Perfect Crime is the fifth book in the DI Luc Callanach, DCI Ava Turner series.
Luc is an ex-Interpol detective who transferred to Scotland when he was wrongly accused of assaulting a female partner.
He has found solace in the company of DCI Ava Turner, both on a professional level and as a friend, but he is still a bit of a closed book to everybody else. Respected for his work everyone on the team like him as a cop, but some of the men see him as a threat to their manhood.
In this book more of his back story comes to light in a way that puts him at the forefront of the suspects in a murder inquiry, and he finds out who his true friends are.
As the senior officers isolate him, from the investigation he is a suspect in, he carries on working with Ava on an investigation which is looking at the suspicious deaths of people with a history of depression and attempts at suicide.
The investigation against Luc puts the pressure on his relationship with the Scottish Police and even worse may compromise Ava professionally.
This series is really good Police Procedural with the undercurrents of a will-they-won’t-they relationship between Luc and Ava.
In this book that relationship is stretched to the limit. Maybe Luc isn’t the innocent man he has been portraying himself as.
The crimes investigated by Ava, looking at the deaths of people who had previously attempted to take their own lives, is compelling in its own way.
Helen Fields has found a group of vulnerable people who make ideal victims for a serial killer. She explores the reasons these people are depressed and what has led them to the place they now find themselves in.
She looks at the people that attempt to help them; and uncovers the nasty side, the people that pray on their vulnerability.
This book can be read as a stand-alone but I would recommend reading the first four in the series first. They are stunning crime novels, and once you’ve read this one you will want to read them anyway. So why not do it in order
Its not often I’m lost for words, but I’ve run out of superlatives to describe this series. Ten books ago Angela Marsons introduced us to a series of characters based in the Black Country.
The main character is DI Kim Stone. A DI in the Major Investigation Team in Halesowen Police Station in the West Midlands.
Halesowen is a small town on the outskirts of the urban sprawl that makes up the Metropolitan Borough of the West Midlands. Its right on the border of what most people would call the area of greater Birmingham, and the sprawling countryside of Worcester.
It’s actually in the borough of Dudley, one of the seven boroughs that make up the West Midlands, but more importantly it’s part of the Black Country.
That is what makes it such a special place to set crime stories.
Dudley has some of the most affluent parts of the West Midlands, close to the country, and some of the poorest parts where it borders Sandwell. It has rich gated communities, run down industrial areas, and some of the poorest social housing estates in the UK. Its population commute into Birmingham City Centre to sit in smart offices and high end retail shops, or work in the manufacturing, scrap meatl, or haulage business.
The black Country has a hard working history, and this ethic is seen daily in its population; but just like everywhere else there are the freeloaders who never intend to do a day’s work as long as the state will give them benefits.
Then there are the people who pray on both ends of the community. Drug sellers target the rich with designer drugs and well cut class A drugs, and at the same time pray on the vulnerable with less well, and dangerously cut, class A drugs and marijuana.
Addicts are addicts and once hooked will look to fund their next hit. The desperate will turn to crime.
Prostitution has been forced indoors over the last decade with sex being sold in private flats or thinly veiled massage parlours. This has led to illegal immigrants being forced into the sex trade alongside some desperate local people.
Illegal immigrants are also being used as slaves in retail and manufacturing.
Street kids are turning to violence.
Post code gangs are frequently a problem, fighting for territory to sell their wares, both human and chemical.
But most of its population are just your average family members trying to get along with their neighbours.
So, as you can see, Angela Marsons has chosen a great area to set her crimes. Just about anything that could make up a serious crime happens in the area, and so can be portrayed realistically in her books.
The characters she writes about are just as real as her crimes.
Kim Stone is epic. A kid-from-care made good.
In the first few books her character is established as one of the best cops in British Crime Fiction, her back story is slowly revealed showing how her life has evolved and how she has become the successful detective she has.
Her team also have good back stories. The ever reliant Bryant, her Detective Sergeant is every bit as fundamental to these stories as Lewis is to Morse, or Watson is to Holmes. He acts as her stabiliser and suffers the frustration of seeing Stone struggling through some investigations, but more significantly her personal life.
DC Stacy Wood, the quiet detective that is really good at information trawling and working on a computer, but not so good on face to face encounters. Watching her develop through the series, as she finds her confidence, and becomes a tour-de-force of a cop, is something that would not ever be achieved this well in a single book, or short series.
DC Kev Dawson, young, handsome, cock-sure, but an integral part of the team. His character changes as much as Woods, but in a totally different way.
Then there’s the fringe characters that keep recurring, Keats the pathologist with his love hate relationship with Stone. The Forensic Teams, and Senior Police Officers
Then there’s reporters. One in particular, that has a strange relationship with Stone, to say they use each other when they want something is an understatement. But they both know they need each other and their fraught working relationship is entertaining throughout the series.
Of course, there’s the criminals. A vast array of them over the ten books, all realistically written, all with back stories to help the reader engage with them. Some of them recurring through several stories; and for every criminal there’s a victim who is equally well portrayed, often eliciting as much empathy as sympathy from the reader.
That brings us back to this book. DEAD MEMORIES finds Stone and the team looking at some of their past investigations as a murderer appears to be using Stone’s history to set their crimes. Is it a message to her, or is it the prelude to an attack on her. Is somebody trying to ruin her reputation, her life, or kill her.
I love this series, and as I said at the beginning of this blog I’ve run out of superlatives to describe the books in this series.
