Cold Heart Stephen Edger

 

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This is the 3rd book in the Di Kate Matthews series, a series that just keeps getting better.

The story starts in the middle of an investigation. 15 year old Daisy has been missing for 7 days and Matthews is interviewing the Head Teacher of her school.  During the interview a member of staff announces that he thinks he has found a body in the derelict school sports hall.

What he’s actually found is a resuscitation doll; but what Kate finds when she’s looking around the building is what appears to be a kill room, with lots of blood and a foot.

And so begins a complex investigation, which has the team going off in many directions.

Like any real Police Investigation the officers are led by the evidence and their own instinct. At times the plot is like a domino rally. Once one domino has been set tumbling it sets of others, at times the domino’s split and two trails set of in opposite directions but eventually all coming back to the same point.

The accidental discovery of the kill room seems to signal bad news for Daisy’s family but are the team investigating Daisy’s murder or has she become involved in something which has led to disappearance.

With corruption, prostitution,  and many other serious crimes on the table maybe Daisy going missing is the best thing that could have happened.

This book is really good and had me turning page after page. In fact I read this in as close to one sitting as any book I’ve ever read.  Roll on book 4 .

Pages: 350

Publishers: Bookouture

Publishing date: 12th March 2018.

The Photographer Craig Robertson

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This book covers issues so current that at times I almost felt like I was reading a fly-on-the-wall expose of a real investigation.

From the start of the book a vicious rapist is identified and taken to court, only to have key evidence thrown out on a technicality. The one and only witness who has been brave enough to come forward to give evidence at the trial breaks down and runs away leaving the judge no choice but to throw the case out.

The accused rapist is a semi-famous business man and his name has been released to the press, his victim is only known by a pseudo name. The moral debate about this is touched on, but what follows is a huge amount of trolling abuse aimed at the victim and the female police officer who took the case to court.

Detective Inspector Rachel Narey is the officer in question. She is becoming the target of abuse and threats of violence.

Rachel is frustrated that the case got thrown out of court, and even more frustrated that a file containing hundreds of photographs of random women taken all over the streets of Glasgow was thrown out of evidence; and that she was forced to return the photos and all copies of them to the accused.

She knows she had the right man, her bosses know she had the right man. They also know that every woman in the photos is a victim, or potential victim, of the attacker. Those photos are now off limits. How can she get after him?

When her husband, Tony, a journalist, is sent the photos on a computer file he knows he can’t tell his wife. He also knows he may have the biggest story he has ever had, but at what cost to his marriage.

Meanwhile a rape counsellor has been on the trail of a man who attacks his victims in a very specific manner, and it’s the same way that Narey’s victim was attacked. She has a file she’s named “The Beast File” containing 9 year’s worth of investigations. She has never got near identifying the victim until now.

Three lines of investigation start. DI Narey is still after her man but is confined by the letter of the law. Her husband Tony is not nearly so confined but without official status he is placing himself in danger.

Then there is Tony’s Uncle Dan, an ex-cop and God Father to Rachel and Tony’s little girl. He arrives to stay and look after the girl because of the threats made on social media to Rachel. He opens up a third line of inquiry when he joins in the twitter chat and ingratiates himself with the bigoted keyboard warriors that hide behind their computer screens.

With all three looking for a way to put the attacker behind bars the story highlights the difference between how different people can get information, legitimately or otherwise.

It shows the frustrations of modern policing, what can be done and what can’t.

It shows the frustrations of victims who get up the courage to step forward, only to be let down by the judicial system.

It shows how easy it is for so called secret identities to be found out; and how they become widely known through social media, and the effect that has on the person who is so often the victim of a serious crime.

This book could not be more topical. It reflects issues that have been in the press very recently, and even mentions the Black Cab Rapist whose immanent release is causing so much consternation.

I like books that get me thinking. This book got me thinking about some of the laws of this country, and the way some trials are reported.

It also got me thinking something I have never thought before. Maybe some of this investigative journalism is better placed to find out the truth than a proper legal investigation.

For a work of fiction that takes some doing.

Then I read Craig Robertson’s biography.

Now I know why this book is so good.

I’m off to find his back catalogue. I can’t not read them. I hope they are just as good as this one. They have a lot to live up to.

Pages: 448

Publishers UK: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date UK: 25th January 2018

A Map of the Dark

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Special Agent Elsa Myers of the FBI’s Child Abduction Rapid Deployment Unit is one complex character.

 

Covered in scars she tries her hardest not to cut herself anymore; but scratching her old scars is impossible to resist. That is why she wears long sleeves and heavy trousers in the heat of the summer. That is why she steers clear of intimate relationships. That is why she is slightly withdrawn at times when she should be concentrating on other things.

