Cemetery Road Greg Iles

Greg Iles is without doubt my favourite American author. His Penn Cage series, which included the Natchez Burning Trilogy, are some of the best books I’ve ever read.

So when I picked up Cemetery Road, I was expecting a good read, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Marshall (Goose) McEwan is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist working in Washington DC. But he returns to his hometown of Bienville, on the banks of the Mississippi, to run his ailing father’s newspaper.

Whilst he’s there he renews his “acquaintance” with a local attorney, who just happens to be married to the sun of one of the Beinville Poker Club. An Old Deep South Club that owns and runs everything in the town.

The poker club have also been instrumental in bringing Chinese investment to the town, in the form of a paper mill, money that will resurrect a dying economy.

The problem is they want to build the mill on ground that is thought to be of significant historical interest. One of McEwan’s friends, the historian-archaeologist Buck Ferris is murdered the night before the ground breaking ceremony.

Ferris had been like a surrogate father to McEwan, who’s drunken father had largely ignored him for over 30 years, and against much of the towns wish starts to investigate his friends murder.

What follows is a story of duplicity, in which the Poker Club try everything to stop McEwan, and his few ally’s, from finding the truth. With tens of millions of dollars at stake, as well as the freedom of the members of the club if the authorities ever find out the long list of laws they have broken, they are prepared to do anything to stop him.

This is a brilliant story from a master storyteller, and I love his books; but I should warn some of you that some people may find his writing a bit near-the-knuckle. There is sex and violence in this book, as there is in all of his books. But it’s there for a reason, it’s in context, it adds to the story. In fact the story wouldn’t work without it.

I have described Iles in previous blogs as being John Grisham without filters, and in my opinion that is why he is better than Grisham, and I love Grisham’s books.

Pages: 618

Publisher: UK, Harper Collins

Available now

DEAD WRONG. NOELLE HOLTEN

Two years ago DC Maggie Jamieson was a major player in putting mass murderer Bill Raven behind bars. Maggie had been the main interviewer as Raven confessed to chopping up at least 3 women, and although he named them, he didn’t say where their remains were, and they were never found.

Now he wants to retract his confessions, throwing doubt onto everything about the original conviction, including the in Jamieson’s integrity.

Then dismembered body parts start to show up. Forensic tests show that they belong to the women that Raven confessed to killing. The problem is he’s been in jail for 2 years, and the women have only been dead a matter of days. Where have these women been, and who is killing them.

The clock is ticking as Maggie tries desperately to solve the murders and tries and link Raven to them before he is released on appeal.

Maggie’s visits to interview Raven are a complete mind game. She knows it but is having trouble convincing her own colleagues, let alone the legal system.  So she turns to her friend, Dr Kate Maloney, to help with a psychological profile.

What a story. Noelle Holten is fan of Crime Fiction, and a skilled writer. This book played on every perceived conception I had as I was trying to work out who was the killer. She has written it in such a way that I was kept guessing right up to the end, and what an ending it is.

The characters are fantastic. Maggie is close to being insubordinate, yet insecure at the same time. Bill Raven is brilliantly written, as good a nemesis as I have ever come across.

This book will take your breath away more than once, but don’t relax, one of the biggest gasps comes right in the very last line of the book.

Pages: 432

Publisher: One More Chapter

Available now 

The Art of Dying Derik Cavignano

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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

CHILDS PLAY Kia Abdullah

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A month ago I reviewed the new book by Kia Abdullah, Take it Back, a dark story based around a rape accusation. When I read that book, I noticed that Kia had written another, Childs Play, and decided to give it a go, and I’m glad I did.

Here’s the “but” that usually follows a statement like that, it’s a tough read on a tough subject, and Kia holds no punches, its explicit where it needs to be and that makes the story really good, but it’s not going to be to everybody’s taste.

Allegra seems to have it all, her dream job in a small graphic design company, a nice home, and a successful boyfriend that thinks she’s amazing.

Then one day her boss announces he’s sold the company and that the small workforce has no place in the new multi-national business that has taken it over.

Days before this Allegra had been approached by Michael who wanted to recruit her to a specialist agency working for the government, but it’s not her graphic design skills he thinks will make her a good agent. It’s her childish looks.

