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

Rattle Fiona Cummins

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A story of two families; neither of which are particularly happy, both of which have a child with a bone deformity, and a killer who collects bones, the rarer the better.

The Frith’s son, 6-year-old Jakey is suffering from a condition that sees him growing bone spurs and extra bones. He’s fragile and mollycoddled, but he’s also adventurous and is often on the verge of disaster.

The Foyles daughter, 4-year-old Cara, has the middle three fingers on each hand missing due to a birth deformity.

When Cara goes missing on her way home from school Detective Sergeant Etta Fitzroy is part of the team tasked with investigating her disappearance. Fitzroy has recently worked on a disturbing child abduction that was never solved, and gradually begins to think that the two cases might be connected.

The story centres around the two families, Fitzroy, and the Bone Collector

The Frith family are torn apart by the fathers drinking, Erdman tries to give his son as normal a life as possible whilst his wife panics at everything that Jakey is involved in. Meanwhile nobody notices a man in a suite who is gradually ingratiating himself with Jakey. Is this the Bone Collector, or is it somebody else with other motives? Will anybody notice in time to save Jakey.

The Foyles are distraught, their daughter is missing. So why is her father, Miles, not helping the Police. Why has he been seeing prostitutes. Is there any truth in the accusation that he held a young office worker captive in his office? Why will he not tell the police where he was when his daughter went missing.

Cara is alive. She is being held hostage, and the man that is holding her has an unhealthy fascination with her hands.

This story is so well written that it manages to entwine 3 or 4 story threads around each other, and still keep the reader guessing as to how different people are involved.

At times, I was not sure whether there were 1 or 2 villains. Will Fitzroy make the connections and catch the Bone Collector whilst Jakey is safe and Cara is alive?

Fiona Cummins employed a lovely technique at the end of some chapters. It’s simple but I don’t think I’ve read it before. On a chapter that ends a day, she gives each character a small paragraph where she describes what they can see and their emotions. That kept me engrossed throughout.

Fans of psychological thrillers will love this. It original and its good.

Hello Fiona Cummins and welcome to my MUST READ LIST

 Pages:495

Publisher: Macmillan

Available on Amazon

 

 

The Woman in Black Kerry Wilkinson

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The Woman in Black

Somebody is leaving severed hands on the streets of Manchester, strange, but there’s more to come. Each hand is missing a finger, stranger still, but there’s even more to come. Somebody is sending the missing fingers to the Police.

If this wasn’t enough when the Police start to check CCTV images they discover the person who is leaving the hands in the streets is dressed in a hooded robe. Not only do they disguise their look with the robe but they are evidently camera savvy, and know exactly how to hide their face from the cameras.

At any other time, this would be investigated with the full strength of the force, but a prominent local politician’s wife has gone missing and the majority of Manchester’s MIT is looking into that case.

Detective Sergeant Jessica Daniel is given the task of finding out, not just who’s leaving the hands on the street, but also identifying the owners of the hand.

Working with a small team she needs to find a link between the owners of the hands and find out what has happened to the rest of the body’s, if there is any. And of course who is the hooded person.

Daniel’s small team is pushed to the limits but whilst the MP’s wife is missing they have no hope of help.

As the story progresses there are times when it looks like the 2 enquiries are never going to be resolved.

Just to add a bit of spice the book carries a nice little sub-plot. There is a new person in the Major Investigation Team. Detective Sergeant Louise Cornish, a recent transferee from Coventry. Although she’s on the main team she shares a small office with Jessica Daniel. Something is not right from the start and the women tolerate each other, but where will it lead.

This is the latest in the DS Jessica Daniel series and it’s just as good as the rest. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and like the way Kerry Wilkinson has managed to find a crime which is original, yet believably credible. Not an easy feat with so many Police Procedural novels on the shelves.

X Sue Grafton

 

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X  Sue Grafton

Before I go any further I have to admit I have not read all of the other books in this series, and those I did read were very early in the series.