Safe to say Silent Scream, book one in the series, was one of the best books I’ve ever read, and each book has just got better and better.
My review of DEADLY MEMORIES will be on-line in February as part of the Blog Tour, but if you haven’t found Angela Marsons yet get yourself on Amazon, or down to the bookshop, and treat yourself to what I think is the best crime series out there.
DCI Rachel King has a problem, she once had a fling with a man that would turn out to be one of the gangsters that runs Manchester. In fact, the fling is still a bit of a dirty secret as she still harbours feelings for him.
That itself is a problem. An even bigger problem is that his name has come up as a suspect in a murder investigation.
The first body to turn up is that of a gay man who has suffered a horrific death after apparently being tortured.
When King and her team start the investigations they follow the evidence that is left at the scene, but is it reliable or is somebody playing them.
When a second body is found it looks like it is linked to the first by location, but there is a totally different manner of death.
When a third body is found, in similar circumstances as the first, the team begin to think that the second body wasn’t connected after all, but are they right.
This is a complex story weaving numerous plot lines together in a way that the reader is left in no doubt as the difficulties facing the investigation team.
At the same time the reader follows the struggle in Kings personal life. Divorced from her husband, who now lives next door, and bringing up two teenage daughters, she has her dirty secret to consider during the investigation.
Does she tell her team, and her family, about the tryst with the gangster. Where will it leave her professionally, and what will it do to her family life.
I liked this book. The crime plot is original and compelling, but what really makes the story is the issues that surround King and her secret fling.
Right from the off, I am going to say I loved this book.
I loved the main character, a journalist, Aloa Snow.
I loved the little bunch of old men she hangs out with, Tic, Doc and P-Mac, collectively known as the Brain Farm.
I loved the plot.
Right, so what got me so impressed with this book.
The story is based around the murder of a woman, a woman who lives a good life style with her husband, a paraplegic ex FBI Interrogator.
A man has been accused, a University Professor who is a poet. A bit of a strange bod which every piece of the investigation points at as being guilty. But he has one person on his side, a man he’d rather not be there at all, his father.
His father just happens to be Tic from the Brain Farm.
Tic and his friends decide to ask the unofficial forth member of the Farm to help them, Ink, aka Aloa Snow.
She is an investigative journalist and has worked with the Farm before.
This time the investigation takes her around San Francisco, where she is drawn into the world of drug users. This leads her into The Jungle, an area under the freeway where homeless addicts live in a tented village. Not a nice place but a place which has a code of ethics, a code which would usually keeps its occupants safe from the outside word. Usually.
She becomes involved with a strange Christian cult, The Church of the Sacrificial Lamb, a cult which would be unbelievable in most countries, but seems strangely believable in America.
The Police are convinced that Tic’s son is guilty and are busily building a case against him. Aloa is not immediately convinced of his innocence, but because of a feeling of duty to the Brain Farm she starts digging.
The deeper she digs the more convinced she is that the Poetry Professor is innocent. Not a nice man, but innocent.
This book is set in San Francisco during an unusual winter fog. The fog makes the city drab and unfriendly, and best of all, the ideal backdrop for the story.
Aloa is a great character, a bit off-the-wall in her methods, she takes chances and makes leaps of faith that would scare a cop, but she isn’t tied by staying on the right side of any procedures.
I think that’s what I liked about the book. Whilst Aloa does think outside the box, it is done in a way that I would like to think I would do it. Yes she puts herself in danger at times, but it’s never an anticipated danger, it’s just the next logical step, and she’s in trouble before she knows it.
I’m not sure how well known Peggy Townsend is in the UK, I have to admit this is the first book of hers I’ve read, and it’s the second in a series, but it won’t be my last. In fact I’ve just uploaded the first book, See Her Run,to my Kindle and it will be my next read.
If she isn’t that well known yet I have a feeling that once people start on this series she’s going to become one of our must read crime fiction authors.
Introducing a new Police Investigator, Detective Sergeant Finnegan Beck.
Newly demoted and moved from the busiest Police Station in Dublin, Beck finds himself in the small town of Cross Greg.
He is not quite what you would expect, although he’s had a bad time professionally, he still cares, even if he pretends not to.
So, when he turns up at his first crime scene, in his new town, to find a murdered woman lying out in the open with the SIO, Inspector O’Reilly, paying scant attention to procedures it rattles his cage a bit.
That is the first encounter with the old dinosaur of a detective that is O’Reilly, and things don’t get much better as the story unfolds.
He finds an ally in young Garda Claire Sanders who acts as his partner in the investigation and also covers for him when he has an occasional fall off the wagon. He’s not an alcoholic, he’s just not very good at saying no and has a low tolerance for booze.
The murdered girl is an opening into a sordid story of an underage relationship. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.
The small town has a criminal underworld. After all people in towns and villages have the same needs, and urges, as those in the city.
The thing is, just like every small town, everybody knows everybody else’s business.
As Beck starts to untangle the web of lies around the investigation he thinks he starts to identify a motive for the crime and is getting closer to the person who killed the girl.
His new colleagues don’t agree with him, and treat him as the Big City Idiot, but slowly they begin to see the merit in his thoughts.
It takes another death before people start to take him seriously but is it too late to stop another killing.
As the story continues we find out why Beck has been demoted and moved away from Dublin. We see him start to build a reputation in Cross Greg, but will he ever be fully accepted.
This is a great story that’s billed as being book one in the Finnegan Beck series.
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.
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”