DEAD INSIDE. Noelle Holten

 

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A few months ago I heard that one of the staff at a publishers I follow had written a book. In fact I began to hear a few mentions of DEAD INSIDE by Noelle Holten.

I had to read it, but I was worried, what if I didn’t like it. I talk to this woman a lot and do book reviews for some of the authors she’s responsible for. This could have been nasty.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. I should have known better. If you represent the authors Noelle represents, and write the reviews she puts on line of other books she reads, I should have known she loves the same type of fiction as I do.

But she’s gone one step further than me, she’s written a book, and what a book!

Dead Inside is going to be up there with this year’s top releases.

Noelle has written this book in a way that not many, if any, other books I’ve read have been written before. Although it is billed as “Maggie Jamieson Crime Thriller Book 1” there is no real lead character. Everybody seems to get equal billing and the story is brilliant for it.

I was trying to find a way of explaining this and eventually came up with the analogy that the books characters are like those from a TV soap, everybody is important to the story, when it’s their turn they are front and centre, but it’s the story that takes precedent. The plot is lead chronologically by the character that means the most at that time. So although Maggie is a thread throughout, she gets no more or less page time than anybody else. I really like this style.

So who is Maggie, well she’s a DC who has been moved from a Murder Investigation Team in Staffordshire Police to a new unit. Why has she been moved? Her back story indicates that she was heavily involved in a serial killer investigation, and that maybe she suffered a bit during that investigation.

The newly formed team is the Domestic Abuse and Homicide Unit, and is a multi-agency team set up to quell the growing problem of Domestic Violence, and the deaths associated with it, across Staffordshire.

When the team was set up I would imagine that they thought the Homicides would be mainly women who had suffered abuse at the hands of their partners. So on Maggie’s first day it’s a bit of a shock when the body of a man who was an abuser turns up.

The team start an investigation as the man was known to them and involve the Probation Service in their inquiry, as he was also known to them.

A big part of this story is a group of people that represent a section of society we all know exists but hopefully never have an involvement with.

Women, a lot with drink or drugs problems, gravitating to men with the same problems, or men who will exploit those women when they are at their lowest ebb. Women who get abused physically and mentally, and when they find the courage to move on, nearly always end up in another abusive relationship.

In this story one woman should not be in that category, she should know better, she works with women that suffer abuse, then she goes home and behind closed doors she becomes one of the abused. At times the sections of the story that looks at Lucy and her Husband are hard to read but compelling at the same time.

As the bodies start to pile up another character is introduced to the team. Dr Kate Maloney is a Criminal Psychiatrist, a young Irish woman who dresses in full Goth clothing and has a tongue as sharp as a knife. What a character.

Maggie works the case and introduces the rest of the team as the investigation continues. All of the team have their opinions, and as the book moves on their individual characters are laid open for the reader. Each of them is realistic and everybody who has ever worked in a team will recognise the dynamics, there are some we will love, and there are others who will infuriate.

The story continues with more violence in the almost incestuous community of abusers and victims.

The Police battle against the closed nature of the group and the absolute denial of some of the victims.

But somebody out there is doing something about it, and the way they’re doing it is murderous. Spine-tingly murderous.

So now the abusers are becoming victims will anybody have any sympathy for them. How will the investigating team deal with looking out for peoples safety, when they have been trying to take them off the streets for years.

This book had me hooked from start to finish. It had me holding my breath and making out-loud exclamations. It had me reading way past my usual bedtime and then waking up early to carry on and find out who was safe and who wasn’t.

I had sympathy for the victims of abuse, and at the same time I was frustrated by their lack of helping themselves, and their constant denial of there actually being a problem. Yes, it is very real.

Like all good books it ends on a cliff hanger. One that I really didn’t see coming, but which opens the door for Maggie Jamieson Book 2.

In a strange way I would love to have come across this book after 3 or 4 had been published so that I could have binge read them.

But I am really chuffed to have been in from the start. I hope I’m about to ride a wave that includes many a venture for Maggie and her team.

Noelle Hurry up and write the next one please.

