Two stories, one in the present, one a from few years earlier, both on collision course for an explosive finale.
Jassmine Gooch is a radio journalist working for the BBC. She presents a late night radio show about Potentially Dangerous People. Well she does until she’s sacked for an outburst unbefitting of the BBC.
Jassmine had been approached several times by a woman who is concerned about a missing friend, a friend she feels is being let down by the police who do not appear to be taking her disappearance seriously.
With time on her hands Jasmine decides to look into the missing woman, Cassie Scolari, and stumbles across a juicy mystery that has her considering a new career.
Meanwhile the story that is taking place years before involves Rowena. A girl who is in the care of social services, but who has fallen for a man that grooms her and pimps her out at parties.
Rowena’s story is tragic, a 13 year old girl passed around like a sex toy, but somehow, she is a survivor. She becomes mature before her time and battles to survive.
Meanwhile in the present day Jasmine has decided to turn her investigation into a podcast with the help of a stuttering intern at the BBC. Jitesh is a great character who uses social media to stalk people. He could turn out to be one of the best characters going if this story is the spark for a series.
Between them Jasmine and Jitesh are moving ever closer to finding out what happened to Cassie in a thoroughly enjoyable and very believable story.
It’s hard to review this book without including spoilers.
Deborah O’Connor has found a great character in Jassmine Gooch. A single lady of a certain age that is struggling with the menopause, struggling after losing her job, and struggling with her relationship to her teenage daughter.
Jitesh, a student who has been given an unconditional offer to join Cambridge University, but decides to take a gap year and work as an IT intern at the BBC, is just as good a character. Bullied at school, and suffering from a stutter, he shows a moral strength that leaves the reader no choice but to feel an empathy with him.
The story is original and takes place over a ten year spell. It incorporates the problems that have been uncovered over the last few years about underprivileged children being groomed by certain elements of the community, and the illicit actions of a celebrity.
The story is very on point, up to date, and spine tingling in its reality.
I have no idea if Deborah O’Connor has any intensions of writing more books involving Jessamine and Jitesh but I hope she does.
I will be right at the front of the queue to buy the next instalment.
Introducing a new Police Investigator, Detective Sergeant Finnegan Beck.
Newly demoted and moved from the busiest Police Station in Dublin, Beck finds himself in the small town of Cross Greg.
He is not quite what you would expect, although he’s had a bad time professionally, he still cares, even if he pretends not to.
So, when he turns up at his first crime scene, in his new town, to find a murdered woman lying out in the open with the SIO, Inspector O’Reilly, paying scant attention to procedures it rattles his cage a bit.
That is the first encounter with the old dinosaur of a detective that is O’Reilly, and things don’t get much better as the story unfolds.
He finds an ally in young Garda Claire Sanders who acts as his partner in the investigation and also covers for him when he has an occasional fall off the wagon. He’s not an alcoholic, he’s just not very good at saying no and has a low tolerance for booze.
The murdered girl is an opening into a sordid story of an underage relationship. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.
The small town has a criminal underworld. After all people in towns and villages have the same needs, and urges, as those in the city.
The thing is, just like every small town, everybody knows everybody else’s business.
As Beck starts to untangle the web of lies around the investigation he thinks he starts to identify a motive for the crime and is getting closer to the person who killed the girl.
His new colleagues don’t agree with him, and treat him as the Big City Idiot, but slowly they begin to see the merit in his thoughts.
It takes another death before people start to take him seriously but is it too late to stop another killing.
As the story continues we find out why Beck has been demoted and moved away from Dublin. We see him start to build a reputation in Cross Greg, but will he ever be fully accepted.
This is a great story that’s billed as being book one in the Finnegan Beck series.
To say my Daughter, Sophie, and her now Husband Jonny, had been preparing their wedding for a long time is a bit of an understatement.
Amongst one of the first things that was arranged, after the venue, was the Photographers. About 3 years ago I became aware that somebody had recommended a family business of Photographers to Soph. Somebody who I will be forever grateful to. Because the day she recommended them Soph looked them up and decided, there and then, that they would be the photographers at her wedding.
So, a new name entered the Adams vocabulary The Dignums.
It’s fair to say Soph was excited once she’d seen their work, but she was just as keen to see what I thought, as I’ve been known to take a photo or two myself. Well once I’d looked at their work I was just as hooked as she was.
What you can see as soon as you look at the website is that they are real people people.
It goes without saying that such a successful team can take technically perfect pictures but these guys bring out peoples personality. As good as their formal pictures are, and my God they’re good, it’s the candid shots that made them stand out for me.
I was seeing photos of people that I’d never met, but from the images you could instantly see their personality.
