Matthew Farrell is a new name to my reading list. In fact, I only found him because of a suggestion from his publisher’s twitter.
A quick look at the synopsis for I Know Everythingon a bloggers review website and I knew this was a book I wanted to read.
When a car runs of the road, and over a cliff, the woman inside is found dead behind the wheel. A rich and generous philanthropist Amanda had everything to live for, she had just been given a prestigious award and was on her way home to her husband.
Her husband, Randall, is devastated at her death, but this quickly turns to confusion when a stranger arrives and tells him his wife’s death was no accident, and that she had secrets. But he won’t tell Randall what the secrets are unless he confesses to his own.
Shortly afterwards the Police investigation, led by Investigator Susan Adler, uncovers the fact that Amanda was dead before the RTC and begin their own investigation with Randall as one of the main suspects.
What follows is a complex story that follows some extraordinary characters.
Susan Adler, the Investigator, is a single mom recently divorced from her husband and relying heavily on her mother to help bring up her young twins.
Her new partner Tommy Corolla a recent transferee from out of town.
Dr Randall Brock, a research Dr who is looking at ways treating people with psychopathic fantasies.
Plus, many more who I can’t mention without somehow spoiling the story.
It has to be said that throughout this book I had opinions on who I though was the killer, and, thanks to the wonderful writing of Matthew Farrell, I kept changing my mind on who that was. Right up to the end of the very last chapter he had me second guessing myself.
That is what makes this such an interesting, and compelling, book to read.
Each chapter had me second guessing, in the best way, and that meant I wanted to read the next one to find out if I was right.
That kept the pages turning and I ended up reading this book over two days.
It was one of those books that had me hooked so tight I didn’t realise I was devoting so much time to it, until I came up for air and realised that another few hours had passed me by.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It is original, it is well written, the characters are great, the story is amazing and I think there may have been a very subtle little cliff hanger in the last two lines of the epilogue.
I hope so, because I want to read more from Matthew Farrell, using some of the same characters that are in this book.
This book has the best opening chapter I have ever read. In that one chapter the story of a young fell runner with everything to live for, until she gets injured and becomes hooked on prescription drugs, which leads to her taking illegal drugs until she can’t take it anymore and kills herself, is laid out and sets the tempo for the whole book.
The book looks at the pressures put onto children at secondary schools and sixth form colleges. The on-line bullying, we all hear about, but more surprisingly the often ignored on-line peer pressure. The pressure that is not just put on impressionable youngsters by their immediate peers, but also by the new breed of celebrity, the “Influencers” on sites such as Instagram.
It looks at the boredom of the youths in smaller countryside towns and the way the drug dealers are moving into the countryside to target these kids.
Rachel Lynch has written some great books in this series. DCI Kelly Porter is a great charter and easy to engage with, but for me it’s the crimes and the locations which make these books so stunning.
Everybody would have an idyllic view of the towns around the Lake District, but I suspect that Rachel Lynch’s version is much closer to the truth.
In this book Porter investigates the sudden deaths of students from the same school. She is convinced that somehow the suicides are linked, and her and her team start to uncover a tale of bullying and drug taking. One teacher is suspended following a complaint by a student which leads to the discovery of some illicit images on his computer, but is he being set up.
The head teacher lives in ignorant bliss, whilst teachers are losing control of the school. Rumours are rife and the investigation is sent off in all directions, but is there any truth behind the rumours, they can’t all be lies.
As the investigation continues a girl goes missing and the team fear she is going to be the latest in the long line of suicides, or if Kelly is right, the latest murder victim.
As well as carrying out the investigation Kelly’s personal life is in turmoil following revelations about her mother and father. Her Mom is battling a terminal disease and trying to find peace in her life before it’s too late.
All of this takes place over Christmas which seems to give an added poignancy to the story.
I started this review by saying the opening chapter was the best I’d ever read. It had me hooked into the book straight away.
The rest of the book?
