THEIR LAST BREATH Sibel Hodge

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There are three main strands in this book. The investigation into a crime, and the life of the Officer who investigates it, and the life story of a victim.

The Crime, is one of the most hideous there can be, people trafficking. But this is only discovered after a fire in a building, a fire that leaves six women dead.

The fire was accidental but the circumstances the women are found in is anything but accidental. They are all chained up, in different rooms, they are all unidentifiable because there is no record of them, they are illegal immigrants, but why have they been brought to the country.

The Officer, Detective Carter, recently retired and suffering the death of his wife, he responds to a call for help from his old colleague. Staffing is short due to the cut backs and the Police are running short of experienced detectives.

Carter is lured back and starts to investigate the death of the women in the fire, what he discovers will shock the core of the Force.

The victim, a strong woman, a refugee, a woman so desperate she allows herself to be conned into being smuggled to Britain in the back of a Lorry. From escaping her own horrors in her own country to being trapped in a burning building, this could have been a book on its own.

This is a great story. It is the latest in a series. I haven’t read any of the previous books featuring Detective Carter, but I’m going to track them down and read them.

Books that make me think, as well as entertain me, are always my favourite. Without giving the plot away there was a couple of things that sent me to the internet, and my knowledge is better for it.

Pages: 376

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Available now on Amazon

The Sleepover Carol Wyer

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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.

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Pages: 411

Publishers: Bookouture

Available now

Unseen Evil Liz Mistry

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Murder, bullying, social media misuse, and stalking, all in one novel which is as much a psychological thriller as it is a crime thriller.

Those of us who have read the previous books featuring Gus Maguire are going to be thrilled with his return, and those of us who are just finding him are going to find a new literary character they are going to want to read more of.

When a snapchat gets sent showing a dead teenager it soon becomes apparent that it’s not a fake, and this is just the first one.

People are dying and somebody is showing off on social media.

The investigation will lead Gus along a path that is very close to home. His Girlfriend Patti works in a local school which seems to be at the centre of the investigation.

Meanwhile Gus has a stalker, and they are beginning to get brazen, leaving him messages in places they should never have access, is it somebody close to him? Is he in danger?

As if he didn’t have anything else to worry about his God-Daughter is starting to go off the rails after a recent discovery in her personal life.

The multiple threads in this story give it a relentless pace, there is no time to take a breath as Gus tries to solve the criminal investigations and sort out matters in his personal life.

Liz Mistry has a wonderful way with setting the pace. She uses situations to ramp up the tension, characters to get the reader engaged, and entwines everything in the perfect setting. She describes Bradford and its diverse population and cultures in a terrific way.

This book is the latest in a series but there’s enough background information for it to be read as a stand-alone.

Pages: 359

Publisher: MB Productions

Available now.

 

FEAR IN THE LAKES Graham Smith

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The beautiful DC Beth Young is back, and back with a sickening crime to investigate.

A man has been attacked in his home, nearly every bone in his body has been broken in a systematic attack. What is even more disturbing is the reveal of how the attack took place.

As the man fights for his life in hospital Beth tries to find his attacker, but the motive for such a specific attack is evading her and her small team, and it doesn’t help that the man’s wife knows nothing about his early life.

With such an unusual crime it is a surprise when another victim is found with similar wounds.

The team continue to struggle to find any leads until they get a break……but that would spoil the book, so I’ll leave it there.

Graham Smith has created a great character in Beth Young. I if you have read any of the previous books you will know that her beauty is mired by a wicked scar on one side of her face. It happened before she joined the police and the police never caught the person who bottled her in a pub, but she got a look at a distinctive tattoo on the neck of one of the men who was fighting when she got in the way and received the injury.

She’s been looking for that tattoo  since she joined the police. This has formed a great back story through the series, and the cliff hanger in the last book was she found her man. But what is she going to do about it?

