FIRST BLOOD. ANGELA MARSONS

First Blood.  Angela Marsons

 

For those of us who are already hooked by this series, this is a great prequal. For those of us who haven’t read any of the DI Kim Stone books, this is a great introduction to the best crime series on the shelves right now.

Either way this is a brilliant read which will have people turning the pages at a feverish rate.

First Blood takes us right back to the formation of Kim’s team, and her first day at Halesowen Police Station.

It’s a last chance scenario with Kim having made too many enemies to be accepted at most nicks in the West Midlands.

However she has an ally she knows nothing about, somebody who has known her for many years before she joined the force, and has kept an eye on her career since she joined.

This story looks at why Kim is a bit of a pariah in the force. She is definitely an acquired taste to work with, but her conviction rate should out-weigh that.

On her first day she meets her team. DS Bryant, a middle aged man who should be at least a DI at that stage in his career, so why isn’t he, and how will he react to a young DI.

DS Kevin Dawson, and I’d forgotten what a pain in the behind he was when the series first started. A man capable of disrupting even the most evenly balanced relationship, and certainly not a team player.

Brand new DC Stacey Wood, a shy almost naïve, young woman whose hidden talent is soon found to be “data-mining” from a desk. Not what DS Dawson considers to be real policing.

The first day should be an easy welcome session, but a body is found staked out on the Clent Hills. The body has been stabbed, decapitated and had the genitals removed.

Kim judges the team by how they react to the scene, and as the investigation goes on, she watches the dynamic of the team, how they work, how they bond, all the time sussing out their strengths and weaknesses. At the same time Bryant, Wood, and Stacey are doing exactly the same.

At times the team, and Stone, have as many questions about each other as they do about the case. One of the team decides to research Stone’s past and makes some startling discoveries. Will this affect the way she’s looked at?

The solving of the crimes is the main thread in this book; but just as enthralling is the thread that explores the team members and how they reacted to each other when they first meet, and during this first investigation.

I loved this book from cover to cover. It can be read as a stand-alone, or the first in a series, or as I look at it the latest in the best series there is.

The book fills some gaps and explains the relationship between many of the characters in the series, not all of them on the team.

There is a saying “There is only one chance to make a first impression” In this book we see those first impressions as the team is brought together.

But this book is a contrary to that saying. This is a second chance for those of us who follow the series to have that first meeting with Stone and the gang, and it’s absolutely brilliant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BROKEN SOULS Patricia Gibney

I’ve been with this series from the start and its one of the few that goes straight to the top of my to-be-read pile as soon as it becomes available.

Patricia Gibney has a wonderful talent for writing stories with multiple strands whilst keeping the character count down.

She uses the incestuous nature of criminals, and the vulnerability of victims, to make the books realistic and enthralling.

The main character is Lottie Parker, and those familiar with the series will be aware of the ups and downs of her life and the life of her family. Although the family are front and centre in most of the books, all of them can easily be read as stand-alone crime thrillers. Just as much detail is put into her team and their continuing story.

But as well as her family, and her team, the main threads of each story revolve around the crimes, and they are all brilliant.

Broken Souls starts with the discovery of a woman hanging in a bathroom, dressed in a wedding dress. Nobody thinks this is suicide but when another woman dies in similar circumstances everybody’s  worst  fears are confirmed.

But, there are more crimes taking place and Lottie becomes convinced that the life of a young girl is in danger.

Never one for sticking too closely to the rules Lottie goes a bit maverick in her efforts to solve the crime and locate the young girl.

In doing so will she put herself into danger.

This book is a real page turner, if I had the time it would have been a one sitting read, unfortunately things like work get in the way.

The story is addictive and fast paced. It’s not often a cup of coffee gets chance to go cold on me but I got so carried away towards the end of this book, one went stone cold.

An absolute gem of a series, and absolute gem of a book.

Pages: 446

Publisher: Bookouture

Available now

THEIR LAST BREATH Sibel Hodge

IMG_3361

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

IMG_3191

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.

IMG_4984

 

Pages: 411

Publishers: Bookouture

Available now

The Art of Dying Derik Cavignano

41jh10BtgAL

Art is very much down to personal taste, but in the case of the murderer in this book its very personal.

The Artist us kidnapping people and turning them into art for his own pleasure, before displaying the finished article to the world.

The problem is, at first, nobody realises what is happening, and his first kill leads to a gang war between two old mobs on the streets of Boston.

After the first body is found Detective Ray Hanley is sent to investigate. From the start he is convinced that this is not a normal murder, but everybody else thinks it’s a mob hit.

As the investigation into the first murder gets underway the “Artist” is already working on his next victims.

As Ray looks at the mob angle he has his mind set more towards a sick individual. Unfortunately the gangs have brought into the war theory and have started attacking each other.

As Boston is faced with a bloody gang war, and a sick serial killer, Hanley tries to pacify the mobs and find the real killer.

This is one of those books that is going to live with me for a long time. There will be comparisons with Silence of the Lambs, and rightly so, but this is a written in todays society. More is possible today, the killer can keep his victims alive for longer, can make them suffer more, and can reek havoc on society as his victims are soon displayed on news web sites in all their gore.

Somehow this makes this book a little bit more realistic, more plausible, more frightening.

This book won an award for Horror in the General Category of the American Fiction Awards and was a finalist in the Thriller, Crime Category. I think it fits nicely into both these categories.

So. If you like a good psychological thriller wrapped around a good police thriller you will love this book.

Pages: 293

Publishing Date UK: 20thSeptember 2019

THE ESSENCE OF EVIL Rob Sinclair

IMG_3230

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

CHILDS PLAY Angela Marsons

IMG_3162

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