American Sherlock. Kate Winkler Dawson

I had heard of Edward Oscar Heinrich, but in somewhat of an urban myth type of way.

I knew he was a real person, and his name seemed to crop up on the edges of research I had done whilst gaining Forensic Qualifications.

So when I saw this book was available to review I knew I was going to read it. Originally I was going to use it as a literacy pallet cleanser, reading a chapter between books. That went out of the window after the first chapter

If you don’t know who Edward Oscar Heinrich is imagine a mad Professor who approached the Police and said science can solve crimes. Now think this happened in the early 1930’s

A lot of his work has gone unrecorded for years, after some of his methods were called into doubt.

But after his death in 1953, at the age of 72, all of his files and equipment went into storage. In the late 1960s the collection was bequeathed to the University of California where it lay untouched for nearly 50 years until the author requested permission to look inside the boxes, and what a treasure chest she opened

Heinrich was integral in some of the most high profile cases of the 20’s, 30s and 40’s

The first case that brought him to attention was when he assisted police in Portland with a crime that had gone wrong. 3 men had tried to stop a train and rob it, a bit like the UK’s Great Train Robbery, only this one went very wrong

The men only succeeded in blowing the train up and killing 4 people.

Heinrich used science to establish what had happened and helped catch the perpetrators.

And so was born Forensic Scene Examination, and Forensic Science in American Law enforcement.

This book looks at some of his more notable, and in some cases infamous, cases.

This is more than a book, it’s a gateway, via Google, into some brilliant reading.

Whether you are a True Crime fan, a Crime Fiction fan, or just somebody who enjoys a good book, you will live this.

But be prepared, it’s going to lead to a lot of reading outside of the covers of this book.

Pages: 359. Publisher U.K: Icon Books. Available now

The Drowned Woman. C.J Lyons

This book is what I would call a slow burner, but even slow burners can lead to infernos, and this one is definitely worth sticking with.

17 years ago a car drives off the road into a river, the driver a woman is killed. Before she dies she takes hold of her fiancée’s hand for comfort. But he’s not there.

Today that fiancee is now Detective Sergeant Luca Jericho, and he’s still grieving, and wondering why his wife to be drove of the road leaving him a on his own, when everything seemed to be going so well

Jericho is called away from the site of the crash, on the seventeenth anniversary, to a sudden death. An old lady is dead at the bottom of the stairs and her confused husband is in a panicked state.

Jericho calls in Dr Leah Wright, who’s husband was killed only a month before, to talk to the elderly husband.

But as part of her investigation she talks to an old lady in the same building. She has the unusual job of proof reading obituaries and she is convinced there’s a serial killer sending her false ones. Ones which report the accidental death of people before they die.

As soon as Jericho finds out about the false obituaries he makes the connection to his wife death. Is he clinging to a false hope, or will he have answers after nearly two decades.

As I said at the start this is a slow burner of a book. There’s not the usual hook at the beginning to get you into it. But as I also said even slow burners can lead to infernos, and this is one hell of a story.

What this story has got is suspense, and it’s got it in bucket fulls. I can’t quite remember gripping a book so tightly whilst I read it for a very long time.

Pages: 342, Publisher: Bookouture, Available now.

Wild Flower Graves. Rita Herron

Still struggling with her family secrets which devastated her in “The Silent Dolls” Detective Ellie Reeves is about to be pitched into another nightmare investigation

Just as Crooked County is getting over the fact that a serial killer had been stalking the Appalachian Trail, and that the much loved ex Sheriff, might have known about the killer for years, and done nothing about it, more bodies start to be discovered.

Ellie is pitched straight back into the deep end when the first body is discovered. A young woman has had her throat cut, been dressed, had makeup applied, and posed in a remote beauty spot on the Trail. Monday’s Child

With a section of the famous poem sewn into her mouth the victim is the first of potentially 7. When the next body is found the following day it becomes obvious that Ellie is in a race against time

Then the killer contacts her and she realises things are personal, and that the killer is taunting her, but it’s much more personal than that, he has already taken a good friend of hers, a fellow Police Officer.

Racing to find the killer Ellie finds two allies, one thrust upon her by her boss, the other a man she approaches herself. Both men are not her biggest fans

Ranger Cord McClain knows the Trail like nobody else but Ellie as good as accused him of being the serial killer in the previous case, she knows she needs his help but will he help her

Her boss calls in FBI Agent Derrick Fox, a man who helped with the previous investigation but who blew her family apart in his dogged pursuit of the killer who started by killing his little sister.

