Nations Divided Steve P Vincent

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I came across this book by accident. So imagine my shock when I found out that this is the third in a series. A series I have been looking for, for years. Those of you that have read my reading history will know that I loved Robert Ludlum’s cold war books and Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan series.

I have been on the lookout for a new author to bring to life the same style of writing for the world as it is today.

That is exactly what I found in this book.

Jack Emery is a Special Advisor to the President of the United States and the main character of the book. The story starts with a massacre at a Hospital in Gaza and quickly moves into peace talks between Israel and Palestine.

With a peace agreement in place and a Palestinian State agreed all looks well in the world but a secretive group of Zionists plan to wreck the agreement.

The Zionists acquire weapons and plant them strategically around the world threatening to detonate them if the peace agreement is not overturned.

Emery is in a race against time to find the weapons and the people responsible for planting them.

At the same time a unique and disturbing back up plan is put into place by the terrorists in case the initial plan is disrupted.

The book flies along with plots and sub-plots. As in the real world different countries have different agenda’s. Whilst political moves are made at the highest of levels, Emery works with and against an increasingly complex group of advocates at street level.

It is difficult to say more about the storyline without spoiling the plot for the reader, so I won’t. What I will say is the finale is breathtaking.

This book is great. I feel like I have found what I’ve been looking for since the last Jack Ryan book, and who would have guessed it would be a book with another Jack as the protagonist.

Like Ludlum and Clancy at their best Steve P Vincent uses up to date world politics to paint a background of imminent danger. This book is a must read for fans of those writers.

My only regret is I am late to the party and will have to read the first two in the series out of order, but this book stood alone and it would read easily as a stand-alone novel.

Too Soon A Death Janet O’Kane

Too Soon A Death

Janet O’Kane has written a second book with Dr Zoe Moreland as the main protagonist, and what a book it is.

Dr Zoe is not your usual main character, she is neither the Police Officer or Private Detective trying to solve a case; nor is she the perpetrator, she is just a woman who happens to be a Doctor in a rural GP surgery in a village where crime occurs. The crime is seen through Zoe’s eyes and via village gossip. In fact the story is told in a way that 99% of us would see it, if it happened close to us.

The story starts with Dr Zoe being called to a riverbank close to her home. The body of a young man has been found. He has suffered injuries to his hands that appear to have been treated and she is only there to see if she recognised him as a recent visitor to her practice.

At the scene she meets Detective Sergeant Trent, a local Police Officer Zoe has become used to seeing, and who she aims to assist identifying the body. As in real life they swap pleasantries but the Sergeant only gives her the basics of the investigation, and continues to during the investigation, but she is never an integral part of it.

When She returns home Zoe is met by her dog Mac and her best friend Kate Mackenzie. As in the first book the deaf Kate is Zoe’s best friend and confidant. As well as being a single mom she is a Genealogist and works from home trying to uncover family histories.

Zoe and Kate’s relationship is more like sisters and Kate’s family have become Zoe’s adopted family.

A series of events in the village start to make it look like Dr Zoe is being stalked. Then another incident affects Kate’s family. Are these events and the body in the river connected?

Janet O’Kane’s narrative, unravelling the story from Zoe’s perspective alone, shows how easy it is to become afraid. How conclusions can be made and how worrying it can be to be either at the centre of a crime, or on the peripheries and not have the full picture.

The suspense is built up naturally as more small incidents happen without any explanation.

Is Zoe being targeted, if so why?

Has Kate dug too deeply into somebody’s family history?

And then there are the dogs. Local farmers are reporting attacks on their livestock. Where have they come from and are they connected?

This book was just like the first, No Stranger To Death; it kept me turning the pages. Unlike a lot of modern fiction Too Soon A Death does not rely on blood, guts, and sex, to keep the story moving along. The suspense that kept me reading was generated by a really well written story. It will work your mind, you will try to make connections, and kick yourself when you don’t get them.

If you like TV programs like Midsummer Murders, and Lewis you will fall in love with Janet’s writing.

If you are more of a Luther fan don’t dismiss this book it will be your loss.

I could happily recommend this book to anybody who likes reading. How would I describe the experience of reading it? Have you ever had that feeling when it’s raining or snowing and you’re sat inside with your feet up, in front of the fire, with a warm drink? That’s how I felt reading this book.

Janet. Thank you for this story and I look forward to reading many more of your books in the future.

