The Surrogate Louise Jensen

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Louise Jensen has written some of the most original thrillers I have ever read, and this sits right at the top of the pile.

The story starts with a crime scene in which there are two bodies, and then continues to revolve around a few characters, any of which could be one of those bodies, on the lead up to the crime.

The main character is Kat, a 30-year-old woman who is desperately trying to adopt a child with her Property Developer husband Nick.

Kat has a secret, 10 years ago she was involved in an accident and she has moved away to start a new life.

All is going well until she bumps into an old friend from the past, Lisa.

Lisa has been a surrogate mom before, and persuades Kat and Nick to let her be their surrogate.

What is Lisa up to? Did she really just happen to bump into her old school friend, or was it more by design?

As the story unfolds it becomes clear Nick has his own secrets, and so does his best friend Richard.

Richard happens to be Nicks old business partner, and his solicitor, and is handling the legal side of the surrogacy.

Not one of these people is innocent, any of them could be one of the two victims at the original crime scene; but just as much they could all be the perpetrator of the crime.

This is one of the most complex crime/psychological thrillers I have ever read. At times, I was swayed in favour of all of the main characters, in a sympathetic way. At other times, I hated each one of them. There were times when I was convinced I knew who the victims were and who had killed them, but then I changed my mind; or had it changed for me.

But the end, that comes as quite a shock.

What a great book.

Pages: 374

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing date: 27th September 2017.

Available to pre-order on Amazon

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

 

 

Kill the Father Sandrone Dazieri

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This book should come with a health warning. At 528 pages, it’s  a bit big to sit and read in one go; but it kept me so gripped I only put it down when I had to.

Set in, and around Rome, the story centres on an investigation into an abducted boy whose mother has been found brutally murdered.

When the boy disappears, the Senior Investigator calls in Deputy Captain Colomba Caselli, a friend and colleague who is on leave having sustained an injury during an investigation.

She is told to contact Dante Torre, who will act as a consultant in the investigation.

And so, the two most compelling characters I have ever read meet to conduct an off-the-books investigation.

Columba is very much an amalgamation of some of the top female protagonists in modern fiction, and is very much in the mould of Marnie Riche’s George McKenzie and Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Sandler, except she is a Police Officer.

Dante reminds me of Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in the TV series Sherlock.

Columba is direct and tireless, and although she is obviously suffering from PTSD manages to function bravely throughout the story.

Dante is a complete freak, and justifiably so as you will find out when you read the book (no spoilers) he is a claustrophobic, drug and caffeine dependent, highly intelligent, man, who got me totally engaged, from the moment he appeared on the page.

The two are thwarted in their investigation by the complexities of the Italian Police and legal systems; the politics of the region, and the fact that they are up against one of the most original crimes I’ve come across in a work of fiction.

From the start the Police investigation focuses on the fact that the woman was killed by her husband, and that he has killed his son and hidden the body.

Columba and Dante disagree and think the mother was murdered by the child’s abductor, and that the father has been falsely imprisoned.

But why are the Police so convinced that the father is the killer, why are they so loath to investigate further.

Columba and Dante battle to prove their hypothesis, at huge psychological cost to both.

The characters in this book are second to none in any fiction I have read; the story is up there with the best I’ve ever read; the writing is brilliant.

The last line, of the last page, in many books can be described as a cliff hanger. In this book the last line, of the last page opens a door. This story is very much finished, no cliff hanger required, but I defy anybody not to want to walk through that open door when the next book is published.

This book has just gone right into my top 5 of all time reads.

As a post note. There is one section of this book which describes the seconds leading up to an explosion, and the things that happen during the split second of detonation. I have no words to describe how good this piece of writing is.

Pages: 528

Published by: Simon and Schuster UK

Available now

The next in the series: Kill The Angel to be published 5th April 2018

The Stolen Girls

 

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The Stolen Girls   Patricia Gibney

I’ve been looking forward to this book since finishing the first in the series, The Missing Ones, which was one of the best debut novels I’ve read for a while.

In her first book Patricia Gibney tackled some daunting subjects and she hasn’t shied away from them this time.

Human trafficking for the sex trade, illegal organ farming, war crimes, teenage self-abuse, prostitution and alcohol, all play a part in this story.

Lottie Parker is back. The troubled Detective Inspector, widowed, mother of 3 teenage children, and struggling to stay off the booze, she had it tough in the first book, and things get no better for her in this one.

The daughter of one of Ragmullin’s criminal head men has gone missing. Exiled in Spain he sends his right-hand man to try to locate her.

Meanwhile the bodies of young girls are beginning to turn up in the trenches of the road works which are being carried out all over the town. Is one of the girls the daughter of the Godfather.