The other thing in this case is the disappearance of a 17-year-old girl from New York. Girls that age go missing all the time in NYC; so why does Detective Alexi (Lex) Cole call in Elsa as soon as she is reported missing.

Because she is a hard working student, with a job in a coffee shop, and no history of getting into trouble. She just does not fit into the usual stereotype of the girls that go missing of their own accord.

But: when do good girls turn bad, and what is bad.

As Elsa and Lex dig deeper into the girl’s disappearance they start to make a few discoveries. Maybe the girl is not as squeaky clean as her family think she is.

With her family not knowing the whole truth about their daughter, and with her friends lying to protect her, the investigation is slow. Elsa needs to unravel the truth about the missing girl. As she does she starts to recollect her own childhood and the reason why she self harmed. The memories start to get her reaching for the Swiss Army knife she always carries in her bag.

As well as carrying out the investigation Elsa is backwards and forwards to hospital to visit her dying father. As her childhood memories resurface the interaction with her father, and sister start to change.

Will Elsa survive this investigation in good health? At times its touch and go as mentally she finds it hard to balance her work with her personal life.

I really enjoyed this book. I like a good story with good characters, but this one had something else.

The girl that goes missing.

A good girl? Yes.

However the usual teenage problems start to come into her life. Pressures of school work, boyfriends, and slightly dodgy opportunities.

This little sub-plot about how one or two decisions, not even necessarily bad decisions, have that domino effect that can lead to a person having a very bad day.

Pages: 320

Publishers UK: Mulholland

Publishing date UK: 11th January 2018.

Motherland G.D. Abson

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Set in modern day St Petersburg this is a fast-paced crime thriller will be loved by readers of good old fashion spy books by Len Deighton, as much as lovers of modern Scandinavian Crime by people like Jo Nesbo.

Detective Natalya Ivanova works in the Criminal Investigation Directorate, a police force staffed by chauvinistic, homophobic, racist men, not least of all is her Husband Mikhail and his best friend, and Sergeant, Rogov.

When a young, pretty, and wealthy woman, is attacked in the street before going missing, Natalya is sent to look into her disappearance. It transpires the woman is the heiress to a fortune amassed by her father who is a Scandinavian Businessman, but he is being less than helpful.

The investigation is set against the oxymoron of today’s Russia. Iphones and laptops are aplenty, but the technology for forensics is nearly none existent, unless you work for one of the governments agencies. Natalya’s one true ally is the senior criminologist (CSI) Leo Primakov, who has to buy equipment out of his own pocket and rely on American TV shows to help him keep up to date with his science.

As she begins to investigate the disappearance of the young heiress it becomes apparent that people are trying to steer her away. From gentle suggestions from at first her husband, and her boss, to outright threats by officers of the FSB, the successors of the dreaded KGB, and no less ruthless and corrupt.

Natalya’s investigations lead her to start to suspect those nearest to her, but are they trying to support her or scupper her efforts. Is Mikhail corrupt or worse.

There is a lovely line in the book where Natalya tells her husband “women hate the lie more than what it conceals” This is the whole premise of the book. Natalya is straight, and she hates people who aren’t. That means she is going to find out who took the missing heiress; and hopefully find her alive whilst keeping herself alive.

If you like your books fast-paced, gritty, and realistic this book is definitely for you.

Pages: 258

Publisher: Mirror Books

Available on Amazon

Keep Her Safe Richard Parker

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Never have I read such a complex, and compelling, story based on so few characters.

This book has two protagonists, Maggie and Holly. The fate of both of these women is controlled by the mysterious Babysitter. 

The Babysitter kidnaps women’s young children, and will only return them when they have completed his tasks.

So, when Holly is sent to kill Maggie, it is to save the life of her young daughter Abigale.

The story is that of these two women as they fight for their own survival, and takes place over an 8-hour time frame, Maggie must be dead before sunrise

Maggie is not the innocent woman that Holly though she was, and it soon becomes apparent that she has more in common with Holly than you would expect.

Holly is dead set on killing Maggie; and the struggle between the two women, in Maggie’s house, is one of the most engrossing bits of writing I’ve ever read.

The story sways to and fro, one chapter narrated from Maggie’s point of view the next Holly’s. It’s a struggle between right and wrong, good and bad, but it’s perspective is never black and white.

All the while the struggle is taking place text messages, from the Babysitter, make it obvious he can see what is happening, so there is no escaping the fact Holly needs to kill Maggie or die trying.

At first different readers will want Holly to succeed, others Maggie; but I can guarantee whichever one you start with you will change your mind more than once.

