The Perfect Silence. Helen Fields.

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Every now and again a book come along and stops me in my tracks. Perfect Silence is one of only a handful to have done this in 40 odd years of reading psychological thrillers.

The book starts with a woman crawling along a country lane. Badly injured having been viciously abused by her kidnapper, who has left her to die slowly, and alone, with no chance of anybody finding her in time to save her.

When she is found the Edinburgh Major Investigation Team is tasked with finding the killer.

DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach make a great team. She is young and ambitious but a great officer, he is the French transferee from Interpol who has adopted Scotland as his homeland, even if it is somewhat reluctantly.

Together with their team they start the investigation into the murder of the woman but quickly realise that another woman has been taken. From then on it becomes a race against time as the kidnapper kills the women before taking the next victim. Every time they take a new victim they leave behind their uniquely grotesque calling card.

But how many women will go missing and be killed before Ava and her team catch the person responsible.

If that’s not bad enough somebody is attacking the drug fuelled vagrants across the City, and Ava is desperately trying to protect them as well as catch their attackers. This investigation leads her into a conflict it doesn’t look like she can win.

Will this distract her and her team from finding the killer of the women.

This book had me hooked from page one. By the end of the book I was breathless.

Helen Fields has a way of writing that keeps the reader turning the page. A lot of authors can do that. But she can do something not very many can. There are chapters in this book where the very last sentence made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up in horror. Not the grislily sort of horror, the psychological sort. Wow

Last year I was lucky enough to read Perfect Remains by Helen Fields, but because it was part of a judging system for a literature prize, I wasn’t able to review it on my blog. It was one of the best books I’ve read.

Well I can shout from the roof tops about this one. It’s the best book I’ve read this year, and right up there in the list of the best books I’ve ever read.

Pages: 432

Publisher: Avon

Publishing Date: 23rd August 2018

Available to pre-order on Amazon

Dying Truth Angela Marsons

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What a way to start a book. The prologue see’s DI Kim Stone struggling with a broken leg as she tries to warn people not to enter part of a building where she knows they will be in mortal danger. But who are the people running into the building and what exactly is the danger.

Cut to chapter one, a few days before the prologue. The death of a young girl at a posh, private school.

It’s classical mystery writing technique but, I don’t think I’ve ever read it written in a better way.

As the story builds Kim is supported by all her usual crew, trusty Bryant, laddish Wood, and the quiet Black Country Lass Stacey. Will any of these be charging into danger at the end of the book.

The team are investigating a suspicious death at the private Heathcrest Academy. A private co-ed school, where the elite of midlands society send their children to study alongside sporting, and academic, high achievers.

Not surprisingly amongst the students there are secret societies that have seen generations of the same family pass through them. The societies employ horrific initiation ceremonies and even more horrific discipline methods.

When the body of the first victim is found, after she apparently committed suicide by jumping from one of the highest points in the school, Kim and Bryant are the first Officers on the scene.

Kim is not happy with the circumstances of the death and her suspicions are bourn-out when Keats carries out the autopsy and confirms that the girl was murdered.

The investigation is thwarted at every turn by the family, who are trying to hide their own secrets; by the school, whose principle will only entertain suicide as the cause, as murder would be bad for business; and by the students, who are either in one of the secret societies, or are scared of the pupils that are.

As the story unwinds Kim has to turn to an unlikely ally for advice, which itself holds dangers which I’m sure will hold recriminations.

As the body count begins to rise, and the climax of the book gets ever closer, the tension rises. Right up to the end it’s impossible to find out, or guess, who is running into danger, and how it will play out.

When the end comes it is no anti-climax. I had already read quotes on twitter where people said the they were left “broken” at the end, and that it was an “emotional ending”.

I thought I was ready for it, but no. It is emotional, and I was broken.

This is book 8 in the DI Kim Stone series. It can be read as a stand-alone novel, and it works well as one, but to get full impact read the others.

