A Truth For A Truth. Carol Wyer

Carol Wyer

 

Wow. Where do I start.

This has been a great series from the start and its got even better with the addition of this book.

Kate Young has been trying to break the ring of abusers she thinks is responsible for her husbands murder. The problem is the ring includes at least one Senior Police Officer.

Throughout the series she has been driven by the voice in her head, that of her husband.

But now she’s killed somebody, somebody in power, somebody who was part of the ring.

The Police, and probably her team, will be asked to investigate his death.

But first they have to find the body, at first its just a missing persons case and Kate is doing her best to carry on as if she has nothing to do with the death.

Then there’s the bigger problem. Her husbands voice of reason is being fought against, and at times replaced, by another voice. The voice of the man she murdered, and he’s ridiculing her.

As much as this is a great crime story its also the story of a woman having a breakdown, she’s functioning but her mental health is really on the edge.

Can she keep her mind long enough to escape blame.

Can she break the ring and expose everybody involved.

The very last page made me gasp out loud.

There has to be another book. It can’t end there, or can it.

Pages: 411. Publisher: Thomas & Mercer. Publishing Date: 4th April 2023

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.

Rich Blood. Robert Bailey

A great book for readers who like authors like John Grisham and Greg Iles, and American legal thrillers.

An ambulance chasing, personal injury lawyer, Jason Rich, has just been released from 90 days in rehab. He has turned to booze once to often and rehab was one of the conditions of him being allowed to carry on practicing.

But his troubles are nothing compared to his sister. They don’t get on, since childhood they have had a tumultuous relationship which has worsened since the death of their father.

So when he finds out she is desperate for his help he’s unsure what he will do.

Why does she need help? She’s being held in prison after being arrested for the murder of her husband.

Jana, the sister, is not easy to warm to. She’s an alcoholic, who also uses hard drugs. She’s had more than one affair and it’s alleged she withdrew $15000 dollars from her, and her husbands, joint account to pay a man to kill him.

She’s in debt to the local drug Lord and is paying him off in “favours” in lieu of the interest in the $50000 she owes him.

So as well as being in prison accused of murder, she is under threat from the drug Lord not to implement him, or trade information on him, for a lower sentence. With her in prison it’s her two young daughters that will pay if she goes against him.

So how will the alcohol dependent brother, who has never tried anything other than compensation cases, defend the alcoholic drug taking sister with no morals, against a murder charge.

This book was a bit of a bolt from the blue. I love this type of story, and I thought I was on top of the current authors writing this genre. How wrong was I. As soon as I finished this I downloaded Robert Baileys back catalogue.

U.K. Publisher Thomas & Mercer. Pages 379. Available now

Don’t You Dare. Jessica Hamilton

As far as dark psychological thrillers go, this is one of the best I’ve read for years.

A totally believable story. A main character that is both engaging, and at times, frustrating. A touch of “spice” but totally in context and not gratuitous. An ending that I just didn’t see coming.

Three friends spend their college years in a tight little group. They are a introverted group playing an ever increasingly dangerous game of dare and forfeit. But who is the manipulator, who is the one really stirring the pot

Years on Hannah is married with two girls, but she still hankers after her best friends Scarlett, who moved to the other side of the world, and Thomas who was her first love, and who she hasn’t seen since college.

Then Thomas returns and initiates a game of dare between just the two of them.

That is when things start to go wrong.

Hannah is the narrator of the story. She’s a functioning alcoholic, even if she won’t admit it. Her husband is at the end of his tether and their relationship is purely functional, for the girls sake.

When Thomas returns the old flame is ignited and she finds a new purpose.

Like before the dares get more dangerous.

Somebody is spying on Hannah and Thomas.

There is a prowler in her neighbourhood and somebody is sending her husband information about her relationship with Thomas.

Can she keep her marriage together, does she even want to.

More importantly can she survive an ever increasingly dangerous situation.

This book drips the story at a constantly steady pace. The tension builds from the first chapter like a dripping tap filling a sink to the point that it’s overflowing without you noticing one specific thing that’s raised the level.

