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.

Torn Anne Randall

 

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Torn Anne Randall

The death of a father and daughter years apart.

A modern-day Rock group just breaking into the big time, but one member isn’t happy. His sister was killed in a fire years ago when they were with Foster parents. Never convinced of the police investigation now he’s out to find out what really happened.

A gentlemen’s club frequented by Scotland’s elite, rich and famous. A club with special rooms, a club where most of the members have a liking for the more violent side of the S&M scene, a club where secrets are kept, a club where dreams can be made and nightmares cleared up.

A face from the past that has DI Kat Wheeler having unpleasant reminders of her service in the army.

Well if that isn’t enough to hook you, the story that Anne Randall has written to weave these together will.

The book starts with a search for a missing girl and quickly moves on to the trial of the person that killed her. One of the jurors takes too much interest in the pictures of the death of the girl, and starts to fantasise about the bondage and submissive scenes shown in the court.

Years later a young wannabe starlet is making porn movies to break into show business. Her ultimate goal is to make a documentary about the murder of her father, and to try to clear his name of the allegations that were made about him after his death.

When she ends up dead DI Kat Wheeler and her team start an investigation which will lead them into the world of the rich and depraved.

This book is a page turner from the start. The plot line is woven around a small group of characters who are perfect for the story. The crimes are very realistic and the characters evoke just the right emotions. The investigation team read well, and are very easy to empathise with. The criminals are easy to hate and have been written with no sympathy at all.

I have blogged about books in the past where there has been unnecessary sex scenes. They are usually put there for effect, and have a negative bearing on the story. However; in this case Anne Randall has struck the perfect balance. The story requires sex and violence, but it is written well and it is in keeping with the book. In fact, in this case, the story would be less without the scenes.

This is a tough storyline covering an all too prevalent crime. It is written in a way that doesn’t glamorise or demean the subject. It strikes just the right balance.

This was my first Anne Randal book. I’ve just downloaded her other books for my holiday reading.

Yes she’s very good.

Dead Souls Angela Marsons Blog Tour

 

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I have been a big fan of Angela Marsons since the first Kim Stone book, but what makes these books so special, and what makes Dead Souls the best one yet.

A big bit about my review off Dead Souls was that it was written from the heart, there is a passion about everything that is written in this series. A passion for realism, a passion for her characters, a passion for her settings, and this all adds up to a fantastic story.

The opening chapter of this book describes a man attempting suicide. The detail in this opening few pages is outstanding and hooked me from the very start, but that was only the beginning.

In Kim Stone, we have a character we can all empathise with, she makes the decisions we wish we could. Yes, she can be a stubborn pain in the bum, but she’s fair and loyal to those around her. In this book, we see her team acting alone as she is tasked with working on a joint investigation with a neighbouring force. Just like in real life, when a key member of the team is missing the dynamics change, and Angela has written this beautifully, taking the opportunity to expand on some of the lesser characters in her books.

One of the Constables in her team, Stacey Wood, has always sat nicely in the background carrying out the computer based investigations, and rarely getting out on the street. In this book, she is more prevalent. Investigating the death of a teenage lad she starts to reflect on her own youth, her own insecurities her sexuality. She disagrees with the rest of her team over parts of the investigation and starts to feel more isolated, the more isolated she becomes the more her thoughts begin to affect her. She becomes convinced that the teenager’s death is not the suicide everybody else is treating it as and sets of on her own, unauthorised investigation.

Meanwhile the two main male characters in the team Bryant and Dawson, struggle with which one of them is going to be the “Alpha-male” without Kim’s controlling hand. As a series of serious assaults, and a murder, are connected Bryant is promoted to Inspector, effectively replacing Stone. The shift in the personalities at this point are intriguing. Will Dawson be adult enough to work effectively with Bryant. Bryant himself has always been happy playing second fiddle to Stones lead, but how does he handle being the main man.

With both being preoccupied with their own feelings and both trying to prove themselves, to each other as well as the bosses, will the investigation be compromised; and will either of them notice Stacey’s struggles.

All the time she is away Stone is working with Tom Travis, an ex-colleague and ex-friend; but why did he stop being a best friend and turn into a disgruntled associate in a neighbouring Force. It is no secret that the two don’t “play well together” and whenever Tom has turned up in previous books he has been a pain in Kim’s side. Thrown together to investigate a crime which has happened on the border of the two forces the pair have very different working styles and investigative techniques. At time this relationship is tumultuous, but will it ever be effective. It is one thing, compulsive reading.

