The Gift Louise Jensen

 

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The Gift        Louise Jensen

I love a book that gets me surfing the internet to learn about something I’ve never heard of before, and when there’s a cracking story involved, it’s just a bonus.

In this case Google was employed to research Cellular Memory. The less than scientific theory that cells in the body can contain memories. So; when the main protagonist of this story, Jenna, starts to have strange dreams following a heart transplant, is she re-living memories of the donor?

In a very unorthodox move Jenna manages to identify her donor, Callie, and visits the late girl’s family. Are her Mom and dad telling the truth, where is the errant sister, Sophie, and why is Callie’s Dads brother, Joe, so threatening.

Jenna finds out that Callie died in a car crash and that nobody had an explanation for why she was driving alone on a country road late at night, miles from where she should have been.

Jenna’s dreams become more vivid, but are they Callie’s memories, or is she just getting over familiar with the other girl’s life.

Things get worse when Jenna meets Nathan, the too-good-to-be-true, fiancé of Callie.

The investigation into Callie’s life and death begin to overtake Jenna’s daily life.

The more Jenna considers the death of her donor the worse the dreams and flashbacks become.

Will Jenna solve what might not even be a puzzle, and how much danger will she put herself into trying to do so?

You’ll have to read the book to find out.

You won’t be disappointed.

This is a genuinely new story for me. In a world where many books are just rehashes of the same-old, same-old, with different character names, this book stands out as being original.

Did I like it?

Yes!!

Somebody must have used this in a blog already but. The Gift is the gift that just keeps giving, right up to the last page.

 

While You Were Sleeping. Kathryn Croft

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While You Were Sleeping    Kathryn Croft.

Where do I start with a book like this? What a story.

Until recently I hadn’t read a psychological thriller that I enjoyed for some time; but recently the lady crime writers are coming up trumps, and this is right up there with the best.

Kathryn Croft has spun a spider’s web of a story which revolves around the family of the main protagonist Tara.

Tara is married to Noah and has 2 children, 17-year-old Rosie, and 11-year-old Spencer.

It would be fair to say that the family is not a happy one, but they are together, and living in the same house.

The story starts with Tara waking up naked in a neighbours bed, with his bloody body carved open at the side of her. With no recollection of what happened except that she received a text from the man’s wife asking her to go to the house, only to find the husband home alone, Tara panics and runs home to her empty house.

That weekend her son is away for the night, her daughter is staying with a friend, and her husband is on a business trip to New York.

In her panic and confusion, she decides not to tell the Police, her first mistake.

As the story unfolds the reader is introduced to Tara’s immediate family and her sister Lisa; as well as the wife of the dead man Serena, and one of Tara’s work colleague’s Mikey.

Tara’s family and friends are full of lies, deceit and half-truths.

Is anybody above suspicion? No.

Does everybody seem to have a reason to want the neighbour dead? Yes.

This compelling story has twists and turns a-plenty, but they all flow so well.

There are over 30 chapters and I think I must have built nearly as many hypotheses as to who had killed the man, his name is Lee by the way.

I swung from being convinced that Tara was actually guilty to her being totally innocent many times. Each of these was interjected by me thinking, for one reason or another, that one of the others had killed him. Only for my latest theory to be destroyed by the actions of somebody else.

I loved this book.

It is not often I get to the end and think, well I didn’t think they did it; but then look back and think all the indications were there and that I hadn’t missed a clue. There are no real late revelations that made me think, well if I’d have known that earlier.

It is just a masterpiece of masterpiece of writing that managed to keep me in suspense until right up to the end.

This book is not published till November the 16th.

If you are looking for a Christmas gift for somebody who enjoys a good read, look no further.

Safe With Me K.L. Slater

Safe With Me        K.L. Slater

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The story is based around Anna; both today as the slightly strange woman she is, and as a child, and the event that changed her life.

The story of Anna today is given through her eyes and that of her next door neighbour.

The story of Anna the child, is given through the same eyes.

When Anna, the woman, witnesses a road accident the memories of Anna the child come flooding back. As does the wish for revenge.

Following the accident Anna starts to obsess on both the victim Liam, and the person who caused the crash Cara.

Anna is convinced Cara is the woman that is responsible for her disturbed childhood and lonely adult life. Is it the woman she has looked for, for years? The woman she believed has changed her identity.

The only way to find out who she is now is to get to know Liam better.

A psychological thriller which can be an uncomfortable read at times.

None of the characters are the type of people that I could feel empathy with.

Although Anna is obviously a victim, and suffers from some kind of psychological problems, I found it impossible to sympathise with her in any way. In fact I didn’t really like her.

