Waters Edge. Gregg Olsen

Waters Edge.   Greg Olsen

This is the second book in the Detective Megan Carpenter series, and having just read the first, Snow Creek, I can say I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The problem is I don’t think it would read so well as a stand-alone story. A lot of the plot is a continued thread from the first book, and is Megan’s back story told in back-flashes or from Megan listening to recordings that were made when she was in therapy.

She was in therapy because Megan, hasn’t always been Megan. It’s an identity she has adopted because of the infamy of her previous self.

Her back story is full of Kidnap, subterfuge, and murders, lots of murders

With all of this the main crime in the story almost plays second fiddle, which is a shame because the plot, and the present day characters are really good.

Working as a Detective in a sleepy town, just outside Seattle Megan enjoys a certain anonymity but there is one person that knows all about her past, her boss the Sheriff, he likes her and is prepared to give her the lead in most cases, so when a body is found in a secluded cove Megan is sent to begin the investigation, but she has to take the “Barbie Doll” new reserve deputy, Ronnie, with her.

At first Megan doesn’t like Ronnie but she slowly starts to grow on her and the pair make quite the team, not so much good-cop-bad-cop more, good-hard-nosed-cop, and young-flutter-your-eyelids cop.

The dead body leads to a murder investigation which triggered more memories for Megan and at times she becomes unfocused, which nearly ends in tragic consequences.

The story is great, the book is great, the series is going to be brilliant.

I started by saying it does not work as a stand-alone story, I stick by that, but only because I think the reader would be missing out by not reading the first in the series.

Pages: 315

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing date: 28th May 2020

RECOVERED by Rob Gallaty

Recovered. Rob Gallaty

From the off I have to tell you that I may have looked at this book from a different angle to which the writer would like. I am not religious, in fact I’m the very definition of an Agnostic.

I was intrigued by the fly cover information for the book. So I thought I’d give it a go, and I’m really glad I did

Rob Gallaty is today a successful pastor. His path to getting there is amazing

Rob narrates the book from his point of view, but I suspect he has had to ask for help in remembering some of the times he talks about, because for a lot of his teens and twenties he was lost in a chemically induced fog.

Raised in a happy Catholic family, in New Orleans,  he was diagnosed with ADHD and ADD but his parents shied away from the route of putting him on medication. From the start he admits his own flaws. He was the class clown that had to be the centre of attention and often found himself in trouble with his teachers.

Typically of somebody who suffered ADHD he threw himself headlong into anything he was good at or enjoyed, but quickly got fed up and bored with it.

As a teenager he played Basketball for his school, , standing at 6 foot 6, he was an imposing presence on the court, and enjoyed the adulation.

But when he went to college he was just another tall guy and his identity was lost, he was not the centre of attention he craved.  He also started to find the drug scene.

His final dive into the murky waters of drug taking were not actually his fault. Injured in a vehicle accident, that was not his fault, he became hooked on pain killers, but not just taking them, he found that by selling them he could make money.

Rob was good at everything he turned his attention too but always managed to press the self destruct button because along with his ADHD and ADD he has a highly addictive personality, and although in the early stages of drug use he considered himself a functioning addict, he soon spiralled down to his lowest point.

In fact after interventions and rehab he relapsed, and like a bouncing ball had highs and lows each good experience short lived as the bounce lessened.

But eventually he found his way out of the fog. Not as a Catholic but as a Baptist Pastor

His upward spiral is nearly as spectacular as the downward one

He has ups and downs but always with a focus. But unlike his other focuses in the past, this one never got boring, he never lost his interest. He relates to the bible, he relates to God, and as he looks back at his history he is convinced that somebody has been looking over his shoulder and protecting him.  After all many of his friends are dead form over doses, and many are in prison for dealing, but Rob is recovering and he has a clean police record.