As part of the wedding package, Soph purchased, she had a pre-wedding shoot. This is where The Dignums got to know Soph and Jon, and found their personality, and I suspect started to plan how they were going to photograph the wedding.
Come the big day and, as you would expect, nerves were fraught. My wife, Jan, and her daughter were camped in a room with 4 brides maids, the grooms Mom and Step Mother; along with makeup ladies and hair stylists, and from about eleven o’clock a photographer.
Meanwhile the groom was camped in another room with his Dad, two Best Men and a couple of young nephews who were acting as ushers, and yes they had a photographer in their room as well.
At some time during the day I got introduced to the The Dignums who immediately put me at ease with their gentle manner, and they simply became Phil and Toby.
It was Phil who spent the morning with Soph, and Toby stayed in Jon’s room for a while whilst the grooms party got ready, and then followed him around whilst he greeted the guests who were gathering at the hotel.
When I walked into Soph’s room to lead her to the ceremony Phil was stood in the perfect position to capture my expression when I saw her in her dress for the first time, and do you know what, I didn’t even know he was there. In fact the girls told me later he had been in the room for hours taking photos and apart from the occasional bit of banter initiated by them, they hardly noticed he was there either.
The wedding was booked to take place outside but the weather in the morning was biblical rain. The hotel were great and had a fall back plan to stage the ceremony indoors, but Soph had her heart set on pictures beeing taken outside, in fact she’d chosen the venue because of the grounds so she could have her photos taken there.
Thankfully the weather cleared and she got her photos, in fact I can remember Phil coming up to me at one point and saying “we’re going to get a great sunset tonight”
Phil and Toby were in position when the wedding party started to take their seats and when I walked Soph to the ceremony, again I didn’t even notice they were there but the phots they took were stunning.
After the ceremony they took the formal shots. Not many because Soph and Jon had sat down with them and said they didn’t want people hanging around for group shots. Between them they had drawn up a list, of the groups. The list was given to the Best Men, and Phil and Toby found the perfect spot to take the photos.
Formal shots were done within half an hour and everybody was sat ready for the meal and speeches.
Dan, one of the Best Men did what can only be described as the funniest speech I have ever heard at a wedding. Phil and Toby quickly understood this was going to be a big part of the day and positioned themselves to capture the reactions of the room, one covered the top table and the other floated amongst the guests. The pictures they captured are absolutely brilliant.
So did they go after the speeches?
Of course not. They stayed until about eleven o’clock that night snapping candid photos. Then they did something I’ve never seen before.
They started getting groups to go outside in the dark where they had set up an area to take some special effects photographs.
The interaction these guys had throughout the day had been fantastic. In fact more than one person came up to me and asked if they were family, or long-time friends of ours.
No I had only met them that day, and I will be meeting them again because I want them to take some pictures of me and Jan.
A few weeks after the wedding Phil and Toby announced, on their Instagram page, that the wedding package was finished and that a link had been sent to Soph.
It took me and Jan nearly 2 hours to go through the 1100 plus photos that they had put in the final package. Every one of them is a gem. Every one of them is a memory. Every one of them is perfect.
The final presentation pack Jon and Soph received was full of surprise gifts that really shows the care and thought that goes into the work Phil and Toby do.
I think it was the Native Indians of North America that would not let anybody take their photo, as they believed it soul their soul.
We all know they were wrong. But Phil and Toby will find your soul when they photograph you, and they will show that soul with your personality.
Thank You Phil and Toby for the memories, not just the ones in the photos, but the ones from you being there on the day and making it go so perfectly.
If you want to have a look at their work check out their website and social media feeds at
The story is brilliant, the crime is committed in a way, and for reasons, I have never come across before.
Ten years apart two girls are abducted and held captive by someone for weeks. Then mysteriously they are found apparently unharmed their clothes cleaned and pressed, and saying there captive had treated them well.
When newly promoted DI Edina (Ed) Ogborne is transferred from the Met, under a cloud, to Canterbury she struggles to integrate into the small CID team.
The most recent disappearance is her first case and as she struggles with the case, she also struggles with her team and her social life.
With the investigation going nowhere it’s a frustration when a local journalist gets a break in the case and publishes the story without conferring with the Police, another “X” in the column for Jo from her new boss.
The investigations continue and at least one other girl is taken, but why, and why return them unharmed and in apparent good health.
Canterbury is a small City and everybody seems to know everybody and there business. The investigation has a small town feeling in a small City.