Then there are the crimes being investigated by both teams. Stone and Frost are investigating a historical murder after the bones of 3 bodies are dug up on farmland during an archaeological dig, being carried out by a group of University students and their teacher.

This leads them to look into the history of the people who own the land and their tenants. Two families who could not be more diverse but are intrinsically linked through the generations.

Stone’s team in the West Midlands have are investigating a series of hate crimes that seem to have no motive. The targets of the crimes are from different backgrounds and would be seen as being from different minority groups, all of which are the targets of hate crime, but why these people, and why now?

Angela Marsons always manages to have one character in her books that makes me want more. There was the brilliant murderer Alex Thorne, a character I compare to Hannibal Lecter. In this book, the journalist Tracy Frost makes a brief welcome return, but by far one of my favourite characters in these books is back, Dr A the Macedonian Archaeologist who works at Aston University. This character is brilliantly written and provides a few light-hearted moments. A leader in her field, no pun intended, she is a friend of Kim’s who does not suffer fools lightly. One of her endearing features is her accent. In the middle of all the mayhem and murder she is written with a voice the reminds me of the French Policeman in ‘Allo ‘Allo, but she is no fool, in fact she is the complete opposite. I would love to see her featuring in her own book.

I don’t usually give star awards unless it’s on a site like amazon, where it’s a requisite, but for those who look for that type of award, it’s a 6-out-of-5 or an 11-out-of-10.

The way I measure a book is in how much I look forward to it, and when it arrives how long it takes to read.

I look forward to each Kim Stone novel like a kid looks forward to Christmas, and this book I read in 2 days, I only put it down to sleep and eat.

It really is the best book I’ve read.

Deaths Silent Judgement Anne Coates

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Deaths Silent Judgement    Anne Coates

What a fantastic read.

Set in the 1990’s, an era which is rapidly becoming my favourite for crime fiction, the story in this book is realistic, and frighteningly believable

Journalist Hannah Weybridge is back, and the story starts a short time after the end of Anne Coate’s previous book Dancers in The Wind.

When Hannah finds her best friend murdered in a church life begins to take an interesting and dangerous turn.

Her friend Liz was a dentist. She had a successful practice in the City, but since returning from carrying out charitable work in Somalia, she has also worked in the church roviding dental care to vagrants.

This opens a whole list of characters who Hannah meets.

Liz’s Mom, Lady Celia Rayman, is not happy with the Police investigation into her daughter’s murder and asks Hannah to have a look at the case.

As Hannah starts to dig she meets the vagrants who live in the Bull Ring, a cardboard city at one of London’s Train Stations. Finding out that Liz had Biblical knick-names for these patients she ponders  if the names have any significance.

She digs into the charity that Liz worked for in Africa, uncovering the uncomfortable truth surrounding Female Genital Mutilation, kidnapping, and trafficking, but has this got anything to do with Liz’s murder.

Then there’s the clergy. Liz was killed at a church working for one of the local Priests projects.

When the priest goes missing and turns up a few days later, in intensive care, Hannah becomes concerned that the church is trying to cover things up.

Hannah Weybridge is one of those characters that it is easy to fall in love with. Still traumatised by the events which took place in Dancers in the Wind. Living at home with her 14-month old daughter she is paranoid about most things. Her daughter is looked after by her Nanny, allowing Hannah to carry on her work as a journalist, but that career has been hampered by the earlier events. The story she submitted was spiked and Hannah has been shackled by a contract that allows her very little scope to write.

With her personal life falling apart, or at least becoming very complicated Hannah starts to piece together the jigsaw that was Liz’s life.

Did it involve her work with the Vagrants?

Was it something to do with the charity work that Liz had been working on?

Has it got something to do with the church?

Is Liz’s family history anything to do with her death?

All of these strands are possible right up till the last couple of chapters when things start to become resolved.

Right at the very end there’s a nice little twist. A cliff hanger which will have you waiting for the next Hannah Waybridge story just as much as I am.

Pages: 244

Publisher: Urbane Publications

Publishing Date: 11th May 2017.

Pre-order available on Amazon

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

Mississippi Burning Greg Isles

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As a white, 1960’s born, British man, I am vaguely aware of the problems that America had in the 60’s, with particularly the Southern states struggling with integration. I’ve read books which have mentioned the KKK and other white supremacist groups, but never have I read a series of books which bring home the problems that were, and are still being, encountered in these areas.