That may be the reason this book failed to grip me. It was an easy read but I found myself drifting away from some sections as the story was overtaken by the descriptions of people and places that didn’t seem to add anything to the plot line.

I gather from reading other reviews that there are some regular readers that are beginning to think that the author is running out of ideas. I can’t agree with that I found the story itself to be good and original, which is quite a feat these days.

The request by a rich woman to find her ex-con son, that she gave up at birth, was never going to be what it seemed when Kinsey Millhone is first retained.

The request from the widow of a fellow PI, and friend, to help with her tax returns, is also a clever ploy to open up a story line, which sees Millhone plunged into danger as she opens her own investigation into a mysterious man that the dead PI left coded notes about.

There are gentle subplots which I did not get, but judging by other reviews are continuations of similar threads in previous books from the series.

This is a short review because, to be honest, I can’t think of much to say about the book.

Will it make me rush to catch up on the series? No

Will it make me want to read the next book? No

Is it a bad book? No, I just think you need to be a Sue Grafton fan to appreciate it.

Gallows Drop Mari Hannah

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Earlier this week I had one of those little red post cards from the Post Office telling me I’d missed a delivery.

I didn’t know what it was I’d missed so I went to the sorting office the following morning to collect it.

Little did I know that once I’d opened the envelope, and discovered the book inside, that I would be reading for nearly 20 hours, putting it down only to sleep. Mari Hannah’s writing is of the highest quality. Her scene and character descriptions are brilliant. Her story telling is excellent, and I always look forward to her books. But this one goes to another level, there are passages in this book that left me breathless.

I love The DCI Kate Daneils series and this, Gallows Drop, the sixth in the series, is the best yet.

From the very first page the story grabs hold, and from there on its journey through the investigation of a vicious murder and also the private life of Kate.

The story starts with Kate about to go on leave. Unfortunately, a body is found hanging in a remote part of Northumberland and Kates team are designated the investigation. Whilst at the scene Kate starts the process of the investigation knowing she will not be the SIO for the case.

However, when she finds out an ex-colleague of hers, a brutal bully of a man DCI James Atkins, is to take charge of the investigation she has her doubts.

The two clash immediately. Differing investigation, and management, styles lead to heated scenes as the team start to identify the killer.

The murder victim is soon identified and it is apparent that Kate had seen him the previous day, but does Atkins also know the victim. It’s a small town in a remote area and Atkins has lived around there.

Whilst the investigation continues Atkins makes his presence known and starts to rile the team. The friction between him and Kate starts to affect everyone around them.

The crime is not the only thing Kate has to worry about. As usual work has taken precedence over her private life, and her on-again-off-again relationship with Jo Soulsby is in trouble, and then there’s her father…..

With Kates mind being pulled in all directions will it affect the way she deals with the case in the days before she goes on leave.

To complicate matters Kate finds out that Atkins’ daughter, Beth, may be involved in the crime.

It is inevitable that the Kate and Atkins are going to fall out but when it happens it happens in style.

Kate is left rattled by her encounters with Atkins but vows to carry on.

This book is like an uneven fight where more than one person attacks another.

Kate Daneils takes one psychological blow after another from, Atkins, the crime, her relationship with Jo, the emergence of an old flame, her father and so much more.

Will the crime be solved, will Kate survive in one piece, physically or mentally, you need to read Gallows Drop to find out.

You won’t be disappointed.

I have been reading for a long time, and every now and again a very special writer finds their way into my reading list.

Everybody, who has ever read seriously, knows the feeling when you finish off the latest book by your favourite author and then have to wait for the next to be published.

The anticipation of the next story, especially if it’s the latest in a series. I’ve only ever had that feeling two or three times and have sat outside book shops on publication day waiting for them to open their doors.

Well there should be queues around the block on the 17th November when Gallows Drop gets published.

The Silent Room Mari Hannah

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You know that feeling? The one when your favourite author diverges from their series to write a stand-alone novel. The feeling when you hope it’s as good as the series but you’re disappointed the usual characters aren’t in the story.

