Kiss of Death. Paul Finch

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When I reviewed Ashes to Ashes, a previous book in this series, I declared it to be my guilty secret. I like my books to be as realistic as possible but I found DS Mark “Heck” Heckenburg to be a little bit too gung-ho. However I did like him.

In this book Heck is back, and is just as gung-ho.

The SCU is under threat. The austerity measures are taking effect and as a specialist team, looking a niche crimes, they are seen as an extravagance that the Police can’t afford.

To try to raise their profile they have taken on an almost impossible task. Split into teams of two they are tasked to hunt down and arrest England and Wales’s 20 most wanted criminals.

Heck is teamed with new DC Gail Honeyford and sent to track a vicious armed robber who is thought to be responsible for a number a robberies where people were killed in the most horrific manner.

Eddie Creeley is a psychopath. Even his one-time associates want nothing to do with him. But what Heck doesn’t know is Eddie has gone missing. That is until his sister gets a video showing what has happened to him.

Heck is now on the hunt for a psychopath who is in danger.

The story concentrates on Hecks investigations, and in typical Paul Finch style this is a real high speed rollercoaster of a story.

These books are more Mission Impossible than Morse on a scale of reality. But for some reason I love them.

If you like your fiction adrenaline fuelled, and on the edge of reality then you will love these books as much as me.

I recommended the Heck series to a friend who is into the Jack Reacher books by Lee Childs, and who would wouldn’t usually read UK Crime fiction. He enjoyed them as much as me.

Paul Finch is managing something most authors don’t. He is crossing two genres, action and crime, and actually coming out well in both camps.

Pages: 464

Publisher: Avon

Publishing Date: 9th August 2018.

Ashes to Ashes review https://nigeladamsbookworm.com/2017/02/19/ashes-to-ashes-paulfinch/

Truth and Lies. Caroline Mitchell

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Straight off, I loved this book.

Take a sprinkling of Fred and Rose West and add a pinch of Myra Hindley and there you have the main villain in this book.

Lillian Grimes is in prison for being one half of a husband and wife team that went from swinging to killing. Carrying out deprived sex attacks and killing their victims after luring them into their home. The victims were buried in the garden, under the cellar floor, and in the walls.

Lillian’s husband killed himself in prison but had already told police there were three other victims. He named them but didn’t say where they were buried.

Now Lillian is using that to her advantage. She wants to drip the information to detectives, but she has a price.

DI Amy Winter is a pocket rocket of a detective. At 5”2 she is not very tall but don’t ever underestimate her.

Amy’s dad was one of the cops who put Lillian in prison, his recent death has left a hole, but she is determined to carry on.

When Lillian gets in touch and says she will only deal with Amy, and will take her to the first burial site, Amy has no idea of the effect it’s going to have on her.

As Lillian plays her mind games a young girl is kidnapped. Amy and her team should be concentrating on the kidnapping, but Amy’s head is with the missing bodies and the revelations Lillian keeps making.

This book is tremendous. I can’t remember a book ever having me hooked so quickly, and kept me hooked so thoroughly until the very last page.

Caroline Mitchell is an ex-Detective and her experience always shines through in the reality of her books; but this book has taken it to another level.

The tension is brilliant. The inter-weaving of the plot lines make the story play out wonderfully.

The reference to Fred and Rose, and Myra Hindley, at the beginning of this blog are not waffle. The crimes Lillian has been convicted of are Fred and Rose’s crimes, or bloody close to them. The fact that Hindley also tried to curry favour by taking the police to the moors to show where the bodies of some of the victims were buried, is also very reminiscent of Lillian’s behaviour.

But there was something else that Rose West and Myra Hindley had in common, and so has Lillian.

What an utterly compelling read. One that had me doing my own research to see if my thoughts were right. Just my kind of book.

Oh, and there’s a twist right at the end. Please let there be a sequel. I want to know what happens next.

Pages: 348

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Publishing Date: 30th August 2018.

A Treachery of Spies. Manda Scott

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Two great stories rolled into one. A second world war espionage story that Len Deighton would have been proud of, and a modern crime story worthy of any of the present day authors writing excellent crime fiction.

The murder of an elderly lady in Orleans, France, is a horrible crime at the best of times. The fact that she has been executed and then mutilated, in a very specific manner, makes the crime even more hideous.

Enter Captain Ines Picaut of the French Police, and her small team. Picaut is recently returned to work having been badly burnt in a house fire but us soon into her stride.

The team tentatively identify the woman and link her to a production company making a TV series about a band of French Resistance Fighters during the Second World War.

The investigation will lead them to start to uncovering facts about the dead woman, and the part she played in the Resistance.

