The Death Messenger Mari Hannah

IMG_2027

 

The Queen of Northern Crime Fiction is spreading her wings.

Mari Hannah is back with the second in the Ryan and O’Neil series.

Following on from the Silent Room, this book can comfortably read as a stand-alone novel without the reader feeling like they have joined the party half way through.

Detective Superintendent Eloise O’Neil, formerly of Professional Standards, is back in Northumbria, but this time she has been asked to form her own Unit to investigate high profile serious crimes.

The first person she brings in is Detective Sergeant Matthew Ryan, formerly of Special Branch, and one time person of interest to O’Neil when she was in her former role.

The chemistry between the two is electric; but whereas Ryan is a heart on your sleeve type of person who finds it hard to hide his emotions, and is usually quite prepared to share what he is thinking, O’Neil is almost a split personality. She swings from happy and flirtatious, to moody and brooding in a split second and, more often than not, half way through a conversation.

O’Neil also holds secrets. Why was the Unit formed and who is funding it? It is legitimate, it is legal, but is its ultimate boss as above board.

The team form to investigate their first crime, the disappearance of a Scottish Judge who is about to start Hearing a high-profile case.

When a DVD, showing the apparent crime, scene arrives at the Units HQ it quickly becomes obvious that this is not the first DVD that O’Neil is aware of. Tensions between her and Ryan almost ruin the newly formed team when he finds out. Especially as he suspects O’Neil is trying to protect somebody outside of the team.

As more DVD’s start to arrive, and as bodies start to be discovered, the team needs to expand; but the right people have to be taken on. Both O’Neil and Ryan have their reasons for choosing some very specific people. Will either, or both, get their way.

When the new members come on board they bring with them some exceptional skills and experience, and they are great characters for the book.

Along with them Ryan recruits his blind twin sister. Caroline excels at hearing things that other people miss. Usually a CPS Prosecutor Ryan is particularly protective of her because of her blindness. Will she be put into danger by helping the investigation?

The crimes are being committed by somebody with skills in the use of making movies, or so it seems. The recordings are professionally done, and there is a narrator common to all of them. Why would somebody film the scenes, and why taunt the team by sending them to them?

This story is nothing but top fantastic. Mari Hannah has set most of her books in the North East but by forming this cross boarders National Response Team she has opened the doors to let her team roam across Britain and Europe.

The characters are great. Each one brings its own mix to the chemistry which is so much a part of Hannah’s books.

The story explores the trials and tribulations of a criminal investigation.

It explores the frustrations of the team as they build hypothesis after hypothesis only to see them all smashed. Suspects are identified, then discarded. Will the team find the perpetrator?

This is writing of the highest quality and the reader is left wanting more at the end of each book.

This one is no exception.

Pages: 350

Published by Pan Macmillan

Publishing Date: 16th November 2017

Gallows Drop Mari Hannah

51sc50Pe5nL._SY346_

Earlier this week I had one of those little red post cards from the Post Office telling me I’d missed a delivery.

I didn’t know what it was I’d missed so I went to the sorting office the following morning to collect it.

Little did I know that once I’d opened the envelope, and discovered the book inside, that I would be reading for nearly 20 hours, putting it down only to sleep. Mari Hannah’s writing is of the highest quality. Her scene and character descriptions are brilliant. Her story telling is excellent, and I always look forward to her books. But this one goes to another level, there are passages in this book that left me breathless.

I love The DCI Kate Daneils series and this, Gallows Drop, the sixth in the series, is the best yet.

From the very first page the story grabs hold, and from there on its journey through the investigation of a vicious murder and also the private life of Kate.

The story starts with Kate about to go on leave. Unfortunately, a body is found hanging in a remote part of Northumberland and Kates team are designated the investigation. Whilst at the scene Kate starts the process of the investigation knowing she will not be the SIO for the case.

However, when she finds out an ex-colleague of hers, a brutal bully of a man DCI James Atkins, is to take charge of the investigation she has her doubts.

The two clash immediately. Differing investigation, and management, styles lead to heated scenes as the team start to identify the killer.

The murder victim is soon identified and it is apparent that Kate had seen him the previous day, but does Atkins also know the victim. It’s a small town in a remote area and Atkins has lived around there.

Whilst the investigation continues Atkins makes his presence known and starts to rile the team. The friction between him and Kate starts to affect everyone around them.

The crime is not the only thing Kate has to worry about. As usual work has taken precedence over her private life, and her on-again-off-again relationship with Jo Soulsby is in trouble, and then there’s her father…..

With Kates mind being pulled in all directions will it affect the way she deals with the case in the days before she goes on leave.

To complicate matters Kate finds out that Atkins’ daughter, Beth, may be involved in the crime.

It is inevitable that the Kate and Atkins are going to fall out but when it happens it happens in style.

Kate is left rattled by her encounters with Atkins but vows to carry on.

This book is like an uneven fight where more than one person attacks another.

Kate Daneils takes one psychological blow after another from, Atkins, the crime, her relationship with Jo, the emergence of an old flame, her father and so much more.

Will the crime be solved, will Kate survive in one piece, physically or mentally, you need to read Gallows Drop to find out.

