The Snow Killer & The Soul Killer. Ross Greenwood

I picked up Snow Killer on a recommendation, and I’m really glad I did. It was that good I went straight to book 2 The Soul Killer

Gentle Giant, and family man, DI John Barton is the main Police lead and a cracking character, but what steals the show in these books, and makes them stand out in current crime fiction, is the main criminals.

Greenwood dedicates as much time to the criminal and their activities, as he does to the Police and their investigations.

The criminals sections are written in the first person, with the investigation side written in the third person.

This allows Ross to get right into the criminal mind and explore the psyche the murderers.

The Snow Killer

In this book the killer is out for revenge. 50 years ago her family were murdered in a Gangland killing. She escapes badly injured, with the killers thinking she had died.

It took her a few years but she got revenge. Now a he’s killing again, but why.

An old Lady annoyed at the way the youth have no respect. The way the neighbourhood is run by silly, arrogant, tooth sucking teens.

Barton really has his work cut out. The old cases don’t even come on his horizon until a retired officer comes under suspicion for an unrelated issue.

Who would suspect an old lady. But then again we were all young once, and why would our attitude change just because our body isn’t as strong.

A gun is a great leveller, so is a well placed knife in skilled hands

Soul Killer

Following on from the aftermath of the shocking end to the Snow Killer

This time the killer is very close to home.

Again revenge is at the heart of the crimes. This time the killer is young, clever and calculated. But what Greenwood does brilliantly is show the escalating downward spiral of their mental health as they start to make mistakes.

One killing has to lead to another, just to cover up their tracks, the more killings the more chance of a mistake. The cold calculated killer starts to turn into a panicked psychopath.

One of Barton’s team is a new and very blunt young DC. The team find him hard to get on with but Barton sees something in him and lets him have his head. He hits the nail on the head quickly but is largely ignored, after all how could the person he thinks is a serial killer be responsible, they wouldn’t hurt a fly.

Both of these books had me hooked. I’ve not come across any other stories that give the killer so much time in a story, and have them writes so well.

Greenwood gives a real gravitas to the mind of the killer. He looks at their history, in both stories the issues the killers have started years ago and have festered in their minds.

He looks at the planning and consequences. The average person these days think they are Forensically aware, and know that a mistake will almost inevitably lead to their capture. So when killers start to make mistakes, even the coolest start to panic. The more they panic the more mistakes they make.

Barton’s team are good at what they do. There are some great characters amongst them, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, but everybody knows their worth, what they are good at, and how to support each other.

At the end of the second book, in the acknowledgments, yes some people do read them and I’m one of them, Greenwood states he didn’t realise, when he was writing the first book, that it would turn into a trilogy.

Well it must really have come as a surprise to him that it went beyond book three. In fact according to Amazon there’s five books in the series.

How good are the first two. I’ve just finished Soul Killer and immediately downloaded the rest of the series.

The books are also available as Audiobooks, narrated by David Thorpe

Publisher Boldwood Books. Available now on Amazon.

The Deptford Murder. Jez Pinfold

Detective Chief Inspector Bec Pope. A new Police Officer on the book shelves, and hopefully one here to stay.

The Deptford Murder introduces Pope in spectacular fashion.

The first body is found posed in a church, with a personal message to Pope, in the form of a formal invitation, placed neatly on the body.

The second body appears within hours, another message to Pope.

This is the beginning of a cracking story that had me turning the pages well into the night.

Pope is a great character. Typical of a Police Officer her job takes president over her family, even she admits it.

She works late, drinks when she gets home, has trouble sleeping. She lives with her husband and his kids, but it’s not an easy relationship.

As another attack takes place more pressure is put on Pope’s team, mainly born of her own professionalism, but they crack on and work long hours to find the killer before there are more victims.

Inevitable there is strain on family relations, and almost as inevitably there is a close bond between Pope and one of her colleagues. But will “that” line ever be crossed.

As the investigation, and the book, fly along, surprising connections start to be made and the final twist is a real surprise, without being out-of-the-blue, or unrealistic.

This is hopefully the first of a series. Pope, and her team in Londons Met, are really well conceived. As individuals there is great promise, as a team the scope for the stories to come is wide and I can’t wait to read whatever is to come

Print length: 302 pages. Publisher: Joffe. Published: 3rd December 2022.

The Prisoners Wife. Ali Blood

I don’t usually read the Gangland type of crime book, but the spiel for this one got me intrigued.

