Tightrope Marnie Riches

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It is easy to say things like “I  have loved all of Marnie Riches’ books” but I have. She writes in a style that I like to read. The stories always have a base in realism, with a hint of shock. She talks about things we know happen, but would really not like to acknowledge that they do.

So, with the start of this new series I was expecting just that, plus her usual scattering of loveable rogue characters. I wasn’t disappointed.

The book starts with a bang, or should I say gangbang. A young prostitute is choked to death as a group of men, wearing animal masks, use her for their pleasure. The death is filmed and later makes its way onto the dark net. But, far from forcing the man who killed her into hiding, it empowers his self-fulfilling prophecy of a man who holds power over women.

Meanwhile 30 year old Beverly Saunders is trying to dig her way out from under the debris of a divorce. Her husband is using her psychological issues to keep her from seeing her daughter. She is trying to establish herself as a Private Investigator, whilst attending group counselling sessions to address her addictions, more about those later.

When the wife of a Member of the Shadow Cabinet bumps into her, and asks for help proving that her husband is having affairs she has to accept, not because she needs the money, because she sees the bruises on the wife and knows she has to help her.

This job is way above the type of investigations she’s used to running, and as well as turning to observations and honey traps, she needs to hack his electronic life.

Enter Doc, a friend from the counselling sessions who is addicted to strong weed and Lego. Yes Lego, the toy, brilliant. He is also a computer geek of the highest order.

The investigation puts both Beth and Doc in danger, but how much of it is real, and how much of it is weed educed paranoia on Doc’s behalf.

To add to the illusions of danger somebody is playing with Bev’s head, using her OCD, moving things in her damp basement flat, not that anyone else would notice, but just enough to put doubt into her mind.

The story has many threads, all of them edgy, and all of them winding their way to a great climax at the end of the book. I can’t say more than that because, to do so, would ruin a good read.

I mentioned Bev’s psychological issues, and these are what makes her such a great character. She has OCD, she collects and makes origami figures, and she’s addicted to sex, often turning to a well know porn site for an afternoon of “stress busting”

She’s vulnerable, yet ballsy, she can be quite unsure of herself, yet she has a short fuse to a raging temper.

This series has legs, and I can’t wait to see which alley they take us down.

Pages: 384

Publisher: Trapeze

Publishing Date: 11thJuly 2019

Stolen. Paul Finch

Any book with a character who is a homeless, drug addicted, ex-nun, who turns turns tricks to feed her habit, and continues to wear her gowns, has to be off to a flying start. You’ve got to read the book to meet Sister Cassie.

But she’s not the only reason to read this book. The lead character Detective Constable Lucy Clayburn is a firecracker of a character. She is relentless in her pursuit of criminals, but hides a dark secret from her colleagues, her dad is one of the leaders of Manchester’s biggest criminal gang, “The Crew”. Not that she’d ever exploit that, in fact she’s only just found out. So a constant throughout is weather she should commit career suicide by telling her bosses, or try to carry on and hope they don’t find out.

The start of this book is a bit of a tough read if you, like me, are a dog lover. Lucy busts an illegal dog fighting club, but amongst the dead and tortured animals she doesn’t find the ones she’s been looking for, the ones which have recently been stolen by somebody in a Black Transit Van.

What she does become aware of, thanks to Sister Cassie, is that some homeless people are also going missing, and the black van seems to be involved again.

Meanwhile there’s an internal dispute amongst the hierarchy of The Crew, including Lucy’s dad, that looks like it will lead to the gang imploding.

Whilst Lucy tries to find the Black Van, and what has happened to the people that were taken, her Dad becomes more embroiled in the infighting in The Crew. Inevitably the two storylines merge, but not in a way I anticipated, and father and daughter have decisions to make.

This is a belter of a book. Tough, and hard hitting, it is a story woven from several strands which knit together perfectly.

The characters in this book are stunning, but ultimately the ones I haven’t mentioned, the perpetrators of the crimes, are the ones that give it that real edge. I defy anybody to guess who they are, or what their motives are until they’re revealed, and then…..then it gets really scary.

Why?

Because they are way to realistic, and they really shouldn’t be.

Pages: 480

Publishers: Avon

Publishing date: Available now

Where The Dead Fall M.J Lee

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DI Tom Ridpath is an unusual main character for a crime series.

Separated from a wife who still loves and cares for him, missing his daughter, and recovering from cancer. He has a strange job. Having had months off with his illness he has been seconded to the Coroner’s Office, and is tasked with investigating deaths which are suspicious in more ways than just the common murders encountered in most books.

This has brought him into conflict with his colleagues on the Major Investigation Team of Greater Manchester Police in the past, but he is determined to prove he is fit to return to the team.

Keeping in the spirit of originality the story has a cracking opening scene. As Ridpath is driving home through the early evening rush on the motorway a naked man runs out in front of him. Ridpath stops in time but the man is hit and killed seconds later.

Amongst the horror of the accident Ridpath sees a man on the hard shoulder holding a gun, but he is gone in an instance and no sign of him is left behind, and nobody else saw him.

Sticking to his guns Ridpath closes the Motorway at its busiest time and suffers the wrath of the traffic police.

All this in the first few pages.

What follows is a great story as Ridpath tries to identify the mystery man, if he ever existed, and find out why he was chasing the naked man onto a busy motorway.

It’s not long before another death occurs and puts Manchester on the edge of a gang war.

Working as a Coroners Officer Ridpath tries to engage his old team but not everybody wants him back.

This is a great story. Ridpath is a great character and MJ Lee has a really good way of bringing the story to life.

Ridpath’s frustrations at being side lined are almost palpable. The scenes are vividly described as are the victims and perpetrators.

Can anybody stop Manchester erupting into violence, not if they don’t start working together.

This is a really good read. Roll on the next book in the Ridpath series

Pages: 344

Publisher: Canelo

Publishing date: 11thApril 2019

The Next Victim Helen H. Durrant

DCI Rachel King has a problem, she once had a fling with a man that would turn out to be one of the gangsters that runs Manchester. In fact, the fling is still a bit of a dirty secret as she still harbours feelings for him.

That itself is a problem. An even bigger problem is that his name has come up as a suspect in a murder investigation.

The first body to turn up is that of a gay man who has suffered a horrific death after apparently being tortured.

When King and her team start the investigations they follow the evidence that is left at the scene, but is it reliable or is somebody playing them.

When a second body is found it looks like it is linked to the first by location, but there is a totally different manner of death.

When a third body is found, in similar circumstances as the first, the team begin to think that the second body wasn’t connected after all, but are they right.

This is a complex story weaving numerous plot lines together in a way that the reader is left in no doubt as the difficulties facing the investigation team.

At the same time the reader follows the struggle in Kings personal life. Divorced from her husband, who now lives next door, and bringing up two teenage daughters, she has her dirty secret to consider during the investigation.

Does she tell her team, and her family, about the tryst with the gangster. Where will it leave her professionally, and what will it do to her family life.

I liked this book. The crime plot is original and compelling, but what really makes the story is the issues that surround King and her secret fling.

Pages: 195

Publishers: Joffe

Available now on Amazon