Little Black Lies Sharon Bolton

Little Black Lies   Sharon Bolton

1994 in the Falkland Islands and children are going missing. 3 so far and the community are split. Is there a serial offender on the Islands or are they simply having accidents in the baron wilderness of the islands and not been found.

Catrin is a mother who lost her 2 boys in a car crash two years ago. Her friend Rachel was looking after them when the accident happened. Again the islanders are split, some take Rachel’s side but many blame her for the deaths. Catrin more than anybody else, and she is plotting revenge.

The latest boy to disappear may be hampering Catrin’s plans, from the start of the book the reader is told she is on a tight schedule to kill somebody, it quickly becomes clear its Rachel.

Catrin has separated from her husband who has moved on since his son’s death. An ex-squaddie Calum, haunted by the events of the Falklands war 12 years earlier is now living on the island and is in love with Catrin, but she ignores it.

Calum is adamant that there is a killer on the island but the more he delves the worse it looks for Catrin.

She has a plan to kill Rachel and the sudden interest she is gaining from the locals is making her task difficult.

The missing boy is found but one of Rachel’s children goes missing. Is it the work of a serial offender, or is it Catrin’s revenge.

This story is told from the viewpoint of a grieving parent and a retired squaddie wit PTSD. It revolves around a closed community spread over a huge area. The description of the landscape, along with an appreciation of the life of a Falkland Islander, adds to the darkness of the souls of the main character.

Passenger 19 Ward Larsen

Passenger 19       Ward Larsen

Back in the late 70’s early 80’s, whilst sailing around the world working for Shell Tankers, my favourite genre of book was the suspense novel. I loved authors like Hammond Innes, Frederick Forsythe, Wilbur Smith, and the early Nelson Demille books such as Rivers of Babylon and Cathedral.

It has seemed to me that there are not so many books written in this vane anymore, the modern Authors who attempt this type of work always go over the top with implausible scenarios, and I had fallen out with the genre.

Until now.

Last week I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of Passenger 19 by Ward Larsen. I will admit I had never heard of Ward Larsen before, maybe it’s a geographical thing and his books are just not high profile in the UK yet, but now I know about him I will be reading his other books.

Passenger 19 is an adventure book, a suspense novel and a fantastic read.

Air Crash Investigator Jammer Davis is enjoying semi-retirement when his Boss comes to see him with bad news. An aircraft has crashed in Columbia. Jammers daughter, Jen, is listed amongst the passengers.

Jammer is assigned to the case and from the start appears to be having too much help from the American Authorities. When he arrives at the scene of the crash he is informed all on board are dead, but that there are 2 bodies missing. One of the missing people is Jen.

What made the plane crash? Is the first question Jammer needs to answer, but his biggest question where is Jen and is she still alive?

Ward Larsen picked a good country to set the story in. He uses the topography brilliantly allowing him to have an isolated inaccessible crash site, but best of all he can use the corrupt infrastructure to add danger to the investigation in a who-can-be-trusted plot line.

The clever US political angel adds to the weight of the book.

The story rushes through the jungle at a fast pace that never slows or gets dull.

Best of all it’s a credible tale. There are no stretches of the imagination; at no time does the reader need to suspend reality.

I’ve been looking for this book for years. Not specifically this book, but one of this genre. I have spent hours in book shops browsing shelves looking at books by Innes and alike and wishing for some modern Author to pick up the baton, sit at their laptop, and write a good suspense adventure novel. Well Ward Larson has.

Thank you Ward, I’m looking forward to reading your others.

Behind Closed Doors Elizabeth Haynes

Not only did I not want to put this book down once I started it, but I didn’t want it to end either.

Unusually for me I have read this book out of sequence. In fact it stands alone so well as a novel that I didn’t realise it was the latest in a series until I started to research Elizabeth Haynes for this blog. I will be reading the first two soon.

Behind Closed Doors is the best split-time book I’ve ever read. Elizabeth Haynes skilfully mixes her two main storylines. In 2013 DCI Smith investigates a series of crimes that appear to be linked to the Maitland-McDonnell’s criminal gangs. Whilst in 2003 Scarlett Rainsford, a 15 year old girl, is kidnapped whilst on a family holiday in Crete.

