The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows Marnie Riches

The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows       Marnie Riches

Georgina McKenzie is back, or should I say the now Dr Georgina McKenzie is back.  About two years on from the end of The Girl Who Broke the Rules Dr George, a professional Criminologist is back in the UK interviewing prisoners who have a history of abuse and being abused.

Her mismatched lover, Chief Inspector Paul van den Bergen is still working in Amsterdam but has been moved to a department hunting for missing persons.

The Dr and the Chief Inspector are hitting a rough patch and their will-they-wont -they relationship, which had become a they-did, is back to will-they-wont-they.

Meanwhile a bitter chill hits Europe with deep snow and ice covering the continent and the UK. But the chill isn’t just in the weather, somebody is killing people in England and Holland. The killer, “Jack Frost”, uses the the elements to their advantage, which makes the investigation even harder.

With George in the UK, carrying out research into abused people being trafficked around Europe, Van den Bergen stumbles into a murder investigation in Amsterdam.

George notices a similarity between the drug dealer’s death in Amsterdam and a death in the UK.

Before long the two are working together, but is it going to be a harmonious or destructive relationship???

George’s family have been in the background of the previous two books and make an appearance in this one. George is staying with them but somebody else is watching. Is it something to do with Dr Georges research or something more sinister?

As more children go missing it becomes apparent that Dr George has an academic rival who is also researching child abuse and its relationship to organised paedophile rings and trafficking. A hassle that she could do without.

As in the two previous book there are no wasted words. Every paragraph of every chapter has a meaning and a direction. And that direction hurtles the reader to the end of the book, and I really do mean the end of the book.

Marnie Riches writes with a style that never makes the reader think anything is unrealistic. It might be uncomfortable for some people to think that the crimes, and criminals, in this book are real, but they are and Riches has them nailed in the characters and scenes in her books.

With children going missing, murders to investigate, personal problems with her family and her mismatched lover could things get anymore hectic for Dr McKenzie.

You’ll have to read The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows to find out. I promise you, its well worth it.

For me this is the best “The Girl Who….” Yet.

Well done Marnie Riches 3 brilliant books in a fantastic series

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Notes of a Russian Sniper and American Sniper

Notes of a Russian Sniper Vassilli Zaitsev

American Sniper    Chris Kyle

As well as police procedural novels one of my passions in reading is biography’s or biographical accounts of historic events.

I’m not into celebrity, its usually Military, Fire, Police or Adventurers that I read. Recently I have read two books autobiographical books about Snipers.

Notes of a Russian Sniper-Vassilli Zaitsev is the book, and the person, that the film Enemy at the Gates was based on and is an account of a Russian Soldier who is recruited to the army during the second World War.

Transferred from training straight to the battle of Stalingrad Zaitsev recounts the utter devastation of the city during the siege by the German Forces. Describing hand-to-hand fighting and bombing in a strangely matter-of –fact way that transports the reader to the heart of the battles.

Zaitsev soon found a notoriety amongst his fellow fighters (both civilian and military) as a brave man, although he would not say so himself, its was not until he had been on the front line for a while that people realised he was a good shot. He had been raised in a family where hunting was a way of life and lying still patiently waiting for a shot came as second nature.

As word spread amongst the Russians he quickly became a folk hero and had a big effect on the moral of his fellow fighters.

He also gained a reputation amongst he Germans who tried to identify and target him. Crack snipers from the German Army were dispatched to find and kill him, some even came close.

This book not only describes Zaitsev’s experiences but its also one of the most descriptive books I’ve read on the siege of Stalingrad.

The other book I read was American Sniper by Chris Kyle. From 1999-2009 Kyle was a sniper for the American Seals special forces teams. He holds the record number of kills for an American sniper. The book describes Kyle’s exploits but the realm of modern warfare. He describes taking shots from 1000’s of metres, working in teams where he is guarded by groups of other soldiers with air cover and evacuation helicopters as part of the operations.

The two books could not cover such different conflicts.

The two authors are very similar in character, although Zaitsev does not go into his personal life as deeply as Kyle.

