The Marsh Kings Daughter Karen Dionne

 

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This book reads like part modern day thriller, part biography.

Helena today is a family woman with a husband and two daughters, but even her husband has no idea of who the young Helena was, and what she went through before her transformation.

The young Helena was the daughter of the Marsh King. Her mother was his victim; she had been kidnapped as a teenager and held in the middle of the swamp lands of Michigan, where she was abused and kept captive, eventually giving birth to Helena.

Helena loved her father; he taught her to survive in the swamp, to track, to shoot, to use a knife and to fend for herself. But his love was tough love, vicious punishments were inflicted on Helena when she got things wrong. Even worse punishments were inflicted on her mother.

As she grows older Helena begins to realise her father and mother are not the only people in the world. The only knowledge she has of the world outside the swamp are some old Geographic magazines. She may be a good hunter gatherer, but she is very naive.

The young Helena had escaped the swamp and started to build a new life for herself. She stands out from other youths of her age. Her naivety is charming but her “its black or white” thinking leads her into a few scrapes with her new family and the community she lives in.

The book starts with Helena having a day out with her youngest daughter. Everything is going well until she turns the radio on. A killer has escaped from the local prison, it’s not just any killer, it’s the Marsh King, her Father.

She knows the only person that is going to be able to track him into the marsh is her, she knows his field craft, he taught her everything she knows………But did he teach her everything he knows.

The story switches between Helena today tracking her father, and through older Helena’s memories, the story of the young Helena.

What a story it is. I hadn’t read a book like this 3 years ago. That’s because nobody in the UK writes psychological thrillers, or crime thrillers, set in the wilderness, or none that I’ve found.

The Kindle has opened a whole new world to me and two of my favourite authors now are C.J. Box and Greg Isles.

It’s time to add another name to my list Karen Dionne has written one of the best crime-psycho-thrillers I’ve read in a long time. It’s almost as if somebody has taken the best of Box and merged it with the best of Isles.

She describes life in the swamp so well, that in the evenings when I was reading it I could have been there.

Helena, her main character had me Loving her, hating her, empathising with her and just about every other feeling an author can take a reader to.

This is a great read, but stand by for a few bumps along the way when you read it.

The Devils Prayer Luke Gracias

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The Devil’s Prayer        Luke Gracias

Stephen King meets Dan Brown, with a sprinkling of C.J. Sansom, in one of the best books I’ve read this year.

What genre is it?

Horror? Psychological thriller? Historical fiction?

Mix them up and you will end up with The Devils Prayer.

The book starts with a Nun running through secret passages, between an isolated convent and a hidden tomb, in an isolated area of Spain.

A short time later the Nun kills herself in front of 1000’s of people in a public square.

Meanwhile, Siobhan, a young journalist in Australia, has not seen her mother for 6 years. A knock on the door from the local police officer brings the news she has hoped never to hear. Her Mom is dead.

Siobhan makes a trip to Spain to see her mother’s grave, and find some closure into why she disappeared. She finds out her mother was the Nun who committed suicide so publicly and uncovers a journal her mother had left hidden for her.

The journal, called The Confession, describes a sequence of events starting in the mid 1990’s; including a horrific crime and the ramifications it has on the victim and its perpetrators, and explains what Denise has been doing since she went missing.

The Confession tells the story of Denise, a successful newsreader, a single mother living with her daughter, Siobhan, and her mother Edith. Following an accident in which Siobhan nearly drowns Denise’s life begins to change.

Some years later Denise gives birth to a second daughter Jess; but between the near drowning of Siobhan and the birth of Jess things have changed drastically for Denise.

Eventually Denise begins to realise that she is central to events which she now has no control over. When she is approached by a mysterious Monk, who offers her help to find a closure and put things right, she has no choice but to leave and start a journey through libraries full of ancient scripture in an attempt to save those nearest her.

Disguised as a Nun with a vow of Silence she is taken around Europe to read and translate ancient scriptures ultimately trying to find the lost pages of an ancient book. The pages are The Devils Prayer.

 This book is beautifully written and had me hooked from the start. I read it in 2 days and was left wanting more.

