The Next Victim Helen H. Durrant

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.

Pages: 195

Publishers: Joffe

Available now on Amazon

The Thin Edge. Peggy Townsend


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.

Pages: 237

Publishers: Thomas Mercer

Publishing Date UK: 14thMay 2019

The Dangerous Kind. Deborah O’Connor

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.

Pages: 448

Publishers: Zaffre

Publishing date: 16thMay 2019

In Safe Hands J.P Carter


This book almost felt like I was reading it in real time. 

The main story revolves around the abduction of 9 children from a Playschool in London.

DCI Anna Tate is the SIO and most of the story is written from her perspective.

From the moment the abduction takes place Tate is at the scene and taking charge. The book only covers three days and for those three days we follow Tate, make her observations and listen in on her thoughts.

The sections seen from Tate’s points of view are occasionally interspersed by sections seen from the point of the parents of one of the missing children. Liam suffers from Cystic Fibrosis and his parents are rightly worried. His mom blames herself for the fact he was amongst the kidnapped, as he was only in the playgroup because she was going for a work interview.

For three days the case moves at pace and that pace makes it fly through to the final pages, and a stunning finale.

Carter has woven a brilliant story which takes place at a realistic speed. It examines the thought process of the SIO and looks at the guilt and anxiety of one set of parents.

This is a simple story, with not many strands to follow, and I’m going to borrow a line from all of those cookery competitions on TV 

If you do something simple it has to be done really well”

Believe me J.P Carter has done it really well

Publisher: Avon

Pages: 384

Publishing Date: 24thJanuary 2019

The Girl Without Skin Mads Peder Nordbo

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I have found myself getting more and more into Scandinavian Noir, both in books and in TV Series.

I have to say this is one of the best I’ve read so far, and hopefully will make it to the screen because the plot is fantastic.

Matthew Cave is a Danish journalist living in Nuuk, Greenland.

Sent to cover the discovery of a mummified body in the wilds outside the city he finds a body that may be of historical significance. So why, when it is left in-situ, does it disappear overnight; and why is the Police Officer that is left to guard it killed in a grizzly manner that reflects four murders which occurred 4 decades earlier.

Matthew and his photographer, Greenland Native Malik, begin to look into both sets of murders and it soon become obvious to Matthew that there is some connection.

Nuuk may be the capital of Greenland but it’s like a small town, everybody seems to know everybody, there are no roads in or out of the city. Secrets and alliances abound, as do illicit relationships which encourage abuse.

Then there’s Matthews own past, his American Father that disappeared when he was young, and whose presence always seems to be a shadow in the background.

When Matthew forms a partnership with a young woman, who has just been released from prison for Killing her family, when she was only 11, his life comes under more scrutiny from the Police and Politicians.

Is somebody trying to stop him from getting to the bottom of the murders? Or is it just that they don’t like outsiders.

This book has everything I like about Scandinavian Noir; crimes in close communities, introvert characters, fantastic settings, and hideous crimes.

The book had me reaching for the internet on more than one occasion. The City of Nuuk was an unknown to me, the use of a special tool for skinning whales and seals was new to me, the Greenland folk law was new to me.

So as well as being very entertaining this book educated me. What more can you ask from a good read.

Pages: 352

Publisher: Text Publishing

Available now.

Gallowstree Lane. Kate London

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The Gallowstree Lane in the title refers to a Road in London where street kids on push bikes selling drugs, and of women selling their bodies because they are hooked on the same drugs.

The book is about a gangs and the Police, but it is so, so, much more than that.

It’s about two sets of politics.

When a young boy Spencer, a foot soldier in the Buds, a drug seller, is stabbed in front of his friend and dies before he can be got to hospital, it looks like the start off the usual tit-for-tat crimes.

For the Police this is a problem, politics and territory kick in.

DI Sarah Collins is the Senior Investigating Officer for the murder, and she is determined to catch the killer before the tit-for-tats start.

DI Kieran Shaw is the head of an undercover operation that is hours away from making its big arrest, which will take some heavy duty weapons off the street and take out the head of the Buds gang. He doesn’t want to jeopardise his operation by sharing information critical to Sarah’s case.

The bosses are on both their cases but have to consider whose crime trumps whose. Is the death of one more street seller worth compromising an investigation which is about to take death off the streets.

DC Lizzie Griffiths is caught between to camps. Stationed on Sarahs team at the start of the investigation, but seconded to Kierans’ almost immediately, her alligencies are torn.

Meanwhile gang politics kick in. Why was Spencer killed and who set him up. Gallowstree Lane is Buds territory and it looks like somebody new is trying to muscle in.

As much as the story focuses on the police investigations it also follows the gang members. Ryan, the in-too-deep teenager that was with Spencer when he was killed.

Lexi a £10 street whore who is full of good intentions, but whose life is controlled by the need for the next fix.

Shakiel, the head of the Buds, and somewhat of a father figure to Ryan.

The politics of the street kicks in. Shakiel doesn’t want to lose face, or territory, or trade. Ryan wants instant revenge but Shakiel sees the bigger plan.

This book is absolutely stunning in its authenticity and one look at Kate London’s bio will tell you why.

She did her time in the Met dealing with the crimes she writes about. That experience is what elevates this book to a whole other level above most of the people writing crime fiction.

Pages: 368

Publisher: Corvus

Publishing date: 7thFebruary 2019

Available to pre-order on Amazon

The Last Lullaby. Carol Wyer

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The second book to feature DI Natalie Wood, a middle-aged woman trying desperately to be a good wife, and mother, at the same time as leading a Major Investigation Team.

When the body of a woman is found brutally murdered in her bedroom suspicion is immediately placed on the husband.

The more the team look into him the more lies and untruths are uncovered but are they anything to do with the murder.

The victim was an entitled woman that thrived on playing people off against each other. The husband is an ex-con who has set up a gym in an underprivileged estate.

The investigation is set spinning in circles by the stories told by locals, and by the mixed messages they are receiving about the victim.

With the investigation going down one cul-de-sac after anther the team are getting nowhere. Then another woman is found dead in very similar circumstances and it becomes clear that it’s the same killer.

The investigation is still going nowhere quick until………you’ll have to read the book to find out.

This is a great story. The frustrations of the police are laid bare as they are sent on one false lead after another by people trying to protect their own back, or simply deciding they don’t want to help the Police.

The main character, Natalie, and her team are flat out. Carol Wyer writes about the affect their career has on their relationships better than any other writer at the moment.

She looks at the almost selfish attitude they have towards keeping the investigation going, usually at the cost of their nearest and dearest.

And the transient characters are equally as good

The first murder victim Charlotte is a woman that wants everything everybody else has, then once she’s got it, she gets bored and gets rid of it. The book could easily have been called Marmite Girl, because people in the book either love her or hate her.

Her Husband is a thug that makes it easy for the reader to want him to be guilty. The people he hangs out with are all rouges that think themselves above the law.

It’s not often that a Police Procedural is based around one murder, and although this one isn’t either, it very nearly is. And its brilliant. It allows the characters to be explored fully and develop. I have a feeling that some of them may make appearances in future books.

A great read and I can’t wait for book 3

Pages: 333

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing date: 7thDecember 2018.