It’s not often these days that a book holds me enough to read it in a day, but this one did. A genuine “I read it in a day” and I loved every page of it.

Pages: TBC. Publishing Date: 16th May 2023 Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

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.

Deadly Christmas. Rachel McClean

Rachel McClean came to my attention last year with the Deadly…. Series of books set in Birmingham.

Since then she has been writing the Dorset Crime series, which is a spin-off from the Deadly Series with one of the bit-part characters from the original series taking a the lead role, with another book set in Scotland also heavily featuring one of the characters from Birmingham

This book is a return to the Deadly series with DI Zoe Finch and her team from Force CID investigating the suspicious death of a man found in Birmingham’s German Christmas Market.

The investigation leads them into the different worlds, Birmingham’s Homeless and the war crimes of the Yugoslavian Conflicts.

The team are soon battling over ownership of the investigation with the Home Office taking over.

But that’s the least of Zoe’s problems. She needs a new DS and she doesn’t like, or trust, the one she’s given.

They have history and Zoe is not convinced it’s resolved.

DS Kaur had been part of the Professional Standards Team that had included Zoe in the investigation into corruption in the Force. She was completely innocent, and had even been helping to gather evidence against the corrupt officers but Kaur really pushed her buttons.

Now Zoe is suspicious of why she’s been placed in the team.

The Deadly……. Series has always had a “Line of Duty” vibe running through, it continues to run in this book. It’s an excellent undercurrent to an already brilliant story.

I would never have thought that such a prolific writer, over a relatively short time, could produce such good books, but these are some of the best books I’m reading at the moment.

Pages: 292. Publisher: Ackroyd Publishing. Available now

The Body In The Shadows. Nick Louth

The latest in the DCI Craig Gillard series and another great read.

A series of events, including an attack on Gillard’s wife when she tries to intervene in a pick-pocket incident, starts to uncover rumours of a crime about to take place.

The consistencies in the rumours are only the date and the value of the gains £1.5 billion.

With not much else to go on several police forces become involved in the investigation into a crime that has not yet happened.

To say what that crime is would be a bit of a spoiler, as much of the first 3/4 of the book is taken up with the team identifying the players and what crime is about to be committed.

This is not a unique way of telling a story but it is less common these days and I found that I really enjoyed that aspect of the book.

Gillard and his colleagues build various hypotheses of what is about to happen, and each one of them is a possibility.

So if they know a crime is about to take place, and they have an idea of some of the people involved, what could go wrong.

Actually quite a bit. The problem is a minor crime, in comparison, is leading the team a bit of a dance.

This is a great story that I find it hard review without letting spoilers slip.

The basis of the story is great, the characters are brilliantly written, and the pace of it is perfect.

All in all, a really good read.

Publisher: Canelo Crime. Pages: 287. Publishing date: 19th January 2023

Their Burning Graves. Helen Phifer

Detective Morgan Brookes is back in the 8th instalment of this series.

One of the things I like about this series is the fact that the lead character is a DC and as such is unburdened by the management of an investigation. She is a cog in a machine that relies on all of the cogs working together towards the same cause, but only managing one line of the investigation.

The isolation of working that single thread, and taking her thoughts and findings back to the regular team meetings is what sets her apart.

Morgan is a huge crime fan, loving true crime documentaries and books, as well as some fictional crime.

She has a way of seeing the hidden meaning, the motivation for a crime, before most of her colleagues. It doesn’t mean she’s always right, but her hypothesis are fascinating, and if they are dispelled still aid the investigation by narrowing down the lines of inquiry.

In this book she’s the first investigator on the scene of a serious house fire. A family of three is dead inside, but not in one of the burned out rooms, in fact there isn’t even any smoke damage in the room in which they are found.

The fact that they are all sitting at the dining table, with plastic bags over their heads, and each with a hand missing, only adds to the intrigue.

Morgan and the rest of the team are soon embroiled in an investigation in a tight knit community within a small town.