Luke Gracias eases between the two main protagonists as the main story is told with Siobhan, taking the lead character, reading her mother’s Confession, with Denise being the main character.

Gracias takes the reader through; family trauma, a horrific crime, and betrayal in Australia; to historical artefacts, ancient documents, Monasteries and Convents in Europe.

As the book raced towards the end I began to find myself thinking, “there’s not enough pages left to finish this story” I was right.

What a cliff-hanger.

Mr Gracias please don’t make us wait long till the next one please.

The Girl Who Had No Fear Marnie Riches

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The Girl Who Had No Fear       Marnie Riches

Welcome back George McKenzie.

The 4th in the series and things just keep going from better to better.

Long ago Marnie Riches’ character George McKenzie was called “the new Lisbeth Salander”, well that’s no longer fair. This series of books is every bit as good, if not better than Stig Larsson’s Millennium Series; and Doctor George McKenzie is very much out on her own as a character.

The start of this book see’s George back in the UK carrying out research into violent criminals in a maximum security prison. She’s also still worrying about her mother’s disappearance and wondering about the mystery that is her father.

Meanwhile, in Holland, her partner, Police Investigator Paul van den Bergen, is on the track of a murderer in Amsterdam.

Meanwhile, in Central America, a drugs lord-come arms smuggler, come people trafficker, is causing chaos which as far reaching effects.

All this might sound confusing but it’s not. If you haven’t read any of the previous books in the series you could still read this as a stand-alone, but why would you want to miss the first three.

The story progresses with George returning to Holland to help Paul investigate a series of sudden deaths which seem to be linked with drugs and the Gay Scene in and around Amsterdam.

The investigation takes the pair to Central America and back to Europe. On route there are encounters with drugs cartels and bands of violent, armed, female gangs.

All of which lead to a shocking end, no spoilers but you will not be disappointed.

As usual with Marnie Riches books the gangs and the locations have been well researched. The story-lines are believable as are the characters.

This story takes the reader from drug fuelled sex parties in Amsterdam, to the jungles of Central America, to the Caribbean, and back to Europe.

The only advice I’d give the reader is, keep your eyes on the dates at the beginning of every chapter, I didn’t and ended up having to go back and check.

At well over 300 pages you might think this book will take a while to read. It won’t. Once you start you will have difficulty putting it down.

 

The Woman in Black Kerry Wilkinson

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The Woman in Black

Somebody is leaving severed hands on the streets of Manchester, strange, but there’s more to come. Each hand is missing a finger, stranger still, but there’s even more to come. Somebody is sending the missing fingers to the Police.

If this wasn’t enough when the Police start to check CCTV images they discover the person who is leaving the hands in the streets is dressed in a hooded robe. Not only do they disguise their look with the robe but they are evidently camera savvy, and know exactly how to hide their face from the cameras.

At any other time, this would be investigated with the full strength of the force, but a prominent local politician’s wife has gone missing and the majority of Manchester’s MIT is looking into that case.

Detective Sergeant Jessica Daniel is given the task of finding out, not just who’s leaving the hands on the street, but also identifying the owners of the hand.

Working with a small team she needs to find a link between the owners of the hands and find out what has happened to the rest of the body’s, if there is any. And of course who is the hooded person.

Daniel’s small team is pushed to the limits but whilst the MP’s wife is missing they have no hope of help.

As the story progresses there are times when it looks like the 2 enquiries are never going to be resolved.

Just to add a bit of spice the book carries a nice little sub-plot. There is a new person in the Major Investigation Team. Detective Sergeant Louise Cornish, a recent transferee from Coventry. Although she’s on the main team she shares a small office with Jessica Daniel. Something is not right from the start and the women tolerate each other, but where will it lead.

This is the latest in the DS Jessica Daniel series and it’s just as good as the rest. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and like the way Kerry Wilkinson has managed to find a crime which is original, yet believably credible. Not an easy feat with so many Police Procedural novels on the shelves.

While You Were Sleeping. Kathryn Croft

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While You Were Sleeping    Kathryn Croft.

Where do I start with a book like this? What a story.

