Tightrope Marnie Riches

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It is easy to say things like “I  have loved all of Marnie Riches’ books” but I have. She writes in a style that I like to read. The stories always have a base in realism, with a hint of shock. She talks about things we know happen, but would really not like to acknowledge that they do.

So, with the start of this new series I was expecting just that, plus her usual scattering of loveable rogue characters. I wasn’t disappointed.

The book starts with a bang, or should I say gangbang. A young prostitute is choked to death as a group of men, wearing animal masks, use her for their pleasure. The death is filmed and later makes its way onto the dark net. But, far from forcing the man who killed her into hiding, it empowers his self-fulfilling prophecy of a man who holds power over women.

Meanwhile 30 year old Beverly Saunders is trying to dig her way out from under the debris of a divorce. Her husband is using her psychological issues to keep her from seeing her daughter. She is trying to establish herself as a Private Investigator, whilst attending group counselling sessions to address her addictions, more about those later.

When the wife of a Member of the Shadow Cabinet bumps into her, and asks for help proving that her husband is having affairs she has to accept, not because she needs the money, because she sees the bruises on the wife and knows she has to help her.

This job is way above the type of investigations she’s used to running, and as well as turning to observations and honey traps, she needs to hack his electronic life.

Enter Doc, a friend from the counselling sessions who is addicted to strong weed and Lego. Yes Lego, the toy, brilliant. He is also a computer geek of the highest order.

The investigation puts both Beth and Doc in danger, but how much of it is real, and how much of it is weed educed paranoia on Doc’s behalf.

To add to the illusions of danger somebody is playing with Bev’s head, using her OCD, moving things in her damp basement flat, not that anyone else would notice, but just enough to put doubt into her mind.

The story has many threads, all of them edgy, and all of them winding their way to a great climax at the end of the book. I can’t say more than that because, to do so, would ruin a good read.

I mentioned Bev’s psychological issues, and these are what makes her such a great character. She has OCD, she collects and makes origami figures, and she’s addicted to sex, often turning to a well know porn site for an afternoon of “stress busting”

She’s vulnerable, yet ballsy, she can be quite unsure of herself, yet she has a short fuse to a raging temper.

This series has legs, and I can’t wait to see which alley they take us down.

Pages: 384

Publisher: Trapeze

Publishing Date: 11thJuly 2019

REWIND Catherine Ryan Howard

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The front cover of the book has the words Play. Pause. Run. REWIND. Not just words, 4 words that conjure up a lot of possibilities in the world of crime fiction, but the more you read the book the more significant they become, not just in the story as it unfolds, but also in the way the story is narrated.

When Dublin Instagram Influencer Natalie disappears nobody is really worried. After all she had posted that she was going off line for a few days, but why did her husband, Mike,  not report her missing until she had been gone for a week?

Audrey is a wannabe journalist. Actually she’s already a journalist on an online newspaper, but to her dissatisfaction she is an entertainment journalist working on the “sidebar-of-shame” looking for clickbait stories.

Her ambition is to move upstairs and work with the serious journalists on real news. So when her boss offers her a job, a bit of a crossover story, she doesn’t hesitate. The rumours of Natalie’s disappearance have started to circulate, and reports are reaching the news desk that her husband has reported her missing. Audrey is given the job of looking to see if there is more to the story than an Insta-celeb going off in a huff or looking for publicity.

What she doesn’t realise is that she is about to start a journalistic investigation which is always half a step in front of the Police. It’s just that neither, she, or the Police, know exactly what they are investigating.

Play, pause, run, REWIND is exactly how this story is narrated.

It is no spoiler to say that a murder has taken place and that somebody has caught it on a webcam, but who has been murdered, by who, and why? All these usual questions asked in a crime thriller, are laid out in the ways of the command on a video recording

Having set the scene of the murder the story rewinds to before it to set the scene, runs ahead of the murder to look at Audrey’s investigation, and pauses at all points in between.

Each chapter is set either before, during, or after the murder and is written in such a way that the end of most chapters are cliff hangers that don’t get resolved until the story returns to that piece of the timeline. There is so much suspense in this book that it is impossible to put down.

