THEIR LAST BREATH Sibel Hodge

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There are three main strands in this book. The investigation into a crime, and the life of the Officer who investigates it, and the life story of a victim.

The Crime, is one of the most hideous there can be, people trafficking. But this is only discovered after a fire in a building, a fire that leaves six women dead.

The fire was accidental but the circumstances the women are found in is anything but accidental. They are all chained up, in different rooms, they are all unidentifiable because there is no record of them, they are illegal immigrants, but why have they been brought to the country.

The Officer, Detective Carter, recently retired and suffering the death of his wife, he responds to a call for help from his old colleague. Staffing is short due to the cut backs and the Police are running short of experienced detectives.

Carter is lured back and starts to investigate the death of the women in the fire, what he discovers will shock the core of the Force.

The victim, a strong woman, a refugee, a woman so desperate she allows herself to be conned into being smuggled to Britain in the back of a Lorry. From escaping her own horrors in her own country to being trapped in a burning building, this could have been a book on its own.

This is a great story. It is the latest in a series. I haven’t read any of the previous books featuring Detective Carter, but I’m going to track them down and read them.

Books that make me think, as well as entertain me, are always my favourite. Without giving the plot away there was a couple of things that sent me to the internet, and my knowledge is better for it.

Pages: 376

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Available now on Amazon

The Sleepover Carol Wyer

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I love this series. Carol Wyer has a way of hooking the reader from the very first page. Her continuing characters have their own story going, on which will have new readers engaging with them straight away, and will have those of us who have been reading from the beginning wondering how some things are going to be resolved. Twice I made out-loud exclamations at the antics of two of the characters. Yes it can be read as a stand-alone, but it’s much better to read the series.

Carol also has a way of keeping it real. The crimes she uses in her books are realistic, but so is the investigation. She uses the incestuous nature of those involved in the criminal world, and those on the fringes, to keep the character count down and to ensure that the reader is not trying to remember spurious names. There is always only a handful of characters outside of the main group of her colleagues and their families.

The time frame is always right, cases don’t get solved over-night, forensic results aren’t instant, and the investigation is always factually correct.

I know she does her research, I’ve been one of the people she spoke to about this book and I know how much emphasis she puts on getting even the smallest detail right.

This book starts with a teenage girl arguing with her mother. All of us, who have been parents will know that feeling, but thankfully what most of us don’t experience is that teenager storming out and never coming home again.

Following a fire, in a large detached house on the outskirts of a Staffordshire town, a body is found and DI Natalie Ward and her team are tasked with investigating who it is, and how they died.

The house belongs to two brothers that run a nightclub in the town, which is popular with customers but a pain to the local residents.

The fire was started deliberately so who was the target, the fire victim or the Brothers? And what is the connection between the brothers and the victim.

When a woman is found dead near the house Natalie and her team can’t help but connect it to their investigation.

As the investigation continues there are more questions than answers, and on top of that some of Natalie’s team haven’t got their eye on the ball.

The end of this book just makes me want to reach for the next in the series. Time to be patient again.

There are only two or three authors whose books will  make me drop what I’m reading and start theirs when they are available, and Carol Wyer is right at the top of that list.

With each book this series gets better, and I know there are more on the way.

For now I have to wait for the next instalment, but thanks to little teases on twitter those of us that follow Carol know that something special is on the way. How it can be any better than what has gone already I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out.

Oh, and the fire scenes, brilliant, and my mate Kia, says hi, he’s in the book that’s him below.

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Pages: 411

Publishers: Bookouture

Available now

THE ESSENCE OF EVIL Rob Sinclair

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I loved this book, not because its set in my home city of Birmingham, not even because the main character is wonderfully flawed, or because the story is brilliant, even though all of those are true. I loved this book because it is at least three stories in one, all wonderfully woven together to make a story that will stay with me for quite a while.

DI Dani Stephens, what a character, is returning to work in the Homicide Team of the West Midlands Police after two years off following an injury.

Dani is returning after being attacked by a killer, who nearly took her life, and worse still it was her twin brother.

As she returns she is immediately involved in a murder investigation, one of the strands of the story, but she is teamed up with a friend as joint SIO. Is this part of her rehabilitation into the team, or is she just not trusted?

