POISON Jacqui Rose

This “Gangland” genre of fiction is getting more popular, so I thought I’d give it a go. Poison is not the first of the type I’ve read but it’s certainly the best.

Franny is in Prison on remand, she’s a hard woman who’s used to being the boss, but in prison she’s just another inmate who gets targeted by the hard knocks. There’s a hierarchy and as the book starts Franny is far from the top of it.

As the story unfolds we find out why Franny’s in prison. Not just the crime she’s alleged to have committed, but also the duplicity that has taken place to put her behind bars.

Meanwhile outside, the prison, the triangular relationship between a 16 year old drug addict who is trying to straighten out her life, a young drug addict father who is trying to pay back massive debts, and a Criminal who is a friend of both and is trying to look after them, is putting everybody in danger, including Franny.

Throw into the mix a very crocked Police Officer and this is one hell of a story.

Misplaced loyalties within the criminal fraternity provide some great twists and turns but all of the strands of the story run together in a very neat plot.

For crime fiction lovers this story is a diversion from the usual cop-hunts-criminal type of tale. It still holds intrigue, and poses dilemma’s, but from  a completely different side of life.

The things that most people would think are wrong, drug taking, drug dealing, prostitution, abuse, money sharking, are all part of day to day life for the characters in this book. It’s hard to find anybody in the book to actually class as the ultimate victim, as all the characters are victims of some type. For me that means that although I have no sympathy, or empathy for any of them, I can understand and tolerate their behaviour.

That made the book easy for me to read. I loved it.

Pages: 403

Publishers: Avon

Publishing Date: Available now

Perfect Kill. Helen Fields

Helen Fields has a way of writing things which take you just to the edge. Just to that point where you have had enough of the scenario to know what’s going to happen next, then cutting away to the next scene or the aftermath. This makes her books really good. Sometimes that little bit left to your own imagination can have so much more of an impact.

Perfect Kill is a perfect example of this with the description of some of the crimes being “peep-through-your-fingers” frightening, whilst maintaining a real believability.

In Edinburgh a young man is kidnapped and drugged. Waking up in a container he is soon swapped for a group of young women. Where is he being taken and what is in store for him.

In France a body is discovered minus its vital organs.

Back in Edinburgh a low level gang leader is running a bunch of brothels, using women that have been forced into the sex trade; but he has a side line that earns him much more money, and it’s not good news for some of the girls in the brothels.

In Scotland DCI Ava Turner takes the lead on the investigation into the kidnap of the young man. Meanwhile her partner DI Luc Callanach is back on his home turf of France acting as a liaison officer for Police Scotland and Interpol, and starts to investigate the the case of the man with the missing organs.

Inevitably the two cases are linked, and Turner and Callanach are thrown into a joint investigation.

This book is the 6th in the series. I’ve been on board from the start and I’m hooked. The characters in the series are amongst my favourites in Crime Fiction. Turner and Callanach have a unique relationship. Callanach has a past that has a lasting impact on him, he suffers from a form of PTSD that affects him in ways that can only be described as frustrating.

But he is a really good police officer, and after winning the respect of Turner, and her MIT, it all went wrong when part of his past came back to haunt him. This led to him being moved back to France, on a temporary basis, but now everybody wants to build bridges and get him home to Scotland.

This book is a roller-coaster of a story. Horrific in places, haunting in others, emotional throughout, but this just makes it readable. In fact I hardly put it down from start to finish.

Pages: 416

Publisher: Avon Books

Available 6th February 2020

Stolen. Paul Finch

Any book with a character who is a homeless, drug addicted, ex-nun, who turns turns tricks to feed her habit, and continues to wear her gowns, has to be off to a flying start. You’ve got to read the book to meet Sister Cassie.

But she’s not the only reason to read this book. The lead character Detective Constable Lucy Clayburn is a firecracker of a character. She is relentless in her pursuit of criminals, but hides a dark secret from her colleagues, her dad is one of the leaders of Manchester’s biggest criminal gang, “The Crew”. Not that she’d ever exploit that, in fact she’s only just found out. So a constant throughout is weather she should commit career suicide by telling her bosses, or try to carry on and hope they don’t find out.

The start of this book is a bit of a tough read if you, like me, are a dog lover. Lucy busts an illegal dog fighting club, but amongst the dead and tortured animals she doesn’t find the ones she’s been looking for, the ones which have recently been stolen by somebody in a Black Transit Van.

What she does become aware of, thanks to Sister Cassie, is that some homeless people are also going missing, and the black van seems to be involved again.

Meanwhile there’s an internal dispute amongst the hierarchy of The Crew, including Lucy’s dad, that looks like it will lead to the gang imploding.

Whilst Lucy tries to find the Black Van, and what has happened to the people that were taken, her Dad becomes more embroiled in the infighting in The Crew. Inevitably the two storylines merge, but not in a way I anticipated, and father and daughter have decisions to make.

This is a belter of a book. Tough, and hard hitting, it is a story woven from several strands which knit together perfectly.