When a brothel is raided in 2013 England one of the woman found in the premises is Scarlett, missing for over 10 years. What is she doing in the flat, how did she get there, and where has she been in the intervening years.

The book follows the investigation into the crimes in 2013 England, whilst Scarlett’s story progresses from 2003 to catch up. Haynes interlinks the narratives in a way that neither gives away what is about to happen in the other.

Scarlett’s story alone is a great tale of survival, and would have made a fantastic book on its own.

The Police procedural part of the book, in which Smith leads her team’s investigation into the gang world, whilst assisting on the investigation of the reappearance of Scarlett, is written with an insight that can only be gained by someone who has worked closely with the Police. Elizabeth Haynes has, and it shows.

The final few chapters bring the stories together, and keep you guessing right to the end.

I loved this book and would recommend it to anybody

Killer-Lady-Writers

Things are changing, or is it just me?

Those of you who read my first blog will know a bit about my reading habits over the years, and about the types of book and the authors I read.

I honestly cannot think of a female writer whose books I read prior to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. This was not out of choice, they just didn’t write what I wanted to read.

Was it a coincidence that Rowling chose to present herself as a man in the guise of Robert Galbraith, was she trying to completely disguise herself or was she trying to break into, what I thought was a male dominated genre.

People will be saying that there have been women writing detective/ mystery/ police procedural books for years. Agatha Christie being a shinning example.

But over the last 2 or 3 years has anybody else noticed the emergence of some fantastic, British, female, Crime Thriller writers, and wow do they pack a punch.

In no particular order here are some of the women I have discovered in the last year or two.

Mari Hannah

Mari writes the Kate Daniels series. She is a DI in the North East and heads up a squad in the Major Investigations Team. Her stories are gritty; the descriptions of the characters and crime scenes are second to none. The violence in some of the scenes is breath taking and there is a no holds barred approach for the reader; but its not there as a gimmick, every act helps tell the story.

As with all good series there are back-stories to the characters that are always relevant to the main story, but also flow through the series linking them all, yet they are so well written each can be read as a stand alone

If you haven’t read any of these books yet you have missed a treat.

Mari Hannah can be found on Amazon or her own web site www.marihannah.com

Marnie Riches

Marnie is the author of a series of books, only two so far but more to come, in the George McKenzie series.

When The Girl That Wouldn’t Die was released reviewer’s started to compare it favourably with Stig Larson’s Millennium series. Well that is quite something to live up to so I downloaded it to read on my holiday. I wasn’t disappointed the book starts with a bang, in more ways than one. The main character, George McKenzie is a Cambridge exchange student living in the red light district of Amsterdam. Following what appears to be a terrorist explosion in the City she teams up with a local Police Inspector. The unlikely team unravel an amazing plot which twists and turns all the way to the end.

I was lucky enough to get a pre release copy of the second book in the series, The Girl Who Broke The Rules. It was one of the best sequels I have ever read. I find that some authors struggle with the second book, but just like Mari Hannah, Marnie Riches just got even better.

In these two books Marnie Riches tackles prostitution, drug use, and the human trafficking in a no holds barred manner.

I look forward to the next The Girl Who……..book and hope this turns into a long series.

Marnie Riches can be found on Amazon and also on her own web site www.marnieriches.com

Angela Marsons

Angela Marsons has written 2 books so far in the Detective Inspector Kim Stone series.

These books are set close to home; in fact they are set exactly where I live and the surrounding area. The Police Station Kim Stone works from; Halesowen in the West Midlands is my local station. So if ever I was going to notice any flamboyant exaggerations, unrealistic events or characters it was gong to be in these books. I didn’t.

Angela depicts the places and the people of the Black Country perfectly. The crimes she uses in the stories are all too realistic, and unfortunately common. The first book Silent Scream revolves around Child abuse at a Local Authority Children’s Home. The second book Silent Scream deals with the phycology of victims and how their vulnerability can be manipulated.

Angela also uses her characters back stories to enhance the main story and in the second book manages to introduce a nemesis to throw against DI Stone that shows a vulnerability, in the Police Office, that many writers attempt but few manage to convey.