Banded back together with her team, and partnered with her trusty confidante DS Mark Boyd, Lottie is tasked with finding the murderer of the girls in the trenches.

Whilst she is investigating the murders a young woman turns up on her doorstep with a little boy. Who is she and why does she appear to know Lottie’s dead Husband

The investigation leads her to a privately-run detention centre for asylum seekers. The man in charge of the centre served with Lottie’s husband in Kosovo. Was Parkers husband as good a man as Lottie thought. It was a terrible war, with terrible atrocities, have some of these crimes moved to the small Irish town of Ragmullin.

What a book. Patricia Gibney may have arrived on the book shelves recently but she’s going to stay on them for a long time.

This story had me hooked from the beginning. From the rape, and murder, of a family during the War in Kosovo, too the teenage angst suffered by Parkers youngest daughter, this book is beautifully written. Not once did I feel like the author was stretching the bounds of reality. Not once is there a lull in the action. Not once did I want to put it down.

Bring on the next Lottie Parker book. I can’t wait to see how she is coping; and I can’t wait to see what crime Ragmullin will suffer, and how the team will investigate it.

Pages: 455

Publisher: Bookouture

Available: On Amazon from the 6th of July or to pre-order now.

The Killer On The Wall Emma Kavanagh

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The Killer on the Wall      Emma Kavanagh

 

The population of a tight knit town on the Scottish borders is left terrified when three bodies are found propped against Hadrian’s Wall.

Over the next two weeks more bodies are found and then Heath McGowan is found and arrested by Sergeant Eric Bell.

Twenty years later the young girl, 15-year-old Isla Bell, who found the first bodies is now a Criminal Psychologist.

For twenty year’s the sleepy town of Briganton has tried its best to get over its notoriety, bus-loads of tourists still visit the site where the bodies were found, and the occasional documentary team arrive to record a program.

Dr Isla is carrying out a study into Serial Killers using MRI technology to measure their brain functions. At last she has the chance to interview and examine McGowan, The Wall Killer.

And that’s is when the murders start again.

Sergeant Eric Bell, now celebrity cop Superintendent Eric Bell, takes charge of the new investigation but seems to be frustratingly stubborn in his opinions and ways.

Detective Constable Mina Arian, a recent transferee from the Met, doubts Bell and begins to investigate both series of killings. Is the right person in prison, did he have an accomplice, or is there really a copy-cat killer on the rampage.

This story is told via the eyes of three main protagonists.

Isla, the girl that finds the first bodies, and is now the insecure Criminal Psychologist, who is afraid of the dark, and her own shadow at times.

Ramsey, Isla’s husband who was a survivor of the first attack when the tree bodies were left against the wall.

Mina the Detective Constable that was born in Iraq bit moved to London with her family when she was 4. The woman that is badgered by her mother, the cop that thinks everybody else is looking in the wrong direction.

Each of these main protagonists have a great story. All of them are conflicted in themselves, but seem to be spiralling around a conclusion they don’t want to recognise.

This is a great story.

A psychological thriller that kept me reading from the first page right up to the end.

A story that managed to surprise me in the last couple of chapters.

A story that left me wanting another instalment.

Summer holidays are coming, and people are going to be looking for a poolside book. Don’t wait, get it now. You won’t be disappointed.

Pages: 384

Published by: Arrow

Let the Dead Speak Jane Casey

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The newly promoted DS Maeve Kerrigan is back, and you won’t be disappointed.

Whether you’re new to Jane Casey’s work, or a fan of her books, this is a treat.

Although this is the latest in a series, it reads well as a stand-alone. So, if you are new to Maeve Kerrigan and her team you won’t feel like a stranger at a party; and if you’ve read the previous books, you will love this one.

Maeve is single, again, she’s still working on the Murder Investigation Team, but has been promoted to Detective Sergeant. With the added responsibility comes the added problem of looking after a new team member. Detective Constable Georgia Shaw is not exactly making friends. Being young and attractive is enough to rile some people, but add to the fact she is on the fast-track-promotion scheme, and has little or no experience as a copper, and you have a character that adds a nice little sub plot to the main story.

The main story is brilliant in its simplicity. The crimes all happen on the same street and involve two families and a few other local members of the community.

Kate Emery is a 42-year old single mother, divorced from her husband for over 12 years. Her daughter, 18-year old Chloe has cognitive disabilities, and Kate has dedicated her life to being her carer.

When Chloe returns home, from a weekend stay with her father and his new family, she finds her mother missing and the house is a blood bath.

Kerrigan and her team start a murder enquiry.

Chloe is left in the care of a family living over the road from her house. The Norris family are a tremendously well written bunch of characters. Devoutly Christian they stand for everything that Kate didn’t, but the daughter Bethany is Chloe’s best friend.

