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

The Girl Who Got Revenge Marnie Riches

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I still can’t believe that these books have never been available in print.  They have to be one of the best euro-crime series ever written and are definitely the cream of the current crop.

The Girl Who Got Revenge sees  the return of Dr Georgie McKenzie and Police Inspector Paul Van den Bergen in the 5th book in the series.

George is the OCD clean freak who has a PhD in Criminology from Cambridge, not a bad achievement for a mixed-race girl from a rough London Council Estate.

Her life partner Paul is a lot older than her, and is a veteran of the Amsterdam Police, he’s also a raving hypochondriac.

What a team they make.

In this book George is struggling with her own family and with Pauls. She wants him to commit to a relationship, he seems to want to spend more time with his daughter and new granddaughter.

Just when things are getting twitchy between the pair a new investigation throws them back together.

A lorry is stopped in the port of Amsterdam. On board, amongst the 50 Syrian refugees being smuggled into the country, is a dead girl.

Van den Bergen and his team are tasked with identifying the people responsible for running the trafficking ring.

At the same time, it becomes apparent that somebody is killing a group of men who became heroes as part of the Dutch Résistance during World War 2

It soon becomes apparent that Van den Bergen’s new boos is not his biggest fan and he gets side-lined from the investigations but, in his usual style, carries on with it in his own time.

By doing this he steps outside the protection offered by the Police force and puts himself, George, and his family in danger.

Meanwhile George becomes engrossed in the investigation into the death of the war heroes. The discovery of a diary written by a young woman during the war tells the story of the small band of résistance fighters, and her love for one of them.

This is a really clever bit of writing by Marnie Riches. She uses the two cases to draw parallels between the plight of refugees from war torn countries of today, with the plight of Dutch Jews during the German Occupation of World War 2.

As the two investigations continue their paths cross.  Could modern day neo Nazi’s really be smuggling Syrian Immigrants into Europe, and if so why.

Before the end of the book some of the characters are put at mortal risk.

Will everybody survive?

I said at the start of this blog that this series is the cream of the current crop of euro-crime thrillers. I read the acknowledgments at the end of the book and it almost felt like a farewell.

I hope not.

George McKenzie is a brilliant character. The stories she has been involved in are very much on topic for today’s illicit activities.

Marnie Riches has written 5 books, in this series. They are all brilliant. And they are all about to be published in Paperback.

So if you are no fan of the e-reader, now you’ll be able to read the lot in hardcopy

 

Pages: 282

Published by Avon

Publishing date UK: 19th April 2018.

The Cover Up Marnie Riches

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This is the second book in the Manchester series by Marnie Riches and follows on shortly after the end of the first book Born Bad.

With Paddy O’Brien, the main gangland boss, gone Manchester is up for grabs, but who is going to take control.

Paddy’s wife Sheila is trying to assume his roll, but will anybody take her seriously. They should, she has his old Henchman Conky close at hand, very close at hand, and he is quite happy to dispense violent retribution on anybody who crosses his new girlfriend.

She is also aided by the scripture quoting grandmother Gloria.

Gloria is the “straight” business partner of Sheila who helped her set up a legitimate cleaning company; but now things are getting dodgy, she is wondering around Manchester with a shopping trolley loaded with a gun and ammunition. This oxymoron of a woman is probably one of the best fictional characters I’ve read for a long time.

Sheila’s main threat is coming from a new quarter. Nigel Bancroft is a Brummie who, as well as running a legitimate, and successful property development business, is also the gangland boss of the Midlands.

Brummie Nigel wants to move into Manchester and goes about trying to muscle into O’Brien territory to get a foothold in the north-west city.

Meanwhile the O’Briens main rivals in Manchester, the Boddington Gang, is also trying to take control. This gang is in the mist of an internal struggle as the two head men, Tariq and Jonny, are at loggerheads about everything except taking over the O’Briens business.

All the time the Police are watching and waiting for any crack to appear in the gang’s armour. Detective Ellis James is determined to bring the gangs to task, but how far will he go to get that vital piece of evidence.