This forms a brilliant backdrop to the main story in this book. How does a cop get revenge for a crime that happened to her years ago…….again no spoilers

This series is set in the Lake District, and area which most people consider a nice quiet area of countryside to holiday in. Graham Smith looks at it from another angle. Transient communities, big isolated houses, remote areas where nobody can witness crimes. It is an ideal place to set a crime series, and Graham uses it to its full extent.

Don’t be fooled by the setting. This is not some cosy-crime story. This is a full-on story of a terrible series of crimes that would rock any community. It is a terrific read.

Pages: 356

Publishers: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 12thJuly 2019

The Girl In The Grave Helen Phifer

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Introducing Forensic Pathologist Beth Adams. A woman in her mid-thirties who carries the physical and mental scars of an event that happened 7 years ago.

Beth is a great character, she is living in a big house on a lake, in solitude, avoiding unnecessary contact with strangers. The house has the best of security systems and even a panic room. As the main story unfolds a second story describing the events of 7 years ago are told explaining why Beth is so introvert and reclusive.

Having said that she is beginning to come out of herself with the help of a few trusted friends, and one of her best friends is DS Josh Walker.

So when Beth is sent to the scene of an exhumation of a recently buried woman, where a second body has been found underneath the coffin, she is glad to see Josh is there as the head of the Police team.

The investigation into the death of the young woman found in the grave gives Beth a chance to flex her brain, and ignoring her fears, she starts to look at the girl’s death and how she ended up in the grave.

This leads to a closer working relationship with Josh, and Beth actually starts to feel normal again for the first time in years.

Just like all crime thrillers this peace of mind doesn’t last long. Somebody is stalking Beth and starts to leave her little surprise presents.

This story runs along at a cracking pace. It’s a Police Procedural, with Josh and Beth, being the lead characters. It’s a psychological thriller with the stalking of Beth, and the pressure put on her by the crimes which take place during the investigation.

It’s also an introduction to a series which I can’t wait to develop.

The character of Beth is brilliantly written as a vulnerable yet determined woman.

The story that Josh brings is just as enthralling. I had a lot of empathy for this guy.

There seems to be more crime series than ever on the shelves at the moment, and I have to admit to yearning for more one offs where I could just read-and -forget.

But, there is plenty of room on my shelves for Beth Adams, not only will she always be welcome, but I’m looking forward to meeting her again.

Pages: 264

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing date: 16thJuly 2017

The Liars House Carla Kovach

 

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A murder involving a participant in a “partner swapping” party, but how and why did the victim end up walking home alone?

DI Gina Harte is faced with the questions, but this murder is also going to make her face her past, and hope that it doesn’t ruin her future.

Gina Harte has a secret that most of her team don’t know. She was the victim of domestic abuse at the hands of her husband, abuse of the worst most degrading type. Her husband has been dead for years but the memories will never go away.

When the team start digging into the lives of the people who attended the party they find that not everybody is a happy participant, and that’s enough to bring the memories of her past flooding back to Gina, but she can usually handle those memories.

Not this time. This time there’s a link to her past which will threaten Gina’s sanity, let alone her ability to act as the SIO for the investigation.

To make matters worse Gina has been using a dating app and has a very attentive man who just won’t take no for an answer.

Another party, another victim, and more pressure on Gina.

This book is not just the story of a murder investigation. This story looks at the effects domestic abuse has on people long after it has been made to stop.

It looks at the effects of a dominant partner coercing a spouse into doing things that they’d rather not, but end up doing to save a relationship.

It looks at the pressures put on Police Officers, who most people take for granted as they are “just doing their job”.

There is a lot going on in this book. To say I read it in one sitting would be a lie, but I didn’t get much else done from the time I first picked it up, till the last page was read.

This is the forth outing for DI Gina Harte. I really enjoyed the previous books but this one is the best. Can it be read as a stand-alone? Yes. It’s written so well that the back story is filled in so a new reader doesn’t miss out. But please read the others, its one hell of a series.

Pages: 337

Publishers: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 2ndJuly 2019

DEAD INSIDE. Noelle Holten

 

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A few months ago I heard that one of the staff at a publishers I follow had written a book. In fact I began to hear a few mentions of DEAD INSIDE by Noelle Holten.