It certainly didn’t disappoint. There were times when I couldn’t put it down, and there were times when I had to put it down, and just take a breath.
This book could be read as a stand-alone.
It’s the 4thin the series and I would recommend reading the others first, just to get the full impact of this one.
Perfect Crime is the fifth book in the DI Luc Callanach, DCI Ava Turner series.
Luc is an ex-Interpol detective who transferred to Scotland when he was wrongly accused of assaulting a female partner.
He has found solace in the company of DCI Ava Turner, both on a professional level and as a friend, but he is still a bit of a closed book to everybody else. Respected for his work everyone on the team like him as a cop, but some of the men see him as a threat to their manhood.
In this book more of his back story comes to light in a way that puts him at the forefront of the suspects in a murder inquiry, and he finds out who his true friends are.
As the senior officers isolate him, from the investigation he is a suspect in, he carries on working with Ava on an investigation which is looking at the suspicious deaths of people with a history of depression and attempts at suicide.
The investigation against Luc puts the pressure on his relationship with the Scottish Police and even worse may compromise Ava professionally.
This series is really good Police Procedural with the undercurrents of a will-they-won’t-they relationship between Luc and Ava.
In this book that relationship is stretched to the limit. Maybe Luc isn’t the innocent man he has been portraying himself as.
The crimes investigated by Ava, looking at the deaths of people who had previously attempted to take their own lives, is compelling in its own way.
Helen Fields has found a group of vulnerable people who make ideal victims for a serial killer. She explores the reasons these people are depressed and what has led them to the place they now find themselves in.
She looks at the people that attempt to help them; and uncovers the nasty side, the people that pray on their vulnerability.
This book can be read as a stand-alone but I would recommend reading the first four in the series first. They are stunning crime novels, and once you’ve read this one you will want to read them anyway. So why not do it in order
Its not often I’m lost for words, but I’ve run out of superlatives to describe this series. Ten books ago Angela Marsons introduced us to a series of characters based in the Black Country.
The main character is DI Kim Stone. A DI in the Major Investigation Team in Halesowen Police Station in the West Midlands.
Halesowen is a small town on the outskirts of the urban sprawl that makes up the Metropolitan Borough of the West Midlands. Its right on the border of what most people would call the area of greater Birmingham, and the sprawling countryside of Worcester.
It’s actually in the borough of Dudley, one of the seven boroughs that make up the West Midlands, but more importantly it’s part of the Black Country.
That is what makes it such a special place to set crime stories.
Dudley has some of the most affluent parts of the West Midlands, close to the country, and some of the poorest parts where it borders Sandwell. It has rich gated communities, run down industrial areas, and some of the poorest social housing estates in the UK. Its population commute into Birmingham City Centre to sit in smart offices and high end retail shops, or work in the manufacturing, scrap meatl, or haulage business.
The black Country has a hard working history, and this ethic is seen daily in its population; but just like everywhere else there are the freeloaders who never intend to do a day’s work as long as the state will give them benefits.
Then there are the people who pray on both ends of the community. Drug sellers target the rich with designer drugs and well cut class A drugs, and at the same time pray on the vulnerable with less well, and dangerously cut, class A drugs and marijuana.
Addicts are addicts and once hooked will look to fund their next hit. The desperate will turn to crime.
Prostitution has been forced indoors over the last decade with sex being sold in private flats or thinly veiled massage parlours. This has led to illegal immigrants being forced into the sex trade alongside some desperate local people.
Illegal immigrants are also being used as slaves in retail and manufacturing.
Street kids are turning to violence.
Post code gangs are frequently a problem, fighting for territory to sell their wares, both human and chemical.
But most of its population are just your average family members trying to get along with their neighbours.
So, as you can see, Angela Marsons has chosen a great area to set her crimes. Just about anything that could make up a serious crime happens in the area, and so can be portrayed realistically in her books.
The characters she writes about are just as real as her crimes.