However; it has to be said that although this book might be uncomfortable to read at times, it is a great story and I would recommend it to anybody who likes this genre.

Blood Lines Angela Marsons

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Blood Lines    Angela Marsons

In Evil Games Angela Marsons introduced us to the brilliant character Dr Alexandra Throne.

In Blood Lines she brings her back.

In my opinion this character is the best nemesis to any character since Hannibal Lecter tormented Clarice Starling in the Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris.

Incarcerated for her part in previous murders Throne starts to manipulate the people around her. She is a vicious sociopath who has only one target. Kim Stone.

Pulling at strings like a master puppeteer she identifies people’s weaknesses and manipulates them to carry out her will. Each action falling into place like jigsaw puzzle bits until the final picture is revealed.

Angela Marsons writes the sections with Alex Throne very cleverly and although it is obvious from the start who her target is, she keeps the reader on the edge of their seat right up till the last page to see if she succeeds.

Meanwhile Kim Stone and her team are faced with several murders in the Black Country. Are the murders unrelated, or is there something which ties them all together.

The first body turns up in a posh car in a layby in a dodgy area, a lady who obviously has money. The second is a drug addict girl found on an urban nature reserve. Surely these people can’t be connected.

Kim is looking into these murders when Dr Alex Throne manipulates circumstances to make Kim visit her.

Kim knows she shouldn’t visit. The the last time the two became involved with each other Alex nearly destroyed Kim. But can Kim resist. Even if she can, is Alex back inside her head.

With the investigations into the murders moving ahead Kim has to deal with issues in her team, and Alex in her head.

With two storylines this book moves along so fast that, even at nearly 350 pages, you will wonder where the time has gone when its finished.

I make no bones of the fact that Angela Marsons is my favourite author at the moment.

The Detective Inspector Kim Stones books are nothing short of brilliant. The reason they are so good is that the storylines, the characters, and the locations are so well research and written.

In Kim Stone Angela Marsons has found a main character that sits alongside all of the best Police Officers in modern fiction.

In Alexandra Throne she has found the best, and most fitting, criminal foil for any Detective since 1991.

In doing so she had written not just a good Police Crime Thriller, but in my opinion the best Psychological Thriller since Silence of the Lambs

The Forgotten Woman Angela Marsons

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The Forgotten Woman      Angela Marsons

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

I picked the book because I love Angela Marsons DCI Kim Stone series. I knew this was a stand-alone and I was thinking it would be a similar type of novel.

How wrong was I, and in a really good way.

The book has two protagonists who meet in an Alcoholics therapy group session. Both are women with a problem with alcohol, but that’s where the similarity ends.

Kit Mason has had a rough life. Without giving too much away she is from a loveless family and grew up in a rough working class area of Liverpool. Running from there she became a prostitute on the streets of London becoming hooked on drugs and booze.

Frances Thornton. A Barrister from a well-to-do family. Single, never married, apparently from a loving family, and very troubled.

The two women find each other at a meeting in Birmingham, how they both got there you will have to find out by reading the book, and become friends and confidants.

The story looks back at both of their lives and follows them as they emerge from the depths of their problems, not all of which were self-inflicted.

Kit and Frances could not be two more different people. Each is portrayed beautifully by Angela Marsons, the depth of depravity in Kits story is counter balanced by the comfortable life style of Frances.

Alcoholism is not fussy who it chooses to affect, and usually there is a reason people want to lose sight of reality. Angela identifies this and shows that even people from opposite ends of the spectrum can find a way of hiding away in its fog. But what she does really well here is show how difficult the recovery can be, how there are temptations every minute of every day, on every street, how a minute of letting your guard down can result in a stumble back to drink.

The story shows how these two women fight the temptations whilst trying to regain their lives.

Angela also tackles the problem of how recovering alcoholics struggle to form new relationships; When is it right? How much do you tell people of your past? What assumptions will they make? Both Kit and Frances have things in their past that might put people off, but will it.

The women don’t just struggle with what others will make of them, but have to come to terms with who they are.

I think this book is in the top half a dozen I’ve ever read.

Thinking back on the other books in that list they are all either the first book by an author, or the first of a series.

This is neither. This is a novel the author had been trying to get published for years.It was initially self-published with the title  My Name Is. Now, following the success of the Kim Stone books, it is getting the fair outing it deserves under its new name.

I hope people who missed it first time around, like me, find it this time.

This book should be read, it deserves to be read.

It does make you wonder what exactly the publishers who rejected it were thinking of.

Thank you Angela Marsons for persivering.

READ AND ENJOY.