Why did I say at the start that I looked at this boom from a different angle.  I admire Rob for what he has achieved. For me the story is more about survival and growing up. His determination to make something of himself shines through throughout the book.  If it wasn’t for that vehicle accident would he have gone down the drugs route, possibly.

If he hadn’t gone down the drugs route would his addictive personality led him to something else, alcoholism, gambling, possibly.

Would finding a focus have helped him avoid these things. I think not, because with most interests of this type there would have been a stress related to it, which may have led him down one of these paths.

What I think he found in the life he leads is a tranquility that no drug could give him.

A friend of mine often tells me that “ we get you all in the end”  referring to his religion. He is one on the nicest people I know. He is also one of the calmest and exudes  tranquility even at the most fraught of moments.

I’m glad “somebody” Got Rob Gallaty, and I’m glad he’s shared his experience. This is a tremendous account of survival.

THE SECRET ADMIRER. CAROL WYER

The Secret Admirer.      Carol Wyer

When I reviewed the last book in this series I asked, How is Carol going to top that.

Well she has, and she’s done it in style.

The start of the book picks up 3 months after the end of the previous one and finds DI Natalie Ward living on her own, in a small flat, getting ready to return to work for the first time since the shocking conclusion of Blossom Twins.

She’s not sure of how she is going to react to some of the scenes she knows she is going to have to attend, the first one couldn’t be much worse.

A young woman has had Acid thrown in her face and has died a horrible death.

When a second murder follows quit quickly afterwards it appears to be related.

With no time for a gradual reintroduction to work, and battling her own demons, Nat and her team are in a race against time to stop a killer who is quickly escalating.

This book, like all of Carol Wyer’s Books, had me gripped from the very beginning, but where Carols books differ from so many others is that she keeps me hooked with every chapter.

She recognises that many crimes affect small groups of people, and manages to find a way of engaging me with every character, in her small cast of characters

Natalie, herself, is one of the best fictional cops I’ve ever read about. Her story across the series has been fascinating, and at times heart breaking.

The occasional characters which make up her team, and her family, are stunningly written and add a depth to each book with their own intertwining story-lines.

But, in my opinion, the criminals and victims stories always give the books extra edge.

All of these combine in this book. Natalie and her ongoing emotional and mental struggles. The small community of characters involved in the crime, two houses full of students, and their families. The twist in the plot which sees Natalie’s husband come under suspicion.

At 413 pages this book is a bit longer than the average book released these days, but every page holds something. As the DJ’s of old used to say it’s “All Thriller and No Filler”

Could this book be read as a stand-alone? Yes

Should this book be read as a stand-alone. No, why would anybody want to miss out on the rest of the series.

A brilliant read from one of my favourite authors.

Pages: 413

Publisher: Bookouture

Available now.

Cemetery Road Greg Iles

Greg Iles is without doubt my favourite American author. His Penn Cage series, which included the Natchez Burning Trilogy, are some of the best books I’ve ever read.

So when I picked up Cemetery Road, I was expecting a good read, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Marshall (Goose) McEwan is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist working in Washington DC. But he returns to his hometown of Bienville, on the banks of the Mississippi, to run his ailing father’s newspaper.

Whilst he’s there he renews his “acquaintance” with a local attorney, who just happens to be married to the sun of one of the Beinville Poker Club. An Old Deep South Club that owns and runs everything in the town.

The poker club have also been instrumental in bringing Chinese investment to the town, in the form of a paper mill, money that will resurrect a dying economy.

The problem is they want to build the mill on ground that is thought to be of significant historical interest. One of McEwan’s friends, the historian-archaeologist Buck Ferris is murdered the night before the ground breaking ceremony.

Ferris had been like a surrogate father to McEwan, who’s drunken father had largely ignored him for over 30 years, and against much of the towns wish starts to investigate his friends murder.

What follows is a story of duplicity, in which the Poker Club try everything to stop McEwan, and his few ally’s, from finding the truth. With tens of millions of dollars at stake, as well as the freedom of the members of the club if the authorities ever find out the long list of laws they have broken, they are prepared to do anything to stop him.

