THE STING Kimberley Chambers

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This is my first, but certainly not my last, Kimberley Chambers book.

The Sting is a glorious read for everybody, but especially for people who had their teenage years in the 1970’s.

The story follows the life of a young lad Tommy Boyle and picks him up as a 12 year old. To say he has a hard upbringing is an understatement. His father is a bullying wife beater who works on the oil rigs and makes family life a misery when he’s at home.

As the story progresses Tom ends up in a children’s home for reasons beyond his control.

The friendships he forms there should last for life, but again life takes a cruel twist.

The story follows him through his family life, through to his life in care, and sees him change from an innocent lad to the fearsome teenager, and ultimately into a violent man.

When his time in care comes to an end on his 16thbirthday Tom has already been spotted by a criminal family and they soon take him into their inner circle.

Tom has had a hard time, but the new family mean everything to him, and so begins a life in organised crime.

Lurking in the shadows throughout the story are secrets. Secrets that will inevitably come to the surface and lead the book to a fantastic end.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. My usual read is crime fiction, which this falls well and truly into, but it’s from a completely different perspective to what I’m used to.

This is all about a boy gone bad, a boy whose transition to manhood is guided by the actions of the people who should have loved and protected him.

Having grown up on a council estate in Birmingham in the 70’s I can recognise so many of the characters in this book. The nostalgia for that era is reflected in the music that is mentioned throughout the book and which had me calling out to “Alexa” on numerous occasions.

A cracking read.

Pages: 448

Publishers: Harper Collins

Available now

TAKE IT BACK KIA ABDULLAH

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I cannot remember who recommended this book, but whoever it was thank you.

The story is based around two main characters, Zara Kaleel, a gifted woman who finished top of Law School and landed a top job in good Chambers in London. Her life was mapped out for her, an arranged marriage, and a good job. Until she got rid of both the husband and the job, and took a job at a charity who looked after abused women.

The second character is Jodie Wolfe, a sixteen year old white girl with a severe facial deformity. The daughter of a single parent, an alcoholic mother, and living in a rundown house on a rough estate her life is not easy.

Jodie walks into Zara’s life when she accuses a group of four boys from her school of gangrape. The boys are all Muslim and from good families. They deny the accusation and give their own version of events.

Will anybody believe Jodie’s account over the four lads, and if they do, can they prove it beyond reasonable doubt.

This book is about so much more than just the rape of a young girl. It’s about attitudes, both preconceived, and actual, which are prevalent in today’s society.

The story itself is stunning. As a reader I was swayed in both directions. At different times I believed both Jodie and the four boys alternatively.

Some of the lads in this book lead a life of entitlement that their parents may have earned, but which they wrongly bask in.

The hatred that is extended to Jodie, by people who should be supporting her is unimaginable, but realistic in the way it is portrayed.

Worse still is the hostility extended to Zara by her own community.

Had the book been written by anybody else I don’t know how much emphasis I’d have put on the feelings that are running through the Muslim Community when it comes to the unwavering belief they have in the word of the young men, and the hold these young men have over their families.

I looked Kia Abdullah up on the internet, she is definitely qualified to right about this community in a way that most of us may never fully understand. But this book may go a long way to helping us.

This could have been a true story and it would not have had more of an impact on me. I felt like I was following a news story in fast forward.

It’s not often a book has me hooked as much as this one did. Thankfully I was in holiday so sitting reading all day was permissible, which was good, because once I’d started this, I was never going to put it down

Pages: 383

Publishers: HQ HarperCollins

Publishing date: 8thAugust 2019

Dead Man’s Daughter Roz Watkins

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Roz Watkins has a way of writing books that I find refreshing and fascinating. Taking a piece folk law, or urbane myth, and interweaving a modern crime she arrives at a book which is a realistic crime thriller with a touch of horror novel. In fact I can’t make my mind up who would be the most proud to call her a student of their genre, Colin Dexter or Stephen King. If you are a fan of either you’ll love this book, if you are a fan of both, this is really going to get your juices flowing.

DI Meg Dalton is a recent transferee to Derbyshire from Manchester Met Police. She not only has to battle the “she’s a know it all from the big Force” brigade but also prove herself better than the men from Derbyshire she was promoted over to get her job as SIO in one of the MIT’s covering the Peak District.

When she stumbles across a crime scene Meg is suddenly immersed in an investigation that seems to have one strikingly obvious outcome.

A man is dead in his house, his daughter is found running through the woods covered in blood. When Meg traces the child’s steps back to the house, she realises the crime has happened in a premises where the Police have had numerous calls to report a stalker but have done little or nothing about it.

The investigation leads Meg and her team down one route, the little girl appears to have killed her father, but Meg is not convinced.

So, why is this book a bit on the horror genre, well the little girl, her name is Abbie, has had an organ transplant, and everything seems to suggest that somehow the organ she has received is affecting the way she now behaves.

To add to that the house that the murder took place in is wrapped in folk law and has connections with a past series of sacrificial killings.