Not only does Ellie need to build bridges and restore relationships with the two men but she needs to act as a piece keeper, the men do not like or trust each other.

This story is outstanding. Earlier this year I reviewed Our Daughters Bones, the first in the series, and I raved about it. If anything this book is even better.

The setting of the Appalachian Trail is perfect for crime fiction. 2000 plus miles of wilderness walks stretching up the east of the United States, off grid communities, unique characters doted around a fantastic landscape, it’s perfect for intense storylines

Ellie Reeves is a character that it’s very easy to like, and emphasise with, but she can be frustratingly stubborn. Her professional relationships with Fox and Cord, the problems she has with the weird jurisdictional system of American Law Enforcement, and the hostile gossiping of much of the local community, following her family’s involvement with the previous killer, all add to the story.

The two books in the series so far, are amongst my favourite books this year. Can this one be read as a standalone? Yes it can, Rita Herron back refers enough to give the reader a full understanding of what happened in the first book.

But why miss out. Read The Silent Dolls first, then read this one. If you don’t you’ll kick yourself because you’ll definitely go back to it.

Pages 409, Publisher Bookouture, Publishing Date, 3rd December 2020

Cemetery Road Greg Iles

Greg Iles is without doubt my favourite American author. His Penn Cage series, which included the Natchez Burning Trilogy, are some of the best books I’ve ever read.

So when I picked up Cemetery Road, I was expecting a good read, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Marshall (Goose) McEwan is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist working in Washington DC. But he returns to his hometown of Bienville, on the banks of the Mississippi, to run his ailing father’s newspaper.

Whilst he’s there he renews his “acquaintance” with a local attorney, who just happens to be married to the sun of one of the Beinville Poker Club. An Old Deep South Club that owns and runs everything in the town.

The poker club have also been instrumental in bringing Chinese investment to the town, in the form of a paper mill, money that will resurrect a dying economy.

The problem is they want to build the mill on ground that is thought to be of significant historical interest. One of McEwan’s friends, the historian-archaeologist Buck Ferris is murdered the night before the ground breaking ceremony.

Ferris had been like a surrogate father to McEwan, who’s drunken father had largely ignored him for over 30 years, and against much of the towns wish starts to investigate his friends murder.

What follows is a story of duplicity, in which the Poker Club try everything to stop McEwan, and his few ally’s, from finding the truth. With tens of millions of dollars at stake, as well as the freedom of the members of the club if the authorities ever find out the long list of laws they have broken, they are prepared to do anything to stop him.

This is a brilliant story from a master storyteller, and I love his books; but I should warn some of you that some people may find his writing a bit near-the-knuckle. There is sex and violence in this book, as there is in all of his books. But it’s there for a reason, it’s in context, it adds to the story. In fact the story wouldn’t work without it.

I have described Iles in previous blogs as being John Grisham without filters, and in my opinion that is why he is better than Grisham, and I love Grisham’s books.

Pages: 618

Publisher: UK, Harper Collins

Available now

COLD HEART CREEK. Lisa Regan

There is no two ways about it. I look forward to these books. When the publishers place them on a reviewing website, and say they are available to read, I always have difficulty finishing what I’m reading at the time quick enough so that I can find out what Josie Quinn has been up to this time.

Cold Heart Creek did not disappoint.

From the very beginning the booked had me hooked, Josie has a back story that includes a horrific child hood and upbringing, and she’s having flashbacks in her nightmares.

Meanwhile, a ranger finds two bodies at a campsite, then a third sleeping bag is discovered. Who is missing?

There are clues. Clues which lead Josie and her team on a hunt for the third person but what they find is even more disturbing, than they could have anticipated.

From the beginning of the book the story is addictive. Josie is suffering mentally. Her Boyfriend, and work Partner, Noah knows she is but she won’t let him in to help.

The murder investigation, and the hunt for the third person takes a nasty twist and Josie, Noah and the rest of the team are hampered by the terrain surrounding the small city of Denton, and the weather that nature unleashes on them.

It’s hard to say much about the story without introducing massive spoilers but that doesn’t mean the book has an obvious ending, in fact it’s far from obvious. That’s the beauty about Lisa Regan’s writing. She gives you enough information to let you build your own hypothesis and then, without introducing any “shark infested custard” type scenarios, she delivers the perfect end that sneaks up on you without warning; and definitely leaves you wanting to read the next book.