Catherine Ryan Howard is a new author to me but looking at Amazon I can see she has written two previous books, and if they are as good as this one, I have no idea how she has been off my radar.

Usually a book that jumps backwards and forwards chronologically would have me giving up on it within the first 50 or 60 pages; but REWIND had me hooked within the first 20 and kept me there all the way till the end.

2019 is turning into a stela-year for crime fiction. So far this year I have read some of the best books to be published for years. This one is right up there with the best of them.

 

Pages: 300

Publishers: Corvus

Publishing Date: 5thSeptember 2019

DEAD INSIDE. Noelle Holten

 

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A few months ago I heard that one of the staff at a publishers I follow had written a book. In fact I began to hear a few mentions of DEAD INSIDE by Noelle Holten.

I had to read it, but I was worried, what if I didn’t like it. I talk to this woman a lot and do book reviews for some of the authors she’s responsible for. This could have been nasty.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. I should have known better. If you represent the authors Noelle represents, and write the reviews she puts on line of other books she reads, I should have known she loves the same type of fiction as I do.

But she’s gone one step further than me, she’s written a book, and what a book!

Dead Inside is going to be up there with this year’s top releases.

Noelle has written this book in a way that not many, if any, other books I’ve read have been written before. Although it is billed as “Maggie Jamieson Crime Thriller Book 1” there is no real lead character. Everybody seems to get equal billing and the story is brilliant for it.

I was trying to find a way of explaining this and eventually came up with the analogy that the books characters are like those from a TV soap, everybody is important to the story, when it’s their turn they are front and centre, but it’s the story that takes precedent. The plot is lead chronologically by the character that means the most at that time. So although Maggie is a thread throughout, she gets no more or less page time than anybody else. I really like this style.

So who is Maggie, well she’s a DC who has been moved from a Murder Investigation Team in Staffordshire Police to a new unit. Why has she been moved? Her back story indicates that she was heavily involved in a serial killer investigation, and that maybe she suffered a bit during that investigation.

The newly formed team is the Domestic Abuse and Homicide Unit, and is a multi-agency team set up to quell the growing problem of Domestic Violence, and the deaths associated with it, across Staffordshire.

When the team was set up I would imagine that they thought the Homicides would be mainly women who had suffered abuse at the hands of their partners. So on Maggie’s first day it’s a bit of a shock when the body of a man who was an abuser turns up.

The team start an investigation as the man was known to them and involve the Probation Service in their inquiry, as he was also known to them.

A big part of this story is a group of people that represent a section of society we all know exists but hopefully never have an involvement with.

Women, a lot with drink or drugs problems, gravitating to men with the same problems, or men who will exploit those women when they are at their lowest ebb. Women who get abused physically and mentally, and when they find the courage to move on, nearly always end up in another abusive relationship.

In this story one woman should not be in that category, she should know better, she works with women that suffer abuse, then she goes home and behind closed doors she becomes one of the abused. At times the sections of the story that looks at Lucy and her Husband are hard to read but compelling at the same time.

As the bodies start to pile up another character is introduced to the team. Dr Kate Maloney is a Criminal Psychiatrist, a young Irish woman who dresses in full Goth clothing and has a tongue as sharp as a knife. What a character.

Maggie works the case and introduces the rest of the team as the investigation continues. All of the team have their opinions, and as the book moves on their individual characters are laid open for the reader. Each of them is realistic and everybody who has ever worked in a team will recognise the dynamics, there are some we will love, and there are others who will infuriate.

The story continues with more violence in the almost incestuous community of abusers and victims.

The Police battle against the closed nature of the group and the absolute denial of some of the victims.

But somebody out there is doing something about it, and the way they’re doing it is murderous. Spine-tingly murderous.

So now the abusers are becoming victims will anybody have any sympathy for them. How will the investigating team deal with looking out for peoples safety, when they have been trying to take them off the streets for years.

This book had me hooked from start to finish. It had me holding my breath and making out-loud exclamations. It had me reading way past my usual bedtime and then waking up early to carry on and find out who was safe and who wasn’t.

