Cyberstrike: London. James Barrington & Professor Richard Benham

This is a story of an attack on the City of London, not in the manner in which we have come to expect, no lone terrorist with a machete, no small group with backpacks stuffed with homemade explosives.

This time the people trying to bring down the City, and cripple the country is another country.

How do they manage this? They give one of the most feared and blood thirsty criminals they have one last chance, work for them and bring down a foreign power or die in a horrific way.

But how does a man who is used to using brute force manage to bring down a country.

Easy, he kidnaps a man who is in the right social circle, and gets information on all the main players in the city. Information that can be used to blackmail them into doing things that will cripple the City.

There is a group of people that work for the Government whose job it is to identify threats before the terrorists have chance to carry out an attack. One of them, Ben Morgan, is a cyber expert, but his job is usually to monitor trends in communications before an attack to identify who was involved and anticipate future attacks.

This time he’s at the forefront of the fight to stop the attack, or limit the effect it has on the country.

A new decade and a new type of crime, but in all honesty,  I read this thinking how easy it would be to carry out this attack, and how difficult it would be to stop it. A politician once said that the “security forces have to get lucky all of the time, the terrorist only has to get lucky once” .

I can’t help thinking that one day I’m going to be watching the news thinking, this was in that book.

A brilliantly written, origin plot, which has developed a cracking story.

Pages: 353

Publisher: Canelo

Publishing date: 9th March 2020

Perfect Kill. Helen Fields

Helen Fields has a way of writing things which take you just to the edge. Just to that point where you have had enough of the scenario to know what’s going to happen next, then cutting away to the next scene or the aftermath. This makes her books really good. Sometimes that little bit left to your own imagination can have so much more of an impact.

Perfect Kill is a perfect example of this with the description of some of the crimes being “peep-through-your-fingers” frightening, whilst maintaining a real believability.

In Edinburgh a young man is kidnapped and drugged. Waking up in a container he is soon swapped for a group of young women. Where is he being taken and what is in store for him.

In France a body is discovered minus its vital organs.

Back in Edinburgh a low level gang leader is running a bunch of brothels, using women that have been forced into the sex trade; but he has a side line that earns him much more money, and it’s not good news for some of the girls in the brothels.

In Scotland DCI Ava Turner takes the lead on the investigation into the kidnap of the young man. Meanwhile her partner DI Luc Callanach is back on his home turf of France acting as a liaison officer for Police Scotland and Interpol, and starts to investigate the the case of the man with the missing organs.

Inevitably the two cases are linked, and Turner and Callanach are thrown into a joint investigation.

This book is the 6th in the series. I’ve been on board from the start and I’m hooked. The characters in the series are amongst my favourites in Crime Fiction. Turner and Callanach have a unique relationship. Callanach has a past that has a lasting impact on him, he suffers from a form of PTSD that affects him in ways that can only be described as frustrating.

But he is a really good police officer, and after winning the respect of Turner, and her MIT, it all went wrong when part of his past came back to haunt him. This led to him being moved back to France, on a temporary basis, but now everybody wants to build bridges and get him home to Scotland.

This book is a roller-coaster of a story. Horrific in places, haunting in others, emotional throughout, but this just makes it readable. In fact I hardly put it down from start to finish.

Pages: 416

Publisher: Avon Books

Available 6th February 2020

The Waxwork Corpse. Simon Michael

Simon Michael’s books are up there with my favourites.

This series of legal thrillers set through the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s are fictional, but, and it’s a big but, each book is set around things that actually happened.

Readers will recognise some of the Gangland names that the Barrister Charles Holborne meets and deals with. They will recognise some of the periphery characters and will be aware of some of the crimes that took place, some of which are almost urban legend, some of which were national headlines.

In this case Simon Michael has used a less well known case and spun his own story around it, a story that so closely resembles the real life happenings that it is almost a documentary of the crime and the court case. There is even a nod to one of the main, real life protagonists,  in the name of one of the main characters in the book.

When the body of a woman is fished from the depths of Britain’s deepest lake it has the appearance of a waxwork dummy wrapped in plastic sheeting. What it actually is, is the remains of a woman that has been missing for over 10 years.

