SILENCED GIRLS. Roger Stelljes

20 years ago twin sisters are growing up in small town Manchester Bay Minnesota. At 17 they are beginning to make the discoveries that all teenagers make. During the July 4th celebrations one sister goes missing, whilst the other goes off with a boy, a decision she will always struggle with.

The surviving sister, Tori, remembers her father “The Sheriffs” words to them “When a young girl goes missing, she’s never found”

That’s the case Jessie is never found

20 years later Tori is living in New York, and is an FBI agent. She left Manchester Bay just after her sister went missing and only returned for the Sheriffs funeral 18 months later. She has no intention of going back.

Until another girl goes missing in very similar circumstances, and Tori is sent a letter telling her to look at that case for similarities. The problem being the letter was sent the day before the new disappearance.

The old town has grown. Her father’s deputy is now Sheriff and welcomes her help as long as his lead investigator, Will Braddock agrees.

People are glad she’s back but somebody has invited her. Why? Is she now a target?

Some families have done well out of the towns growth. Others are still in shock from Jessie’s unsolved disappearance

Between Tori and Will the investigation starts to uncover some worrying threads and the story rattles along at a great pace. Until the end, but how will that end resolve the latest crime, and will it answer the mystery surrounding Jessie’s disappearance and give Tori some kind of closure.

This book is billed as being Agent Tori Hunter Book 1. I can only hope it is the start of a long new series. The story is brilliant.

The characters are addictive and I couldn’t help but get hooked on the relationships that Tori rebuilds, and how she works with Will and his team.

One of her old friends “ Steak” is now a cop and is working the case with his partner Detective Eggleston. Yes. Detectives Steak and Eggs. Any author that can dream up that little aside to put a bit of humour in the book is alright with me.

I really enjoyed this story . In fact I’d been going through one of those lulls when I was finding it hard to settle into a book and was having difficulty finding the enthusiasm to read. This book hooked me from the start and got me back into my reading. Brilliant

Pages: 478. Publisher: Bookouture. Publishing Date: 11th November 2020

The Body on the Island. Nick Louth

This is a great story but fans of DCI Craig Gillard are going to be a bit disappointed to find he takes a back seat through this book.

The story revolves around a strange series of events, including murders, and what every police officer dreads, a series of coincidences.

The child murder Neil Wright has been given a new identity and is about to be released from prison after 30 years.

A man is found dead, floating in the Thames, with strange markings all over his body, his manner of death indicates he’s been subject to immense pressure.

Just before his body is found a splash is heard by residents on a small island on the river. At the same time a Chef, his girlfriend, and a friend are seen in a car on a bridge close to where the splash takes place.

Meanwhile several groups are plotting instant revenge on The Bogeyman, the tabloids name for Wright, and are intent on killing him

But there are others with links to him, others who will hinder the investigation just by being in the wrong place at the right time.

I enjoyed this book. Louth has a habit of making me think, or reach for google to do a bit of research.

In this case the first stop was google maps to search for the location of the murders, I had no idea these communities existed.

A Sven diagram of a plot where every part of the story has its own circle, the bits where the circles overlap are intriguing and show the problems faced by the police when circumstances combine to put a lot of miscreants, in the same place at the same time. Not all of them are deep into illegal activities, but are never going to tell the truth. Not all of them are connected with the worst of the crimes, but get implicated by their actions.

Untangling all of this is down to the police, in this case Gillard’s team , and it makes a fantastic story.

Pages: 280. Published by: Camelot Publishing date: 22nd October 2020

TROUBLED BLOOD Robert Galbraith

I have enjoyed every book in this series so far, and I’ve looked at a lot of very positive reviews for True Blood, so maybe it’s just me, but I found this book overly long and confusing

The main plot of the book is the historical disappearance of a GP.

40 years ago an ex-Playboy Bunny girl, who became a GP went missing at the height of the crimes committed by a serial killer. When he was finally arrested he refused to say if he had killed the doctor, and although there was evidence of his other killings, there was no evidence he killed Dr Bamborough.