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A memory of one incident I attended on bonfire night. It didn’t end well

Lying in bed tonight, 7th November 2015 listening to the fireworks going off for the third night in a row I can’t help but remember responding to one of the usual injured by a firework incidents that I seemed to attend every bonfire night, weekend, week… It seems to last longer every year.

I was the Duty Fire Investigation Officer for the West Midlands and was called to an incident in a yard in the Black Country, close to Wolverhampton. I had been finishing off the investigation into a house fire about a mile away when I was informed of this latest job.

I arrived at the scene to find a Fire Engine and a Police car parked outside a scrapyard/vehicle recovery yard/recycle centre. There was the remains of a bonfire which had been well and truly put out by the fire crew, and about 10m away a pile of discarded blood soaked bandages.

A Police Officer informed me that a Firework had hit the man in the head causing a horrific injury. The man had died at hospital

Examination of the fireworks that had been set off seemed to indicate that, although people had bee stood well within the 25 m safety range everything else was in place to use them safely. All of the big box 100+ fountains were angled away from the area the small crowd of the family and friends of the workers had been standing. There was no evidence of any firework carcasses anywhere in the yard, except a few empty tubes of Roman candles nailed onto timber frames.

Mooching around the yard, just beyond where the man had fallen I found a small piece of copper pipe. The pipe had body tissue and blood on the outside but also inside the tube. Recovering, bagging-and-tagging the pipe so as to enter it into evidence I returned to the soggy remains of the bonfire and started to drag it out. Using a drag hook to pull the debris into a manageable area to examine it. When I earlier mentioned the fire was extinguished and a soggy mess what I didn’t mention was it was about nine metres square and about a metre high.

As I started to drag it out I found the remains of a fridge from a caravan. The back of the fridge had the usual sealed pressurised refrigeration system. The compressor and condenser were still in place however part of the exchanger coil had ripped apart. The missing pice was a “perfect physical fit” for the blood covered one I had found close to where the man fell.

The fridge had been thrown on the fire. The heat had expanded the gases in the refrigeration system. Eventually the weak point gave way violently and a piece of the exchanger coil, the piece of copper tubing was shot with some velocity out of the bonfire. It speared the unfortunate man in the eye, passed through his Brain, excited his head via the back of the skull and fell to the ground. In front of his friends and family

Everybody was convinced he had been hit by a fire work. Yet in there own way everybody had made the ad-hoc display as safe as possible

Somebody just made the mistake of throwing a fridge on the fire

The Post Mortem and scientific tests on the traces of soft tissue on the remains of the pipe confirmed it was that which caused the fatal injury.

Be careful on these nights. Booze, fireworks-which are mini explosive devices, and fire are not a good mix.

Respect the emergency service people that are out there looking after you. When you need them. You really need them!!!!!

Why is publishing so geographical

Ramblings of a bookworm

From an early age I have been reading, in fact you would do well to catch me without a book in reach. For years it was paperbacks, often second hand, as I got a bit older I started to treat myself to hardbacks so as I could read my favourite authors as soon as they were published. Now it’s all about the download, I have dozens of books on my Kindle and a few on my iPad from the Apple Store.

It is this new download age that has got me asking questions.

As an avid reader I spend a lot of time browsing bookshelves, whether they are in indie bookshops, Supermarkets, or the big chains such as Waterstones. Why am I not finding print books on the shelves I know are available online?

At first I thought it might be a geographic thing. Some of the writers I’ve found online are from other country’s and maybe they haven’t found a market in the UK. Then I started finding really good UK authors I’d never heard of. Mari Hannah is a writer based in the northeast, she has written the best Police procedural thrillers I have ever read. Can I find her books on the shelves in the Midlands?Only in the biggest of the big bookshops, and only if I had already heard of her and knew where to look. There are more big displays for the latest John Grisham or Stephen King, in fact a recent trip to my local Waterstones found no UK writers books on their main display table.

So maybe it is a more localised geographical issue. Maybe you have to be a really local author to get into your local shops. No, there is another excellent writer Angela Marsons who is hot on Mari’s heels as, in my opinion, the top Police Procedural writer at the moment. She sets her books in my local town in the Black Country, she lives and works close to the same area, the only place I have ever seen her books are on Amazon. She even mentions one big supermarket in her books, they have a big book section, I look through it every Sunday when I go shopping. Have I ever seen one of her books in there? No.