Her husband quickly becomes a suspect in her murder and Charles Holborne is asked to help prosecute the man.

Charles battles with the dilemma of sitting at the prosecution table, he usually represents the defendants, and the possible outcomes of prosecuting such a high profile defendant.

The case makes national headlines, as did the real one, and Holborne is thrust into the limelight. This brings someone from his past life, during the early years of World War Two, out of the woodwork. Somebody who Charles would rather not have to deal with.

In another reflection of true life Charles is battling anti-Semitism inside and outside of the court. As a “lapsed” practitioner of the Jewish Faith he is also battling with his own family.

Every page of this book brings something to the story.

The crime and trial are addictive reading on their own, but throw in all of the issues in Charles’ own life, and it moves to a whole new level of crime writing.

An absolutely stunning addition to what is already a brilliant series.

Pages: 336

Publishers: Sapere Books

Available now

The Blossom Twins Carol Wyer

When DI Natalie Ward is told of a missing persons case involving two girls her mind is immediately taken back to one of the first cases she worked as a detective, the Blossom Twins murder. Then a man had been put away but her mind will always go back to the case.

Is she subconsciously thinking about how the case was solved?

When the similarities in the missing girls case, and the Blossom Twins case start to pile up Nat becomes more than a little concerned.

She hadn’t been convinced the right person was put away years ago, now the uncertainty is creeping back as similarities between the new, and old case start to mount up

To make matters worse a face from the past proves to be an unwelcome annoyance during her investigation.

Carol Wyer’s books are nothing short of brilliant. Over the series she has led the reader to develop a relationship with her characters, often with side stories that are equally as good as the main investigation thread of the plot.

This book is no exception.

I often wonder if writers plot story lines books in advance, or whether they just let the story flow in its own direction whilst they write it.

Either way the end of this story is a real bolt from the blue. If it was planned, and it was done to make the reader sit slack jawed, it worked. If it just flowed to the point that had me gasping, it was a brave decision to include it in the final draft. What an ending.

Am I looking forward to the next instalment. Oh my god yes!!!!!

Pages: 399

Publisher: Bookouture

Available now

The Body In The Snow. Nick Louth

The Body In The Snow Nick Louth

When a young, newly qualified, Forensic Scene Investigator goes out jogging in the snow the day before her first day on duty she didn’t expect to be a witness to a murder.

First on the scene she attempts to protect it from being destroyed by the victims dog, and preserve tacks that are being lost as the snow melts.

Her knight in shining armour arrives in the form of Senior Investigating Officer Craig Gillllard, one of Surreys Murder Investigation Team.

The victim is Tanvi Roy, the owner of a large Indian Cuisine Company and the matriarch of the dysfunctional Roy Family.

The family are Hindus and run their business, and their family affairs, in a traditional manner.

Mrs Roy’s husband had died before the story starts but his influences run right through the book. The multi-million pound fortune is tied up in a Codicil which sees unequal sharing of equities, with Sons, Grandsons, and even Son-in-Laws, being given much more value than, wives, daughters and granddaughters.

The unequal distribution of share holding’s means that it’s nearly impossible to get a group decision, and one rival company has been trying to buy the Roy’s business for years

This gives just about everybody in the family a reason to see Mrs Roy dead.

Throughout the investigation Gillard uncovers years of resent within the family.

I love a book that gives me new knowledge as well as entertains me. This book has done just that. I fell into a Google worm-hole that lasted for hours looking at Hindu family traditions, including Codicil Wills, arranged marriages and Castes.

Nick Louth has written a wonderful book. Some people will do as I did and research the Hindu faith, and I’m sure will learn they did not know as much as they thought.

I think this was a brave book to write. It looks at a religion and bases a family murder firmly in the way that people of that faith act. It looks at the differences between generations, and the conflicts between the older, first generation of immigrants, and their more westernised younger generations, and the problems that it can.

A wonderful book that kept me reading when I should have been doing other things.