Here starts the second story. That of spies, double agents and treachery. The story of a young woman that escapes from occupied Europe and is trained as an agent that can work with the Resistance. She will work behind enemy lines with agents from across Europe and with French citizens trying to free their own country.

Whilst in France she will encounter; French people who sympathise with the Germans and see the retribution that is brought on them by their own Countrymen; she will have to work with people she despises and decide on which of the people she likes will die.

The small band that makes up her group all seem to have the same allegiances, but have they??

Who is on her side, and who feeding the enemy information.

As the two stories unfold, the modern day investigation, and the second world war drama, identities are uncovered. Nobody is who they seem, and somebody is acting as puppet master, pulling all the strings, but to what end.

I have used no names, except for the present day Police Captain’s, in this review. There is a good reason for that. Some of the characters in this book have multiple identities, because they have worked for different countries and different agencies. To use any of the names might be a bit of a spoiler to the story.

And this is an excellent story that I would hate to spoil for anybody.

Amongst most new fiction this is a tomb of a book at nearly 500 pages. Every page is a pleasure to read. The pace of the book is frantic but very enjoyable.

I have loved WW II stories since I was a young teenager, and I may be being nostalgic, but reading this book has made me wish there were more being written today.

Pages: 480

Publisher: Bantam Press, Random House

Publishing Date: 9th August 2018

The Birthday. Carol Wyer

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2 years after she went missing the body of Ava Sawyer is found buried in the grounds of the Garden Centre she disappeared from during a birthday party.

DI Natalie Wood and her small team are tasked with finding answers the original team to investigate the disappearance didn’t.

But this is no ordinary missing persons/murder investigation. Now that the body has been found it acts as a catalyst for more crimes. More of the girls from the party start  to get killed and are left posed in public places.

The investigation very much becomes a race against time.

The team have to find a killer. There are so many suspects, each one looking like they could be the killer, but each of them ruled out as suspects.

Have the team missed the killer?

Natalie already blames herself for one child abduction and murder case, she worked on, being tragically unsuccessful. She wasn’t the boss on that investigation, but she is on this one.

Has she learnt from others mistakes?

The last case affected her mentally and emotionally. Can she hold it together through this case?

The characters in this book are just what you would expect to find in any police team. DI Wood is struggling to balance her work and personal life. How can she try to keep her marriage going and still conduct such a high profile and emotional case.

Her team are made up of a mix of characters who it are easy to associate with and I’m sure we will get to know as the series progresses. There are friendships and there is conflict, just like the real world.

The best thing about this story is the realism. Carol Wyer hits so many nails on the head with the observations she makes.

She brings to life the frustrations of a real investigation.

The amount of facts that come flooding in and need sorting.

Deciding on what takes priority, and the worry that the decision was wrong.

When is it right to send your team home for rest, when every minute is so vital and may literally mean the difference between life and death.

There is one passage in the book when Natalie is struck by the normality of ongoing life after a traumatic incident.

In my career the thing that always used to get into my head was the disrupted normality. A terrible fire in a bedroom that had claimed lives, yet breakfast places set in the unaffected kitchen downstairs. School coats, which would never be worn again, hanging over the backs of chairs.

Not many authors consider this, and even less describe the feelings and emotions so well. It is only a small passage in the book, but it shows the consideration that has been put into it.

This is the first book in a new series. I think it’s going to be stunning.

Pages: 316

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 27th September 2018.

The Darkness Around Her. Neil White

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Lizzie has been in an abusive relationship for a while, so when she gets hit, in public, on New Year’s Eve, she decides she’s had enough and runs away. Unfortunately, she decides to run away along a canal tow path where a killer is waiting.

When her body is found the Police quickly make an arrest. The suspect asks for legal representation form only one person. Dan Grant.

Dan is a Barrister who has specialised in representing defendants for the last 10 years, but this defendant is a first for him, a first in two ways. He won’t talk about the crime, even to Dan, and he won’t allow Dan to employ a Queens Council. He wants Dan to represent him in Court.

Dan is left with no choice, if his client won’t give him anything to use in his defence, he will have to find evidence to prove his innocence himself.

Dan employs his usual Private Investigator, Jayne Brett, to start digging around for information on the suspect and the girl he is accused of killing.

Jayne is a good investigator, but she has one problem. Dan. There is a chemistry between them, one that Jayne would love to explore, but Dan has ethics and Jayne was once a client. The chemistry is real and at times both of them are genuinely frustrated to the point of distraction.

As the court case gets closer the investigation starts to uncover more crimes that have occurred on the Canal, can they all be related? Is this the defence? Could they prove that if their client didn’t commit any of the other crimes he can’t be responsible for this murder.