Pages: 293

Publisher: Killer Reads

Publishing Date: 31stMay 2019….Just in time to buy for a the summer holiday books.

Final Betrayal, Patricia Gibney. Blog Tour

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Today sees the publication of the latest in the DI Lottie Parker series by Patricia Gibney. So is book 6, FINAL BETRAYAL, as good as the rest of the series? Of course it is.

I recently read that the series had reached the milestone of 1,000,000 copies being sold. This should have come as no surprise. At the end of each year I get a break down of the statistics from my web site. In 2017 and 2018 the reviews of Patricia’s books were in the top three most viewed on my site. The stats also show that many of the hits come from the US. In the “gumph” sent out by her publishers, Bookouture, it states that she is a best seller in the UK, USA, Canada, and Australia.

All of this has to be a testament to how good these books are, but why do so many people take Lottie to heart and follow her investigations in the Irish town of Ragmullin.

Well a lot of it is down to just how realistic the crimes are, how engaging the characters are, and how the story always weaves its way through several story lines, knitting together a tale that has the reader hooked from start to finish.

That can only be done by a really skilled writer, but there’s more to it than that. I find that the best writers are the ones who have lived a life and experienced the real world. Patricia has certainly done that. Widowed way too early, and left with a family to bring up I’m sure there is more than a bit of her in the main character Lottie Parker. Lottie is also a widow bringing up a family. I don’t think Patricia’s family is anything like Lottie’s, but I suspect a lot of the worries of a single Mom are used in the stories, and to great effect.

Just beneath this paragraph is my review of FINAL BETRAYAL. Book 6 in one of the best crime series available at the moment. I can’t wait to read Books 7, 8, 9………. And hopefully lots more.

Final Betrayal   Patricia Gibney

The sixth book in the series, where has that time gone, and every bit as good as the rest.

The small Irish town of Ragmullin is again going to be devastated by murder.

When two women go out on the town together, they get separated, one of them pulls and the other can’t be bothered to wait around for her friend.

When one of the women is reported missing Lottie starts to investigate, she soon finds out that both are missing, and it’s no surprise when they are found murdered.

The killer has left a clue, or is it their signature, but what does it mean.

At same time two other things are happening. A man is released from prison after doing 10 years for a serious assault which eventually ended in his victim dying; and Lottie’s family comes under threat from within.

With Lottie concentrating on the murder of the young women, the last thing she needs is her half-brother meddling in her life, but he does, and he opens a real can of worms.

Part of the investigation see’s the Police covering old ground. A property developer is renovating the Old Courthouse. He’s not the most honest of people and has been on the peripheries of investigations in the past. Has he stepped over the line this time, or is he just a puppeteer trying to manipulate people to get his deals done.

Inevitably this book races to a thunderous end.

Patricia Gibney has a way of writing a story that has so many threads. It’s a bit like the rail tracks just outside of a main station. Lines running parallel to each other, and occasionally crossing, before they end up at the same destination.

In this case the threads cross numerous times as the different incidents, and investigations, drew close to each other and either crossed or veered off again. This made for an epic  compelling story

I look forward to getting reacquainted with DI Lottie Parker every time a new book comes out, and I’m yet to be disappointed. In fact, every time one comes out, I make the same mistake of picking it up and starting, not realising I’m going to get very little done until I’ve finished it. Yes, it happened again, I read this book over two days, well I did have to stop to sleep.

This is book six in the series. Can it be read as a stand-alone, yes. Should it be read as a stand-alone, no.

If you haven’t met Lottie Parker yet start with first book and read them in order. You will get so much more out of them if you do.

Pages: 484

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication Date: 18thApril 2019

The Bones She Buried Lisa Regan

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Josie Quinn is a detective, her partner Noah Fraley is not just her work partner, they are also in a relationship.

So, when the pair go to his mothers, and find her dead in the back garden, it begins an emotional roller coaster of a ride for Josie.

Noah’s mother was Mrs Perfect, she kept a beautiful house, cooked, baked and was generally accepted as being a pillar of the community. Mainly the opposite to Josie.

