BURIED ANGELS. PATRICIA GIBNEY

Buried Angels. Patricia Gibney

I always look forward to the release of the next Lottie Parker book. Set in the midlands of Ireland there’s always that feeling of a cross over between a big city and small village. The crimes are always big, and complex. The issues raised are always quite personal, whether it’s for the victims, perpetrators, witnesses, or the investigation team. In fact Patricia Gibney writes about the personal tortures better than just about everybody else.

This story starts with one of those personal tortures, a family conflict. A young woman is renovating a house left to her husband. When she breaks through a wall, into a boarded off alcove, she finds a skull, and she’s convinced it’s human. Her husband disagrees, and convinces her it’s a toy and that she shouldn’t call the police.

Meanwhile two boys are playing with a drone over a quiet railway line. When they spot something on the camera they soon realise it’s a body. When the police arrive they find it’s a headless body that has been frozen.

As more body parts start to be discovered the team find out that they are trying to put more than 1 jigsaw back together.

What starts of with a skeletal skull and a frozen torso soon escalates. Although the body parts are old somebody must be responsible for dumping the frozen torso, and other bits as they start to be discovered. It doesn’t matter when the murders took place, somebody today is moving things around. Why now.

Another thing Patricia Gibney is really good at is making complex plots with relatively small pools of characters. With crimes happening in a small town this has to be the case. There is not so much 6 degrees of separation as 2 or 3, and it works brilliantly. The way she weaves the strand of the plot you never really know what’s coming next. Revelations lead to revelations. Relationships are normal except when you least expect it.

Her biggest skill is always making you think. Where did that come from, followed quickly by, how did I not see that coming.

Everything works, everything is realistic, and just like the body jigsaws in this book, all the pieces fit together and you sit back and think, what an amazing picture that has painted.

Can you tell I loved this book.

Yes it’s book 8 in a series.
Yes it can be read as a stand-alone
Yes you should read the other 7, and if this is your first Lottie Parker book I’m pretty sure you’ll be getting your hands on them.

Pages: 451
Publishers: Bookouture
Available now.

Somebody’s Daughter. Carol Wyer

Somebody’s Daughter. Carol Wyer

In about 6 weeks I will be taking part in the blog tour for the publication of SOMEBODY’S DAUGHTER by Carol Wyer, but having just finished it I thought I’d do quick, short, review to let people know just how good it is.

Yes it is the latest in a series but this book can easily be read as a stand-alone, in fact it’s almost a fresh start for the main character as she has recently been promoted and is now Detective Chief Inspector Natalie Ward.

The star of this book is the crime and the victims. I try to never give spoilers and this all happens in the first few chapters so I’m not giving much away. Two young girls who fall for the wrong man, a drug addict who grooms girls, then forces them into prostitution to feed his habit, are murdered.

The investigation team is led by the newly promoted DI Lucy Carmichael, but with so many possible strands to the investigation where does she start. Is this case too big for the new boss.

The story looks at, family relations, bullying, grooming, sex work, drug taking, and that’s just the crime.

Then it looks at the problems caused by new dynamics. Lucy’s new dynamic of being the team leader and dealing with the petty jealousies of some subordinates, whilst worrying about what her superiors think.

Natalie’s new dynamic of being the DCI with a less hands on approach whilst mentoring Lucy through being in charge of her first major investigation. All the time dealing with her new dynamic at home.

The way Carol Wyer keeps it real has always let me enjoy her books more than most others.

Pages: 329
Publisher: Bookouture
Publishing Date: 9th July 2020

Double Agent. Tom Bradby

A follow up book to Secret Agent, released this time last year, this book picks up the story of senior MI6 Officer Kate Henderson.

Her husband, who has been identified as a Russian Agent is now living in Moscow, but Kate has managed to take their children to meet him on a trip to Venice. During the trip Kate is kidnapped by a Russian agent who offers her unassailable proof that the U.K. Prime Minister is working for the Russians and that a change of power in the Kremlin is taking place.

To give credence to this he also tells her about a ending revolution in Estonia, which is attempted the next day.

Back in the U.K. Kate takes the information to her boss. He’s keen to exploit the information and give in to the demands of the Russian agent who, in turn wants to defect with his family to England.but others in MI6 aren’t so sure, and neither are the politicians.