Pages: 377

Publishers: Bookouture

Available: Now

Her Silent Cry, Lisa Regan, Blog Tour

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Her Silent Cry is the 6thBook in the Josie Quinn series written by Lisa Regan.

I have been lucky enough to have been on board with this series from the start, and I’ve loved every book. So could this one live up to my expectations. Definitely.

The main character Josie Quinn has had a rough ride, from childhood to Detective, and that story alone would be worthy of its own book, but you won’t be left behind if you read this as a stand-alone.

Lisa Regan has a way of writing that I rarely come across. She manages to make the read comfortable, whilst covering the most horrific of crimes. This is never “cosy-crime”, but the stories always slide by really quickly.

Her characters are amazing, Quinn is feisty, pretty, stubborn, and a hell of a good cop.

Her partner Noah is a bit of a mystery to those that don’t know him, and there’s a good reason for that, but Quinn knows him, and they spark together brilliantly

The victims suffer, and boy do some of them suffer, at the hands of some of the best criminals in fiction at the moment.

The setting is perfect Denton, a small town in the US surrounded by forests and mountains means Regan can set just about any crime she wants in a realistic surrounding, but the best part is the isolation she finds in scenes set in the wilds. If it was a film I’d be watching from behind the sofa

So here’s my review of Her Silent Cry, book six in my favourite American Crime series

Her Silent Cry    Lisa Regan

For once Detective Josie Quinn is having some time off and has taken a friends young son to the park for a day out. The piece is soon shattered when a 7 year old girl goes missing, right from under her parents noses, in the same park.

Off duty or not Josie is soon directing operations to try to find the girl. Joined by her team, and a good proportion of the local community the search proves fruitless.

Against her boss’s best wishes Quinn calls in a specialist FBI team that specialise in investigating the abduction of children.

The FBI and Quinn’s team are at a loss to identify the abductor, until a phone call to the parents strikes fear to everybody’s hearts. Their demand, or lack of it, is chilling, and would be every parent’s nightmare.

Quinn has formed a good relationship with the family and the FBI begin to rely on this, but is she getting all the information she needs from them.

This is a cracking story.

One simple crime, an abduction, strikes fear into the community, but things start to get worse.

Lisa Regan has built a strong community of characters in this series. She uses their emotions and feelings to permutate through the story and build up the suspense.

Unlike most series any of these books can be read as a stand-alone. The reader will learn bits of the back stories of the main characters, without being left wondering what is going on.

The setting is perfect. A small City with plenty of isolated rural areas, which allows Regan to set parts of the book in a built up area, whilst having all the suspense of settings in remote country areas.

This book, and this series, ideal for fans of crime series written by the likes of Angela Marsons, Patricia Gibney, Carol Wyer and Graham Smith.

 

Publishing Date: 14thAugust

Publishers: Bookouture

City of Windows Robert Pobi

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Where do I start with a book as good as this?

The storyline is brilliant.

The main character is unique in modern writing.

The settings are, well its New York City so it’s anything-goes and its believable.

Let’s start with the story. A sniper is making impossible shots in New York. Firing from distance, from height, through almost impossible gaps in the tower blocks. The first person they hit is a federal agent, so is the second. Is that a coincidence? No of course not. Are these agents being selected at random or is there a connection.

Then there’s the main character, Lucas Page. Lucas is a University Professor, or he is now, he used to be something very different, but that cost him an arm and a leg, literally, and an eye. Fitted with prosthetics and a false eye he is happily(ish) teaching at a University until the sniper makes his first hit. Then his ex-colleagues need his speciality, because Professor Page is a maths genius. He sees things in numerical blocks and can calculate distances and angles in an instant. In fact he can reverse engineer the factors needed to identify the most likely location of the snipers nest before the forensic scientists can get their equipment out of their cars.

Lucas is happy in his new world of teaching, its safe and he goes home at night. His wife is happy as well, because he comes home at night and acts as a father to their ever increasing brood of fostered children.

So when Luke is told he has to go back neither he nor his wife are happy, but it’s not long before he’s bitten by the bug and is immersed in the investigation.

The  FBI are convinced they know the identity of the killer and all they have to do is find them. Lucas is less convinced.