I was lucky enough to find Angela Marsons when the first Kim Stone novel was released, and have been onboard from the beginning.

I am a prolific reader and I can think of no bigger recommendation than, every time an new book in this series is made available, I put down whatever I’m reading and read what Stone and her team are up to. This one was the best yet.

Roll on Book 9

Pages: 399

Publishers: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 18th May 2018.

No Safe Place Patricia Gibney

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Shout it out loud, for everybody who loves good Police Thrillers, DI Lottie Parker is back

The book starts with bad news for Parker’s boss which means even worse news for Parker, she’s is in for a hard time at work. Things at home are no better either as she comes to terms with the revelations about her own parents and tries to deal with her own kids.

So, when a case comes along that will test her, and her team, Lottie is already on the edge.

A naked woman is killed as she runs naked from her assailant through a grave yard.

Is she the same woman that has gone missing from the commuter train which ferries people between Ragmullin and Dublin?

Lottie and her DS, Boyd, are looking into the missing woman when a member of the travelling community reports hearing screams coming from a graveyard in the middle of the night. When they go to investigate they find a body in a grave that is about to be used for a funeral.

The case strikes a strong resemblance to an unsolved missing persons case from 10 years ago. Could they be connected?

As the team start to investigate the death a series of suspects come into the frame, and the beauty of this book is those suspects. Patricia Gibney has written a complex who-done-it based around the death of the woman in the graveyard. Three members of the same family; Paddy, the husband of Bridie, the traveller who reported the screaming; an ex-boyfriend, and the strange station manager for the local train station, all get looked at during the inquiry.

Gibney has woven a tale of half-truths and lies, but who is lying about what. Have they all got something to do with the murder, or have they all just got guilty little secrets that they don’t want anybody else to know.

All the time the investigation is continuing another woman is being held captive. The team don’t know it, but they are racing against time to identify the killer whilst the captive is still alive.

While investigation is taking place, Lottie is fighting her attraction to a colleague. She desperately needs some comfort, and somebody to show her a bit of affection, but is he the right person to do it. And as long as she resists human comfort there is always the spectre of alcohol and strong prescription drugs hanging over her.

With her new boss is out for her, a new journalist is in town and she is on a witch hunt which seems to be targeting Parker

Can she function properly?

Can her team solve the case?

Can she keep her job?

This book is a compelling read that kept me turning page after page with an anticipation that bordered on addiction.

Patricia Gibney has created a great cast of characters with DI Lottie Parker at the centre. Her team, her family, the witness and suspects she interviews are all very realistic characters. They all have their own stories that knit perfectly with the main story.

I can’t help investing in the main characters in the book, so much so that at one time I actually felt like giving one of Parkers daughters, Chloe, a good shake.

This book can be read as an excellent stand-alone novel. But to get the best out of it I would highly recommend the other 3 books in the series.

Then, like me, you can sit back and eagerly await book 5.

Book 1 The Missing Ones https://nigeladamsbookworm.wordpress.com/2017/01/22/the-missing-ones-patricia-gibney/

Book 2 The Stolen Girls https://nigeladamsbookworm.wordpress.com/2017/05/28/the-stolen-girls/

Book 3  The Lost Child https://nigeladamsbookworm.wordpress.com/2017/09/23/the-lost-child-patricia-gibney/

 

No Safe Place

Pages: 488

Publishing Date UK: 22nd March 2018

Books 1, 2, and three available on Amazon, No Safe Place available to pre-order on Amazon

Tell No Lies Lisa Hartley

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Internal compartmentation in covert policing makes life dangerous for the undercover police officer; but, are Met and the NCA working with or against each other on this case.

The secrets that are being kept have far reaching effects on the investigation and the personal lives of some of the officers carrying it out.

There is a new drug baron in one of London’s suburbs. Actually, it’s more accurate to say the old one has been arrested and is in prison and some low-level dealers are trying to muscle their way into the big time.