It’s up to Meg to work out who the murderer is, and what the motive was behind the killing.

This story is complex in places with different characters swapping hypothesis to suit their own agenda, more than one of which is purely because they want Meg to fail.

But the story is absolutely brilliant. Like all the best books it had me Googling about things I wasn’t aware of, such as Cellular Memory Phenomenon, and yes it does exist.

What a subject to identify to base a crime story on, and to keep it so realistic. Brilliant.

This book is the second in the series, The Devils Dice is the first, but can easily be read as a stand alone but once you’ve read it you will want to read first.

I really can’t wait for the third book in the series.

Pages: 384

Publishers: HQ, Harper Collins

Available now

The Devil’s Dice Roz Watkins

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I love crime thrillers with a difference. This book blends a hint of Dan Brown, with a rich mix of Angela Marsons, and is set in the Derbyshire Countryside.

Where does the hint of Dan Brown come in? From the very start. A man is found dead in an ancient cave house. As the forensic teams start to examine the scene the lead detective, DI Meg Dalton finds an old carving of the Grim Reaper with the legend “Coming for PHH” The dead man is PHH, the carving is over 100 years old, he died today.

The cave is tied by local legend to the story of people being found hanged in the cave and tunnel system close by. They are called the Labyrinth and are close to the rock formation, The Devils Dice.

Close to the Devils Dice is an old cottage on the edge of a quarry face. For years people have thought of the cottage as being cursed. People who live there are prone to committing suicide, or worse. Guess where PHH lived.

The rich mix of Angela Marsons? Rox Watkins has created a character in DI Meg Dalton that is as fascinating as Angela Marsons’ DI Kim Stone.

Dalton is a single woman dealing with major family issues, which she is trying to keep to herself and not let them disrupt her work. She has a team member DS Jai Sanghera who is determined to help her, but will she let him.

Then there is the crime. Although the crime is wrapped up in ancient folk law it is very much a modern crime, and its investigated in a very realistic manner which makes the story not only believable, but also very enjoyable to read.

As the investigation continues into the death of PHH more deaths occur, are they linked, are they even suspicious, or is all the talk of the curse beginning to affect even the most cynical of Police Officers.

The story has many threads and it’s not until the last couple of chapters that they all come together to create a brilliant end to the book.

It’s not often that I read a crime novel these days which is so full of originality. After all there are only so many ways a crime can be committed, and there are only so many reasons why. I’m sure somebody will point out there have been similar stories, but I haven’t read them, and certainly not in the same book.

A great read and I can’t wait for the next book from Rox Watkins

Pages: 384

Publisher: HQ

Publishing Date UK: 8th March 2018, available to pre-order on Amazon

Let the Dead Speak Jane Casey

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The newly promoted DS Maeve Kerrigan is back, and you won’t be disappointed.

Whether you’re new to Jane Casey’s work, or a fan of her books, this is a treat.

Although this is the latest in a series, it reads well as a stand-alone. So, if you are new to Maeve Kerrigan and her team you won’t feel like a stranger at a party; and if you’ve read the previous books, you will love this one.

Maeve is single, again, she’s still working on the Murder Investigation Team, but has been promoted to Detective Sergeant. With the added responsibility comes the added problem of looking after a new team member. Detective Constable Georgia Shaw is not exactly making friends. Being young and attractive is enough to rile some people, but add to the fact she is on the fast-track-promotion scheme, and has little or no experience as a copper, and you have a character that adds a nice little sub plot to the main story.

The main story is brilliant in its simplicity. The crimes all happen on the same street and involve two families and a few other local members of the community.

Kate Emery is a 42-year old single mother, divorced from her husband for over 12 years. Her daughter, 18-year old Chloe has cognitive disabilities, and Kate has dedicated her life to being her carer.

When Chloe returns home, from a weekend stay with her father and his new family, she finds her mother missing and the house is a blood bath.

Kerrigan and her team start a murder enquiry.

Chloe is left in the care of a family living over the road from her house. The Norris family are a tremendously well written bunch of characters. Devoutly Christian they stand for everything that Kate didn’t, but the daughter Bethany is Chloe’s best friend.

As the inquiry into Kate’s murder progresses Kerrigan and her team start to find evidence that Kate was not the woman she seems. Single, and attractive, it appears she has a secret life her daughter and “most” of the neighbours don’t know about.

She is receiving money from her ex-husband, and has her own business, but it still seems she needs more money.

Is Chloe actually as bad as her mother would have people think, or are her disabilities an exaggeration of her shy personality that her mother is trying to use to get benefits, schooling, and more money from her ex.

The story has a limited bunch of characters but anyone of them could be the killer, and I didn’t see the end coming right up till it leapt of the pages of the last chapters.

The Norris Family could have a whole book written just about them, would any of them want Kate dead, and what possible motive could any of them have for killing her.