Battling against some of the brass within the FBI who are sceptical in his abilities, and are target focused on the man they think is killing their agents, Lucas finds an ally in Special Agent Whitaker, the tall woman who has been assigned to be his chaperone during the investigation.

This is a clever story. Snipers in the big cities of the world is already one of the threats that have law enforcers worried. To us one in a story like this shows how random the attacks can be, the effect it has on the community, and just how difficult it would be to catch a well prepared marksman.

Robert Pobi has just gone to the top of my list of back catalogues to read, and any future books will be read as soon as I can get my hands on them.

Pages:  400

Publishers: Mulholland Books

Publishing date: 6thAugust 2019

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

TH!RTE3N Steve Cavanagh

It says on the cover that “The Seral Killer isn’t on trial, he’s on the jury”, that’s not a spoiler, and its not even half the story.

This is the story of a diligent defence attorney that’s not scared to chase the truth.

When Eddie Flynn is asked to take second seat on the defence table in the biggest murder trail the state has ever seen, which just happens to involve one of Americas up-and-coming movie stars, it’s not because he’s one of those vain celebrity attorney’s. It’s because he’s known to take on the NYPD, and because he can be sacrificed by the defence team if they seem to be losing the case.

Robert Solomon is the star on trial, all the evidence points to him being the only suspect in the murder of his wife, and his head of security, who were found in his bed.

As Eddie starts to dig into the evidence he starts to realise that the case against Robert is strong but there is one piece of evidence which is wrong, in fact it’s very wrong. That one piece of evidence is enough to get Eddie looking at who else might have committed the crime, and what he comes up with is shocking. Could there be a serial killer on the loose that nobody has yet identified.

As the cover of the book says the killer isn’t on trial, he’s on the jury. If you have committed the perfect murder how do you ensure that somebody else takes the blame for it. Does the ultimate frame include influencing the jury from within.

The story follows Eddie, before and after, he has taken on the second seat position. We listen in to his thoughts and watch as he starts to suspect that not everything in this case is as it seems.

The story also follows the serial killer, Joshua Kane. This is an unusual path for a crime book. The criminal is known to the reader from the start. Kane’s story unfolds as the story follows him over the days just before, and during, the trail. The big question is, will he get away with it?

This is one of the best court room-crime thrillers I’ve read for years. From the start the reader is aware of what is happening and can see who the bad guy is. So there’s no who-done-it.

The suspense that is built up in the court room scenes is electric and I had real difficulty putting this book down.

I don’t think I’ve ever come across this concept before, and that’s a rarity these days. 

But as strange as the concept may seem the story is very believable, and completely engrossing.

A great read.

Pages: 368

Publishers: Orion

Available now

Where Angels Fear D.K. Hood

When a couple of young women are flagged down to help a motorist stranded in a winter storm the nightmare begins.

One of the girls escapes and makes it to Black Rock Falls but the other wakes in what she thinks is a hospital. That illusion lasts as long as it takes her to realise that she is tethered to the bed and that the person in the next bed is being threatened with unspeakable pain an death.

Ella, the girl who has escaped, tries to convince the local police that they should take her seriously, but it takes more disappearances until they realise they have a serial killer on their hands

The investigation is headed by Sheriff Jenna Alton and Deputy Dave Kane. Both of these investigators have hidden pasts and are living new lives.

Jenna has given evidence against one of Americas biggest gang leaders and is living under a new identity, but has it been blown.

Dave is still recovering from injuries he sustained in a previous investigation and his budding relationship with Jenna is under threat as his recent memories are being overtaken by the grief he felt when his first wife was killed.

Against the backdrop of the investigation into the serial killer the investigators go on their guard against a possible attack on Jenna, and try to rebuild their relationship

As Jenna conduct the investigation she uncovers similar crimes in which young people go missing on the same stretch of road and are never seen again. The pure amount of missing people is astonishing and the evidence given by Ella is the only clue they have to what is going on.

This is a small community and somebody must know what is happening. In fact it’s that small there is every possibility that everybody knows the killer, they just don’t realise it is who it is.

This is a good book with at least 3 strands to a story that weaves its way to a climatic end. 

There is no time to switch off. Even when they are at home off duty Alton and Kane have to be on guard. 

There is no time in this book when somebody is not in danger.

I like stories like this, they keep the pages turning, in fact they kept the pages turning so much I read the whole thing over two days.

Pages 288:

Published by: Bookouture

Available now