offender in prison in the UK the dismembered bodies of sex workers start to be discovered in Amsterdam. Van der Bergen has not forgotten George since she left, in fact far from it, and the discoveries are an ideal opportunity to become involved with her again.

Van der Bergen is suffering his own demons and his ill health is not helped by his hypochondria. He needs to have George in his life not just to help him with the crimes that are taking place but also to get his life together.

George’s personal life is also a mess; her PhD mentor is over bearing in her control, her family is a dysfunctional group who skate along the edges of legality, and she is in a failing relationship with her boyfriend who still lives in Holland.

As the bodies pile up and George begins to work with Van der Bergen they find themselves conflicted with van der Bergen’s superior officer and a detective on his team. Who is making the right decisions George and Paul, or his boss and the detective?

The book rattles along a fast pace and every time I thought I had a handle on who was the culprit, and why they were doing it, I realised I hadn’t.

The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die was the Winner of a coveted Dead Good Reader Award (2015) – The Patricia Highsmith Award for Most Exotic Location.

It has to be the first of many that will be won for what I hope is a long series.

The locations are well described but in more than a panoramic way. Riches manages to capture the atmosphere of the scene. From an empty strip club to a rural train track, from a pot café to a morgue each scene is perfectly realistic and perfect for the story.

I cannot wait for the next installment.