Nobody can be ruled out, but he closer the investigation gets to identifying the killer the harder it’s seems to be.

I loved this book. The prologue chapter telegraphs the motive for the killing, but the link, and the identity, of the killer is cleverly hidden right up till the last couple of chapters

Morgan is a great character, as are the main recurring characters. It’s her addiction to crime documentaries and books that originally got me hooked, after all it could have been me that was being written about, but the books and the stories now demand my attention.

This is one of those series I now look out for. As soon as one’s available they go straight to the top of my to-be-read list and become my next read.

They never disappoint.

Pages: 265. Publisher: Bookouture. Publishing Date: 19th December 2022

In the interest of being transparent I must admit to having a vested interest in this book. I gave advice to Helen Phifer on the Fire Scene and the involvement of the Fire Service during the investigation.

I’d like to thank Helen for the generous mention in the acknowledgements section and the choice of name for the Brigade Fire Investigator in the book.

Hidden Scars. Angela Marsons

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Without exaggeration the best book I’ve read

It may be because it’s written by my favourite author.

It may be because it’s the latest in a cracking series.

But I think it’s probably because the author put a lot of emotion into what was written.

Kim Stone nearly died in the last book, Six Graves, this one starts several months later and finds her struggling psychologically and physically.

Her team has been in the hands of another DI whilst she recovered and she can see it being slowly destroyed by his incompetence as a Detective and as a boss, and his failings as a human being.

Will she recover to take the team back from him whilst it’s still intact.

It takes a nasty murder, which he is happy to pass off as a suicide, to tip her over the edge and try and bring the “old Kim” back.

Will she manage it.

This book looks at the roller coaster of recovery from serious injury. How Kim has to struggle internally to get herself in the right place to be effective. Her team is more than her team, it’s her family and they need her.

The crimes in this book are psychologically horrific.

Based on a centre that offers “Correction Therapy” to young gay people.

I’ve not lead a sheltered life but I had no idea this happened. I’m not kidding when I say I disappeared into a Google worm hole for hour’s researching it.

Angela Marsons has dealt with the subject brilliantly.

Every page in this book is gripping as Kim struggles to find her old self.

Her team are there for her every step of the way but it’s a struggle at times.

The dual stories of the investigation into these horrific crimes, and Kims struggles to find, and deal with, her new normality are breathtaking.

And the very last sentence. Wow

Pages: 356. Publisher: Bookouture.

Audio book length: 8 hours 39. Narrator: Jan Cramer

The Soho Killer. Biba Pearce

The latest in the DCI Rob Miller series and it’s another cracker.

For some reason this series flew under my radar until earlier this year, but when I found it i binge read the series and have been waiting for this one ever since.

It didn’t disappoint.

Miller is called to an incident in Soho. It’s to a body which has been dumped in full public view. The victim is dressed in bondage gear, complete with a mask and ball gag. The terror frozen in the victims expression sears into Miller mind and he’s convinced from the start that this death is not the result of a sex game gone wrong.

Millers Superintendent wants the case closing quickly.

When another man is found in similar circumstances Miller is called to the scene by the SIO who is initially assigned the case.

It becomes apparent that the man is a high ranking official in the Secret Services and before the Police can even start the investigation it is taken off them by MI5.

For once Millers Superintendent shows a bit of fortitude and sides with her officers in her disgust at the way they are isolated and gives Miller the green light to carry on investigating this death in relation to the first murder.

I love books that teach me things I didn’t know I didn’t know. In this case it was a bit strange finding out that there are different codes of dress for different preferences in the gay bondage scene.

The story takes the investigation into the bay bars and clubs of Soho.

It looks at one person, within the Police teams, repressed sexuality and the internal struggle they have with themselves.

The main story is great, but it’s the stories within the story that makes this series as good as it is.

I really enjoyed this book, my only regret is I can’t binge read straight into the next one.

Pages: 314. Publisher Joffe Books. Publishing Date: 17th November 2022