So when her death is found to be a murder, and it looks like she has been keeping secrets for years, Noah has difficulty believing the evidence. In his sister he has an ally who really doesn’t like Josie.

Noah’s moms house had been searched by whoever killed her, but nobody knows what they were looking for.

When the garden is examined the investigators find a set of Rosary Beads and a file with a name on it. The file is labelled with the name of a famous missing person.

What is Noah’s mom connection with Drew Pratt, an Assistant District Attorney who has been missing since 2006. Is this what the murderer was looking for.

The investigation continues with Josie and her team, minus Noah, trying to solve the murder and re-examine the disappearance of the ADA.

The trail leads them through historic crimes and looks at who is trying to tidy up the mess from years earlier, and why do it now, what has happened to make somebody start to kill people to cover a crime from over 12 years ago.

It’s not just the case that makes this story a good read. It’s the strain it puts on the relationship between Josie and Noah. Both have guarded pasts that not everybody knows about. They rely on each other to keep themselves safe both physically and mentally.

Josie isn’t used to working without Noah, and is less used to him putting up barriers, but as long as she is insinuating his mother knew something about the crimes of the past, the more distant he becomes.

With Noah’s sister feeding the increased fire that is coming between him and Josie it is hard to see the relationship lasting, and if it does fracture can it ever be repaired.

This is a cracking series of books. I love the relationship between Josie and Noah. I love the big city investigations in what is little more than a big town, with a small town Police Force.

The crimes are always realistic and are set in a great area.

This book takes the series to a whole new level. The investigation of a crime that involves a family member has brought a tension to the text that is palpable.

I really could not put this one down, this is the book they invented the phrase “page turner” for.

Roll on the next book in the series. I really need to know what happens next.

 

Pages: 342

Publishers: Bookouture

Available now

Out Of The Ashes Vicky Newham

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I have rarely read a book which has so many possible motives for one crime.

 

When two people are killed in a shop fire on Brick Lane the possible motives are endless, bigotry, jealousy, hatred, anti-Semitism, racism, revenge, anti-gentrification all of them could be the reason the shop was torched, and worryingly they are all realistic motives in today’s society.

 

So, DI Maya Rahman has her work cut out, but she is the ideal Officer for the job. As a 41 year old Bangladeshi who grew up on, and around, Brick Lane she is used to the mixing pot of a society that live and trades on the famous street. She even knows some of the residents who live near the fire.

 

The investigation is hindered by the damage at the shop. The fire has destroyed everything and the bodies are not easy to retrieve.

 

The fire happened as a Flash Mob descended on the street dancing to loud house music. Could this be a coincidence or are the two things related.

 

The investigation follows Maya and her team as they track through the world of young people who follow a cause on line, for no other reason than the promise of a bit of cash and some free drugs. Are they being manipulated to cause a distraction or are they responsible for the fire.

 

They encounter homeless refugees, some of which are young orphans, and see the way they are used by some of the lower forms of life in the community who are either too clever, or too scared, to do their own dirty work.

 

The story revolves around the investigation into the fire and the deaths that occurred in it, but the main story for me is the story of life on Brick Lane.

 

I have a feeling this book gets very close to the truth of some of the matters that involve the people of Brick Lane, and other suburbs of the bigger cities in the UK.

 

Generations of traders struggling to make a living in an ever increasing society that buys into the latest fad of “artisan” traders and over inflated property prices.

 

And of course, where money is the driver crime is not far behind.

 

I really enjoyed this book and was surprised to find it’s is the second in a series. I’m off to find the first now and then I shall look forward to the third.

 

Pages: 384

Publishers: HQ Harper Collins

Publishing date: 30thMay 2019

The Girl From The Sea Shalini Boland

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When a pretty young woman is found washed up on a beach with a head injury everybody wonders who she is, including the woman herself.

With no recollection of who she is, or how she got on the beach the Police are left to check the missing persons reports.

A boyfriend quickly comes forward and identifies the woman as Mia James.

This doesn’t help Mia, she doesn’t even recognise her own face in the mirror.

Written in the first person this book follows Mia from the moment she is found through the frustrations of her trying to find out who she is, and how she ended up on the beach.