I had sympathy for the victims of abuse, and at the same time I was frustrated by their lack of helping themselves, and their constant denial of there actually being a problem. Yes, it is very real.

Like all good books it ends on a cliff hanger. One that I really didn’t see coming, but which opens the door for Maggie Jamieson Book 2.

In a strange way I would love to have come across this book after 3 or 4 had been published so that I could have binge read them.

But I am really chuffed to have been in from the start. I hope I’m about to ride a wave that includes many a venture for Maggie and her team.

Noelle Hurry up and write the next one please.

Pages: 293

Publisher: Killer Reads

Publishing Date: 31stMay 2019….Just in time to buy for a the summer holiday books.

Catch Your Death Kierney Scott

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This is another one of those series that I really look forward to. A story with Special Agent Jess Bishop in it is bound to be gritty and borderline scary.

Jess is no ordinary agent; her father is a serial killer serving a life sentence, she shot and seriously wounded her one time partner Briggs, and in her last case best friend and fellow agent was killed. She uses random men for sex, quick, dirty sex, often in shady alleys outside equally shady bars to help her keep her mind off her troubles, and she swallows pain killers like smarties to help her with the pain in her disfigured hand, an injury she sustained at the hands of another mass killer.

So when her boss phones her and asks her to go and see her nephew in  nearby academy, because he didn’t sound right on the phone, there is no surprise that she finds trouble.

The nephew Levi is found hung in the shower block, but Jess doesn’t believe it’s the suicide everybody else wants to believe it is. After a bit of digging she finds that there have been a series of suicides linked to an on line game “The Last Super”.

At first it is enough that teenagers are committing suicide to get Jess’s back up and start an investigation, but when she starts to be hindered at every stage of her inquiries she soon starts to piece together an even more disturbing story.

Worried by her previous experiences she is loath to get her team involved in the investigation into their boss’s nephews death, especially as she is beginning to build a conspiracy theory that she believes will put whoever looks into the deaths in danger.

But is it really as bad as Jess thinks, or is she simply, and finally, beginning to lose her mind.

This really is one of the best series on the shelves at the moment. Kierney Scott simply has no filters when it comes to writing her stories. The characters are really put through the mill throughout the books. Jess is one of the most challenging lead cop characters I’ve read but I just can’t help liking her.

These books fly by, it wouldn’t make any difference if they were 200 pages or 500 pages long the last page always arrives at such a pace you just don’t see it coming, and as usual when it arrived this time I was left wanting to dive straight into the next instalment.

Oh well I’m just going to have to wait, hopefully not for too long, to see what happens to the frustratingly good Jess Bishop

 

Pages: 278

Publishers: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 14thApril 2019

The Girl From The Sea Shalini Boland

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When a pretty young woman is found washed up on a beach with a head injury everybody wonders who she is, including the woman herself.

With no recollection of who she is, or how she got on the beach the Police are left to check the missing persons reports.

A boyfriend quickly comes forward and identifies the woman as Mia James.

This doesn’t help Mia, she doesn’t even recognise her own face in the mirror.

Written in the first person this book follows Mia from the moment she is found through the frustrations of her trying to find out who she is, and how she ended up on the beach.

It will be no surprise that not everybody is the person they portray themselves to be. Actually they are who they say they are, it’s their personality, and motive for being close to Mia that they make up. So who can she trust and who should she be afraid of.

Mia it turns out is a young, pretty, independent woman with a bit of money to her name.

Everybody around her seems to have motive for either being nice to her, or at least giving the pretence of being nice to her, after all, she can’t remember anything. That is until the dreams start, or are they actually memories resurfacing.

It wasn’t an accident that led to her being found half dead on the beach.

This story is written really cleverly. Boland deliberately leads the reader along different paths. Likeable characters and horrible characters come and go.

Trust issues are a constant in Mia’s new life, but is this because of her past, or has she always been a bad judge of character.

Reading the book had me wondering what I would make of my life if I woke up one morning with no memory. It’s not just a case of working out who you are, can you trust the people around you.

What would it be like to make a completely new start.

There is a crime at the centre of this story, but what is it and who committed it.