Angela Marsons can be found on Amazon and at her own web site www.angelamarsons-book.com

I have singled out 3 women here because they have written my favourite books over the last 2 years but there are others who have also written brilliantly.

I find myself reading more books written by British women now than by any others.

I think of these Killer-Lady-Writers as a new breed of writer. They manage to combine the personal side of a character with the devastation they encounter better than the men used to.

Or is it todays society, do we as readers need more blood and guts to keep us engaged, and is it just coincidence that there are a lot of female writers coming through at the moment.

Carry on ladies.

Where They Found Her Kimberly McCreight

Where They Found Her   Kimberly McCreight

I have to say I usually like a complex plot that challenges me as a reader, but on this occasion it was too complex for me.

The story begins with the discovery of the body of a small child on a University Complex.

Molly Sanderson, an ex lawyer who is in therapy following a still birth, and who is now working on the local newspaper as the arts and designs correspondent is despatched to cover the story, because all the other staff have personal issues they are dealing with.

The story evolves to introduce different people; all of who seem to be interrelated throughout and all have personal issues and problems that also all seem to be interwoven into the plot.

As the story progresses random transcripts of therapy interviews with Molly and her psychiatrist appear and although relevant in the end just add to the confusion of the story.

As Molly post her reports online the story starts to include readers comments, which may eventually prove relevant, as may the social media posts, which are included into the book.

For me what could have been a good story has been overly confused. The plot jumps around and too many characters have too much going on.

The Girl Who Broke The Rules Marnie Riches

The Girl Who Broke The Rules   Marnie Riches

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George McKenzie is back, the story picks up four years on from the end of The Girl That Wouldn’t Die and from the first page I knew it would be an excellent sequel.

The story is again set in the seedy underworld of prostitution and pornography and takes place in Holland and the UK.

George has returned home and is working to make ends meet as she researches for her PHD. Meanwhile Chief Inspector Paul van den Bergen is still working in the serious crime department in Amsterdam.

As George interviews a convicted violent sex offender in prison in the UK the dismembered bodies of sex workers start to be discovered in Amsterdam. Van der Bergen has not forgotten George since she left, in fact far from it, and the discoveries are an ideal opportunity to become involved with her again.

Van der Bergen is suffering his own demons and his ill health is not helped by his hypochondria. He needs to have George in his life not just to help him with the crimes that are taking place but also to get his life together.

George’s personal life is also a mess; her PhD mentor is over bearing in her control, her family is a dysfunctional group who skate along the edges of legality, and she is in a failing relationship with her boyfriend who still lives in Holland.

As the bodies pile up and George begins to work with Van der Bergen they find themselves conflicted with van der Bergen’s superior officer and a detective on his team. Who is making the right decisions George and Paul, or his boss and the detective?

The book rattles along a fast pace and every time I thought I had a handle on who was the culprit, and why they were doing it, I realised I hadn’t.

The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die was the Winner of a coveted Dead Good Reader Award (2015) – The Patricia Highsmith Award for Most Exotic Location.

It has to be the first of many that will be won for what I hope is a long series.

The locations are well described but in more than a panoramic way. Riches manages to capture the atmosphere of the scene. From an empty strip club to a rural train track, from a pot café to a morgue each scene is perfectly realistic and perfect for the story.

I cannot wait for the next installment.

Uneasy in New Orleans Carol Carson

Uneasy in New Orleans Carol Carson

Fin Jones lives with her Aunt Gert in New Orleans. During the day she works as a tour guide, during the evening she attends cookery school, and during the night she takes covert photographs for a Private Investigator.

Fin has two sisters the youngest of which is a sexually charged 17 years old who moves to New Orleans to stay with her sister during the summer break.

Fins older sister had a boyfriend, Jack Boyle, who is now a Detective in the New Orleans Police Department; and he has a brother, Tom, who is the PI that Fin works for at night.

Confused? Don’t be these characters all weave into a nice, if not frustrating story.

One day Fin is giving one of her tours when she see’s a body hanging over a balcony. Quickly getting rid of her tour group she returns to the building where she saw it. The body’s still there, but when she gets up to the balcony to take a look she is knocked unconscious, when she comes around the body is gone.

So begins a story that links infidelity, a woman that is one of the most improbable FBI 10 most wanted that could be imagined, Fins personal life.