The agency specialises in catching paedophiles by baiting them with legal age women, and men, that look underage.

Allegra can pass as a sixteen year old at the best of times and is always getting ID’d at pubs, this team can make her look 13, and they have a very specific target that they want her to go after.

There are subplots running throughout this story, all of which revolve around Allegra, and the most compulsive for me, was the way she changes during her training, going from being horrified at what she sees, to becoming totally desensitised.

The cover of this book says “If James Paterson wrote 50 Shades of Grey”. I couldn’t disagree more, Kia Abdullah is a much better writer than Paterson, and the book is more like a domestic version of Red Sparrow.

If you like gritty, thought provoking crime drama, this book is right up your street, but if you are put off by graphic scenes, maybe it’s not for you, but you’re missing out on a great book.

Pages: 250

Publishers: Amazon media and Revenge Ink

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

GONE Leona Deakin

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People are going missing, nothing unusual in that, people go missing every day, but some of these people are being given a card with a message on it just before they disappear.

On the card is the message “Happy First Birthday. Dare To Play The Game” For some reason the Police aren’t linking the cases, and where they do, they deem the missing person to be old enough, and in good enough health, for them not to be seen as vulnerable.

Dr Augusta Bloom is a Psychologist who has teamed up with Ex MI6 officer Marcus Jameson to carry out independent investigations.

One of the woman that goes missing is related, in a tenuous way to Marcus, and he is asked to look into the case.

Between him and Dr Augusta they start to identify a worrying trend in the type of person that has gone missing after being invited to play the game.

But why are people being asked to play, and what is the end game.

As the two investigate secrets are uncovered which surprise everybody, and scare more than a few.

Can Dr Augusta, the shy almost introvert Psychologist, get into the mind of whoever is collecting these people. While she tries Marcus uses his investigative skills, and a few contacts from his Secret Service past to try to link all of victims.

The main part of this story is the hunt for the missing people, but what I found really intriguing was who was being invited to play the game, and the purpose they were asked to join in. It would not be a big leap of faith to see this happen in real life, and with frightening consequences.

A good read.

 

Pages: 384

Publisher: Black Swan

Publishing Date: 3rdOctober 2019

TAKE IT BACK KIA ABDULLAH

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I cannot remember who recommended this book, but whoever it was thank you.

The story is based around two main characters, Zara Kaleel, a gifted woman who finished top of Law School and landed a top job in good Chambers in London. Her life was mapped out for her, an arranged marriage, and a good job. Until she got rid of both the husband and the job, and took a job at a charity who looked after abused women.

The second character is Jodie Wolfe, a sixteen year old white girl with a severe facial deformity. The daughter of a single parent, an alcoholic mother, and living in a rundown house on a rough estate her life is not easy.

Jodie walks into Zara’s life when she accuses a group of four boys from her school of gangrape. The boys are all Muslim and from good families. They deny the accusation and give their own version of events.

Will anybody believe Jodie’s account over the four lads, and if they do, can they prove it beyond reasonable doubt.

This book is about so much more than just the rape of a young girl. It’s about attitudes, both preconceived, and actual, which are prevalent in today’s society.

The story itself is stunning. As a reader I was swayed in both directions. At different times I believed both Jodie and the four boys alternatively.

Some of the lads in this book lead a life of entitlement that their parents may have earned, but which they wrongly bask in.

The hatred that is extended to Jodie, by people who should be supporting her is unimaginable, but realistic in the way it is portrayed.

Worse still is the hostility extended to Zara by her own community.

Had the book been written by anybody else I don’t know how much emphasis I’d have put on the feelings that are running through the Muslim Community when it comes to the unwavering belief they have in the word of the young men, and the hold these young men have over their families.

I looked Kia Abdullah up on the internet, she is definitely qualified to right about this community in a way that most of us may never fully understand. But this book may go a long way to helping us.

This could have been a true story and it would not have had more of an impact on me. I felt like I was following a news story in fast forward.

It’s not often a book has me hooked as much as this one did. Thankfully I was in holiday so sitting reading all day was permissible, which was good, because once I’d started this, I was never going to put it down

Pages: 383

Publishers: HQ HarperCollins

Publishing date: 8thAugust 2019