 

Baby Doll Hollie Overton

 

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Fast paced from beginning to end, this story starts where most finish and rushes towards the end at a cracking pace.

The story starts with Lily escaping from a basement she has been held captive in for ten years. During that time, she has been physically and mentally abused by the man that took her.

Whilst in captivity Lily has had a child Sky, and when she escapes Sky is released into a world she’s never seen.

Once she has gained her freedom Lily is reunited with her twin sister Abby, and her mother Eve.

Neither of these relatives have survived the years since Lily went missing intact. Once reunited the process of identifying the kidnapper to the police, and ensuring his arrest, takes even greater tolls on the family.

The story is told in chapters which show the unfolding scenario from different protagonists. Obviously Lily is the main one but Hollie Overton manages to get into the heads of each character including not only Lily’s family but the kidnapper, and his wife.

Whilst Lilly and her family work with the investigating team the kidnapper is still trying to manipulate people with truths half-truths and pure malicious misguidance.

The psychology in this book is brilliant, and by using different characters in each chapter takes the reader on a crazy trip of emotions.

This book is like a box set on TV. I kept thinking to myself I’ll just read one more chapter but then read the next because I couldn’t leave the story where it was.

I look forward to reading more of Hollie Overton’s work in the future

Blog Tour Angela Marsons Play Dead

IMG_0950It was great to be asked to be part of the Blog Tour for Angela Marsons new book Play Dead.

I’ve followed The DCI Kim Stones books since they were first published, is that really only just over a year ago.

Four Books in a year and every one of them a great read.

The first section of this blog is my initial review of the book, below that is a few questions Angela was kind enough to respond to, and a few of my thoughts on what makes her one of today’s stand out authors in Crime Fiction.

The Review of Play Dead

This book firmly places Angela Marsons right at the top of the Police Crime Thriller writers.

Detective Chief Inspector Kim Stone and her team are back in another Black Country crime thriller, and just like the 3 previous books this one is stunning.

Having just broken up a paedophile ring Stone and her team are sent to Westerly, a new research facility in Wall Heath. Its location and purpose have been kept a secret from the public for good reason. The West Midlands has a Body Farm.

The trip to the Body Farm is going well until Stone manages to find a body that should not be there. A woman has been killed in a horrific manner and left amongst the other corpses.

As Stones team start to investigate the murder another victim is found at the farm but this one has miraculously survived.

What links the victims and why are they being dumped at the Body Farm.

As the investigations continue one of Kate’s nemesis, the local reporter Tracy Frost, approaches Stone in an attempt to solve a cold case, a murder that has happened a few years before in the neighbouring area of Brierley Hill. The fingerless dead man recovered from a local reservoir has never been identified, nor has his murder been solved.

Why should Stone get involved in a case that’s not her own, why would she help Frost with anything at all, and why is Frost so interested in it. However; the case gets under Stones skin and as she concentrates on the murders at the farm she also looks into the murdered man in the reservoir.

When Stone cannot contact Frost she begins to worry. Is Frost deliberately avoiding her or has she become a victim.

Play Dead is a brilliant book. Once I started reading it I literally could not put it down.

Angela Marsons creates characters that are so real you cannot help but engage with them.

Each character in this book is there for a reason and has a some bearing on the story, although not as obvious as you might first think.

I have a feeling that Marsons has a file for each character and if we could ever read them we’d find a whole story for each.

The recurring characters of her team fit in excellently with Stones personality. The occasional characters which appear in more than one book are just as good. It seems right that a SIO should have a local reporter that is always trying to get one jump ahead and in Tracy Frost Marsons depicts this brilliantly.

Stones past is no secret. She was in the never ending circle of Social Service Children’s Homes and Foster parents. The story of her past is slowly being revealed in each book, but it doesn’t distract from the story, in fact it adds to it.

Another occasional character in the books makes a return in this one. Dr Daniel Bate is a Forensic Osteo-archeologist. He makes no bones, sorry no pun intended, of the fact he likes Stone. The awkwardness of her reaction is so realistic it almost made me blush.

Another recurring character is Dr A. This woman needs her own books. I don’t know if I’m supposed to chuckle every time she opens her mouth but I do.

One of the big stars is The Black Country. I live there. Stones Police Station is about a mile from my house. The way Angela Marsons describes the locations she uses in these books is so good I know exactly where she is talking about.

So I’m off to Find Westerley-The Body Farm, it has to be there Angela Marsons wrote about it.

I don’t do a 5 star ranking system but if I did this book would get 6.