But then a body is found tortured to death, and its linked to a second death that happened a few days earlier, that of a Policeman that died in similar circumstances.

The Met decides to send in a team of undercover officers.

This story follows Detective Caelan Small. At the start of the book she is recovering from a recent undercover operation that has damaged her physically and emotionally. She is given no choice go to work or go away. So, she assumes an identity she has used before and goes in search of information about the new drugs dealers.

She soon establishes that there may be more than one gang involved and that the dead Policeman may have been running his own investigation, “off-the book”

The investigation leads to some of the more salubrious areas of London, and this is where the book really comes into its own.

Lisa Hartley describes the areas and people of London involved in the gang and drugs culture very well. I was hooked by its reality.

The story is very fast paced. In fact I intended to read it over a week and ended up not putting it down, and finishing it in a day.

Its pace is breathless. The story takes place over just a few days and I felt like I was there with Caelan. Feeling her frustrations at her Senior Officers who were making decisions based on facts she could not be told, the frustrations of knowing other officers are working with her, but feeling they are working against her.

I felt the anxiety she feels when she has to make snap decisions, putting herself in danger, but more worryingly potentially putting others in danger.

The story is complex, and right up till the last page I had no idea how it was going to end.

I loved it

 

Pages: 331

Published by: Canelo

Publishing date: 19th February 2018

Cold Heart Stephen Edger

 

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This is the 3rd book in the Di Kate Matthews series, a series that just keeps getting better.

The story starts in the middle of an investigation. 15 year old Daisy has been missing for 7 days and Matthews is interviewing the Head Teacher of her school.  During the interview a member of staff announces that he thinks he has found a body in the derelict school sports hall.

What he’s actually found is a resuscitation doll; but what Kate finds when she’s looking around the building is what appears to be a kill room, with lots of blood and a foot.

And so begins a complex investigation, which has the team going off in many directions.

Like any real Police Investigation the officers are led by the evidence and their own instinct. At times the plot is like a domino rally. Once one domino has been set tumbling it sets of others, at times the domino’s split and two trails set of in opposite directions but eventually all coming back to the same point.

The accidental discovery of the kill room seems to signal bad news for Daisy’s family but are the team investigating Daisy’s murder or has she become involved in something which has led to disappearance.

With corruption, prostitution,  and many other serious crimes on the table maybe Daisy going missing is the best thing that could have happened.

This book is really good and had me turning page after page. In fact I read this in as close to one sitting as any book I’ve ever read.  Roll on book 4 .

Pages: 350

Publishers: Bookouture

Publishing date: 12th March 2018.

The Photographer Craig Robertson

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This book covers issues so current that at times I almost felt like I was reading a fly-on-the-wall expose of a real investigation.

From the start of the book a vicious rapist is identified and taken to court, only to have key evidence thrown out on a technicality. The one and only witness who has been brave enough to come forward to give evidence at the trial breaks down and runs away leaving the judge no choice but to throw the case out.

The accused rapist is a semi-famous business man and his name has been released to the press, his victim is only known by a pseudo name. The moral debate about this is touched on, but what follows is a huge amount of trolling abuse aimed at the victim and the female police officer who took the case to court.

Detective Inspector Rachel Narey is the officer in question. She is becoming the target of abuse and threats of violence.

Rachel is frustrated that the case got thrown out of court, and even more frustrated that a file containing hundreds of photographs of random women taken all over the streets of Glasgow was thrown out of evidence; and that she was forced to return the photos and all copies of them to the accused.

She knows she had the right man, her bosses know she had the right man. They also know that every woman in the photos is a victim, or potential victim, of the attacker. Those photos are now off limits. How can she get after him?

When her husband, Tony, a journalist, is sent the photos on a computer file he knows he can’t tell his wife. He also knows he may have the biggest story he has ever had, but at what cost to his marriage.