This is a brilliant story from a master storyteller, and I love his books; but I should warn some of you that some people may find his writing a bit near-the-knuckle. There is sex and violence in this book, as there is in all of his books. But it’s there for a reason, it’s in context, it adds to the story. In fact the story wouldn’t work without it.

I have described Iles in previous blogs as being John Grisham without filters, and in my opinion that is why he is better than Grisham, and I love Grisham’s books.

Pages: 618

Publisher: UK, Harper Collins

Available now

Silent Scream. Five years anniversary

Five years ago today the first DI Km Stone book was published. I read that first book a few months later and immediately read the second.

I haven’t stopped reading them since, with book 12, Killing Mind, out soon I thought I’d look back at my first review which looked at both Silent Scream, book 1, and Evil Games, book 2

Silent Scream & Evil Games Angela Marsons

Two books one blog. There’s a reason for that. I read the last page of Silent Scream and immediately opened the first page of Evil Games.

I don’t like giving plots away so I’m not going to talk too much about the story line of each of these, I’ll just talk about the writing and main character.

I enjoyed these books more than most others I’ve read over the last few years. Angela Marsons has created a brilliantly complex character in Detective Inspector Kim Stone and hopefully we’ll have a few more outings with her and her team in the future.

Silent Scream introduces DI Stone in a tale centred on child abuse at a Local Authority Home. Are current day murders linked with abuse at the home? In todays society we are becoming more aware of these abuse cases and it makes the book relevant and up to date.

Stones own history mirrors that of the children who stayed at the home, and her back-story is slowly revealed as the book moves on.

The conclusion of the book is not as easy to predict as some stories of the same genre, and with twists and turn to the very end this book is a great read.

Evil Games follows on, but can be read separately, from Evil Games.

In this book Stone identifies the link between several serious crimes, including a murder. More of Stones back-story is revealed and the reader is given a greater insight into her psyche.

Along the way Stone comes into contact with her nemesis and an intellectual and psychological battle takes place that kept me enthralled right to the end of the book.

Twists and turns throughout show that Angela Marsons has a knack for complex plots without resorting to fanciful and unbelievable stories.

Angela Marsons has set these books close to where I live. Her descriptions of the places and people are perfect. It is a testament to her that at one time in the Evil Games I shouted out loud that she had something wrong, only to realise she was inventing a shop in which a suspect child abuser was working, maybe it is best to use a fictional premises in that case.

Further testament to her research skills is found in the derelict children’s home she uses in Silent Scream. It used to exist, it had a bad reputation amongst the locals, and it had a fire. I know this because I investigated it when I was still in the Fire Service.

I have a feeling that, like many other authors, Angela Marsons is only published locally.

One of the great things about e-books and companies like Amazon is it has allowed me to read books by people I would never have had access to by simply walking into my local shop.

So wherever you are in the world, get a copy of these books. Sit back and enjoy

The Waxwork Corpse. Simon Michael

Simon Michael’s books are up there with my favourites.

This series of legal thrillers set through the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s are fictional, but, and it’s a big but, each book is set around things that actually happened.

Readers will recognise some of the Gangland names that the Barrister Charles Holborne meets and deals with. They will recognise some of the periphery characters and will be aware of some of the crimes that took place, some of which are almost urban legend, some of which were national headlines.

In this case Simon Michael has used a less well known case and spun his own story around it, a story that so closely resembles the real life happenings that it is almost a documentary of the crime and the court case. There is even a nod to one of the main, real life protagonists,  in the name of one of the main characters in the book.

When the body of a woman is fished from the depths of Britain’s deepest lake it has the appearance of a waxwork dummy wrapped in plastic sheeting. What it actually is, is the remains of a woman that has been missing for over 10 years.

Her husband quickly becomes a suspect in her murder and Charles Holborne is asked to help prosecute the man.