You won’t be disappointed.

I have been reading for a long time, and every now and again a very special writer finds their way into my reading list.

Everybody, who has ever read seriously, knows the feeling when you finish off the latest book by your favourite author and then have to wait for the next to be published.

The anticipation of the next story, especially if it’s the latest in a series. I’ve only ever had that feeling two or three times and have sat outside book shops on publication day waiting for them to open their doors.

Well there should be queues around the block on the 17th November when Gallows Drop gets published.

The Silent Room Mari Hannah

IMG_1756

You know that feeling? The one when your favourite author diverges from their series to write a stand-alone novel. The feeling when you hope it’s as good as the series but you’re disappointed the usual characters aren’t in the story.

That feeling lasted about 2 pages when I was reading The Silent Room. The book had me hooked so quick I read half of it the first day I had it.

Mari Hannah introduces some fantastic new characters in this book. The main protagonist Detective Sergeant Matthew Ryan is depressed that his ex-boss, and best friend, Jack Fenwick has been charged with a serious crime Ryan does not think he committed. But when a prison transfer van is hijacked and Fenwick is released and disappears, it appears that Fenwick may have been guilty after all.

To make matters worse Detective Superintendent Eloise O’Neil and her sidekick Detective Sergeant Maguire, of Northumbria Professional Standards Department, are tasked with investigating the escape Ryan immediately comes under their scrutiny.

Ryan quickly starts to make his own inquiries whilst the official police investigation carries on.

The two investigations run parallel to each other with the added friction of Ryan and Maguire being in constant conflict.

The end of the book comes quick. As with all of her books Mari Hannah doesn’t give the reader an easy ride on the way, and the twists and turns continue right to the end. I usually read on a Kindle but was lucky enough to have a paperback copy of The Silent Room. With what appeared to be only a few pages left I was beginning to think I was home and dry and that all of the drama was over, I should have known better. All the way to the last paragraph of the last page this book delivers.

This is a great book. Mari Hannah has written a story that quickly draws the reader in. It is set, like all of her books in the stunning countryside of Northumbria, allowing her to use remote destinations with the full attention of “Big City” Policing.

The characters are great. The reader will instantly form an empathy with Matthew Ryan. As with all of her characters there are some great, and believable, back-stories. I have a feeling she must write a complete bio for each character, even the bit part ones, as they all fit together and into the story amazingly.

If you are a Fan of the Kate Daniels series of books you are going to love this book.

If you are a new reader to her books, enjoy this and then read her others.

Mari Hannah has a unique way of getting it right. Her stories are believable. Her procedures are accurate. Her characters come to life on the page.

I recently wrote a blog titled Killer-Lady-Writers, about how lucky we are in the UK to have some women writing fantastic Police Procedural thrillers.

This book cements Mari as being right at the top of the list.

Every Night I Dream Of Hell Malcolm Mackay

DSCF1098

 

Every Night I Dream of Hell Malcolm Mackay

I love books by this Author. Malcolm Mackay writes from the other side of the law to most. The main protagonists in his books are criminals, they are not people you want to like, but somehow you still end up routing for them.

The book is set in Glasgow amongst an underworld that has recently been disorganised by one of the leaders being imprisoned.

The main character, Nate Logan, is an enforcer for the gang, a violent man with his own rules and values.

The core of the story is an attempted take over of the city’s underworld and the leadership of the gang Logan works for. In a world where nobody can be taken at face value Logan finds himself trying to work out who the enemy is.

Just to confuse matters the mother of his child appears to be trying to reenter his life; and at the same time a Detective Inspector, who is looking into the gang crimes, also makes an approach in an attempt to work with Logan to keep the violence which is erupting to a minimum. Between these two, his young apprentice, and his bosses his loyalties are tested to the limit

The book is a page turner. I’ve used the words morals before but McKay’s books test them like no other.

There is no good guy in this story, just bad ones. The tale is full of twists and turns. Who would you trust in the underworld of one of Britain’s most gang ridden city’s. In this book even their rule book and code of honour is ripped up.

If you want an easy read this is not for you. I read it on two long train journey’s and found that the time had flown by but the most read pages were the 5 at the front, the list of characters with a brief over view of who they are. This is not a criticism, in fact I think more authors should do the same, but without those pages I would have struggled to keep up with who was who, and where their allegiances were.

I don’t use a star ratting or anything like that. I rate a book by who I would recommend it to.

In this case I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book to any of my friends.

Mari Hannah The Kate Daniels series

Mari Hannah DCI Kate Daniels Series

The Murder Wall

Settled in Blood

Deadly Deceit

Monument to Murder

I am going to come out with it from the start, I love these books. Those of you who read my first blog will know that I rarely get into books based in England but I was hooked on these from the start.

When Deadly Deceit popped up on Amazon, as a recommended read, I read the review and liked what I saw. Several reviews later I had decided it was a book I wanted to read but, it was the latest in a series, and that meant I had to read the others in order first.