Meanwhile a rape counsellor has been on the trail of a man who attacks his victims in a very specific manner, and it’s the same way that Narey’s victim was attacked. She has a file she’s named “The Beast File” containing 9 year’s worth of investigations. She has never got near identifying the victim until now.

Three lines of investigation start. DI Narey is still after her man but is confined by the letter of the law. Her husband Tony is not nearly so confined but without official status he is placing himself in danger.

Then there is Tony’s Uncle Dan, an ex-cop and God Father to Rachel and Tony’s little girl. He arrives to stay and look after the girl because of the threats made on social media to Rachel. He opens up a third line of inquiry when he joins in the twitter chat and ingratiates himself with the bigoted keyboard warriors that hide behind their computer screens.

With all three looking for a way to put the attacker behind bars the story highlights the difference between how different people can get information, legitimately or otherwise.

It shows the frustrations of modern policing, what can be done and what can’t.

It shows the frustrations of victims who get up the courage to step forward, only to be let down by the judicial system.

It shows how easy it is for so called secret identities to be found out; and how they become widely known through social media, and the effect that has on the person who is so often the victim of a serious crime.

This book could not be more topical. It reflects issues that have been in the press very recently, and even mentions the Black Cab Rapist whose immanent release is causing so much consternation.

I like books that get me thinking. This book got me thinking about some of the laws of this country, and the way some trials are reported.

It also got me thinking something I have never thought before. Maybe some of this investigative journalism is better placed to find out the truth than a proper legal investigation.

For a work of fiction that takes some doing.

Then I read Craig Robertson’s biography.

Now I know why this book is so good.

I’m off to find his back catalogue. I can’t not read them. I hope they are just as good as this one. They have a lot to live up to.

Pages: 448

Publishers UK: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date UK: 25th January 2018

Dark Game Rachel Lynch

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2017 has seen the publication of some fantastic psychological thrillers, and if this book is anything to go by 2018 is going to see even more.

Kelly Porter is a 36-year-old DI in Cumbria; but that was not where she started her Police career, she has recently moved home from the Met, and she brings with her all the experience of an officer who has served time on an MIT in London.

However; she is not like most protagonists in this situation, she actively tries to not come across as the big-city-girl and is very easy to like. She is struggling with living at home with mom, and having an over-bearing sister living nearby, but as far as her job goes, she’s good and she just lets her professionalism speak for itself.

To start with she is given cold cases to review whilst she is mentored by her predecessor before he moves on to his new job. So, when she digs into the case of a girl who was murdered after being kidnapped during a family outing, and there appears to be a link to a current crime, she is soon thrown into the thick of a serious investigation and takes over as the SIO.

Amongst the small towns of the Lake District there is a growing community of immigrant workers. Amongst these workers are a community of illegal workers held against their will and forced into prostitution and drug abuse.

When one of the local businessmen dies whilst engaging the services of one of these sex workers it starts a chain reaction that uncovers layers of evil that unfortunately do not only exist in fiction.

The young girls forced into working as prostitutes; the human trafficking that gets them into the country, the vicious gangs that are responsible for the trafficking. Then there’s the other crimes that the gangs bring with them. Dog fighting, humans forced into fighting, rape and murder.

This book holds no punches, and certainly has no filters, as it follows Kelly Porters investigation into an ever increasingly serious criminal investigation.

Each new chapter holds another revelation, some of which I didn’t see coming; each of which seems to get more violent as the higher ranking criminals realise that Porter is working her way up the food-chain and is getting close to them.

People who read this blog regularly will know that I place a lot on reality. Rachel Lynch has done her research. The story is frighteningly realistic; the crimes, as they take place are described brilliantly. The crime scenes, and the effect they have on the Police, are stunningly written. The chain of events that transcribe the investigation are logical with no big leaps of faith. In fact, the way the investigation opens up, and the processes the officers go through, are perfectly written.

I hope this is the first of a series. If it is, the next one can’t come soon enough.

 

Published by Canelo

Publishing date: 29th January 2018.