It will be no surprise that not everybody is the person they portray themselves to be. Actually they are who they say they are, it’s their personality, and motive for being close to Mia that they make up. So who can she trust and who should she be afraid of.

Mia it turns out is a young, pretty, independent woman with a bit of money to her name.

Everybody around her seems to have motive for either being nice to her, or at least giving the pretence of being nice to her, after all, she can’t remember anything. That is until the dreams start, or are they actually memories resurfacing.

It wasn’t an accident that led to her being found half dead on the beach.

This story is written really cleverly. Boland deliberately leads the reader along different paths. Likeable characters and horrible characters come and go.

Trust issues are a constant in Mia’s new life, but is this because of her past, or has she always been a bad judge of character.

Reading the book had me wondering what I would make of my life if I woke up one morning with no memory. It’s not just a case of working out who you are, can you trust the people around you.

What would it be like to make a completely new start.

There is a crime at the centre of this story, but what is it and who committed it.

A clever story.

Pages: 306

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing date: 20 March 2019

Final Betrayal

The sixth book in the series, where has that time gone, and every bit as good as the rest.

The small Irish town of Ragmullin is again going to be devastated by murder.

When two women go out on the town together, they get separated, one of them pulls and the other can’t be bothered to wait around for her friend.

When one of the women is reported missing Lottie starts to investigate, she soon finds out that both are missing, and it’s no surprise when they are found murdered.

The killer has left a clue, or is it their signature, but what does it mean.

At same time two other things are happening. A man is released from prison after doing 10 years for a serious assault which eventually ended in his victim dying; and Lottie’s family comes under threat from within.

With Lottie concentrating on the murder of the young women, the last thing she needs is her half-brother meddling in her life, but he does, and he opens a real can of worms.

Part of the investigation see’s the Police covering old ground. A property developer is renovating the Old Courthouse. He’s not the most honest of people and has been on the peripheries of investigations in the past. Has he stepped over the line this time, or is he just a puppeteer trying to manipulate people to get his deals done.

Inevitably this book races to a thunderous end. 

Patricia Gibney has a way of writing a story that has so many threads. It’s a bit like the rail tracks just outside of a main station. Lines running parallel to each other, and occasionally crossing, before they end up at the same destination.

In this case the threads cross numerous times as the different incidents, and investigations, drew close to each other and either crossed or veered off again. This made for an epic  compelling story

I look forward to getting reacquainted with DI Lottie Parker every time a new book comes out, and I’m yet to be disappointed. In fact, every time one comes out, I make the same mistake of picking it up and starting, not realising I’m going to get very little done until I’ve finished it. Yes, it happened again, I read this book over two days, well I did have to stop to sleep.

This is book six in the series. Can it be read as a stand-alone, yes. Should it be read as a stand-alone, no. 

If you haven’t met Lottie Parker yet start with first book and read them in order. You will get so much more out of them if you do.

Pages: 484

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication Date: 18thApril 2019

Dead Memories. Angela Marsons

DI Kim Stone is back. 

Her life did not have the best start. A mother that abused her and her brother in a way that finally led her brother’s death. Pushed from care home to care home with foster families sprinkled throughout her childhood, she has a lot of life experience to fall back on. That is one of the things that make her a good cop.

Nobody really knows her whole story. Friends have been few and far between, and none have ever found out about her complete background.

So when DI Kim Stone attends a murder in a high rise tower block she is mortified to see the scene is staged to mimic the final days of her brother’s life.

It must just be a coincidence. 

Of course not. 

Crimes start to happen on her patch that she can’t help but think are connected to her in some way. Or is she finally cracking up, is this paranoia a sign that she needs help.

As the investigation into the murder gets underway another murder mimics a traumatic event in her life.

Ok no coincidence, somebody is playing with Kim’s head and murdering people in the process.

What is the killers end game, kill more people, or destroy Kim???

The team need to catch the killer before they lose their boss, one way or another.

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 metal, 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.

What a book. This series just keeps going from strength to strength.

Pages: 459

Publishers: Bookouture

Available now