The comparisons are easy to see in their ethics and how they thought with one big difference. Zaitsev was at war to survive, Kyle fought a war on a different continent to where his lived and chose to do what he did. Zaitsev did it out of necessity.

It strikes me as strange that although both of these films have been made into blockbuster Hollywood films most people will only know of Kyle.

Most people don’t even realise that The Enemy at the Gate was based on a real person.

For me Notes of a Russian Sniper is by far the better book, and I suspect it is also the more accurate reflection of events.

Both these books are worth reading, in fact I’d suggest they were both read, but if you only read one.

Read Notes of A Russian Sniper.

Ghosts of the Past Harry McCillion

Ghosts Of The Pasts       Harry McCallion.

I’m going to start this review with a quote from one of the characters in the book.

“A mysterious Russian Countess – a sinister killer – and two dead diplomats – It sounds like something out of a novel”

Well it is something out of a novel. It’s out of this one, and being as this is said within the first couple of chapters it’s not even a spoiler.

This book is great. McCallion has used the mid-nineties era to set a book in a very unstable world.

Different factions of the Irish terrorist organisation of the PIRA are at war, some in favour of peace with England others definitely not.

The Soviet empire has crumbled since the knocking down of the Berlin Wall and the coming of independence of some of the soviet states.

In England the mysterious Countess Natasha Romanov is in a bitter battle with Ukrainian Mafioso in an attempt to capture the lucrative drug trade in Europe.

In Ireland the IRA are fighting amongst themselves and all the time a lone assassin ties the factions together but whose side is he on.

London Met Police officers, aided by DI Nevin Brown of the Royal Ulster Constabulary are investigating murders across the capital. Are they all connected to the feuds being played out between the groups from the ex-soviet nations and the feuds between the warring factions of the Irish Terrorists.

Whose side should the Police take, is there any friendly faces amongst the different factions.

MI5 seem to be standing back and letting things play out, much to the detriment of the investigating officers and their safety.

This book starts of like a sprinter coming out of the blocks and doesn’t slow down all the way to the end.

One of my favourite authors of all time is Robert Ludlum. Well for me Harry McCallion is every bit as good.

I will be looking out for more of his books in the future.

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The Brief Simon Michael

The Brief   Simon Michael

To use a sporting term this is a book of two halves, and both of them are really good.

The first half of the book is set in 1960 introduces the reader to the main protagonist Charles Holborne, a Barrister in a London Chambers. As the only criminal barrister amongst chambers full of corporate law and civil court barristers he is not the most popular person.

In fact Charles is not the most popular person amongst most of the people in his life. His wife is from English gentry and his marriage is on the line as she increasingly turns to her parent’s circle of friends leaving Charles alone at home or working late.

Whilst he’s at work he is constantly fighting the closure of the criminal work and hence his removal from chambers. Simon Michael, paints a great picture of a law chambers in the early 1960’s and the people that work in it, with Holborne having few friends and many enemies.

Charles is from a strong Jewish family and has changed his name to help him get along in a largely anti-Semitic profession. However it was marrying his wife Henrietta that was the final straw and his family have disowned him since the wedding.

The first half of the book sees’ Holborne representing one of two armed robbers tried with job in London, and is a good story in itself, but is no more than a prelude for the action in the second half.

The second half of the book is set in 1962.

Two years later and Charles and his wife are drifting further apart and the other barristers in Chambers are increasing their attempts to drive him out.

With his life in general reaching a tipping point Holborne becomes the suspect in a vicious crime. One of the characters introduced in the first half of the book is Detective Inspector Ronal Henry Wheatly. Wheatly is not crooked but he does like to make the evidence fit the person he is after. He is known to get results, even if he has the wrong person.

When Holborne realises Wheatly considers him a suspect he knows he has to take matters into his own hands, go on the run, and try to solve the crime himself.

The story sits nicely in the sixties allowing Simon Michael to weave a tale that wouldn’t sit correctly in the modern day.