Am I glad I read it? Yes.

Emma is married to a man she thought was the best thing that had ever happened to her, until he put that ring on her finger. Then the true Tommy Driscoll appeared, bullying, coercive, and frightening.

Who she thought was an honest business man, is in fact a Gangland boss. His businesses just a front for all of his illegal activities.

The book starts with Tommy being found guilty of carrying a firearm and being sentenced to five years. Emma’s joy at the thought of freedom from him is short lived.

His brother Liam, and his right hand man Fraser work at Tommy’s behest to ensure she is living a life of incarceration on the outside, just as much as she is on the inside. His threats to her are chilling. Do nothing, live like a nun, wait for him to get out.

But she’s already made a mistake, a one night stand whilst Tommy was on remand.

Now the one night stand is trying to blackmail her, and if her husband finds out……..

But where is the real threat.

Who can she trust.

She can’t turn to her family because Tommy is using threats against them to control her.

The Police? Why should she trust them.

This is a great story with some vicious twists.

The surprises keep coming all the way to the last chapter.

A cracking book. At times this is a tough read but it’s always compelling and I found it hard to put down.

Ali Blood is a new author to me but I’ll be keeping my eyes open for her books in the future

Pages: 400. Publisher: Avon. Publishing Date: 2nd February 2023

The Silent Dead. Marnie Riches

Detective Sergeant Jackie Cooke is not your average fictional Police Officer, but I think she’s probably one of the most realistic.

A newly separated single mother with twins boys, one of who is the “child from hell” and a few months old little girl.

She is battling her ex partner, who wants to take her for a much as he can, having contributed very little, and relies on her mother, who lives in a granny-flat in the basement, for child care.

When she’s at work she’s worried about her kids and the over reliance she places on her mom. When she’s at home she can’t stop thinking about her cases.

Her work is suffering because of her home life, and her home life is suffering because of her work.

The icing on the cake for Cooke is that she was a DI, but stood down when she became pregnant with her daughter, and the new DI is, in her opinion, inept.

So that’s the backdrop to the story and it really adds a touch of reality that helped me engage with Cooke.

When she attends a murder scene to find out that it’s an old school friend of hers who has been killed, she is caught slightly off guard.

When the investigation starts to take her into the world of, online dating, and seedy hook ups she wonders what her old friend had got herself into in the years they had been out of contact.

The fact that more murders show a similar MO, leads Cooke and her Sergeant into the murky world of on line hook ups.

I have come across the phrase Incel in a few books recently, but Marnie Riches seems to have hit the right balance of menace and desperation that people that fall into that category exude and suffer.

I love the main characters in this book.

The crimes are really well considered and fit the story perfectly.

A great read.

Pages: 325. Publisher: Bookouture. Publishing Date 1st November 2022

Hidden Bones. Rita Herron

There is something about this series that has me really hooked.

It could be the main character, Detective Ellie Reeves, or the other recurring characters, all of who add massively to the stories.

It could be the setting, a small town at the start of the Appalachian Trail, with its unique inhabitants and visitors.

Or it could be the well thought out, well written crimes.

It’s probably a combination of all of those things.

This book starts like a Stephen King story. A flash back to 30 years ago, a little girl hiding whilst she witnesses her mother being murdered. The killer finding her and taking her away.

Back to today and it’s Spring Break and all the madness it brings. A group of teenagers carrying out a TikTok challenge to film themselves in an abandoned “haunted” house.

The house is an old Orphanage with a bad reputation. When something spooks them they make a run for it but one girl falls into a pit. The pit is full of human bones, but how long have they been there.

Unsure weather this is a historic case, or even if it’s a crime scene Ellie is moved off the case when a very recent murder victim is found.

A woman has been the victim of a horrific murder, and she has had rough sex recently. In another twist the team dig into her past and can’t be sure the rough sex and the murder are part of the same crime.

The story follows the investigations into both crimes, and more as they happen. Inevitably the investigators start to wonder if there’s a link.

If there is, how long has this killer been active, and how many victims are there.

Rita Herron is one of those authors I wait for. I’m lucky enough to be able to read the books before they are published. When the notification pops up to say one of her books is available it goes straight to the top of my TBR list and is always the next book to be read.

I think that speaks volumes.

Print length 460 pages. Audio book 8 hours 58 minutes Narrator Tanya Eby. Publisher Bookouture. Available now.