The characters in this book are stunning, but ultimately the ones I haven’t mentioned, the perpetrators of the crimes, are the ones that give it that real edge. I defy anybody to guess who they are, or what their motives are until they’re revealed, and then…..then it gets really scary.

Why?

Because they are way to realistic, and they really shouldn’t be.

Pages: 480

Publishers: Avon

Publishing date: Available now

The Taken Girls G.D Sanders

I have to say that this book has really torn me.

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.

Pages: 355

Publisher: Avon

Available now.

In Safe Hands J.P Carter


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”

Believe me J.P Carter has done it really well

Publisher: Avon

Pages: 384

Publishing Date: 24thJanuary 2019

Kiss of Death. Paul Finch

IMG_2496

When I reviewed Ashes to Ashes, a previous book in this series, I declared it to be my guilty secret. I like my books to be as realistic as possible but I found DS Mark “Heck” Heckenburg to be a little bit too gung-ho. However I did like him.

In this book Heck is back, and is just as gung-ho.

The SCU is under threat. The austerity measures are taking effect and as a specialist team, looking a niche crimes, they are seen as an extravagance that the Police can’t afford.

To try to raise their profile they have taken on an almost impossible task. Split into teams of two they are tasked to hunt down and arrest England and Wales’s 20 most wanted criminals.

Heck is teamed with new DC Gail Honeyford and sent to track a vicious armed robber who is thought to be responsible for a number a robberies where people were killed in the most horrific manner.

Eddie Creeley is a psychopath. Even his one-time associates want nothing to do with him. But what Heck doesn’t know is Eddie has gone missing. That is until his sister gets a video showing what has happened to him.

Heck is now on the hunt for a psychopath who is in danger.

The story concentrates on Hecks investigations, and in typical Paul Finch style this is a real high speed rollercoaster of a story.

These books are more Mission Impossible than Morse on a scale of reality. But for some reason I love them.

If you like your fiction adrenaline fuelled, and on the edge of reality then you will love these books as much as me.

I recommended the Heck series to a friend who is into the Jack Reacher books by Lee Childs, and who would wouldn’t usually read UK Crime fiction. He enjoyed them as much as me.

Paul Finch is managing something most authors don’t. He is crossing two genres, action and crime, and actually coming out well in both camps.

Pages: 464

Publisher: Avon

Publishing Date: 9th August 2018.

Ashes to Ashes review https://nigeladamsbookworm.com/2017/02/19/ashes-to-ashes-paulfinch/

The Girl Who Got Revenge Marnie Riches

IMG_2238

 

I still can’t believe that these books have never been available in print.  They have to be one of the best euro-crime series ever written and are definitely the cream of the current crop.

The Girl Who Got Revenge sees  the return of Dr Georgie McKenzie and Police Inspector Paul Van den Bergen in the 5th book in the series.

George is the OCD clean freak who has a PhD in Criminology from Cambridge, not a bad achievement for a mixed-race girl from a rough London Council Estate.

Her life partner Paul is a lot older than her, and is a veteran of the Amsterdam Police, he’s also a raving hypochondriac.

What a team they make.

In this book George is struggling with her own family and with Pauls. She wants him to commit to a relationship, he seems to want to spend more time with his daughter and new granddaughter.

Just when things are getting twitchy between the pair a new investigation throws them back together.

A lorry is stopped in the port of Amsterdam. On board, amongst the 50 Syrian refugees being smuggled into the country, is a dead girl.

Van den Bergen and his team are tasked with identifying the people responsible for running the trafficking ring.

At the same time, it becomes apparent that somebody is killing a group of men who became heroes as part of the Dutch Résistance during World War 2

It soon becomes apparent that Van den Bergen’s new boos is not his biggest fan and he gets side-lined from the investigations but, in his usual style, carries on with it in his own time.

By doing this he steps outside the protection offered by the Police force and puts himself, George, and his family in danger.

Meanwhile George becomes engrossed in the investigation into the death of the war heroes. The discovery of a diary written by a young woman during the war tells the story of the small band of résistance fighters, and her love for one of them.

This is a really clever bit of writing by Marnie Riches. She uses the two cases to draw parallels between the plight of refugees from war torn countries of today, with the plight of Dutch Jews during the German Occupation of World War 2.

As the two investigations continue their paths cross.  Could modern day neo Nazi’s really be smuggling Syrian Immigrants into Europe, and if so why.

Before the end of the book some of the characters are put at mortal risk.

Will everybody survive?

I said at the start of this blog that this series is the cream of the current crop of euro-crime thrillers. I read the acknowledgments at the end of the book and it almost felt like a farewell.

I hope not.

George McKenzie is a brilliant character. The stories she has been involved in are very much on topic for today’s illicit activities.

Marnie Riches has written 5 books, in this series. They are all brilliant. And they are all about to be published in Paperback.

So if you are no fan of the e-reader, now you’ll be able to read the lot in hardcopy

 

Pages: 282

Published by Avon

Publishing date UK: 19th April 2018.

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_