It seems right that the world in which he works is full of anti-Semitic upper class snobs; its right that his wife’s family look down on him; we except that policing was “different” in those days. It wouldn’t have been right to set in in this day and age.

Michael has written a tale that is easily believable and very enjoyable. I hope this is the first of many, hopefully in the same era.

A great book I would recommend to anybody who enjoys a good legal who-done-it.

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Hold Still Tim Adler

Hold Still     Tim Adler

A fascinating fast paced thriller.

Kate Julia is in Tirana with her husband, Paul, for the funeral of one of his family.

Back in their hotel room Paul receives a text. At the same time Kate takes a picture of him on her phone. Seconds later he is lying dead on the ground, a long way below their penthouse balcony.

In a foreign country, where she doesn’t speak the language Kate, is left to answer the local police’s questions. Looking at the photograph she took of Paul just before his death Kate thinks she can see somebody on their balcony looking through the curtains, but will the police believe her.

Returning home to England with her husband’s ashes Kate becomes even more convinced that her husbands death is suspicious especially when she see’s the picture message that he received immediately before his death.Tirana is run by Mafioso type gangs involved in drugs, gun running and human trafficking. Was Paul involved with the gangs. If he was, was his death related to them and is Kate safe.

There is no doubt that the gang has members in England but who are they, where are they, what are they involved in, and how was Paul involved?

The story follows Kate’s quest for the truth.

Who can she trust, is anybody who they say they are?

This book is a great psychological thriller. Tim Adler has managed to find a country, Albania, in which he can realistically set a great story.

A country that is run on corruption and fear, a country who’s gangs are beginning to surface in the UK.

Kate’s plight is so believable, that at it makes the book fly by.

It would be a bit cliché to say there are twists-and-turns on every page but there are in every chapter. This book full of them, but the plot still flows at a pace that makes it almost impossible to put down.

Tim Adler has a great talent of ending a chapter in such a way that it makes you want to start the next. Which is probably why I was still reading it a 2.30 in the morning.

A great read I would highly recommend. Just make sure you have nothing pressing to do when you start, because this one is nigh-on impossible to put down.

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Readers Block

It’s been a while since I blogged about a book and there’s been two reasons for that.

The first is I’ve been unbelievably busy. Usually I spend at least an hour in the evening reading to unwind no matter how much work I have.

To say I haven’t been reading would be wrong, and here’s the second reason I haven’t blogged and a question for all you bookworms.

I have started about 7 or 8 books since the start of the new year, and I’ve given up on all of them. I never give up with less than half the book read, I have this thing about giving it a chance, but if it hasn’t hooked me by half way through its gone.

There have been various reasons; the story was not good and was going nowhere, the story starts off great then meanders into boring mundane nothingness, the author hasn’t done their research and keep making annoying basic mistakes.

An example of the later is a book I started that was set in the current day. The Police Officers kept referring to the forensic teams as SOCO’s. To my knowledge there haven’t been any SOCO’s for at least ten years, they are now FSI, or CSI, or Forensic Support. The same author had a Detective Superintendent as one of the main characters. His team kept referring to him as the DS, I’m sure he would have been chuffed with the demotion to Detective Sergeant. Everyone I know refers to any Superintendent as the “Super”. The worst part of this though is that it was a really good story. I just couldn’t get past the silly errors

So have I just had a bad run, am I just being picky because there are so many good books out there. Or am I having some version of what writers call “writers block”. Have I got “readers block”

Some people have asked why I don’t tell people about the books I don’t enjoy. Well I have some simple rules for my blogs

I never put anything in them which would be classed as a spoiler.
I try not to comment on anything in the story after the halfway point just in case.
I never pull authors up on technicalities.
If I don’t like a story it doesn’t mean nobody else will so I don’t blog about books I don’t like.

There may be an exception to the last rule. I am on a great site called net galley. They ask for negatives as well as positives, and there’s a facility for me to talk directly to the publishers and authors so I can explain my thoughts. So if you see any of my posts on that site, the negatives are there because they sent me a book and asked for honest feedback.