The Murder Wall introduced me to DCI Kate Daniels and her colleagues at the Northumbria Police Murder InvestigationTeam. The team is made up, as any such teams are, of a collection of individuals. Each individual has their own backstory which runs through the series of books. These sub plots add to the main story and help to keep the pages turning. The two young Detectives, who joined the team together, a woman with great computer skills and a man who is excellent at the tedious life of the observation specialist; the middle age detective with gambling problems who is trying to put his life back together; and another who loses the trust of the team; the crusty old hand Detective Sergeant who Kate relies on professionally and in her personal life; Kate’s mentor, and Boss, Detective Superintendent Bright, his own life in turmoil; and a myriad of bit part Police characters which drift in and out of the books always at the right time and in the right context.

Kate herself is struggling with the break-up of a relationship with Criminal Profiler Jo Soulsby, and throughout the series this relationship teeters on the brink of being totally destroyed whilst almost reforming. Kate suffers from what all high achieving Police Officers suffer, the “job comes first” and everything else just has to wait. We see Kate struggle with this, being torn between work and relationships with Jo, her father, and her friends. Needless to say the job usually wins.

The Murder Wall is set a year after Kate Discovered two bodies in a Church, an incident that is still playing on her mind, and a crime she did not solve. When the body of a man is found in a flat in Newcastle the crime is investigated by Jo’s team. It’s her first as Senior Investigating Officer, a chance she has been waiting for but is sullied by the fact that Jo appears to be tied into the crime. Her dedication to her friend conflicts with her professionalism and at times interferes with the relationship she has with her team and her mentor Bright. As the investigation unfolds it becomes clear that Jo, or the team, have an enemy close at hand who is hampering the investigation. The end of the book….. well it’s tense and it would be better if you read it. I hate spoilers in reviews.

Settled Blood. The team investigate the suspicious death of a young girl found dead in the middle of nowhere. The Police initially wrongly identify the girl as being the daughter of a local multi-millionaire who appears to own half the County. When he attends the hospital to identify the body he realises it’s not his daughter, but does identify the clothing she was wearing. This leads to a twisted story of kidnapping and murder. Kate retains the role of SIO and leads her team through the investigation uncovering an historic wrong doing by a senior officer which may have an effect on the case. In many other books writers look for extreme cases to convey this part of a story, but Mari Hannah has found a small indiscretion, which I am sure happened many times in the real world, which comes back to bite somebody on the bum, which I’m sure has also happened many times.  It fits the plot perfectly and aids in the mystery leading up to a suspenseful conclusion.

In this book Hannah introduces the Mountain Rescue Service, again completely in context with the story and the scene in which it is set. As with every other aspect of her books she has obviously spent time researching or working with the people she writes about. The use of the rescue team, and the interaction between them and the MIT, is just as it would be during a professional investigation. Again no spoilers so not much about the plot but believe me its good.

Deadly Deceit It’s not often I come across a completely original plot, I’ve been reading this genre of books for 40 years, but in this story Hannah nails a brilliant one. The book starts with a house fire and, in a separate incident, a multi-vehicle Road Traffic Collision. A man and child are killed in the house fire whilst several people die in the RTC. Kate is on route to the house, with her Crusty Trusty Sergeant, when they come across the RTC and have to stop to render assistance before carrying on to the house. The house fire is quickly diagnosed as being started deliberately and the MIT take over the crime, investigating the murder of a father and his son. It is soon discovered that one of the victims of the RTC was also murdered, after the crash. The investigation of the crash murder is also carried out by the team, although they are split over the two scenes stretching their resources. This one I’m definitely not going to spoil by going into the details of the story but I will say this. The characters are brilliantly portrayed well written and again perfect for the story.

Monument to Murder, so far the last in the series and every bit as good as its predecessors. This incident sees Kate’s team investigating when the skeletal remains of two girls are found in a beach dune. Again Mari Hannah intertwines a second case as the daughter of a friend goes missing in what appears to be a related incident. The friend is Emily McCann, a Prison Psychologist who is recently widowed. She and Kate share a mutual friend, Jo Soulsby who now works in the prison, and the relationship between the three forms a big part of this book.

The crime scene is close to the prison and a long way from Newcastle, forcing Kate to uproot her team and work from a remote Police Station, bringing her into close contact with Jo. A few will they-won’t they moments crop up but again they are all perfect for the story and not at all distracting.

Whilst investigating the murder Kate attempts to help Jo and Emma investigate the disappearance of Emma’s daughter. Neither the murder investigation, nor the investigation into the disappearance of Emma’s daughter can be called a subplot as they both command equal time in the book. At times it appears that the crimes are related, at others it seems obvious that they are not. It was not till the last few pages that I worked out whether they were or not. Again no spoilers you’ll have to read it for yourself.

I always have trouble with UK based Police procedural books, mainly because I have worked in that environment and always think things like; “that’s not right”, “that would never happen”, or “they would never act like that”. In none of the four books did any Mari Hannah  make any of those thoughts cross my mind, and as an ex Fire Investigation Officer in one of the biggest Fire Brigades in the country that takes some doing, especially in Deadly Deceit.

Every scene is realistic, sometimes in its simplicity; every character brings to mind people I have met; all the crimes are plausible, in short these books are the real deal.

For me, move over Colin Dexter, I have a new favourite British Crime Writer, and she’s brilliant.