So why are the bookshops not carrying these books. Is it because it’s easy to sell the big names?, or maybe the publishers are not out there pushing them enough. I know the writers are tireless in the promotion of their own books. There is hardly a week go by when they are not at a literary festival. Twitter is awash with them retweeting reviews, all online.

I write reviews on this blog. I’m lucky enough to get pre-published books to do early reviews, and yes it is online so people who read it use computers, tablets or smart phones to read it. But many people have not yet crossed over to e-readers. Recent figures have shown that the figures for ebooks are falling whilst the figures for actual books are back on the rise. I get dozens of people contacting me when I give a book a good review on, or after publishing day, asking me where they can get a copy because “they’ve looked everywhere and couldn’t find a copy”

I know the next generations first port of call for most shopping these days, especially books, is Amazon. They are missing out on touring around bookshops reading the backs and inside the cover. They are missing the adventure of popping into a shop to find something to read and losing a couple of hours of their lives as they get carried away browsing the shelves.

Don’t get me wrong I love Amazon, I like the way it gives me suggestions based on what I’ve previously purchased, but it’s not as good as the conversations I have with the people who work in bookshops. I know I have found some fantastic writers, who’ve given me some fantastic stories and characters, but I wonder how many other people have missed out by just not living in the right part of the country.

Killer-Lady-Writers

Things are changing, or is it just me?

Those of you who read my first blog will know a bit about my reading habits over the years, and about the types of book and the authors I read.

I honestly cannot think of a female writer whose books I read prior to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. This was not out of choice, they just didn’t write what I wanted to read.

Was it a coincidence that Rowling chose to present herself as a man in the guise of Robert Galbraith, was she trying to completely disguise herself or was she trying to break into, what I thought was a male dominated genre.

People will be saying that there have been women writing detective/ mystery/ police procedural books for years. Agatha Christie being a shinning example.

But over the last 2 or 3 years has anybody else noticed the emergence of some fantastic, British, female, Crime Thriller writers, and wow do they pack a punch.

In no particular order here are some of the women I have discovered in the last year or two.

Mari Hannah

Mari writes the Kate Daniels series. She is a DI in the North East and heads up a squad in the Major Investigations Team. Her stories are gritty; the descriptions of the characters and crime scenes are second to none. The violence in some of the scenes is breath taking and there is a no holds barred approach for the reader; but its not there as a gimmick, every act helps tell the story.

As with all good series there are back-stories to the characters that are always relevant to the main story, but also flow through the series linking them all, yet they are so well written each can be read as a stand alone

If you haven’t read any of these books yet you have missed a treat.

Mari Hannah can be found on Amazon or her own web site www.marihannah.com

Marnie Riches

Marnie is the author of a series of books, only two so far but more to come, in the George McKenzie series.

When The Girl That Wouldn’t Die was released reviewer’s started to compare it favourably with Stig Larson’s Millennium series. Well that is quite something to live up to so I downloaded it to read on my holiday. I wasn’t disappointed the book starts with a bang, in more ways than one. The main character, George McKenzie is a Cambridge exchange student living in the red light district of Amsterdam. Following what appears to be a terrorist explosion in the City she teams up with a local Police Inspector. The unlikely team unravel an amazing plot which twists and turns all the way to the end.

I was lucky enough to get a pre release copy of the second book in the series, The Girl Who Broke The Rules. It was one of the best sequels I have ever read. I find that some authors struggle with the second book, but just like Mari Hannah, Marnie Riches just got even better.

In these two books Marnie Riches tackles prostitution, drug use, and the human trafficking in a no holds barred manner.

I look forward to the next The Girl Who……..book and hope this turns into a long series.

Marnie Riches can be found on Amazon and also on her own web site www.marnieriches.com

Angela Marsons

Angela Marsons has written 2 books so far in the Detective Inspector Kim Stone series.

These books are set close to home; in fact they are set exactly where I live and the surrounding area. The Police Station Kim Stone works from; Halesowen in the West Midlands is my local station. So if ever I was going to notice any flamboyant exaggerations, unrealistic events or characters it was gong to be in these books. I didn’t.

Angela depicts the places and the people of the Black Country perfectly. The crimes she uses in the stories are all too realistic, and unfortunately common. The first book Silent Scream revolves around Child abuse at a Local Authority Children’s Home. The second book Silent Scream deals with the phycology of victims and how their vulnerability can be manipulated.