Strike and Robin are retained by the Doctors daughter, who was one when her mother went missing, and given a year to find out what happened to her.

The initial investigating officer, Bill Talbot, had suffered a breakdown after 6 months of the investigation and had resorted to looking to the spiritual world, using tarot cards and astrology to help him solve the crime, whilst getting fixated on one suspect.

The second investigating officer hadn’t faired much better.

Strike and a Robin manage to get their hands on notes from both officers as well as the crime file and start their investigation

What follows is a investigation which is confused by the different ramblings, and notes of Talbot. I will say at this point I was reading this book on a Kindle and the replicated pages and drawings of Bill Talbots note books were illegible on that format, so it may have added to my confusion.

Several side plots of other investigations carried out by Strike, Robin, and their associates add a bit of humour and provided a relief from the brain ache of the main story.

What kept me reading this book was the story of Strike, who is in the middle of two emotional episodes in his life; and Robin, who is herself going through a stressful time, her divorce from a husband she found cheating with a friend.

Both of them are beginning to understand the dynamics between the two of them are shifting, and they separately struggle with the feelings they have for each other. Without the other knowing they both worry about the effect it would have if either came out about how they feel.

It is a good story, but for me it gets lost in the astrology, I can’t see that it brings anything to what would be a good story without it.

At 994 pages this is a long book. I read it in two parts, punctuating the middle by reading another book, before going back to read the second half of the story. If I hadn’t done that I may have struggled, and maybe would even have given in. If I had I would have missed out. It’s worth persevering with

Having said all that. Will I be waiting with baited breath for the next instalment. Yes, I will

Pages, 994. Publisher, Sphere. Available now

Their Silent Graves. Carla Kovach

If ever a book hit the right buttons for a psychological thriller it’s this one. Hitting one of the most basics of our primordial fears, being buried alive.

The first murder is nearly a quarter of a century ago, but now the same method is being used again, and to make matters worse, the first victim is murdered at Halloween

DI Gina Harte has had a tough past, her back story has come out in previous books in this series, but her mental baggage really comes to the fore during this investigation.

She is being sent threats that would only make sense if they came from her husband, her dead husband. So is somebody playing with Gina’s head whilst she tries to investigate the latest series of murders. Does somebody connected with the murders have intimate knowledge of her past, or is the unthinkable happening.

There are two threads to this story. The murders, and Gina, and both are written in a way that gripped me from the start and I got lost in this book from page one, right up to the last page.

Carla Kovach has written a series of books that can all be read as stand alone but to get the best out of the series, it’s best to read them all in order. If you haven’t started the series yet I’m jealous, because you are in for a hell of a ride.

Gina Hart, and the regular characters in the series, are so realistic I feel like I’ve actually met them. The crimes and the way they are portrayed are so realistic it’s almost as if you’re reading news reports of something that’s happening now

But the most striking thing is the way Kovach seamlessly stitches them all together. If ever a book series was screaming out to be made into a TV series this is it.

Pages: 380

Publisher: Bookouture

Available now.

Containment. Nick Thacker

A British family on holiday in Canada accidentally cross the boarder into the US. Picked up by a local cop for illegal entry they end up in a small town police station. Days later the adults are dead.

At first it seems they have picked up a deadly virus. But soon it becomes apparent that there’s more to it than that.

Internal politics in the US Immigration and Customs sees Director Derek Biggs need to find an outside source to help him get to the source of the contamination

Enter ex US Army, and ex Boston Police Officer, Jacob Parker, a loner living a life of solitude in rural Massachusetts.

Parker puts together a small team, Beau Shaw a serving Boston Detective, and a virus expert Eliza Mendoza.

As more people become affected by the virus the team become more suspicious as the breakouts are connected to remote immigration centres across America

Is this a naturally occurring disease, or is it some kind of terrorist attack.

The race is on, not everybody is in this to help, not everybody is playing the team game, but who is the odd one out.

A great modern day story that really does not need any big leaps of faith from the reader.

The relationship between the team and the government, the internal relationships in the team, are all part of the suspense.