Blood and Money. Rachel McClean

This story is the first in a new crime series by one of my favourite authors. The start of a series of stories set in Scotland with the newly formed Complex Crime Unit.

But, I don’t know if it is the beginning of a new series, I think Rachel McClean is weaving a set of stories where the characters overlap, and I’m loving the trail it’s taking us along, and I really can’t wait to see where the final destination will be.

We’ve had the Birmingham Crime series. One of the, recurring characters, in that set of books, DCI Lesley Clarke was transferred to Dorset and became the lead character in the Dorset Crime set of books.

Now DS Mo Uddin another side character from the Birmingham books has transferred to Scotland and is now a lead character in the latest set of books.

None of the previous two sets have been finalised, with the latest in the Dorset set due to be published early next year.

Other characters are also brought into this latest set, which gives it a familiar feel, whilst opening up new possibilities.

This story is set around a murder in the wilderness around Loch Lomond. An American Billionaire, who come to his estate on the Loch to have isolated “thinking time” is out on a walk in the early evening.

He’s shot at long range, the bullet hitting just above the knee. It’s not a kill shot but it’s enough to allow him to slowly bleed out, or die of hyperthermia before he’s found. Either way it’s a slow and lonely way to die.

It’s the first case for the newly formed Complex Crime Unit, with its SIO DI Jade Tanner, and her newly acquired DS Mo Uddin, and their small team.

The Units boss Detective Superintendent Fraser Munroe has also insisted on a civilian team member. Criminal Psychologists Petra McBride, another side character from both previous sets of stories, but what is she really there for. To give her insight into the crimes the team investigate, or to analyse the team themselves.

This is a great standalone story, it’s also a great introduction to a new “series”; but for me it’s another thread in an incredible story that started in Birmingham, has threads in Dorset, and has spread to Scotland.

Pages: 348. Available now

The Line. Rachel Lynch

A cracker of a book that I had no idea was the second in a series, but I’ve now downloaded the first.

The holiday island of Cyprus has series of key military establishments, including a listening station that picks up communications across the Middle East.

So when it becomes apparent that their is a leak, and that somebody is giving an arms dealing, warlord, tip offs that are allowing him to escape being killed by American Drones, an investigation is launched.

Four low ranking soldiers are placed under house arrest and a military investigator is sent to look into the leak.

When the investigator is killed, in an apparent diving accident, Major Helen Scott is sent to the island to continue his investigation, and also to look at how he died.

What follows is a story that examines temptation. The temptation of young soldiers to hit salubrious bars where drinks, drugs and possibly worst of all, prostitution, are all freely available.

The temptation of people to make a quick penny, or get a quick lay, bringing a risk to national security.

But who is responsible. Could four low ranking soldiers really have the ability to gain the information, let alone pass it on in a timely manner.

Why was the original investigator killed, and by who. What was he getting too close to.

Major Helen Scott is a great character but as much as she’s the main one, she’s almost a narrator of the plot. Other characters nearly take up as many pages, and they add to the credibility of the plot.

The setting is great, I actually wish I’d waited to read this book until I was on holiday. So good is Rachel Lynch at taking the reader to Cyprus, that I wanted to be on a beach, or by a pool.

The plot is fast paced and doesn’t let up on the action from page one.

A great story and hopefully, now I know there was a previous book, there will be many more to follow in the series.

Publisher: Canelo. Pages: 328. Publishing date. 28 July 2022.

The Guilty Girl. Patricia Gibney

If you are a parent that has had children who have already passed through teenage years, this book will bring back memories of all the fears and trepidations you felt.

Patricia Gibney is particularly good at tapping into raw emotions. Her books always seem to come from the heart, and be laid on foundations of experience that brings a reality which is unrivalled when it comes to the angst and emotions of the characters.

This book is no exception. In fact it stands out as a brilliant book, in what is already a brilliant series.

The angst of youth. Wanting to be a part of everything, whilst being torn between what is right and what is wrong.

The dangers some youths are exposed to in their hunt for acceptance, or their version of “the dream”

The vulnerability of youth, hidden by the false shield of the hard exterior.

Lottie Parker is called to a murder. A young girl held a house party at her parents house, the next day she is found dead amongst the detritus of the party.

Why was Lucy killed.

Another girl Hannah is hiding something, and Lucy seems to have found out about it.

Parker starts to uncover disturbing evidence that indicates that somebody is taking advantage of young girls.