The story continues with Kate trying to authenticate the truth about the Kremlin and the evidence on the PM.

At one point in the book Kate’s son jokingly asks her if she’s a female James Bond. She is but the story is so much more than the usual all action espionage thriller. It looks at the effect the job has on Kate, her physical and mental health, and her family. The tension, the lack of sleep, the constant second guessing, not just her own decisions but those of the people around her, takes it out of her.

The story also looks at the complex political and personal relationships formed, and in places abused, in the hallow halls of parliament, and the insular offices of the “MI…” departments of the security services.

I enjoyed nearly all of this book but, and it’s a big but, with only a few pages left I was thinking how is this going to finish. I was reading on a kindle and even checked if I had fully downloaded the book.

The answer was it didn’t.

It did, the story finishes, as in there is an end to the book, but there’s no conclusion. It just feels like the end of another chapter. If it was meant to be a cliffhanger it didn’t work. Even if there is another book in the series I would have liked a less ambiguous ending to this one.

Pages: 368
Publisher: Bantam Press
Publishing date: 28th May 2020

KILLING MIND. ANGELA MARSONS

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I have been lucky enough to be in to this series since it started, and here, in book 12, we have the best one yet.

Where Angela Marsons manages to pull new, original, and gripping plots from, whilst keeping us engaged in her cast of central characters, is a mystery but long may it continue.

Detective Inspector Kim Stone works out of Halesowen Police Station. A perfect place to set a crime series as it sits right on the edge of the Black Country and the rambling countryside, giving Angela plenty of scope to have realistic crimes in real areas.

This book stretches across both. Vulnerable people are being recruited around Dudley and introduced to a “retreat” at the remote Unity Farm.

That alone wouldn’t come on Kim’s horizon but, when a girl is found dead that does. At first inspection it looks like a suicide but something pricks at Kim’s mind and she looks a bit deeper. Before long she is convinced the girl has been murdered and that the scene has been staged.

Why did the girls social media footprint end 3 years ago.  Why are her parents behaving suspiciously when they talk to the Police.

Meanwhile more bodies are found and some tenacious work by one of the team manages to link the finds with people who went missing under dubious circumstances

Eventually Unity farm becomes the focus of inquiries but how can the team penetrate the façade that the owner puts up of an innocent retreat.

I’m not taking this any further because I don’t want to give the plot away. Needless to say it’s a gripping story, and for those of you who have read the other books you know that nobody is safe and that not all of the books have a happy ending.

This made this book even more suspenseful. There were time when I caught myself holding my breath. There were other times when I exclaimed out loud, prompting raised eyebrow from my wife.

Did I enjoy the book? Hell yes!!

Pages: 430

Publisher: Bookouture

Available now.

 

 

Waters Edge. Gregg Olsen

Waters Edge.   Greg Olsen

This is the second book in the Detective Megan Carpenter series, and having just read the first, Snow Creek, I can say I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The problem is I don’t think it would read so well as a stand-alone story. A lot of the plot is a continued thread from the first book, and is Megan’s back story told in back-flashes or from Megan listening to recordings that were made when she was in therapy.

She was in therapy because Megan, hasn’t always been Megan. It’s an identity she has adopted because of the infamy of her previous self.

Her back story is full of Kidnap, subterfuge, and murders, lots of murders

With all of this the main crime in the story almost plays second fiddle, which is a shame because the plot, and the present day characters are really good.

Working as a Detective in a sleepy town, just outside Seattle Megan enjoys a certain anonymity but there is one person that knows all about her past, her boss the Sheriff, he likes her and is prepared to give her the lead in most cases, so when a body is found in a secluded cove Megan is sent to begin the investigation, but she has to take the “Barbie Doll” new reserve deputy, Ronnie, with her.

At first Megan doesn’t like Ronnie but she slowly starts to grow on her and the pair make quite the team, not so much good-cop-bad-cop more, good-hard-nosed-cop, and young-flutter-your-eyelids cop.

The dead body leads to a murder investigation which triggered more memories for Megan and at times she becomes unfocused, which nearly ends in tragic consequences.

The story is great, the book is great, the series is going to be brilliant.