Publishing Date. 31st January 2020

Publishers. Canelo

FIRST BLOOD. ANGELA MARSONS

First Blood.  Angela Marsons

 

For those of us who are already hooked by this series, this is a great prequal. For those of us who haven’t read any of the DI Kim Stone books, this is a great introduction to the best crime series on the shelves right now.

Either way this is a brilliant read which will have people turning the pages at a feverish rate.

First Blood takes us right back to the formation of Kim’s team, and her first day at Halesowen Police Station.

It’s a last chance scenario with Kim having made too many enemies to be accepted at most nicks in the West Midlands.

However she has an ally she knows nothing about, somebody who has known her for many years before she joined the force, and has kept an eye on her career since she joined.

This story looks at why Kim is a bit of a pariah in the force. She is definitely an acquired taste to work with, but her conviction rate should out-weigh that.

On her first day she meets her team. DS Bryant, a middle aged man who should be at least a DI at that stage in his career, so why isn’t he, and how will he react to a young DI.

DS Kevin Dawson, and I’d forgotten what a pain in the behind he was when the series first started. A man capable of disrupting even the most evenly balanced relationship, and certainly not a team player.

Brand new DC Stacey Wood, a shy almost naïve, young woman whose hidden talent is soon found to be “data-mining” from a desk. Not what DS Dawson considers to be real policing.

The first day should be an easy welcome session, but a body is found staked out on the Clent Hills. The body has been stabbed, decapitated and had the genitals removed.

Kim judges the team by how they react to the scene, and as the investigation goes on, she watches the dynamic of the team, how they work, how they bond, all the time sussing out their strengths and weaknesses. At the same time Bryant, Wood, and Stacey are doing exactly the same.

At times the team, and Stone, have as many questions about each other as they do about the case. One of the team decides to research Stone’s past and makes some startling discoveries. Will this affect the way she’s looked at?

The solving of the crimes is the main thread in this book; but just as enthralling is the thread that explores the team members and how they reacted to each other when they first meet, and during this first investigation.

I loved this book from cover to cover. It can be read as a stand-alone, or the first in a series, or as I look at it the latest in the best series there is.

The book fills some gaps and explains the relationship between many of the characters in the series, not all of them on the team.

There is a saying “There is only one chance to make a first impression” In this book we see those first impressions as the team is brought together.

But this book is a contrary to that saying. This is a second chance for those of us who follow the series to have that first meeting with Stone and the gang, and it’s absolutely brilliant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Huntress. Kate Quinn

This is conundrum of a story, but don’t let that put you off.

Four stories in one, all set in different time periods, all integral to the main story, and all charging to a  brilliant conclusion.

During the war.

The Huntress. A killer, a woman working for, or in sympathy, with the German SS during World War Two. A woman who has escaped the war crimes hearings in Nuremberg.

Nina Markov. A Russian woman with a passion for flying. One of Stalin’s famous Night Witches. A woman with a very good reason for finding the Huntress.

After the war

Ian and Tony, two men who specialise in finding war criminals and bringing them to trial, but one woman  is right at the top of Ian’s list. The Huntress was responsible for killing his brother, and he wants to see her face her crimes.

Jordan McBride. A young woman in America dreaming of becoming a photographer covering wars around the world. Her father, a widow has a new woman in his life, Anneliese, a woman that Jordan is convinced is a not telling the truth about her past.

This story is magnificent in the way it is told. The storylines of all of the main characters interweave from start to finish. The way the author establishes the crimes committed by the Huntress during the war is clever.

Introducing Nina as one of the famous Night Witches of the Soviet Aviation Group 122 is perfect for the story. I thought I was good on my Second World War history, but I’d never heard of this group. A quick Google search led me down an internet wormhole that lasted for hours whilst I read about this extraordinary group of woman.

Tony’s story, and the story about the tracking down of the illusive Huntress after the war, is the main backbone of the book and it is one of those tales which has you reading well into the night.

But will you guess the end of the story? Is everybody who they appear to be? Are the allegiances that are formed all they seem to be. Will the Huntress get caught?

There’s only one way to find out. Read the book, and I have to say it’s up there in my best books read this year.

Pages: 560

Publisher: Harper Collins

Available now.