Brian Emery, Chloe’s dad, and his new family could have a book written just about them too. His new wife is a bitch, and her two teenage sons are spoilt brats, who Chloe hates. So why does she spend the odd weekend at their house. Could one of them have wanted Kate dead. Does Chloe really hate them or would her mother’s death mean she could spend more time at the house.

This book has twists and turns in every chapter.

It has moralistic issues as well. I found myself liking characters I shouldn’t like.

Casey writes the story so well that when you are seeing things through Maeve Kerrigan’s eyes you find yourself going with her thought process. In other books of this ilk I often find myself disagreeing with the main character, or think “don’t be daft” but with Kerrigan everything just seems right and justified. Maybe we just think the same way.

If you haven’t read the other books in this series you really have missed out. Read this one then go back and start at the beginning.

Like I said at the start of this blog  YOU WON’T BE DISAPPOINTED

The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows Marnie Riches

The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows       Marnie Riches

Georgina McKenzie is back, or should I say the now Dr Georgina McKenzie is back.  About two years on from the end of The Girl Who Broke the Rules Dr George, a professional Criminologist is back in the UK interviewing prisoners who have a history of abuse and being abused.

Her mismatched lover, Chief Inspector Paul van den Bergen is still working in Amsterdam but has been moved to a department hunting for missing persons.

The Dr and the Chief Inspector are hitting a rough patch and their will-they-wont -they relationship, which had become a they-did, is back to will-they-wont-they.

Meanwhile a bitter chill hits Europe with deep snow and ice covering the continent and the UK. But the chill isn’t just in the weather, somebody is killing people in England and Holland. The killer, “Jack Frost”, uses the the elements to their advantage, which makes the investigation even harder.

With George in the UK, carrying out research into abused people being trafficked around Europe, Van den Bergen stumbles into a murder investigation in Amsterdam.

George notices a similarity between the drug dealer’s death in Amsterdam and a death in the UK.

Before long the two are working together, but is it going to be a harmonious or destructive relationship???

George’s family have been in the background of the previous two books and make an appearance in this one. George is staying with them but somebody else is watching. Is it something to do with Dr Georges research or something more sinister?

As more children go missing it becomes apparent that Dr George has an academic rival who is also researching child abuse and its relationship to organised paedophile rings and trafficking. A hassle that she could do without.

As in the two previous book there are no wasted words. Every paragraph of every chapter has a meaning and a direction. And that direction hurtles the reader to the end of the book, and I really do mean the end of the book.

Marnie Riches writes with a style that never makes the reader think anything is unrealistic. It might be uncomfortable for some people to think that the crimes, and criminals, in this book are real, but they are and Riches has them nailed in the characters and scenes in her books.

With children going missing, murders to investigate, personal problems with her family and her mismatched lover could things get anymore hectic for Dr McKenzie.

You’ll have to read The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows to find out. I promise you, its well worth it.

For me this is the best “The Girl Who….” Yet.

Well done Marnie Riches 3 brilliant books in a fantastic series

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Under A Silent Moon Elizabeth Haynes

Under A Silent Moon     Elizabeth Haynes

This is the second book written by Elizabeth Haynes that I’ve reviewed. It’s the first book in what will hopefully be a long series about DCI Louisa Smith.

The book revolves around the murder of Polly Leuchars, a woman with very loose morals. Living in a small community it seems she has slept with most of the population, both male and female, at some time.

Such a promiscuous person is bound to make enemies but who killed her? Was it a crime of passion, or did somebody kill her because she got too close to the local criminal family, the Maitland’s.

A few hours after Polly is discovered the body of a local woman is found in her car at the bottom of a quarry close to the house Polly was found in. Are the two deaths related?

Freshly promoted DCI Smith leads the investigation. As the reader is introduced to her, and her team, it is quickly evident that Louisa is single, but at one time she has had a relationship with one of her team, DI Hamilton, who had neglected to tell her that he was married at the time. Will their relationship effect the investigation, or will DI Hamilton’s loose morals lead him to become compromised during the investigation.

As the story moves forward it becomes apparent that many of the suspects have had an affair with Polly, or another mysterious woman that Polly had been involved with.

The story looks at the affect that one woman can have on a local community. Some of the relationships she formed were with strong-minded people, but she also allowed the vulnerable to fall in love with her. It leads to a complex who-done-it, who-did-who, and how-many-murders, are there tale.

I love Elizabeth Haynes’s books. She writes real world stories with a no holds barred. She approaches murder scenes with the same manner as she approaches some of the more intimate moments. Everything is written perfectly.

Her experience of working with the Police has given her a wonderful insight into what a real Major Investigation is like.

I love the way she uses a Police Memo, from Louisa’s boss, Detective Chief Superintendent Buchanan as a preface to allow the reader a reference point for all of the characters. Charts at end of the book show the digital tactical situation boards that would have been used during such an investigation, brilliant.

If writing’s all about going the extra mile Elizabeth has gone an extra ten.

If you love reading this type of book, or are interested in the writing process, Elizabeth Haynes has a website worth looking at.

http://www.elizabeth-haynes.com