I started by saying it does not work as a stand-alone story, I stick by that, but only because I think the reader would be missing out by not reading the first in the series.

Pages: 315

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing date: 28th May 2020

RECOVERED by Rob Gallaty

Recovered. Rob Gallaty

From the off I have to tell you that I may have looked at this book from a different angle to which the writer would like. I am not religious, in fact I’m the very definition of an Agnostic.

I was intrigued by the fly cover information for the book. So I thought I’d give it a go, and I’m really glad I did

Rob Gallaty is today a successful pastor. His path to getting there is amazing

Rob narrates the book from his point of view, but I suspect he has had to ask for help in remembering some of the times he talks about, because for a lot of his teens and twenties he was lost in a chemically induced fog.

Raised in a happy Catholic family, in New Orleans,  he was diagnosed with ADHD and ADD but his parents shied away from the route of putting him on medication. From the start he admits his own flaws. He was the class clown that had to be the centre of attention and often found himself in trouble with his teachers.

Typically of somebody who suffered ADHD he threw himself headlong into anything he was good at or enjoyed, but quickly got fed up and bored with it.

As a teenager he played Basketball for his school, , standing at 6 foot 6, he was an imposing presence on the court, and enjoyed the adulation.

But when he went to college he was just another tall guy and his identity was lost, he was not the centre of attention he craved.  He also started to find the drug scene.

His final dive into the murky waters of drug taking were not actually his fault. Injured in a vehicle accident, that was not his fault, he became hooked on pain killers, but not just taking them, he found that by selling them he could make money.

Rob was good at everything he turned his attention too but always managed to press the self destruct button because along with his ADHD and ADD he has a highly addictive personality, and although in the early stages of drug use he considered himself a functioning addict, he soon spiralled down to his lowest point.

In fact after interventions and rehab he relapsed, and like a bouncing ball had highs and lows each good experience short lived as the bounce lessened.

But eventually he found his way out of the fog. Not as a Catholic but as a Baptist Pastor

His upward spiral is nearly as spectacular as the downward one

He has ups and downs but always with a focus. But unlike his other focuses in the past, this one never got boring, he never lost his interest. He relates to the bible, he relates to God, and as he looks back at his history he is convinced that somebody has been looking over his shoulder and protecting him.  After all many of his friends are dead form over doses, and many are in prison for dealing, but Rob is recovering and he has a clean police record.

Why did I say at the start that I looked at this boom from a different angle.  I admire Rob for what he has achieved. For me the story is more about survival and growing up. His determination to make something of himself shines through throughout the book.  If it wasn’t for that vehicle accident would he have gone down the drugs route, possibly.

If he hadn’t gone down the drugs route would his addictive personality led him to something else, alcoholism, gambling, possibly.

Would finding a focus have helped him avoid these things. I think not, because with most interests of this type there would have been a stress related to it, which may have led him down one of these paths.

What I think he found in the life he leads is a tranquility that no drug could give him.

A friend of mine often tells me that “ we get you all in the end”  referring to his religion. He is one on the nicest people I know. He is also one of the calmest and exudes  tranquility even at the most fraught of moments.

I’m glad “somebody” Got Rob Gallaty, and I’m glad he’s shared his experience. This is a tremendous account of survival.

I OWE YOU. RONA HALSALL

A great stand-alone thriller.

Sara and Matt are happily married with teenage twin daughters and a 4 year old son. Or that’s what everybody thinks.

Matt has been a bit off for months, and Sara doesn’t know why, so when she tells her sister she thinks Matts having an affair she suggests she follows him.

But Matt isn’t having an affair, he is made redundant on the same day he is followed.

What follows is a series of errors of judgement made in all innocence. Sara had invested her inheritance, against Matts advice and has lost the lot. Matt has a business idea, but he needs the money from the inheritance.

Sara can’t’ tell him she’s lost it so makes her second mistake.

And so the first two dominos are tipped, and the domino rally of bad decisions and the subsequent consequences rush through the book to its thrilling end.

This book carries a story that could so easily be true.

There is no greed involved, only ambition, secrets and lies, all of which are initially made in all innocence, all of which exasperating the situation.

This is definitely a case of things going from bad to worse, but who will be the casualties.

A great read

Pages: 328

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing date: 5th May 2020, available to pre-order