Kim Stone is epic. A kid-from-care made good.
In the first few books her character is established as one of the best cops in British Crime Fiction, her back story is slowly revealed showing how her life has evolved and how she has become the successful detective she has.
Her team also have good back stories. The ever reliant Bryant, her Detective Sergeant is every bit as fundamental to these stories as Lewis is to Morse, or Watson is to Holmes. He acts as her stabiliser and suffers the frustration of seeing Stone struggling through some investigations, but more significantly her personal life.
DC Stacy Wood, the quiet detective that is really good at information trawling and working on a computer, but not so good on face to face encounters. Watching her develop through the series, as she finds her confidence, and becomes a tour-de-force of a cop, is something that would not ever be achieved this well in a single book, or short series.
DC Kev Dawson, young, handsome, cock-sure, but an integral part of the team. His character changes as much as Woods, but in a totally different way.
Then there’s the fringe characters that keep recurring, Keats the pathologist with his love hate relationship with Stone. The Forensic Teams, and Senior Police Officers
Then there’s reporters. One in particular, that has a strange relationship with Stone, to say they use each other when they want something is an understatement. But they both know they need each other and their fraught working relationship is entertaining throughout the series.
Of course, there’s the criminals. A vast array of them over the ten books, all realistically written, all with back stories to help the reader engage with them. Some of them recurring through several stories; and for every criminal there’s a victim who is equally well portrayed, often eliciting as much empathy as sympathy from the reader.
That brings us back to this book. DEAD MEMORIES finds Stone and the team looking at some of their past investigations as a murderer appears to be using Stone’s history to set their crimes. Is it a message to her, or is it the prelude to an attack on her. Is somebody trying to ruin her reputation, her life, or kill her.
I love this series, and as I said at the beginning of this blog I’ve run out of superlatives to describe the books in this series.
Safe to say Silent Scream, book one in the series, was one of the best books I’ve ever read, and each book has just got better and better.
My review of DEADLY MEMORIES will be on-line in February as part of the Blog Tour, but if you haven’t found Angela Marsons yet get yourself on Amazon, or down to the bookshop, and treat yourself to what I think is the best crime series out there.
DCI Rachel King has a problem, she once had a fling with a man that would turn out to be one of the gangsters that runs Manchester. In fact, the fling is still a bit of a dirty secret as she still harbours feelings for him.
That itself is a problem. An even bigger problem is that his name has come up as a suspect in a murder investigation.
The first body to turn up is that of a gay man who has suffered a horrific death after apparently being tortured.
When King and her team start the investigations they follow the evidence that is left at the scene, but is it reliable or is somebody playing them.
When a second body is found it looks like it is linked to the first by location, but there is a totally different manner of death.
When a third body is found, in similar circumstances as the first, the team begin to think that the second body wasn’t connected after all, but are they right.
This is a complex story weaving numerous plot lines together in a way that the reader is left in no doubt as the difficulties facing the investigation team.
At the same time the reader follows the struggle in Kings personal life. Divorced from her husband, who now lives next door, and bringing up two teenage daughters, she has her dirty secret to consider during the investigation.
Does she tell her team, and her family, about the tryst with the gangster. Where will it leave her professionally, and what will it do to her family life.
I liked this book. The crime plot is original and compelling, but what really makes the story is the issues that surround King and her secret fling.
Right from the off, I am going to say I loved this book.
I loved the main character, a journalist, Aloa Snow.
I loved the little bunch of old men she hangs out with, Tic, Doc and P-Mac, collectively known as the Brain Farm.
I loved the plot.
Right, so what got me so impressed with this book.
The story is based around the murder of a woman, a woman who lives a good life style with her husband, a paraplegic ex FBI Interrogator.
A man has been accused, a University Professor who is a poet. A bit of a strange bod which every piece of the investigation points at as being guilty. But he has one person on his side, a man he’d rather not be there at all, his father.
His father just happens to be Tic from the Brain Farm.