Will the team find the source of the infections, and is there somebody who is trying to bring chaos to America, or is it a more personal target.

Or, is it just another virulent disease that could bring the country to its knees. Sound Familiar?

A good suspenseful read that had me enthralled for a whole weekend, and then had my mind racing for weeks.

Pages: 315. Publisher: Bookouture, Available now.

When The Past Kills. M.J Lee

Book 5 in the DI Tom Ridpath series. Those of you who have read the earlier book will know that Ridpath has had a tough time. The first book saw him returning to work following months of extensive treatment for cancer.

Unable to return to full duty he was sent to work for the Greater Manchester Coroner as her main investigator and Police liaison officer.

This has allowed The author some leeway in the way he approaches crime, and the crimes he approaches.

In this story Ridpath is transitioning back into the MIT, but he’s seen as a bit of an outsider who doesn’t necessarily work well in a team. He certainly doesn’t get on with the newly appointed DCI, although there is a degree of empathy from the Superintendent.

I would only usually recommend a book in a series when it can be read as a standalone, but in this case this book really does need to be read in its place in the series.

The story revolves around cases Ridpath has been involved in, or have been covered, in the previous stories.

A man who was wrongly convicted, who was caught by Ridpath on his first day in uniform, the same man that Ridpath exonerated when he put the real killer behind the bars, is now a free man.

Somebody is working their way through a list of people involved in putting him away, somebody is extracting revenge in the worst way.

Ridpath connects the first 2 revenge crimes quickly but with the DCI ridiculing him at every opportunity he finds it hard to convince the MIT that they are connected to the old case.

The story looks at Ridpaths attempt to re-establish his place in MIT and stop a killer before everybody involved in the convictions fan “innocent” man are killed, including himself.

So, am i recommending this book. Too right I am. But you really should read the other 4 first to get the most out of it.

Pages: 302

Publisher: Canelo

Publishing date: 24th September 2020

V2. Robert Harris

Before I say anything else I have to say I love the books Robert Harris writes. But……

This story all felt a bit like an introduction for something that should be longer, much longer.

Section Officer Kay Canton-Walsh has specialised in finding launch sites of the V1s and the test sites of the V2s using ariel reconnaissance photos.

Dr Rudi Graf, is a German rocket Scientist who dreamt of sending rockets to the moon, but instead sent ballistic missiles to London

One of Graf’s rockets nearly kills Canton-Walsh whilst she’s having an affair with a senior officer in his London home.

This sets in motion a chain of events that that sees both Graf, as a matter of conscience, and Canton-Walsh, as a matter of duty, trying to stop the bombs hitting London in the closing months of the war.

That is basically it. Not much happens. In fact this feels like the synopsis of a bigger story, the skeleton on which a deeper, or longer story should be fashioned.

Pages 320

Publishers Random House

Publishing date 17th September 2020

One Left Alive. Helen Phifer

Sometimes a book comes along that makes you just sit down and read, from cover to cover, with as few breaks as you can manage. This is one of those books.

I’ve tried to analyse why I enjoyed this book so much.

Yes it has a cracking story.

Yes the characters are good, easy to engage with, and very likeable.

But, I can say that about a lot of books that haven’t hooked me like this one did.

So without being too analytical, the only thing I can put it down to is, this is a bloody good story.

Morgan Brookes is a young PC on her first independent patrol. A call comes in and she is first on the scene at an “apparent” suicide, finding a teenage boy trying to support the weight of a woman who has hung herself from a tree.

The usually grumpy DS Ben Matthews arrives at the scene and takes over as SIO. He’s as much impressed with Morgan’s efforts as he is annoyed with an experienced PC‘s, and when his boss says he can take one of the uniform officers into a temporary CID post he makes the unusual decision to give Morgan a chance.

This, I think, is where the story finds that edge that had me hooked. As much as Morgan wants the CID job it brings with it challenges. She hasn’t had years of experience to become acclimatised to the worst of crime scenes. She still hasn’t really got the street smarts that let her judge the character of some of the people she meets, and of course, she meets some hostility from one of the uniform officers who believes he should have got the post.