I had to read it, but I was worried, what if I didn’t like it. I talk to this woman a lot and do book reviews for some of the authors she’s responsible for. This could have been nasty.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. I should have known better. If you represent the authors Noelle represents, and write the reviews she puts on line of other books she reads, I should have known she loves the same type of fiction as I do.

But she’s gone one step further than me, she’s written a book, and what a book!

Dead Inside is going to be up there with this year’s top releases.

Noelle has written this book in a way that not many, if any, other books I’ve read have been written before. Although it is billed as “Maggie Jamieson Crime Thriller Book 1” there is no real lead character. Everybody seems to get equal billing and the story is brilliant for it.

I was trying to find a way of explaining this and eventually came up with the analogy that the books characters are like those from a TV soap, everybody is important to the story, when it’s their turn they are front and centre, but it’s the story that takes precedent. The plot is lead chronologically by the character that means the most at that time. So although Maggie is a thread throughout, she gets no more or less page time than anybody else. I really like this style.

So who is Maggie, well she’s a DC who has been moved from a Murder Investigation Team in Staffordshire Police to a new unit. Why has she been moved? Her back story indicates that she was heavily involved in a serial killer investigation, and that maybe she suffered a bit during that investigation.

The newly formed team is the Domestic Abuse and Homicide Unit, and is a multi-agency team set up to quell the growing problem of Domestic Violence, and the deaths associated with it, across Staffordshire.

When the team was set up I would imagine that they thought the Homicides would be mainly women who had suffered abuse at the hands of their partners. So on Maggie’s first day it’s a bit of a shock when the body of a man who was an abuser turns up.

The team start an investigation as the man was known to them and involve the Probation Service in their inquiry, as he was also known to them.

A big part of this story is a group of people that represent a section of society we all know exists but hopefully never have an involvement with.

Women, a lot with drink or drugs problems, gravitating to men with the same problems, or men who will exploit those women when they are at their lowest ebb. Women who get abused physically and mentally, and when they find the courage to move on, nearly always end up in another abusive relationship.

In this story one woman should not be in that category, she should know better, she works with women that suffer abuse, then she goes home and behind closed doors she becomes one of the abused. At times the sections of the story that looks at Lucy and her Husband are hard to read but compelling at the same time.

As the bodies start to pile up another character is introduced to the team. Dr Kate Maloney is a Criminal Psychiatrist, a young Irish woman who dresses in full Goth clothing and has a tongue as sharp as a knife. What a character.

Maggie works the case and introduces the rest of the team as the investigation continues. All of the team have their opinions, and as the book moves on their individual characters are laid open for the reader. Each of them is realistic and everybody who has ever worked in a team will recognise the dynamics, there are some we will love, and there are others who will infuriate.

The story continues with more violence in the almost incestuous community of abusers and victims.

The Police battle against the closed nature of the group and the absolute denial of some of the victims.

But somebody out there is doing something about it, and the way they’re doing it is murderous. Spine-tingly murderous.

So now the abusers are becoming victims will anybody have any sympathy for them. How will the investigating team deal with looking out for peoples safety, when they have been trying to take them off the streets for years.

This book had me hooked from start to finish. It had me holding my breath and making out-loud exclamations. It had me reading way past my usual bedtime and then waking up early to carry on and find out who was safe and who wasn’t.

I had sympathy for the victims of abuse, and at the same time I was frustrated by their lack of helping themselves, and their constant denial of there actually being a problem. Yes, it is very real.

Like all good books it ends on a cliff hanger. One that I really didn’t see coming, but which opens the door for Maggie Jamieson Book 2.

In a strange way I would love to have come across this book after 3 or 4 had been published so that I could have binge read them.

But I am really chuffed to have been in from the start. I hope I’m about to ride a wave that includes many a venture for Maggie and her team.

Noelle Hurry up and write the next one please.

Pages: 293

Publisher: Killer Reads

Publishing Date: 31stMay 2019….Just in time to buy for a the summer holiday books.