To me this is where there is a problem with the story. There is never any urgency in the investigation. A series of kidnappings of teenage girls and there’s just a team of 4 looking at it almost on a 9-5 basis. With the SIO taking time out to go for meals and to fraternise with the locals, something she may come to regret
As much as I liked the story there were too many times when I thought “no, that would never happen”, or “stop faffing about and get on with the investigation”
There are some peripheral characters that take the reader down dead ends, and as entertaining as they are, I struggled to understand why some things happen in the story. Unless this is the building block for a series and the characters are going to reappear.
Would I read them if they did?
Yes, as frustrating as it was in places I actually really enjoyed the story.
This book almost felt like I was reading it in real time.
The main story revolves around the abduction of 9 children from a Playschool in London.
DCI Anna Tate is the SIO and most of the story is written from her perspective.
From the moment the abduction takes place Tate is at the scene and taking charge. The book only covers three days and for those three days we follow Tate, make her observations and listen in on her thoughts.
The sections seen from Tate’s points of view are occasionally interspersed by sections seen from the point of the parents of one of the missing children. Liam suffers from Cystic Fibrosis and his parents are rightly worried. His mom blames herself for the fact he was amongst the kidnapped, as he was only in the playgroup because she was going for a work interview.
For three days the case moves at pace and that pace makes it fly through to the final pages, and a stunning finale.
Carter has woven a brilliant story which takes place at a realistic speed. It examines the thought process of the SIO and looks at the guilt and anxiety of one set of parents.
This is a simple story, with not many strands to follow, and I’m going to borrow a line from all of those cookery competitions on TV
“If you do something simple it has to be done really well”
This is the second in the series, but the first that I have read.
The first chapter sees DS Jo Masters at a meeting with the force Psychologist, and nicely fills in the story from the first book, so I was never left in the dark about back story.
Masters is a having the session following her last case and is eager to get back to investigating serious crimes.
When the Oxford Student step-daughter of a Member Parliament goes missing Jo is one of the first on the scene and starts the investigation. Unfortunately for her, her boss is not keen on her taking part in the investigation, let alone being the SIO, and only allows her a bit part.
Malin Siigursson outwardly shows the signs of being a perfect student but as the case begins to unfold it becomes obvious that there’s another side to her.
When the body of another woman is found, the apparent victim of a hit and run, Jo’s Boss finds it the ideal excuse to get her off the case of the missing student and teams her up with a newbie to the team.
As both investigations continue another woman goes missing. Can there be a connection.
This is a belter of a story which had me hooked from the beginning.
Jo Masters is a character that is easy to like. The struggles with her boss are balanced by the respect and camaraderie she find with her colleagues. But as much as she is likeable she is frustrating. I have to admit to a certain empathy with her boss.
The story looks at her return to work soon after a horrific incident.
From the start of the book there are some characters that raise suspicion. On more than one occasion I was sure I knew who the criminal was, then I changed my mind, again and again.
M.J Ford has written this book very cleverly. There are two or three people that keep putting themselves to the front of the suspect list but then get pulled back into the crowd.
It was this that kept me reading, and I mean kept me reading. This was very close to a one sitting read, but a man needs sleep, so it ended up being two sittings.
DI Gina Harte is back. She is probably the most troubled female Police Inspector on the shelves right now, and at the same time she is probably one of the best fictional cops on the shelves at the moment.
When a young girl falls from the back of a van it quickly becomes apparent that she has been held against her will, she is undernourished and drug dependent, but who is she.
Harte’s teams first task is to identify the girl, then find out what has happened to her.
But this won’t be the last young girl found. Nor will it be the last one the team have difficulty identifying.
At the same time a mother is looking for her runaway daughter, could either of the two unidentified girls be her daughter, or could their story hold the key to finding her.
This book looks into the homeless runaways we see sleeping rough on our streets.
Not all of them come from unloving homes and many of them have families who are frantically looking for them, scared of every knock on the door in case its bad news.
Hartes team run their investigation without knowing about the desperate mom, are both looking into the same thing.
People on the streets tell their story to the mother, where they won’t talk to the Police. As a reader frustration builds when the two sides aren’t communicating. When the mother is left to walk the streets talking to people in the hope that she will uncover some clue to her daughters whereabouts.
The things she hears are hardly comforting, drugs, prostitution, shop lifting, abuse, assaults are day to day experiences for some of the rough sleepers.
This book made me stop and think more than many others have over the years.
Carla Kovach has written a wonderful story. Gina Harte is one of my favourite characters, but for me the star of this book is that Mom who is looking for her daughter.
I cannot begin to imagine what a parent would go through when a child goes missing. And yes I know what goes on, on the streets, but somehow it was all brought home in this book. The horrors of sleeping rough, making allegiances with people that can only bring danger, but in a weird way offer security.
This is a subject that I have read about in other books, but this is by far the best.