Is this a serious book? No. It is written firmly tongue-in-cheek, or that’s how I read it.

Its one of those feel good books. Inevitable comparisons with a modern day Nancy Drew will be drawn. It’s the type of book I would recommend to and elderly lady friend as easily as I would a young man.

I admit that at times I found it frustrating as the story drifted from the main plot to parts of Fins personal life, but when I finished it I wanted to read more. I wanted to know what comes next for all of the main characters. That has to be a good thing.cover71543-small

The Next to Die Neil White

Next To Die     Neil White

I have seen Neil Whites books on bookshelves for a few years now and can’t believe I’ve only just got around to reading one.

The Next To Die is set in Manchester and uses the diversity of the city to its full.

The two central characters in the book are two brothers: Joe Parker a defence lawyer, and Sam Parker a Detective Constable in the Greater Manchester Police.

I’m not giving much away when I say that the brothers have chosen their career paths, for different reasons, following the murder of their sister. They could not be more different in their life; Sam is married with a family, where as Joe is single. Both of them have back-stories, which begin to be told during the book, and it looks like both will make good characters for future books.

Neil White has written a great thriller around these characters. Joe is called to represent a man accused of killing his wife and daughter, but there are no bodies.

Sam is seconded from the Fraud team to work with the Major Investigation Team on the same case.

This inevitably leads to conflict between the brothers which at times tested my moralistic streak; I couldn’t quite decide which brother was right.

As the case continues there is no relaxing for the reader. Unlike some current authors there is no guarantee of the safety of a character. There are some vicious twists and turns in this book, all the way to the last chapter.

If you are looking for a realistic gritty crime book this is for you.

Who would I compare White to. I don’t know but if you are a fan of British Crime Fiction at its best and read people like Mari Hannah, C.L Taylor, and A.D Garrett you will love it.

There are 2 more books based around the same characters The Death Collector and The Domino Killer. I have already started The Death Collector and it is no disappointment so far ………….

Look out for more blogs about this Author. I’m Hooked

The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die Marnie Riches

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I read this book in 2 days on a recent holiday. It’s good, really good.

Much of the story is based in present day Amsterdam and its eclectic residents.

From the very beginning the setting is perfect allowing Marine Riches to introduce us to an amazing bunch of characters which may have been a little unbelievable anywhere else.

The main character, a Cambridge exchange student, George McKenzie lives above a weed selling coffee shop and counts window sitting whores amongst her friends and neighbours. Her college friends are a strange mix of races and creeds. All of this brings richness to the plot which keeps the pages turning from beginning to end.

The story starts with an explosion at the University and a chance meeting between George and a middle aged Police Investigator, Paul van den Bergen. What can a small mixed race young woman from England and a Middle aged Dutch cop have in common. Not a lot at first but a relationship and trust starts to build as more incidents occur. Whilst van den Bergen carries out the official investigation George becomes more embroiled in her own helped by her closest friend and fellow student Ad.

The story includes more murders as the case expands, and I have to say Riches has found some new, and realistic, ways of murdering people. But are the incidents connected and if so how. Could they be related to the parts of the story that take place 5 years prior in London. Don’t try and second-guess the writer there are twists and turns all the way to the end.

I loved this book.

It has been compared to Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy in some reviews and I have to agree.

I know there is a second book that will be released in August “The Girl That Broke The Rules” I can only hope that this is the second of many.

The Inspector Pekkala novels by Sam Eastland

The Inspector Pekkala novels by Sam Eastland

Three of my favourite genres of books are, War, Police, and Espionage novels. When I found the first Inspector Pekkala novel, Eye of the Red Tsar, I knew that I had found a gem amongst stories.

Eastland takes real events and weaves an excellent yarn around them. Inspector Pekkala was once the favourite detective of the final Tsar of Russia. Equally feared and respected across the country he built a solid reputation and gained the trust of the royal family. Following their murders he his hunted down by the communists and sent to a gulag deep in the heart of Siberia where he is given a job no man is expected to survive. Living in the vast forests he is left to fend for himself and develops a mythological status amongst the other prisoners.