Tic and his friends decide to ask the unofficial forth member of the Farm to help them, Ink, aka Aloa Snow.
She is an investigative journalist and has worked with the Farm before.
This time the investigation takes her around San Francisco, where she is drawn into the world of drug users. This leads her into The Jungle, an area under the freeway where homeless addicts live in a tented village. Not a nice place but a place which has a code of ethics, a code which would usually keeps its occupants safe from the outside word. Usually.
She becomes involved with a strange Christian cult, The Church of the Sacrificial Lamb, a cult which would be unbelievable in most countries, but seems strangely believable in America.
The Police are convinced that Tic’s son is guilty and are busily building a case against him. Aloa is not immediately convinced of his innocence, but because of a feeling of duty to the Brain Farm she starts digging.
The deeper she digs the more convinced she is that the Poetry Professor is innocent. Not a nice man, but innocent.
This book is set in San Francisco during an unusual winter fog. The fog makes the city drab and unfriendly, and best of all, the ideal backdrop for the story.
Aloa is a great character, a bit off-the-wall in her methods, she takes chances and makes leaps of faith that would scare a cop, but she isn’t tied by staying on the right side of any procedures.
I think that’s what I liked about the book. Whilst Aloa does think outside the box, it is done in a way that I would like to think I would do it. Yes she puts herself in danger at times, but it’s never an anticipated danger, it’s just the next logical step, and she’s in trouble before she knows it.
I’m not sure how well known Peggy Townsend is in the UK, I have to admit this is the first book of hers I’ve read, and it’s the second in a series, but it won’t be my last. In fact I’ve just uploaded the first book, See Her Run,to my Kindle and it will be my next read.
If she isn’t that well known yet I have a feeling that once people start on this series she’s going to become one of our must read crime fiction authors.
Two stories, one in the present, one a from few years earlier, both on collision course for an explosive finale.
Jassmine Gooch is a radio journalist working for the BBC. She presents a late night radio show about Potentially Dangerous People. Well she does until she’s sacked for an outburst unbefitting of the BBC.
Jassmine had been approached several times by a woman who is concerned about a missing friend, a friend she feels is being let down by the police who do not appear to be taking her disappearance seriously.
With time on her hands Jasmine decides to look into the missing woman, Cassie Scolari, and stumbles across a juicy mystery that has her considering a new career.
Meanwhile the story that is taking place years before involves Rowena. A girl who is in the care of social services, but who has fallen for a man that grooms her and pimps her out at parties.
Rowena’s story is tragic, a 13 year old girl passed around like a sex toy, but somehow, she is a survivor. She becomes mature before her time and battles to survive.
Meanwhile in the present day Jasmine has decided to turn her investigation into a podcast with the help of a stuttering intern at the BBC. Jitesh is a great character who uses social media to stalk people. He could turn out to be one of the best characters going if this story is the spark for a series.
Between them Jasmine and Jitesh are moving ever closer to finding out what happened to Cassie in a thoroughly enjoyable and very believable story.
It’s hard to review this book without including spoilers.
Deborah O’Connor has found a great character in Jassmine Gooch. A single lady of a certain age that is struggling with the menopause, struggling after losing her job, and struggling with her relationship to her teenage daughter.
Jitesh, a student who has been given an unconditional offer to join Cambridge University, but decides to take a gap year and work as an IT intern at the BBC, is just as good a character. Bullied at school, and suffering from a stutter, he shows a moral strength that leaves the reader no choice but to feel an empathy with him.
The story is original and takes place over a ten year spell. It incorporates the problems that have been uncovered over the last few years about underprivileged children being groomed by certain elements of the community, and the illicit actions of a celebrity.
The story is very on point, up to date, and spine tingling in its reality.
I have no idea if Deborah O’Connor has any intensions of writing more books involving Jessamine and Jitesh but I hope she does.
I will be right at the front of the queue to buy the next instalment.