This book takes the reader on one hell of a trip. The parts of the book written about the legal process; the client interviews, the trips to the police station, the court proceedings are fascinatingly written and very realistic.

The investigation into the murder on the canal, and the historic crimes which have taken place are great. Proper Investigations have to take place, there’s not many CCTV cameras on canals, no ANPR cameras. If you’ve ever walked along a canal in a city centre, you’ll know how quickly you feel like you are out in the country.

The canals are a great place to set a modern day crime and have to rely on investigation techniques from 20 years ago.

I really enjoyed this book. I loved the legal side of it, the investigation is intriguing, and the relationship between Dan and Jayne is mesmerising.

 

Pages: 448

Publisher. Zaffre

Publishing Date: 9th August 2018

Her Final Hour Carla Kovach

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Straight off I’m going to say this is one of my Books of the Year.

I was hooked from the first chapter.

In 1993 a girl is drugged and raped.

In the present day a woman is struggling to escape an abusive marriage when she is killed.

DI Gina Harte has just landed after a few days away on holiday and is called in to lead the investigation into the death.

Gina is a good DI with a proven tack history and is well respected amongst her colleagues. What they don’t know is that she was in an abusive marriage for years, and this investigation is going to resurrect memories and take her to a really dark place.

The murder is almost perfect, and it quickly becomes apparent that the team are looking for somebody who is forensically aware and is going to be difficult to identify.

What is the connection to the rape in the prologue, that would be too much of a spoiler, but it’s just one of the strands of this plot that weaves a great story.

Nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors, not everybody is living in a happy-ever-after way.

The story also shows the consequences of actions taken by the Police, and the perceptions some people have of them on a personal basis.

Gina manages to put herself in mortal danger, as well as the emotional turmoil she is in as she remembers her late husband.

Her emotions lead this to become a very personal investigation and she will have to dig deep to come out of the investigation with her mind and body intact.

This story made me think. There is something about the crime, and the perpetrator, or is it perpetrators, (you’ll have to read it to find out) that is strikingly obvious, but that I’ve never read about or considered before.

Carla Kovach has come up with an original plot with one hell of a twist at the end.

I didn’t see it coming but it gave me one of those “Of Course. That makes perfect sense” moments

The story starts of fast and just keeps going. I have used the phrase, “ I couldn’t put it down” before, and usually it just means I read it in a few sittings over a couple of days. This one I really couldn’t put down. If I didn’t have to sleep it would have been a one sitting read.

This is the second book in the Gina Harte series. Below is a link to my review of the first The Next Girl

https://nigeladamsbookworm.com/2018/04/04/the-next-girl-carla-kovach/

 

Her Final Hour

Pages: 316

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing date: 23rd August 2018.

Murder on the Marshes. Clare Chase

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Set in, and around, Cambridge University this is a murder story with a list of characters that are firmly in the “Have” and “Have not” brackets.

Every character is either from a really privileged background, or a working-class background.  But just because they are in these categories doesn’t mean that they are normal balanced people.

The book opens with a mystery of a young girl walking in on a horrific scene, a scene that is alluded to throughout the book, but who is it that’s witnessing the scene and what bearing will it have on the present day.

The present day see’s the body of a young professor, Samantha Seabrook, being found drowned in a fountain in a locked courtyard of one of the colleges in the University, a bit of a locked room puzzle.

Frighteningly a journalist Tara Thorpe is sent a warning on the same night Samantha is killed, it’s the same warning the Professor received a few weeks before she was killed.

DI Garstin Blake is the SIO for the murder but also goes to interview Tara. Together they form an unlikely alliance, and the investigation into the life and death of Samantha Seabrook takes on two lines, the Police investigation and the journalistic investigation.

It’s a good way of introducing information into the story, and allows the author to get away with introducing information which would not be obtained by either the police or the journalist if they were working alone.

Garstin and Tara both have issues, and just like everyone else in the story they are split by the working class, privileged divide. Tara from a very well-to-do background hasn’t had the best of lives, and now something, or somebody, is preying on her insecurities. Garstin, the working class copper, is separated from his wife and is torn apart by not been able to see his young daughter every night. So can Garstin keep his eye on the ball and can Tara stay safe.

The investigation is a bit pedestrian at times but the story is well worth reading.

This book is a bit like two of my favourite TV series combined, inevitably the Cambridge Oxford thing leads to Morse, and the writer and detective leads to Castle. The pace of the book is definitely more Morse.

Will I read the next book in the series, Yes

 

Pages: 322

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 31st July 2018