Greg Isle has written series of books set around the happenings of Natchez, a small town on the Mississippi. There are 6 books which use the town as a backdrop, and all of them include the same list of central characters at their core. The final three have been categorised as “The Natchez Burning” Trilogy. All six of the books are great reads. The Trilogy is the natural progression from the first three, the final book in the series Mississippi Blood is simply stunning in the way it concludes this epic series of books.

Set a few weeks after the traumatic end of The Bone Tree, Penn Cage, the Major of Natchez, is still shocked by the fact that his girlfriend has been killed, and that his father is in prison. For years Dr Tom Cage has fought for the rights of the black people in his town. He has been the sworn enemy of a vicious group of white men known as The Double Eagles, and one of their main leaders, and original members, Snake Knox is still at large.

Tom is charged with murdering his one-time lover Viola Turner, with who he has recently found out he has a son, Lincoln.

Lincoln is out for revenge on the man who he now see’s as being responsible for his wayward upbringing. He will do anything to ensure his “father” is punished.

The corrupt County Sheriff, Billy Byrd is in cahoots with Snake Knox, and the local prosecutor Shadrach Johnson has been a violent opponent of Dr Cages for years, so the odds of him getting a fair trial seem very slim.

Whilst Penn tries everything in his power to uncover evidence against others to incriminate them in the murder of Viola, Dr Tom seems intent on self-destruction.

Hiring one of his best friends, Quentin Avery, the best defence lawyers in the south, Dr Tom opts for an unorthodox approach to his defence.

As an ex-prosecutor Penn is driven to distraction by his father’s tactics, but Tom and Avery won’t explain their tactics to him.

The trial is almost farcical as the prosecution and defence ignore all the rules, and the Judge decides to give enough leeway for them both to go head-to-head in an epic court room battle.

The trial lasts for 4 days but during that time pressure is put on both sides by outside influences including Snake Knox, the FBI, and a gang of bikers known as the VK’s.

People are threatened, assaulted, murdered. Old alliances are destroyed and new ones made. Family members on both sides suffer. Penn struggles to keep his family alive outside of the courtroom, and together inside it.

History of Dr Toms past comes out in the trial, history that his family are not aware of, and it has the potential to tear them apart.

New characters come, and go, but they all add to the plot. Not one word of the 702 pages is wasted.

This book would be hard to read as a stand-alone novel; and to be honest I wouldn’t recommend you read it as one. I would recommend all of the other books as some of the best I have ever read.

The first two chapters of this book include news articles which are there as a reminder of what happened in the The Bone Tree & Natchez Burning. As a quick catch-up they are great but they do not replace the actual books.

Throughout Mississippi Burning the reader is taken back to past events in the trilogy and the other 3 books in the series.

In all the books I have ever read, this is the most compelling series I have read.

If you like John Grisham, but with less filters, you will love these books.

If you are looking for a set of books to keep you occupied for a couple of months I’d recommend reading all six, one after another. But if you do, you will have one hell of a void to fill when you finish.

I actually wish I was the 18 year-old me, In my cabin on a merchant tanker with nothing to fill the off duty hours but read books. I would sit and read the lot back-back.

I hope this is not the end of the Natchez books. I’ve loved every page.

 

Imperfection Ray Clark

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This book seems to have had a luke-warm reception looking at the reviews on Amazon.

I have to disagree. I found it intriguing and charming.

I liked the characters, I liked the settings. I think Ray Clark has managed to balance the need to give enough information, and not give too much gore in the description. I went back and read a couple of the murder scene depictions and yes, they are horrific murders, but they are described in an almost sympathetic way. There are too many novels these days that rely on the shock factor.

There was one thing I did find irritating. At each murder scene, there is a clue in the form of what appears to be a quote from a stage play, a film or a book. Everybody is perplexed as to where it has come from, or has it just been made up. I just wanted to shout “google” at my Kindle.

That said this is a good story. It’s almost Sherlock Holmes like in its setting. The first murder happens on the stage of a local theatre in Leeds.

What follows is a series of murders based around theatrical themes and personalities.  Some of the characters are strange, but in an addictive way. They fit into the story by being just like the type of people we all imagine working in that field.

The plot ticks along nicely as DI Stewart Gardiner and his team, especially DS Sean Reilly begin to put the case together, but every time they think they have it cracked, or can try to anticipate the killers next move, they are thrown by the next murder.

Clark writes from the suspects point of view as well, or has he. So yes, it is quite easy to form an opinion of who you think the murder is but you should read right to the end of the last page to make sure you’re right.

If you do read it to the last page. You won’t be disappointed.

I read it. I liked it, and I will read the next one.