Just to throw a spanner in the works somebody else is watching from a distance. Somebody with an axe to grind, somebody who wants revenge, somebody who wants back what he considers his property, and he is prepared to go to any lengths to get it.

This book is written in a way that at times had me laughing at its dark humour, and at other times has me wincing with its violence.

The storyline is a masterful journey of twists and turns with the occasional surprise that had me thinking “no way” and at the same time “brilliant”.

I loved the story, I loved the characters, I can’t wait for the next instalment.

 

Pages: 400

Published by Avon

Publishing date: 11 January 2018

Kill the Father Sandrone Dazieri

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This book should come with a health warning. At 528 pages, it’s  a bit big to sit and read in one go; but it kept me so gripped I only put it down when I had to.

Set in, and around Rome, the story centres on an investigation into an abducted boy whose mother has been found brutally murdered.

When the boy disappears, the Senior Investigator calls in Deputy Captain Colomba Caselli, a friend and colleague who is on leave having sustained an injury during an investigation.

She is told to contact Dante Torre, who will act as a consultant in the investigation.

And so, the two most compelling characters I have ever read meet to conduct an off-the-books investigation.

Columba is very much an amalgamation of some of the top female protagonists in modern fiction, and is very much in the mould of Marnie Riche’s George McKenzie and Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Sandler, except she is a Police Officer.

Dante reminds me of Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in the TV series Sherlock.

Columba is direct and tireless, and although she is obviously suffering from PTSD manages to function bravely throughout the story.

Dante is a complete freak, and justifiably so as you will find out when you read the book (no spoilers) he is a claustrophobic, drug and caffeine dependent, highly intelligent, man, who got me totally engaged, from the moment he appeared on the page.

The two are thwarted in their investigation by the complexities of the Italian Police and legal systems; the politics of the region, and the fact that they are up against one of the most original crimes I’ve come across in a work of fiction.

From the start the Police investigation focuses on the fact that the woman was killed by her husband, and that he has killed his son and hidden the body.

Columba and Dante disagree and think the mother was murdered by the child’s abductor, and that the father has been falsely imprisoned.

But why are the Police so convinced that the father is the killer, why are they so loath to investigate further.

Columba and Dante battle to prove their hypothesis, at huge psychological cost to both.

The characters in this book are second to none in any fiction I have read; the story is up there with the best I’ve ever read; the writing is brilliant.

The last line, of the last page, in many books can be described as a cliff hanger. In this book the last line, of the last page opens a door. This story is very much finished, no cliff hanger required, but I defy anybody not to want to walk through that open door when the next book is published.

This book has just gone right into my top 5 of all time reads.

As a post note. There is one section of this book which describes the seconds leading up to an explosion, and the things that happen during the split second of detonation. I have no words to describe how good this piece of writing is.

Pages: 528

Published by: Simon and Schuster UK

Available now

The next in the series: Kill The Angel to be published 5th April 2018

The Lost Children Helen Phifer

 

 

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I jotted something down in my note book really early into reading this book.

Refreshing, an author who knows current police procedures and terminology”

 That little note reflects why this crime thriller stands out from many of the others on the shelves today.

That and the fact that there is a full cast of excellent characters surrounding DI Lucy Harwin, work colleagues, family, and even the victims and their families, all add to the eclectic mix of people she encounters on a daily basis.

The opening to the book is going to be familiar to some readers. There have been a few books partially set in the care homes and institutes of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s recently.

And why not, every year there seems to be another case of historic abuse associated with these establishments.

This book stands out though. Helen Phifer has written a thriller in more ways than one.

The main protagonist, DI Lucy Harwin, is a little bit out there. Dyed Red hair, tattoo’s, and an attitude. Divorced from her husband, estranged from her teenage daughter, and living alone. On forced gardening leave following her involvement in a tragic serious incident, we meet Lucy at her counselling on the day she is supposed to start back to work.