Charles battles with the dilemma of sitting at the prosecution table, he usually represents the defendants, and the possible outcomes of prosecuting such a high profile defendant.

The case makes national headlines, as did the real one, and Holborne is thrust into the limelight. This brings someone from his past life, during the early years of World War Two, out of the woodwork. Somebody who Charles would rather not have to deal with.

In another reflection of true life Charles is battling anti-Semitism inside and outside of the court. As a “lapsed” practitioner of the Jewish Faith he is also battling with his own family.

Every page of this book brings something to the story.

The crime and trial are addictive reading on their own, but throw in all of the issues in Charles’ own life, and it moves to a whole new level of crime writing.

An absolutely stunning addition to what is already a brilliant series.

Pages: 336

Publishers: Sapere Books

Available now

HUNTING GROUND L.J Morris

 

For years my genre of choice was cold war, or espionage books, by authors such as Robert Ludlum, Nelson DeMille and Tom Clancy, but new books like these have been few and far between for years.

At last somebody is filling the gap with quality material.

L.J Morris has written a brilliant post-cold war book that sees the security of the UK, and the stability of world politics at risk.

Stuck in a Mexican Prison ex-special agent Ali Sinclair is frightened for her life and wondering why she has been abandoned to her fate.

Meanwhile her handler, from British Intelligence, is working on her release when an urgent request from another agent, Frank McGill, ramps up the urgency of Sinclair’s release.

Somebody is making an attempt to take over the UK Government from within. A journalist had been on the track of the conspirators but has been murdered. He didn’t give away any information, but he has left a document outlining his findings.

Only his boyfriend can decipher the clues that he left to the documents location.

McGill had been tasked with locating the boyfriend and getting the document, but somebody nearly beats him to it, and McGill and the boyfriend go into hiding.

McGill will only trust Sinclair and so she is sent to meet him.

What follows is a brilliant story of subterfuge and espionage which sees McGill and Sinclair teamed up with a most unexpected ally.

The story moves a break-neck pace but retains its plausibility, which is a writing skill in itself.

What makes the story all the more incredible is, when you look at British Politics over the last couple of decades, the story is very credible.

Had Morris been writing in Clancy, DeMille, and Ludlum’s, era they would have had a worthy contemporary fighting for position at the top of the Best Seller List.

I loved this book.

Pages: 358

Publisher: Crows Foot Books

Available NOW

The Body In The Snow. Nick Louth

The Body In The Snow Nick Louth

When a young, newly qualified, Forensic Scene Investigator goes out jogging in the snow the day before her first day on duty she didn’t expect to be a witness to a murder.

First on the scene she attempts to protect it from being destroyed by the victims dog, and preserve tacks that are being lost as the snow melts.

Her knight in shining armour arrives in the form of Senior Investigating Officer Craig Gillllard, one of Surreys Murder Investigation Team.

The victim is Tanvi Roy, the owner of a large Indian Cuisine Company and the matriarch of the dysfunctional Roy Family.

The family are Hindus and run their business, and their family affairs, in a traditional manner.

Mrs Roy’s husband had died before the story starts but his influences run right through the book. The multi-million pound fortune is tied up in a Codicil which sees unequal sharing of equities, with Sons, Grandsons, and even Son-in-Laws, being given much more value than, wives, daughters and granddaughters.

The unequal distribution of share holding’s means that it’s nearly impossible to get a group decision, and one rival company has been trying to buy the Roy’s business for years

This gives just about everybody in the family a reason to see Mrs Roy dead.

Throughout the investigation Gillard uncovers years of resent within the family.

I love a book that gives me new knowledge as well as entertains me. This book has done just that. I fell into a Google worm-hole that lasted for hours looking at Hindu family traditions, including Codicil Wills, arranged marriages and Castes.

Nick Louth has written a wonderful book. Some people will do as I did and research the Hindu faith, and I’m sure will learn they did not know as much as they thought.