So that’s why I haven’t blogged since Christmas. The good news is work has steadied out and I am back to reading a bit at night.

Follow Me Angela Clarke

Follow Me       Angela Clarke

 

This is another one of those books that turned up as a suggestion based on what I have read before, and Thank God I listened.

Follow me is Angela Clarke’s first crime novel, although she is an established writer as a journalist with a published memoir and playwriting experience, and it shows.

Follow Me is one of the most original plots for a crime thriller I’ve read for a long time.

The main protagonist is Freddie Venton. Freddie is a young woman in her early twenties. A university graduate she works as a barista in a London coffee shop whilst trying to break into the world of journalism. She is not immediately the most likable character, she’s goby, smokes, doesn’t appear to be overly keen on personal hygiene, lives on a sofa in a shared flat, and has a tendency towards using casual sex as a copping mechanism for any stress she has.

Freddie has been writing an anonymous, unpaid column for an online newspaper but struggles to find a paid job. One of the pieces of advice she is given is find the big story, be in amongst it, have a perspective nobody else has.

That chance is presented to her when she is taking a timeout from her job at the coffee shop. Having just been given a rollicking by her manager for fighting off the amorous advances of a drunk she is brooding outside the shop, having a cigarette, when she sees an old friend she hasn’t seen since school.

Detective Sergeant Nasreen Cudmore is everything Freddie isn’t, tall, slim, confident-without being cocky, and apparently successful in her chosen career.

From the instant they meet it is obvious that the two women have history. As the story develops the reader discovers that the two were best friends at school but that something happened that drove them apart. This little sub-plot is good at establishing the relationship between the girls, but unlike some books doesn’t take up great swathes of the story or act as a distraction.

Freddie is a social media and app freak. She is into everything and when she meets Cudmore she manages to sign her onto a social media app that allows Freddie to follow Cudmore via her phone. Realising that Cudmore is in the Police and is about to go on some kind of early morning raid, or investigation Freddie uses the app to follow her. What happens next is for the reader to enjoy and not for me to spoil but Freddie ends up working for the Police as a Social Media advisor.

Why?

Because the Police have a murder on their hands and its been played out on Twitter. The murder has their own account, and the un-savvy police haven’t got the first clue when it comes to the protocols and habits of twitter users.

Freddie has already annoyed the investigating team, led by DCI Moast, and including DS Cudmore, when she is asked to consult on the case by Superintendent Gray. At first it appears to be a “tick-in-the-box” political correctness ploy by Grey but Freddie soon proves her worth and the team reluctantly accept her.

DCI Moast is one of Freddie’s biggest haters but that is because he suffers from Confirmation Bias during the investigation. The condition that a lot of investigators suffer from, Jump to a conclusion then make the evidence fit the theory.

After all Moast and his team are dedicated and experienced Police Officers. Freddie is just a scruffy little coffee shop girl with a big mouth what could she possibly know that they don’t.

When the murders start to stack up more of the team start to think Freddie is getting it right.

This book is one of the best I’ve read for a very long time. It’s told from the point of view of a civilian that is thrown into a Police Investigation.

Freddie encounters crime scenes at their worst. Angela Clarke gets into Freddie’s head brilliantly for this. It’s not glamorous and it can have lasting effects on people, Clarke describes it as if it has happened to her.

She also describes the feeling of an outsider trying to get her convictions across and the frustrations of being treated as an inconvenient sideshow thrust upon the investigation team by a Senior Officer. Whilst also struggling with the emotions of a lost friendship with Cudmore.

The end of the book is great. One of the best things about finding a new author is you are never sure how things will end. Are they a Happy-ever-after writer, or are they a Cop-for-this-shocker writer.

Do you know what? You’ll have to make your own mind up. Right up to the last line of the last page I was hooked.

Who would I recommend this book to?

If you like Marnie Riches you will love this book

If you like Marri Hannah, Angela Marsons or any other British Police Procedural writer you have to read this and see the story from a civilians point of view. You won’t be disappointed.

But most of all. If you love a good story, you’ll love this book.51U5fVAiqeL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_