After all what would you do to save your child, alternatively how far would you go to save your life if somebody broke into your house and tried to kill you.

More compelling than most books which have many more characters, and take place over days, weeks, or months, this book had me turning each page with as much nervous trepidation as anticipation. I had not got a clue how the story was going to end, and I was fully engaged with both Maggie and Holly.

I may have made this tale sound simplistic. Two main characters and a short time period, but if you love psychological thrillers you will go an awful long way to find a better book.

Pages: 329

Publishing date UK: 11th January 2018.

Publishers: Bookouture

Available to pre-order on Amazon.

The Vanishing Girls Lisa Regan

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Straight from the start I’m going to say I loved this book. The Plot, the main protagonist, the setting, everything.

The story is based in the small fictional town of Denton Pennsylvania. When a young woman goes missing it attracts the attention of all of the local police department, but the one woman that really wants to get involved in the search is on suspension for hitting another woman.

Detective Josie Quinn is a troubled character, she has recently left her husband when she found out he was having an affair with the local stripper. Her husband, her childhood best friend turned-lover-turned-husband, was not only a cop, he was her best friend.

The towns chief refuses to let Josie back from suspension so she starts to look into the disappearance of the girl herself; and she starts to uncover some terrible secrets.

Everybody she thinks to turn to for help might be put in danger, or may put her in danger. In turmoil and not knowing who to trust Josie uncovers historical crimes that she links to the disappearance of the girl. Her one-woman investigation goes from looking for a missing girl to looking for a serial killer.

This book is brilliant. The story had me hooked from the start and kept me engrossed throughout.

The culmination of the investigation is not at the end of the story. Thankfully Lisa Regan has continued, past the end game of the crimes, to include the inquest that goes on after the perpetrator has been found. But did he work alone, and has Josie identified everybody involved.

Thankfully there are more Josie Quinn books on the way and I, for one, can’t wait for the next.

Whilst I was reading this the style of writing, and the story, reminded me of another of my favourite authors. So, I have no hesitation in recommending this book to anybody who likes books by Greg Isles

 

Pages: 345

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing date UK: 17th January 2018

Last Cry Anna-Lou Weatherley

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I struggled with writing this blog. There is so much good to say about this book; the story, the characters, the writing, but there is a couple of things that very nearly put me off it.

I’m glad they didn’t, I’m glad I stuck with it to the end. It’s a great book with a great story so what could I have possibly found wrong with it. I’ll tell you at the end of the blog.

The book starts with a murder in a hotel. I think it’s safe to say that the victim, a successful banker, is killed by a very attractive Escort, or a woman posing as one. The killer is aware of how to stage a scene using Counter Forensics. She makes the death look like a suicide at first inspection, but she knows that a good cop will spot it for what it is straight away. Is that what she wants?

That’s exactly what she gets. DI Dan Riley is sent to the scene and immediately see’s it for what it is. Riley is a complex character who is still in mourning for the loss of his partner, and their unborn child, in a motorcycle accident 2 years ago. As much as he is mourning he is also trying to get his life back on track, and has started to dabble in the dating scene. The scenes where he is conflicted about his basic feelings, of wanting to be with somebody else whilst feeling guilt at charting on his dead partner, are brilliantly written.

The book has two protagonists, the killer, and Dan Riley. Chapters are devoted to each, and every chapter had me hooked. The killer is horrible and everybody will be fully aware of what she is doing, and wonder how stupid the other victims are for not seeing her for what she is. But that’s the thing about killers, they don’t have a sign tattooed on them to give us a warning.

Riley is just the type of man you’d like to share a drink with, or just sit down with and have a chat. He is what most Police Officers are, normal.

The killer is working to a plan and the bodies are starting to pile up, but will Riley managed to identify her, and stop her before she commits her worse crime. I can guarantee that the last 30 pages of this book will have readers gripped, and what an ending. By the time you get to the end you will think you have it all sorted in your mind; but then there’s that last few pages.

So, what were the things that were wrong with this book. I read it on a Kindle and I thought there was a reason that I didn’t know the name of the main protagonist, even though he’s there almost from the start. Then I began to wonder if the author had just forgot that she hadn’t given him a name; but no, we find out his name 14% into the book. I knew everything about him before I knew his name, it just felt strange

Secondly, and this would usually really wind me up, you can drive a bus through the inaccuracies in the Policing in this book. There are problems with procedures and ranks. There are things that happen during the investigation that had me shacking my head, after all if you have CCTV of somebody entering a room, how can you not have footage when they leave the same room.

But if you can get past these, this book is really worth reading. A great story, with a great ending.

Pages: 307

Publishers: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 31st January 2007.

Available to pre-order on Amazon