My Conversation with Angela Marsons

 Ok, conversations a bit of a stretch, I submitted the questions through her publishers Bookouture and I have to say thank you to Kim for being the messenger. Having said that I have to say I have spoken to Angela several times via social media and she does seem like one of the nicest authors I’ve spoken to.

So what did I learn.

Q. You describe places around the Black Country very accurately. Accurate enough to be recognised by those of us that live here. But what comes first, the idea or the place. Do you think of the situation and then go and find somewhere to set it, or do you find somewhere and think that’s a great place to set the scenario?

A. The idea comes first. In my head I know the type of area I’m thinking of. For the site of Westerley I wanted it based on the outskirts of the Black Country in a semi-rural area that bordered another Police Force so I chose Wall Heath.  In Evil Games I knew the type of area that I wanted to base the final confrontation so chose an area of the canal that is close to where I live.

Q. Is there any likelihood Dr Alex Throne will make an appearance in future books. A great character and she got inside Kim Stones Head.

A. Yes, Dr Alex Thorne returns in book 5. She was such an interesting character that I had to bring her back. The scenes between Kim and Alex were some of my favourite ones to write.

Q. The care home in Rowley Regis in the first book. Was Angela aware of the home and the fire, if so what made her base her story around it.

A. Yes, I was aware of the care home.  It was very close to where I went to school but there was an air of mystery that surrounded the kids that were there. There seemed to be a general opinion they were there because they’d been bad in some way and I just didn’t believe that and it just stayed with me.

Q. You mentioned that you were aware of the care home and the rumours surrounding it. Have any local crimes influenced any of your stories if so which ones. If they haven’t would you ever research some and use the scenario for a modern investigation

A. Excellent question. I’ve not been influenced by local crimes although I have referred to some (notably Lesley Whittle).  I would like to base a book on historic crimes in the Black Country but I would probably not use recent cases to avoid causing any distress to family members.

Q. On a personal level how have you managed the transition from being employed elsewhere to becoming a full time author, and has the fact that you are now contracted to write future books put more pressure on you or taken any of the fun out of writing

A. The transition has been overwhelming and exciting. I still pinch myself every day and appreciate the fact that I now get to do something I love as my work.  Except it never feels like work because I used to do it every spare minute around a full time job anyway.  And the fun is definitely still there.  Once an idea bites my house could fall down and I wouldn’t notice and that feeling never goes away.

What do I really think of these books

I grew up in Birmingham but moved to the Black Country about 25 years ago. I live right in the middle of where Angela bases her books; in fact, Halesowen Police Station, Kim Stones base, is my local nick. If you have ever read my biography on this site you’ll know I am a Forensic Specialist and have worked with the Police on hundreds of cases and, I’m proud to say, my daughter now works with the Police in a specialist role.

I mention this, not to big myself up, but to add a bit of credence to what I say next.

These books are about as accurate as you can get in the fictional world.

The characters portrayed in the books; their professional and person relationships, their lifestyles and their interaction with each other, whether it be Police-Criminal, Police-Victim, Police-other professions, or visa-versa is very realistic.

She catches the mood of an investigation nicely. I love the way she includes the frustrations of working within guidelines, but also how DCI Stone always manages to have a foot either side of the line to get a result without a wild jump into fantasy.

I love the way that she uses real places to set her crimes, and I wouldn’t mind betting she bases her characters on people she knows or has met.

As you can see from one of the questions she used a notorious Children’s Home in Rowley Regis to set her first book. Everybody who lives by me has a story about that place, but nobody else has had the imagination to build a whole book storyline around it.

The introduction of Dr Alex Cross has given the storyline across the series an edge. Stone is not infallible, she has weaknesses and Cross is one person who can exploit them. I’m glad she’s coming back.

I think the best answer to my questions was the final one.

Angela’s obviously had a passion for her writing. I can only imagine the frustration she had writing all of these stories and having no one read them. I think I read in another blog that she used to write them and put them away in a draw. That in itself is criminal.

Somebody once told me that, “if you find a job that really interests you, you will never work another day in your life. Somebody will pay you to do your hobby” I’ve been lucky enough to experience that. Now it looks like Angela Marsons is too. Long may it last and may we have many more books to look forward to.

Just before I finish this happened this morning.

I was driving along the Grange Road in Halesowen when a large motorbike overtook me, it turned onto the Queensway and then into Laurel Lane. The driver was a young lady. It couldn’t have been, could it???????

 

Just in case you haven’t read them I’ve put links to my reviews of the previous books below

https://nigeladamsbookworm.wordpress.com/2015/07/26/silent-scream-evil-games-angela-marsons/

 

https://nigeladamsbookworm.wordpress.com/2015/11/15/lost-girls-angela-marsons/