That feeling lasted about 2 pages when I was reading The Silent Room. The book had me hooked so quick I read half of it the first day I had it.

Mari Hannah introduces some fantastic new characters in this book. The main protagonist Detective Sergeant Matthew Ryan is depressed that his ex-boss, and best friend, Jack Fenwick has been charged with a serious crime Ryan does not think he committed. But when a prison transfer van is hijacked and Fenwick is released and disappears, it appears that Fenwick may have been guilty after all.

To make matters worse Detective Superintendent Eloise O’Neil and her sidekick Detective Sergeant Maguire, of Northumbria Professional Standards Department, are tasked with investigating the escape Ryan immediately comes under their scrutiny.

Ryan quickly starts to make his own inquiries whilst the official police investigation carries on.

The two investigations run parallel to each other with the added friction of Ryan and Maguire being in constant conflict.

The end of the book comes quick. As with all of her books Mari Hannah doesn’t give the reader an easy ride on the way, and the twists and turns continue right to the end. I usually read on a Kindle but was lucky enough to have a paperback copy of The Silent Room. With what appeared to be only a few pages left I was beginning to think I was home and dry and that all of the drama was over, I should have known better. All the way to the last paragraph of the last page this book delivers.

This is a great book. Mari Hannah has written a story that quickly draws the reader in. It is set, like all of her books in the stunning countryside of Northumbria, allowing her to use remote destinations with the full attention of “Big City” Policing.

The characters are great. The reader will instantly form an empathy with Matthew Ryan. As with all of her characters there are some great, and believable, back-stories. I have a feeling she must write a complete bio for each character, even the bit part ones, as they all fit together and into the story amazingly.

If you are a Fan of the Kate Daniels series of books you are going to love this book.

If you are a new reader to her books, enjoy this and then read her others.

Mari Hannah has a unique way of getting it right. Her stories are believable. Her procedures are accurate. Her characters come to life on the page.

I recently wrote a blog titled Killer-Lady-Writers, about how lucky we are in the UK to have some women writing fantastic Police Procedural thrillers.

This book cements Mari as being right at the top of the list.

All This Will Be Lost Brian Payton

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All This Will Be Lost     Brian Payton

 

A few weeks ago I asked Sophie Orme at Pan MacMillan if she had any books that I could review. She asked if I wanted to stick to my usual genre, Police Procedural, Spy, anything legal, and I said no I’ll give anything a go.

That’s how I started of reading my first book with a tag line of “Sweeping epic romance, war-torn drama” on the front page.

All This Will Be Lost by Brian Payton starts off like many good adventure books with 2 people parachuting into enemy held territory after their plane has been shot down. The territory in question this time is the Alaskan Aleutian Islands, and the enemy is the occupying Japanese Army of the Second World War.

The two are an unlikely pair, a young aviator from the USAF, and one of the books protagonists John Easley, a journalist.

The second protagonist is John’s wife Helen.

The story alternates between the two characters, Johns struggle to survive behind enemy lines, and Helens search for her husband who she refuses to believe is dead.

This book kept me reading well into the night, and I picked it up to finish it as soon as I woke up.

It’s not what I expected. There is no mushy love. The love is the love between a woman and the husband she is scared to admit she might have lost; the same love that drives the husband to survive.

There is another relationship in the book, the one that builds between John and the airman he survived with. The battle between the two initially to establish who is the leader becomes an almost brotherly reliance on each other for survival.

There are twists and turns along the way that caught me by surprise. I am not sure whether that’s usual in genre but this story is bought alive by the fact that nothing can be taken fro granted.

It’s not a long book at about 327 pages but it packs all of those pages with a very enjoyable tale.

I try to learn something from all books. With the internet it is easy to research something you read in a book. This little book introduced me to a part of the Second World War that I had never heard of. I have now, and I feel sorry about my ignorance of it before.

Thank you Brian Payton.

Thank you for a good story

Thank you for opening my eyes to a new genre

Thank you for expanding my knowledge.