As the inquiry into Kate’s murder progresses Kerrigan and her team start to find evidence that Kate was not the woman she seems. Single, and attractive, it appears she has a secret life her daughter and “most” of the neighbours don’t know about.

She is receiving money from her ex-husband, and has her own business, but it still seems she needs more money.

Is Chloe actually as bad as her mother would have people think, or are her disabilities an exaggeration of her shy personality that her mother is trying to use to get benefits, schooling, and more money from her ex.

The story has a limited bunch of characters but anyone of them could be the killer, and I didn’t see the end coming right up till it leapt of the pages of the last chapters.

The Norris Family could have a whole book written just about them, would any of them want Kate dead, and what possible motive could any of them have for killing her.

Brian Emery, Chloe’s dad, and his new family could have a book written just about them too. His new wife is a bitch, and her two teenage sons are spoilt brats, who Chloe hates. So why does she spend the odd weekend at their house. Could one of them have wanted Kate dead. Does Chloe really hate them or would her mother’s death mean she could spend more time at the house.

This book has twists and turns in every chapter.

It has moralistic issues as well. I found myself liking characters I shouldn’t like.

Casey writes the story so well that when you are seeing things through Maeve Kerrigan’s eyes you find yourself going with her thought process. In other books of this ilk I often find myself disagreeing with the main character, or think “don’t be daft” but with Kerrigan everything just seems right and justified. Maybe we just think the same way.

If you haven’t read the other books in this series you really have missed out. Read this one then go back and start at the beginning.

Like I said at the start of this blog  YOU WON’T BE DISAPPOINTED

The Lost Children Helen Phifer

 

 

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I jotted something down in my note book really early into reading this book.

Refreshing, an author who knows current police procedures and terminology”

 That little note reflects why this crime thriller stands out from many of the others on the shelves today.

That and the fact that there is a full cast of excellent characters surrounding DI Lucy Harwin, work colleagues, family, and even the victims and their families, all add to the eclectic mix of people she encounters on a daily basis.

The opening to the book is going to be familiar to some readers. There have been a few books partially set in the care homes and institutes of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s recently.

And why not, every year there seems to be another case of historic abuse associated with these establishments.

This book stands out though. Helen Phifer has written a thriller in more ways than one.

The main protagonist, DI Lucy Harwin, is a little bit out there. Dyed Red hair, tattoo’s, and an attitude. Divorced from her husband, estranged from her teenage daughter, and living alone. On forced gardening leave following her involvement in a tragic serious incident, we meet Lucy at her counselling on the day she is supposed to start back to work.

Unfortunately for her a gruesome murder is waiting for her on her return to the usually quiet seaside town of Brooklyn Bay. What a setting for a book, once a prosperous seaside resort, now struggling with the recession and lack of holiday makers.

Lucy has a good team, some of which we get to meet in detail, but others who play interesting little bit parts, hopefully they will start to build in future books.

Lucy’s mainstay, and probably her best friend is DS Mattie Jackson. They have one of those relationships where they both know a little bit too much about each other, care a little bit too much for each other, and act like an old married couple without actually ever being in a relationship.

As the murders start to stack up, the once happy seaside town starts to look like a dangerous place to live.

Lucy and Mattie, and their team, start to link the crimes. At about the same time the reader will start to link two or three characters with being the murder.

Helen has written this book teasingly well. Yes, I knew who the killer was early, well I thought I did. It was always one of the three people but gentle little shifts in the story had me moving from one to the another regularly. If I’m honest I didn’t actually positively identify who was responsible for the crimes until the last couple of chapters.

I recently wrote a blog about Angela Marsons DI Kim Stone books.

In that I said you don’t always need a cliff-hanger finish to make you eagerly await the next book in the series. The best series are those which have a cast of characters that make you want to read about them again. To look forward to seeing how they have fared since the last book.

That’s exactly how I felt at the end of this book. I loved the story. I loved the characters. I loved the setting. I loved the fact that it was written by somebody who works in the police, see the letter from Helen at the End of the Book, so all of the phrases and techniques are current and accurate. Most of all I’m looking forward to meeting Lucy, Mattie, Col and the rest of the Major Investigation team; Jack and Amanda the CSI team, and most of all the glamorous Pathologist Dr Catherine Maxwell again in future books. There is so much potential for these characters that each could take a turn at being the main protagonist, and the series would still move forward nicely.

I have a list, on my computer, that I call UK Lady Killer Writers. I look forward to each of their books coming out.

Angela Marsons

Marri Hannah

Marni Riches

Robert Galbraith (I know but we know who she is)

There is now a new name on the list. Helen Phifer.

What a night that would be. Sat around a table with  that little cohort drinking Red Wine or Jack Daniels, and nothing to do but talk about crime thriller plots.