Evidence starts to stack up, and then one boy, who should know better admits he was at the party, Parker is infuriated.

The story in this book is so current it’s frightening. It’s frightening to realise that things like this are going on. We all read about these crimes in the newspaper, online, or hear about them in the news, but Patricia Gibney makes them so much more relevant to us by adding the emotions of the victims, witnesses, and investigators.

I look forward to every book in this series and have never been disappointed. This one lifts the bar again, I can’t wait to see where she takes us in the next one.

Print Length: 507 pages (according to Amazon). Audio book 14 hours 38 minutes Narrator Michele Morgan. Published 15th June 2022

The Lost Ones. Marnie Riches

Well if you are looking for a detective with a difference this is the book to find it in.

Detective Sergeant Jackie Cook. A hormonal woman in the third trimester of an unexpected pregnancy who has: A waster of a husband who contributes nothing but dreams of being a rock star. Nine year old twin sons doing their best Fred and George Weasley impressions. A mother who lives in the basement with her David Niven like boyfriend. The occasional visiting bohemian artist father.

On top of all of that her colleagues blame her for letting the glory seeking, queen detective, DI Venables get the rank of Detective Inspector because she’d stood down from it.

Oh and there’s a series of gruesome murders to solve.

Cook and her partner David Tang are assigned to a murder where the limbless torso of a young girl has been posed in a beer garden.

It’s not the usual gang related murder the team are used to dealing with in Manchester, and it’s not the last body with bits missing that is coming their way.

The story develops as more bodies are found. Each either missing pieces, or being discovered as just one piece.

Cooke and Tang are under pressure, Venables is preening her feathers and wants a quick arrest of who she thinks is an obvious suspect. Cooke and Tang know she’s wrong.

This story is stunning, and has introduced one of the quirkiest characters I’ve read for years.

Cook is a force to be reckoned with, but she’s also a vulnerable woman.

She’s blunt, likes to give the occasional kick in the shin, loves her job, but has real problems balancing her work and home life.

As the story gallops on she finds herself having to merge both worlds, but the result is not what she expects, or is it.

A stunning start to what I hope will be a great series.

If you are a fan of Marnie Riches you are not going to be disappointed. If you are only just discovering her you are in for a real treat.

Publisher: Bookouture. Pages: 324. Audio Book 11 hours 6 minutes. Narrator Helen Duff. Available now.

Tuesday Falling. S. Williams

When three things collide and bring something good into your reading.

One. I’ve been looking for a new style of writing. I love crime fiction but it can have a habit of sticking to the same one or two formulas.

Two. A few weeks ago I reviewed a book by Stephen Williams, The Skin Games, it was brilliant.

Three. A comment by another reader, after they’d read my review, included a link to Tuesday Falling by S. Williams. Why didn’t Amazon suggest this, I thought The Skin Games was his first book.

So when I clicked the link, and read the synopsis I thought I’d give it a go.

I was hooked from the start.

Tuesday is a young, emo-goth, or that’s the appearance she wants to portray. Homeless, living off the grid, below the streets, in the labyrinth of tunnels, service ducts, basements and the underground infrastructure, of London.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. She’s on a killing spree. In fact she’s about to wage a very smart war on the drug dealing, people smuggling, woman abusers that make up the lowlife of some of Londons sink estates.

Which Williams perfectly describes as “sink estates with no Government money spent on them, but rich in drug money”

The gangs are run by powerful men who have long left the estates behind and rely on their young impressionable gang members, again brilliantly described as “clone-drones”.

They rely on the gangs reputation, the threats of, and actual violence, to intimidate already scared residents, and pick on the vulnerable, mainly young women and girls.

So when a young girl, with high intelligence, and a driven motivation, decides to start reaping havoc, the gangs don’t stand a chance.

The problem is Tuesday is breaking the law just as much as the gangs, and not only does she have the gangs on her tail, she also has the police, or was that the plan all along.

This is a really clever story with brilliant characters.

The violence is only really hinted at with Williams taking things to the edge, and leaving the reader in no doubt about what has happened, without going overboard on the gore.

The story touches on aspects of life in, and amongst, some of the most underprivileged of society. It handles it well and although poetic licence lets Williams exaggerate some things, it’s not by much, and the reader doesn’t need a huge leap of faith to understand this story is realistic in its settings and crimes.

A great read.

Publisher: Killer Reads, Pages: Unspecified. Available now on Amazon