A clever story.

Pages: 306

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing date: 20 March 2019

Final Betrayal

The sixth book in the series, where has that time gone, and every bit as good as the rest.

The small Irish town of Ragmullin is again going to be devastated by murder.

When two women go out on the town together, they get separated, one of them pulls and the other can’t be bothered to wait around for her friend.

When one of the women is reported missing Lottie starts to investigate, she soon finds out that both are missing, and it’s no surprise when they are found murdered.

The killer has left a clue, or is it their signature, but what does it mean.

At same time two other things are happening. A man is released from prison after doing 10 years for a serious assault which eventually ended in his victim dying; and Lottie’s family comes under threat from within.

With Lottie concentrating on the murder of the young women, the last thing she needs is her half-brother meddling in her life, but he does, and he opens a real can of worms.

Part of the investigation see’s the Police covering old ground. A property developer is renovating the Old Courthouse. He’s not the most honest of people and has been on the peripheries of investigations in the past. Has he stepped over the line this time, or is he just a puppeteer trying to manipulate people to get his deals done.

Inevitably this book races to a thunderous end. 

Patricia Gibney has a way of writing a story that has so many threads. It’s a bit like the rail tracks just outside of a main station. Lines running parallel to each other, and occasionally crossing, before they end up at the same destination.

In this case the threads cross numerous times as the different incidents, and investigations, drew close to each other and either crossed or veered off again. This made for an epic  compelling story

I look forward to getting reacquainted with DI Lottie Parker every time a new book comes out, and I’m yet to be disappointed. In fact, every time one comes out, I make the same mistake of picking it up and starting, not realising I’m going to get very little done until I’ve finished it. Yes, it happened again, I read this book over two days, well I did have to stop to sleep.

This is book six in the series. Can it be read as a stand-alone, yes. Should it be read as a stand-alone, no. 

If you haven’t met Lottie Parker yet start with first book and read them in order. You will get so much more out of them if you do.

Pages: 484

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication Date: 18thApril 2019

I Know Everything Matthew Farrell

Matthew Farrell is a new name to my reading list. In fact, I only found him because of a suggestion from his publisher’s twitter.

A quick look at the synopsis for I Know Everythingon a bloggers review website and I knew this was a book I wanted to read.

When a car runs of the road, and over a cliff, the woman inside is found dead behind the wheel. A rich and generous philanthropist Amanda had everything to live for, she had just been given a prestigious award and was on her way home to her husband.

Her husband, Randall, is devastated at her death, but this quickly turns to confusion when a stranger arrives and tells him his wife’s death was no accident, and that she had secrets. But he won’t tell Randall what the secrets are unless he confesses to his own.

Shortly afterwards the Police investigation, led by Investigator Susan Adler, uncovers the fact that Amanda was dead before the RTC and begin their own investigation with Randall as one of the main suspects.

What follows is a complex story that follows some extraordinary characters.

Susan Adler, the Investigator, is a single mom recently divorced from her husband and relying heavily on her mother to help bring up her young twins.

Her new partner Tommy Corolla a recent transferee from out of town.

Dr Randall Brock, a research Dr who is looking at ways treating people with psychopathic fantasies.

Plus, many more who I can’t mention without somehow spoiling the story.

It has to be said that throughout this book I had opinions on who I though was the killer, and, thanks to the wonderful writing of Matthew Farrell, I kept changing my mind on who that was. Right up to the end of the very last chapter he had me second guessing myself.

That is what makes this such an interesting, and compelling, book to read.

Each chapter had me second guessing, in the best way, and that meant I wanted to read the next one to find out if I was right. 

That kept the pages turning and I ended up reading this book over two days.

It was one of those books that had me hooked so tight I didn’t realise I was devoting so much time to it, until I came up for air and realised that another few hours had passed me by.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It is original, it is well written, the characters are great, the story is amazing and I think there may have been a very subtle little cliff hanger in the last two lines of the epilogue. 

I hope so, because I want to read more from Matthew Farrell, using some of the same characters that are in this book.

Publishers: Thomas & Mercer

Publishing Date: 6thAugust 2019