Unfortunately for her a gruesome murder is waiting for her on her return to the usually quiet seaside town of Brooklyn Bay. What a setting for a book, once a prosperous seaside resort, now struggling with the recession and lack of holiday makers.

Lucy has a good team, some of which we get to meet in detail, but others who play interesting little bit parts, hopefully they will start to build in future books.

Lucy’s mainstay, and probably her best friend is DS Mattie Jackson. They have one of those relationships where they both know a little bit too much about each other, care a little bit too much for each other, and act like an old married couple without actually ever being in a relationship.

As the murders start to stack up, the once happy seaside town starts to look like a dangerous place to live.

Lucy and Mattie, and their team, start to link the crimes. At about the same time the reader will start to link two or three characters with being the murder.

Helen has written this book teasingly well. Yes, I knew who the killer was early, well I thought I did. It was always one of the three people but gentle little shifts in the story had me moving from one to the another regularly. If I’m honest I didn’t actually positively identify who was responsible for the crimes until the last couple of chapters.

I recently wrote a blog about Angela Marsons DI Kim Stone books.

In that I said you don’t always need a cliff-hanger finish to make you eagerly await the next book in the series. The best series are those which have a cast of characters that make you want to read about them again. To look forward to seeing how they have fared since the last book.

That’s exactly how I felt at the end of this book. I loved the story. I loved the characters. I loved the setting. I loved the fact that it was written by somebody who works in the police, see the letter from Helen at the End of the Book, so all of the phrases and techniques are current and accurate. Most of all I’m looking forward to meeting Lucy, Mattie, Col and the rest of the Major Investigation team; Jack and Amanda the CSI team, and most of all the glamorous Pathologist Dr Catherine Maxwell again in future books. There is so much potential for these characters that each could take a turn at being the main protagonist, and the series would still move forward nicely.

I have a list, on my computer, that I call UK Lady Killer Writers. I look forward to each of their books coming out.

Angela Marsons

Marri Hannah

Marni Riches

Robert Galbraith (I know but we know who she is)

There is now a new name on the list. Helen Phifer.

What a night that would be. Sat around a table with  that little cohort drinking Red Wine or Jack Daniels, and nothing to do but talk about crime thriller plots.

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.

The Girl Who Had No Fear Marnie Riches

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The Girl Who Had No Fear       Marnie Riches

Welcome back George McKenzie.

The 4th in the series and things just keep going from better to better.

Long ago Marnie Riches’ character George McKenzie was called “the new Lisbeth Salander”, well that’s no longer fair. This series of books is every bit as good, if not better than Stig Larsson’s Millennium Series; and Doctor George McKenzie is very much out on her own as a character.

The start of this book see’s George back in the UK carrying out research into violent criminals in a maximum security prison. She’s also still worrying about her mother’s disappearance and wondering about the mystery that is her father.

Meanwhile, in Holland, her partner, Police Investigator Paul van den Bergen, is on the track of a murderer in Amsterdam.

Meanwhile, in Central America, a drugs lord-come arms smuggler, come people trafficker, is causing chaos which as far reaching effects.

All this might sound confusing but it’s not. If you haven’t read any of the previous books in the series you could still read this as a stand-alone, but why would you want to miss the first three.

The story progresses with George returning to Holland to help Paul investigate a series of sudden deaths which seem to be linked with drugs and the Gay Scene in and around Amsterdam.

The investigation takes the pair to Central America and back to Europe. On route there are encounters with drugs cartels and bands of violent, armed, female gangs.

All of which lead to a shocking end, no spoilers but you will not be disappointed.

As usual with Marnie Riches books the gangs and the locations have been well researched. The story-lines are believable as are the characters.

This story takes the reader from drug fuelled sex parties in Amsterdam, to the jungles of Central America, to the Caribbean, and back to Europe.

The only advice I’d give the reader is, keep your eyes on the dates at the beginning of every chapter, I didn’t and ended up having to go back and check.

At well over 300 pages you might think this book will take a while to read. It won’t. Once you start you will have difficulty putting it down.