I think this was a brave book to write. It looks at a religion and bases a family murder firmly in the way that people of that faith act. It looks at the differences between generations, and the conflicts between the older, first generation of immigrants, and their more westernised younger generations, and the problems that it can.

A wonderful book that kept me reading when I should have been doing other things.

Publishing Date. 31st January 2020

Publishers. Canelo

The Dinner Party R.J. Parker

81-+vi5Q5sL._AC_UY218_ML3_

Should secrets remain secret. When friends meet up in their couples for a dinner party one of the women suggests a game. A game of non-disclosed confessions, followed by unconditional forgiveness.

At first the game doesn’t seem that sinister but by sunrise next day one person from the party will be dead, and nobody else’s life will ever be the same.

The book is written with the host of the party being the main character. Ted is married to Juliet and they have a small circle of friends. All married couples, all about the same age, all with their own stories, all with their own secret.

This is a crime novel from a different point of view. The main character is caught up in the middle of the crime and the subsequent investigation. Only getting information from the Police as he is questioned and as he talks to other people who were at the party.

For three days his life is turned upside down. He and Juliet are as confused about the happenings as everybody else; and it soon becomes apparent to Ted that everybody is keeping secrets.

The story is brilliant.

The unusual point of view it is written from gives a completely different aspect to a crime.

The grief Ted feels in finding out about the murder of one of his closest friends is completely believable.

The frustration he feels at being questioned by the police, the realisation that people around him are not letting him in on secrets, lead him into an emotional rollercoaster, that I could not help but empathise with.

The pace of the book is breath taking. I read it in one sitting.

A captivating, compulsive stand-alone novel.

 

Publishers: One More Chapter (Harper Collins digital)

Available now.

The Sleepover Carol Wyer

IMG_3191

I love this series. Carol Wyer has a way of hooking the reader from the very first page. Her continuing characters have their own story going, on which will have new readers engaging with them straight away, and will have those of us who have been reading from the beginning wondering how some things are going to be resolved. Twice I made out-loud exclamations at the antics of two of the characters. Yes it can be read as a stand-alone, but it’s much better to read the series.

Carol also has a way of keeping it real. The crimes she uses in her books are realistic, but so is the investigation. She uses the incestuous nature of those involved in the criminal world, and those on the fringes, to keep the character count down and to ensure that the reader is not trying to remember spurious names. There is always only a handful of characters outside of the main group of her colleagues and their families.

The time frame is always right, cases don’t get solved over-night, forensic results aren’t instant, and the investigation is always factually correct.

I know she does her research, I’ve been one of the people she spoke to about this book and I know how much emphasis she puts on getting even the smallest detail right.

This book starts with a teenage girl arguing with her mother. All of us, who have been parents will know that feeling, but thankfully what most of us don’t experience is that teenager storming out and never coming home again.

Following a fire, in a large detached house on the outskirts of a Staffordshire town, a body is found and DI Natalie Ward and her team are tasked with investigating who it is, and how they died.

The house belongs to two brothers that run a nightclub in the town, which is popular with customers but a pain to the local residents.

The fire was started deliberately so who was the target, the fire victim or the Brothers? And what is the connection between the brothers and the victim.

When a woman is found dead near the house Natalie and her team can’t help but connect it to their investigation.

As the investigation continues there are more questions than answers, and on top of that some of Natalie’s team haven’t got their eye on the ball.

The end of this book just makes me want to reach for the next in the series. Time to be patient again.

There are only two or three authors whose books will  make me drop what I’m reading and start theirs when they are available, and Carol Wyer is right at the top of that list.

With each book this series gets better, and I know there are more on the way.

For now I have to wait for the next instalment, but thanks to little teases on twitter those of us that follow Carol know that something special is on the way. How it can be any better than what has gone already I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out.

Oh, and the fire scenes, brilliant, and my mate Kia, says hi, he’s in the book that’s him below.

IMG_4984

 

Pages: 411

Publishers: Bookouture

Available now