Last Night Helen Phifer

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Well here’s something you don’t come across very often, a prequel to a series. This is the book that tells the story of Lucy Harwin’s first case as a Detective Inspector, and what a gruesome one it is to cut your teeth on as the Senior Investigating Officer.

When a bunch of 13 year olds decide to go ghost hunting in a derelict church they get more than they bargained for. A woman is hanging upside down, on a crude crucifix made from burnt wood, with her throat cut.

Newley promoted Detective Inspector Lucy Harwin is sent to the scene as the duty SIO and meets up with her, DS Mattie Jackson.

It’s every Police Officers worst scenario, a brutal murder with no clues to work on, and a newly promoted Lucy finds it particularly frustrating. Her team are chasing around trying to identify the body and find any sort of evidence when a second body is found.

This second body brings with it another nightmare for every Police Officer and puts Lucy under even more pressure.

As the body count rises other factors start to lead Lucy and the team down some lines of enquiry that not everybody is comfortable with.

The first time I read one of Helen Phifer’s books I was taken aback by the way she writes, using the correct procedures and terminology, keeping the pace of the book up all the way through. Right up to the very end I was captivated by the pace of the story.

There’s more to her writing than that though. The stories are great, and just like the others this one kept me engrossed from start to finish.

From the first chapter I was sucked into a great scenario. Helen has chosen to use a once prosperous English seaside resort as her setting. I have recently worked in a couple of these towns and didn’t realise how much they had become run down. How they had become great places to set crime stories.

I would usually comment on whether a new book, in an already established series, could be read as a stand-alone.

Well, as this is a prequel the answer is obviously yes.

So, I’ll comment on whether people already reading the series will be disappointed by Helen going back to the start of Lucy Harwin’s career as a DI.

No, they most certainly won’t. What a great tool for giving us more of the back story to some of the key characters in the series, especially Lucy.

And what a tool for getting new readers hooked on a series that is already out there, because if this is the first DI Luck Harwin book you read, I can guarantee you will read the rest of the series and wait for the next instalment as eagerly as me.

Follow the links below for my reviews of the previous DI Lucy Harwin novels

https://nigeladamsbookworm.com/category/the-lost-children/

https://nigeladamsbookworm.com/2017/10/19/dying-breath-helen-phifer/

 

Last Breath Published by Bookouture on November 16th 2018, available to pre-order on Amazon now

Nobody’s Child Victoria Jenkins

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The legend at the top of the book says unputdownable, so did it live up to the gumph?

Oh Yes!

What a great story.

Set in a small town in the Welsh valleys a series of assaults and arson attacks are investigated by DI Alex King and her team.

When a body is found, amongst the debris in a fire at a derelict hospital, it could appear to be a homeless person that has been involved in an accident. But when the post mortem confirms he had been killed prior to the fire King and her team have a murder on their hands.

When a local convenience store is torched is it a coincidence?

As the investigation into the two incidents continues the team are confronted with a series of assaults and arsons which have them desperate to find the culprits.

Meanwhile King is struggling in her own life. Somebody is sending her a message and it’s not a nice one.

As is typical in real life the story revolves around 3 or 4 families in a small community that are making life difficult for everybody else.

Internal wrangling’s, and feuds between the families seem to be the reason the crimes are taking place but trying to unravel the threads is proving impossible for the team.

Can they find out who is responsible for the crimes before more people get hurt?

No, the trail of human and property destruction gets longer, and the team follow it to what is one of the most tense climaxes of a book I’ve read for a while.

Ok, so any book which involves fire as part of the crime gets my attention. It’s what I do for a living, so it would do.

Yes, I do get a bit knit-picky and hyper-critical. Not with this book.

This is Book 3 in the series and I hadn’t read the first 2. Did I get the feeling I was joining the party half way through?

Actually, no I didn’t, this is a great stand-alone story which I have no doubt is complemented by the 2 previous books, which I have just downloaded onto my Kindle to read around the pool on holiday.

I’ll be eagerly waiting book 4.

Pages: 277

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 19th June 2018

The Death Messenger Mari Hannah

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The Queen of Northern Crime Fiction is spreading her wings.

Mari Hannah is back with the second in the Ryan and O’Neil series.

Following on from the Silent Room, this book can comfortably read as a stand-alone novel without the reader feeling like they have joined the party half way through.

Detective Superintendent Eloise O’Neil, formerly of Professional Standards, is back in Northumbria, but this time she has been asked to form her own Unit to investigate high profile serious crimes.

The first person she brings in is Detective Sergeant Matthew Ryan, formerly of Special Branch, and one time person of interest to O’Neil when she was in her former role.

The chemistry between the two is electric; but whereas Ryan is a heart on your sleeve type of person who finds it hard to hide his emotions, and is usually quite prepared to share what he is thinking, O’Neil is almost a split personality. She swings from happy and flirtatious, to moody and brooding in a split second and, more often than not, half way through a conversation.

O’Neil also holds secrets. Why was the Unit formed and who is funding it? It is legitimate, it is legal, but is its ultimate boss as above board.