Talking about rehabilitation, that’s the second thread of the story. In flash-back chapters we find out how she was injured, and are taken through her two years of rehab, the first six months of which were in hospital as she recovered from a Traumatic Brain Injury.

The third strand of the story is how she received the injury, the relationship  she now has with her twin brother who is serving a life sentence for murders he committed.

Dani is a great character, fiercely independent to the point of pushing everybody away. Paranoid to the point of hysteria, and mucked up in the head by the medication she is still taking, even though she should be cutting back.

So when she develops a theory about the murder she’s investigating it’s not surprising that nobody takes her seriously.

As Dani carries on her investigation she starts to doubt herself, has the brain injury robbed her of the one thing she loves in life, the ability to do her job; or has she got it all right, and should everybody else actually be listening to her instead of doubting her.

This is a belter of a book.

I love complex, dark stories, that could all so easily be real, and this book sits firmly in that category.

 

Pages: 394

Publishers: Canelo Hera

Release date:  12thSeptember 2019

FEAR IN THE LAKES Graham Smith

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The beautiful DC Beth Young is back, and back with a sickening crime to investigate.

A man has been attacked in his home, nearly every bone in his body has been broken in a systematic attack. What is even more disturbing is the reveal of how the attack took place.

As the man fights for his life in hospital Beth tries to find his attacker, but the motive for such a specific attack is evading her and her small team, and it doesn’t help that the man’s wife knows nothing about his early life.

With such an unusual crime it is a surprise when another victim is found with similar wounds.

The team continue to struggle to find any leads until they get a break……but that would spoil the book, so I’ll leave it there.

Graham Smith has created a great character in Beth Young. I if you have read any of the previous books you will know that her beauty is mired by a wicked scar on one side of her face. It happened before she joined the police and the police never caught the person who bottled her in a pub, but she got a look at a distinctive tattoo on the neck of one of the men who was fighting when she got in the way and received the injury.

She’s been looking for that tattoo  since she joined the police. This has formed a great back story through the series, and the cliff hanger in the last book was she found her man. But what is she going to do about it?

This forms a brilliant backdrop to the main story in this book. How does a cop get revenge for a crime that happened to her years ago…….again no spoilers

This series is set in the Lake District, and area which most people consider a nice quiet area of countryside to holiday in. Graham Smith looks at it from another angle. Transient communities, big isolated houses, remote areas where nobody can witness crimes. It is an ideal place to set a crime series, and Graham uses it to its full extent.

Don’t be fooled by the setting. This is not some cosy-crime story. This is a full-on story of a terrible series of crimes that would rock any community. It is a terrific read.

Pages: 356

Publishers: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 12thJuly 2019

CHILDS PLAY Angela Marsons

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As if this series needed a hook to get you into a book. Yet Angela Marsons has started this one with the most original, and toe curling, murders of the series.

The book starts with a murder in a kids playground. It’s a bit of a mystery where this murder fits in as its set years before the main body of the book, but fit in it does, and it’s part of a brilliant mystery.

Moving forward to the present day Kim and her team are called to a murder in a local park (and when I say local its where I take my dog for a walk most days). The murder victim is posed and the murderer has left a signature, but what does it all mean.

Kim lets her team work to their strengths. Stacy is set to work trawling the internet, whilst Kim and Bryant hit the streets.

The newest member of the team, Penn, is called back to his old team, and the story that unfolds for him is every Police Officers worst nightmare. Has he put the wrong man in jail. This story alone would have made a great book.

Kim is also fighting the Brass in the Police force. Owing to recent reviews showing that officers are burning out, along with the constrictions of austerity, she is forced to make her team work the case on a 9-5 basis, she and they hate it.

To make up for the lack of Penn, and the lack of available work hours, Kim is given a new officer, a 24 year old PC called Tiffany, who is a bubble of energy and enthusiasm. At first Kim, and Stacy, try to reject the help but soon realise they are stuck with their new yappy (and for us from the Black Country Yampy) puppy of an officer.

As the bodies mount Kim’s team are stretched to the limit. Will burn out claim any of them?

Book 11 in the DI Kim Stone series and again Angela Marsons has given us a brilliantly crafted book.

It’s no secret this is my favourite series in the crime fiction genre. I do wonder sometimes if it’s because the books are set where I live, but then I read the blogs from other reviewers around the world, and realise that if they were set in Mongolia I’d still love the stories.