Angela also uses her characters back stories to enhance the main story and in the second book manages to introduce a nemesis to throw against DI Stone that shows a vulnerability, in the Police Office, that many writers attempt but few manage to convey.

Angela Marsons can be found on Amazon and at her own web site www.angelamarsons-book.com

I have singled out 3 women here because they have written my favourite books over the last 2 years but there are others who have also written brilliantly.

I find myself reading more books written by British women now than by any others.

I think of these Killer-Lady-Writers as a new breed of writer. They manage to combine the personal side of a character with the devastation they encounter better than the men used to.

Or is it todays society, do we as readers need more blood and guts to keep us engaged, and is it just coincidence that there are a lot of female writers coming through at the moment.

Carry on ladies.

The Next to Die Neil White

Next To Die     Neil White

I have seen Neil Whites books on bookshelves for a few years now and can’t believe I’ve only just got around to reading one.

The Next To Die is set in Manchester and uses the diversity of the city to its full.

The two central characters in the book are two brothers: Joe Parker a defence lawyer, and Sam Parker a Detective Constable in the Greater Manchester Police.

I’m not giving much away when I say that the brothers have chosen their career paths, for different reasons, following the murder of their sister. They could not be more different in their life; Sam is married with a family, where as Joe is single. Both of them have back-stories, which begin to be told during the book, and it looks like both will make good characters for future books.

Neil White has written a great thriller around these characters. Joe is called to represent a man accused of killing his wife and daughter, but there are no bodies.

Sam is seconded from the Fraud team to work with the Major Investigation Team on the same case.

This inevitably leads to conflict between the brothers which at times tested my moralistic streak; I couldn’t quite decide which brother was right.

As the case continues there is no relaxing for the reader. Unlike some current authors there is no guarantee of the safety of a character. There are some vicious twists and turns in this book, all the way to the last chapter.

If you are looking for a realistic gritty crime book this is for you.

Who would I compare White to. I don’t know but if you are a fan of British Crime Fiction at its best and read people like Mari Hannah, C.L Taylor, and A.D Garrett you will love it.

There are 2 more books based around the same characters The Death Collector and The Domino Killer. I have already started The Death Collector and it is no disappointment so far ………….

Look out for more blogs about this Author. I’m Hooked

Silent Scream & Evil Games Angela Marsons

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Silent Scream & Evil Games     Angela Marsons

Two books one blog. There’s a reason for that. I read the last page of Silent Scream and immediately opened the first page of Evil Games.

I don’t like giving plots away so I’m not going to talk too much about the story line of each of these, I’ll just talk about the writing and main character.

I enjoyed these books more than most others I’ve read over the last few years. Angela Marsons has created a brilliantly complex character in Detective Inspector Kim Stone and hopefully we’ll have a few more outings with her and her team in the future.

Silent Scream introduces DI Stone in a tale centred on child abuse at a Local Authority Home. Are current day murders linked with abuse at the home? In todays society we are becoming more aware of these abuse cases and it makes the book relevant and up to date.

Stones own history mirrors that of the children who stayed at the home, and her back-story is slowly revealed as the book moves on.

The conclusion of the book is not as easy to predict as some stories of the same genre, and with twists and turn to the very end this book is a great read.

Evil Games follows on, but can be read separately, from Evil Games.

In this book Stone identifies the link between several serious crimes, including a murder. More of Stones back-story is revealed and the reader is given a greater insight into her psyche.

Along the way Stone comes into contact with her nemesis and an intellectual and psychological battle takes place that kept me enthralled right to the end of the book.

Twists and turns throughout show that Angela Marsons has a knack for complex plots without resorting to fanciful and unbelievable stories.

Angela Marsons has set these books close to where I live. Her descriptions of the places and people are perfect. It is a testament to her that at one time in the Evil Games I shouted out loud that she had something wrong, only to realise she was inventing a shop in which a suspect child abuser was working, maybe it is best to use a fictional premises in that case.

Further testament to her research skills is found in the derelict children’s home she uses in Silent Scream. It used to exist, it had a bad reputation amongst the locals, and it had a fire. I know this because I investigated it when I was still in the Fire Service.

I have a feeling that, like many other authors, Angela Marsons is only published locally.

One of the great things about e-books and companies like Amazon is it has allowed me to read books by people I would never have had access to by simply walking into my local shop.

So wherever you are in the world, get a copy of these books. Sit back and enjoy