The team form to investigate their first crime, the disappearance of a Scottish Judge who is about to start Hearing a high-profile case.

When a DVD, showing the apparent crime, scene arrives at the Units HQ it quickly becomes obvious that this is not the first DVD that O’Neil is aware of. Tensions between her and Ryan almost ruin the newly formed team when he finds out. Especially as he suspects O’Neil is trying to protect somebody outside of the team.

As more DVD’s start to arrive, and as bodies start to be discovered, the team needs to expand; but the right people have to be taken on. Both O’Neil and Ryan have their reasons for choosing some very specific people. Will either, or both, get their way.

When the new members come on board they bring with them some exceptional skills and experience, and they are great characters for the book.

Along with them Ryan recruits his blind twin sister. Caroline excels at hearing things that other people miss. Usually a CPS Prosecutor Ryan is particularly protective of her because of her blindness. Will she be put into danger by helping the investigation?

The crimes are being committed by somebody with skills in the use of making movies, or so it seems. The recordings are professionally done, and there is a narrator common to all of them. Why would somebody film the scenes, and why taunt the team by sending them to them?

This story is nothing but top fantastic. Mari Hannah has set most of her books in the North East but by forming this cross boarders National Response Team she has opened the doors to let her team roam across Britain and Europe.

The characters are great. Each one brings its own mix to the chemistry which is so much a part of Hannah’s books.

The story explores the trials and tribulations of a criminal investigation.

It explores the frustrations of the team as they build hypothesis after hypothesis only to see them all smashed. Suspects are identified, then discarded. Will the team find the perpetrator?

This is writing of the highest quality and the reader is left wanting more at the end of each book.

This one is no exception.

Pages: 350

Published by Pan Macmillan

Publishing Date: 16th November 2017

The Lost Child Patricia Gibney

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You know the saying “You can’t put a good book down”. Well I literally spent every spare waking minute I had reading this book. From page 1, I was hooked and only came out of it when I had to.

After the last page, I was left sat in stunned silence, wondering how I was going to wait for the next instalment of life in Ragmullin. Whatever I write below will never do this book justice so please, bear with me and while I try.

The book starts in the 70’s with a drug addled, alcoholic woman, locking her toddler twins in a cupboard before starting a fire in her house. The woman and one of her twins are committed to St Declan’s Asylum.

October 2015 and DI Lottie Parker is back. Her family has grown, by one, as her oldest daughter has had a baby, and the house is more chaotic than ever. No matter how busy Lottie’s work life is, her kids expect her to be the domestic goddess when she gets home. This is having a bad effect on her, and she is back on the booze at night, and is popping Xanax to get her through the day.

Parker and her team are tasked with investigating the horrific murder of a woman in her own home, discovered by her daughter. The investigation quickly establishes that the dead woman is not who they thought, but her mother; and that the person they first though had been killed is missing.

And so, it starts. This investigation leads the team down all sorts of paths. Why was an elderly woman killed and why is her middle-aged daughter missing?

2 days later a cottage is found burning with 2 men inside, the body count is rising, but is this crime related to the murder of the old lady.

Shock events keep occurring piling more pressure on Lottie, so much so she turns to an old friend, Dr Annabelle O’Shea, in the hunt for more Xanax. In return Annabelle tries to reach out to Lottie about her own problems; but Parker is to immersed in her work, and family, to notice her friend needs help.

As the case continues Parkers own team start to wonder about her ability, but the ever-faithful DS Mark Boyd backs his boss and tries to give her professional and emotional support.

As the body count rises, and drugs are found at one of the scenes, a DI from the National Drugs Unit is drafted in from Dublin, piling more pressure on Parker and her team.

Can the murders be drugs related, or is this another blind alley the team are being pushed down.

Do the crimes of the past have anything to do with the happenings of 2015

As the book progresses the reader learns more about the Ragmullin of the past and I think this quote from the book sums it up nicely

In the 70’s The Priests and the Nuns ruled the roost. The Guards were as twisted as the Priests, and Health had crooked people in every organisation you can think of.”

But what effect is that having in 2015. How many of the crimes are related to each other? Is it possible that Ragmullin is just in the grip of a random crime wave?

The book twists and turns to a fantastic final chapter, which is the biggest surprise I’ve ever had reading a book.

Patricia Gibney first came to my attention last year and this is the 3rd Book in the Lottie Parker series. I have no hesitation in saying they are without doubt my favourite books at the moment.

This story is complex with a plot which has many strands in its 483 pages, but Gibney has a great way of keeping the reader up to date with the plot. She uses staff briefings, and chats between Parker and Boyd, or between Parker and one of her family or friends to review the plot. The reader never gets left behind, but neither do they feel patronised.

In the same way, this book can be read as a stand-alone novel. But why should it. It’s the third book in the best series of Crime Fiction Thrillers there is, and they just keep getting better.

Yes I liked it.

Pages: 483

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 27th October 2017.

Available to pre-order on Amazon And why wouldn’t you.T