Angela Marsons has created a fictional team in a real world. The crimes she writes about are all too realistic. The worries and concerns of the Police Officers, the Victims, the Witnesses, and the Criminals are written in a way that lets the reader engage. Empathy and sympathy for some characters, and anger at others are emotions which each of the books evokes aplenty.

In my very first blog, about my life and how reading has been my companion, hobby, and at times escape, I recall how I read all of the Sven Hassle war books on my first ship. I wrote how when I’d finished the series I felt like I’d lost some friends. I don’t know when this series is going to end, I hope not for a while yet, but I have the feeling I’m going to miss Kim and her Team just as much, and probably a lot more.

 

Pages: 397

Publishing Date: 11thJuly

Publishers: Bookouture

The Girl In The Grave Helen Phifer

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Introducing Forensic Pathologist Beth Adams. A woman in her mid-thirties who carries the physical and mental scars of an event that happened 7 years ago.

Beth is a great character, she is living in a big house on a lake, in solitude, avoiding unnecessary contact with strangers. The house has the best of security systems and even a panic room. As the main story unfolds a second story describing the events of 7 years ago are told explaining why Beth is so introvert and reclusive.

Having said that she is beginning to come out of herself with the help of a few trusted friends, and one of her best friends is DS Josh Walker.

So when Beth is sent to the scene of an exhumation of a recently buried woman, where a second body has been found underneath the coffin, she is glad to see Josh is there as the head of the Police team.

The investigation into the death of the young woman found in the grave gives Beth a chance to flex her brain, and ignoring her fears, she starts to look at the girl’s death and how she ended up in the grave.

This leads to a closer working relationship with Josh, and Beth actually starts to feel normal again for the first time in years.

Just like all crime thrillers this peace of mind doesn’t last long. Somebody is stalking Beth and starts to leave her little surprise presents.

This story runs along at a cracking pace. It’s a Police Procedural, with Josh and Beth, being the lead characters. It’s a psychological thriller with the stalking of Beth, and the pressure put on her by the crimes which take place during the investigation.

It’s also an introduction to a series which I can’t wait to develop.

The character of Beth is brilliantly written as a vulnerable yet determined woman.

The story that Josh brings is just as enthralling. I had a lot of empathy for this guy.

There seems to be more crime series than ever on the shelves at the moment, and I have to admit to yearning for more one offs where I could just read-and -forget.

But, there is plenty of room on my shelves for Beth Adams, not only will she always be welcome, but I’m looking forward to meeting her again.

Pages: 264

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing date: 16thJuly 2017

The Liars House Carla Kovach

 

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A murder involving a participant in a “partner swapping” party, but how and why did the victim end up walking home alone?

DI Gina Harte is faced with the questions, but this murder is also going to make her face her past, and hope that it doesn’t ruin her future.

Gina Harte has a secret that most of her team don’t know. She was the victim of domestic abuse at the hands of her husband, abuse of the worst most degrading type. Her husband has been dead for years but the memories will never go away.

When the team start digging into the lives of the people who attended the party they find that not everybody is a happy participant, and that’s enough to bring the memories of her past flooding back to Gina, but she can usually handle those memories.

Not this time. This time there’s a link to her past which will threaten Gina’s sanity, let alone her ability to act as the SIO for the investigation.

To make matters worse Gina has been using a dating app and has a very attentive man who just won’t take no for an answer.

Another party, another victim, and more pressure on Gina.

This book is not just the story of a murder investigation. This story looks at the effects domestic abuse has on people long after it has been made to stop.

It looks at the effects of a dominant partner coercing a spouse into doing things that they’d rather not, but end up doing to save a relationship.

It looks at the pressures put on Police Officers, who most people take for granted as they are “just doing their job”.

There is a lot going on in this book. To say I read it in one sitting would be a lie, but I didn’t get much else done from the time I first picked it up, till the last page was read.

This is the forth outing for DI Gina Harte. I really enjoyed the previous books but this one is the best. Can it be read as a stand-alone? Yes. It’s written so well that the back story is filled in so a new reader doesn’t miss out. But please read the others, its one hell of a series.

Pages: 337

Publishers: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 2ndJuly 2019