Until recently I hadn’t read a psychological thriller that I enjoyed for some time; but recently the lady crime writers are coming up trumps, and this is right up there with the best.

Kathryn Croft has spun a spider’s web of a story which revolves around the family of the main protagonist Tara.

Tara is married to Noah and has 2 children, 17-year-old Rosie, and 11-year-old Spencer.

It would be fair to say that the family is not a happy one, but they are together, and living in the same house.

The story starts with Tara waking up naked in a neighbours bed, with his bloody body carved open at the side of her. With no recollection of what happened except that she received a text from the man’s wife asking her to go to the house, only to find the husband home alone, Tara panics and runs home to her empty house.

That weekend her son is away for the night, her daughter is staying with a friend, and her husband is on a business trip to New York.

In her panic and confusion, she decides not to tell the Police, her first mistake.

As the story unfolds the reader is introduced to Tara’s immediate family and her sister Lisa; as well as the wife of the dead man Serena, and one of Tara’s work colleague’s Mikey.

Tara’s family and friends are full of lies, deceit and half-truths.

Is anybody above suspicion? No.

Does everybody seem to have a reason to want the neighbour dead? Yes.

This compelling story has twists and turns a-plenty, but they all flow so well.

There are over 30 chapters and I think I must have built nearly as many hypotheses as to who had killed the man, his name is Lee by the way.

I swung from being convinced that Tara was actually guilty to her being totally innocent many times. Each of these was interjected by me thinking, for one reason or another, that one of the others had killed him. Only for my latest theory to be destroyed by the actions of somebody else.

I loved this book.

It is not often I get to the end and think, well I didn’t think they did it; but then look back and think all the indications were there and that I hadn’t missed a clue. There are no real late revelations that made me think, well if I’d have known that earlier.

It is just a masterpiece of masterpiece of writing that managed to keep me in suspense until right up to the end.

This book is not published till November the 16th.

If you are looking for a Christmas gift for somebody who enjoys a good read, look no further.

Passenger 19 Ward Larsen

Passenger 19       Ward Larsen

Back in the late 70’s early 80’s, whilst sailing around the world working for Shell Tankers, my favourite genre of book was the suspense novel. I loved authors like Hammond Innes, Frederick Forsythe, Wilbur Smith, and the early Nelson Demille books such as Rivers of Babylon and Cathedral.

It has seemed to me that there are not so many books written in this vane anymore, the modern Authors who attempt this type of work always go over the top with implausible scenarios, and I had fallen out with the genre.

Until now.

Last week I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of Passenger 19 by Ward Larsen. I will admit I had never heard of Ward Larsen before, maybe it’s a geographical thing and his books are just not high profile in the UK yet, but now I know about him I will be reading his other books.

Passenger 19 is an adventure book, a suspense novel and a fantastic read.

Air Crash Investigator Jammer Davis is enjoying semi-retirement when his Boss comes to see him with bad news. An aircraft has crashed in Columbia. Jammers daughter, Jen, is listed amongst the passengers.

Jammer is assigned to the case and from the start appears to be having too much help from the American Authorities. When he arrives at the scene of the crash he is informed all on board are dead, but that there are 2 bodies missing. One of the missing people is Jen.

What made the plane crash? Is the first question Jammer needs to answer, but his biggest question where is Jen and is she still alive?

Ward Larsen picked a good country to set the story in. He uses the topography brilliantly allowing him to have an isolated inaccessible crash site, but best of all he can use the corrupt infrastructure to add danger to the investigation in a who-can-be-trusted plot line.

The clever US political angel adds to the weight of the book.

The story rushes through the jungle at a fast pace that never slows or gets dull.

Best of all it’s a credible tale. There are no stretches of the imagination; at no time does the reader need to suspend reality.

I’ve been looking for this book for years. Not specifically this book, but one of this genre. I have spent hours in book shops browsing shelves looking at books by Innes and alike and wishing for some modern Author to pick up the baton, sit at their laptop, and write a good suspense adventure novel. Well Ward Larson has.

Thank you Ward, I’m looking forward to reading your others.