Stalin himself sends an officer to release Pekkala from the prison with a guarantee of freedom if he can identify the real killers of the Tsar and his family. The book brings to life the terrible conditions within Russia at the time of Stalin’s reign. Pekkala is a wonderful character with a unique set of personality traits. He is thrown together with the man who was sent to release him, Kirov, a man who becomes his side-kick and forms an unusual friendship with the inspector, which develops during the series.

The second book The Red Coffin is set immediately prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. Pekkala, now established as Stalin’s main investigator, is sent to investigate the death of the designer of the T34 tank. The designer was killed before the tank was completed; several prototypes had been made and were in the process of being tested at the time of his death. One of the prototypes is stolen and is used by a group of anti-communist Russians in an attempt to provoke German forces to invade Russia with the hope of rousting the communist party. Pekkala and Kirov are sent to the T34 test grounds to investigate the death of the designer and locate the missing tank. This is not only a great story but also describes the tensions between Russia and Germany at the end of the 1930’s. The two main characters develop in this book making them one of modern fictions great crime teams.

In real life the T34s designer was killed by pneumonia as he attempted to drive a prototype over a 1000 miles in a demonstration of its capabilities. This story cleverly uses some of the known facts whilst staying completely within fiction.

Book 3, Siberian Red, is set at the outbreak of the war. Stalin learns of a man who is offering information on the whereabouts of the lost treasures of the Tsars. The man with the information is a convict in the same Siberian gulag that Pekkala was a prisoner in. Before he can be questioned he is murdered and Pekkala is sent to investigate the crime and try to find the location of the treasures. In what is like a living nightmare Pekkala is forced to leave Kirov behind and return to the gulag, undercover, as a prisoner. This book builds on Stalin’s greed and insecurity. He wants the treasure but he is also afraid of the White Russians, soldiers who were loyal to the Tsar, and have since formed a group in prison, and amongst the battalions of Stalin’s army. Back in the gulag Pekkala fights for his life whilst trying to gain information of the killer of the informant, and find a location for the Tsars treasure.

In the fourth book, The Red Moth, Pekkala is summonsed by Stalin following the finding of a picture. The picture was found in the bag of a single passenger of a German Scout plane. Stalin believes there must be more importance to the picture than anybody understands and Pekkala quickly confirms his thoughts. The picture contains information on some of the lost treasures of the Tsars. It also alludes to the fact that the Germans have located and were going to ransack the Amber Room, a room that was panelled in ornate Amber in one of the Tsar palaces, and take it to Germany. Pekkala is dispatched to locate the room and bring the panels back to Moscow before the advancing German troops can carry out their orders. The book has a great story and includes a moral dilemma for Pekkala, if he cannot recover the Amber should he destroy one of the great works of art to stop it falling into German hands. At the end of this book the outcome is revealed but at what cost.

Again this story revolves around real events. The actual Amber Room was located in Catherine Palace, near St Petersburg. It was overrun by German military units during the war and the contents were looted. The panels of the Amber Room have never been found, and to this day remain one of the great mysteries of the war, and one of the world’s great lost treasures.

Book 5, The Beast In The Red Forest, starts about 18 months after the end of book 4. Pekkala has been missing, presumed dead, since his attempt to locate the Amber Room panels. Stalin receives word that he may be alive and dispatches Kirov to the front line to locate him. Set against the ever changing back drop of the war between the Russian Army, the German Army, and the Partisan Army this story is more about espionage than the previous books.

Is Pekkala alive, will Kirov find him, and if he is alive why has he been anonymous for so long. All these questions are answered against a backdrop of close war, where front lines move backwards and forwards less than 100 yards a day, and in the background is a hidden plot that is only revealed in the last 50 or so pages.

Throughout this series Eastland examines life in Russia under Stalin’s reign. He uses Stalin’s flawed, psychotic personality, to bring a depth of threat not only to the main characters but shows what a threat he was to the world.

Pekkala is a wonderfully deep character. Life as the Inspector for the Tsar gaves him the investigative skills. Life in the gulag gave him survival skills. Life as Stalin’s Inspector gives him dilemmas which we may, or may not, agree with how he deals with, but one thing is for sure. I cannot wait for the next book.

I have used the UK titles for the books in this blog. If you want to find the alternative titles or read more there is a great website dedicated to these books www.inspectorpekkala.com