As the investigation goes on, one thing that does become apparent, is that Morgan has a good analytical brain. She is tenacious in tracking down what she thinks is important, even if others dismiss her ideas.

The suicide turns out to be murder, but it’s not the only one. The story that follows could be straight off the front page of the papers. In fact strangely enough there has been something similar in the news over the last two weekends.

There is no “shark infested custard”, no illogical twists, no unrealistic moments, just a story that flows really well.

I always write that the books I enjoy most have to be realistic, and some will say that a PC would never be given the opportunity Morgan is given, but they would. That leads me to another thought.

Who will be the first author to write a story about the new breed of detective being employed by the police, the Police Civilian Investigator.

Whoever it is they will have to cover all of the issues Morgan faces in this book, but with absolutely zero Policing experience.

I loved this book, all I can hope for is it’s the beginning of a long series. The characters deserve it.

Pages: 332. Publishers: Bookouture. Published: 1st September 2020

Little Bones N.V. Peacock

I’ve not read a book like this for a long time. It brings a whole new level to the psychological thriller genre.

I was convinced on so many occasions that I knew who was behind the crimes in his story, and every time I thought I had it, Peacock wrote a breath stopping scene that convinced me I was right; right up until the last second when I was proven wrong.

It is brilliantly written.

Cherrie has a live in boyfriend who is the father of her only child Robin.

At the end of the day Cherrie looks like any other mother in a modern, unmarried, family relationship, and although she’s in a retail job that’s under threat, all is well in her life.

Her new life that is.

Because nobody, not even her boyfriend are aware of her past.

So when a podcaster outs her as Leigh-Ann Hendy, the daughter of serial killer William Hendy, her life is turned upside down.

Not least because the reason she’s outed is because a young boy has gone missing from her neighbourhood. A young boy much like the ones her father killed, the ones he kidnapped and killed with her help.

Just when she is battling with the fact that everybody is going to know who she is, her son is taken. Is it an act of revenge against her, is it somebody who is playing out her fathers crimes, if you work it out before the reveal you are better than me.

This book is written from a unique point of view. Cherrie is the main character, she is a modern day victim, who was previously a perpetrator. The story s not just told through her eyes, it’s told through her thoughts, and not all of them make comfortable reading, but they do make compelling reading.

I have to say I’ve seen mixed reviews on this book. I’m not going to sit on the fence, I thought it was absolutely brilliant.

Publishers: Avon

Pages: 400

Publishing date: 31st October 2020

SEE HER BURN. Margaret Murphy

Set in Liverpool, in 2005, against the backdrop of an almost forgotten immigration problem, this is a stunning crime thriller.

When the body of an unidentified young woman falls from a rubbish bin, in the red light district, it starts a police investigation which uncovers the seedy underworld of the exploitation of people looking for safety in the U.K.

From youth gangs, to low level drug pushers and pimps, the investigation exposes greed and racism in all walks of life.

Detective Inspector Jeff Rickman is given his first SIO role and is appointed acting DCI to investigate the murder. His side kick is the politically incorrect DS Foster. But Rickman isn’t as squeaky clean as people think and his actions are tempered by guilt, a guilt only Foster is aware of. Together they sail very close to the wind and as the story develops so does the bond between the two

At times they think they are getting nowhere, they have a suspect but nobody is talking, and they need witnesses.

The book looks at issues as relevant today as they were in the early 2000’s. The characters in the book are brilliant, Rickman  is a strong man with a good moral compass that let him down once, and he now regrets it.

Foster is an old school DS in a young mans body, and his actions are cringe worthy but brilliant.

He people that steal the show are the bit part characters. The victims are hardly portrayed as characters because they are mainly dead before we meet them, but the investigation uncovers a tragic life. The witnesses amongst the prostitutes and street gangs are wonderfully written.

Just like the characters, the settings and the crimes, are perfect for the story.

A brilliant crime thriller

Pages: 404

Publishers: Joffe Books

Available now