Bitter Edge Rachel Lynch

This book has the best opening chapter I have ever read. In that one chapter the story of a young fell runner with everything to live for, until she gets injured and becomes hooked on prescription drugs, which leads to her taking illegal drugs until she can’t take it anymore and kills herself, is laid out and sets the tempo for the whole book.

The book looks at the pressures put onto children at secondary schools and sixth form colleges. The on-line bullying, we all hear about, but more surprisingly the often ignored on-line peer pressure. The pressure that is not just put on impressionable youngsters by their immediate peers, but also by the new breed of celebrity, the “Influencers” on sites such as Instagram.

It looks at the boredom of the youths in smaller countryside towns and the way the drug dealers are moving into the countryside to target these kids.

Rachel Lynch has written some great books in this series. DCI Kelly Porter is a great charter and easy to engage with, but for me it’s the crimes and the locations which make these books so stunning.

Everybody would have an idyllic view of the towns around the Lake District, but I suspect that Rachel Lynch’s version is much closer to the truth.

In this book Porter investigates the sudden deaths of students from the same school. She is convinced that somehow the suicides are linked, and her and her team start to uncover a tale of bullying and drug taking. One teacher is suspended following a complaint by a student which leads to the discovery of some illicit images on his computer, but is he being set up.

The head teacher lives in ignorant bliss, whilst teachers are losing control of the school. Rumours are rife and the investigation is sent off in all directions, but is there any truth behind the rumours, they can’t all be lies.

As the investigation continues a girl goes missing and the team fear she is going to be the latest in the long line of suicides, or if Kelly is right, the latest murder victim.

As well as carrying out the investigation Kelly’s personal life is in turmoil following revelations about her mother and father. Her Mom is battling a terminal disease and trying to find peace in her life before it’s too late.

All of this takes place over Christmas which seems to give an added poignancy to the story.

I started this review by saying the opening chapter was the best I’d ever read. It had me hooked into the book straight away. 

The rest of the book? 

It certainly didn’t disappoint. There were times when I couldn’t put it down, and there were times when I had to put it down, and just take a breath.

This book could be read as a stand-alone.

It’s the 4thin the series and I would recommend reading the others first, just to get the full impact of this one. 

Pages: 296

Publishers: Canelo

Publishing date: 25thFebruary 2019

Perfect Crime Helen Fields


Perfect Crime is the fifth book in the DI Luc Callanach, DCI Ava Turner series.

Luc is an ex-Interpol detective who transferred to Scotland when he was wrongly accused of assaulting a female partner.

He has found solace in the company of DCI Ava Turner, both on a professional level and as a friend, but he is still a bit of a closed book to everybody else. Respected for his work everyone on the team like him as a cop, but some of the men see him as a threat to their manhood.

In this book more of his back story comes to light in a way that puts him at the forefront of the suspects in a murder inquiry, and he finds out who his true friends are.

As the senior officers isolate him, from the investigation he is a suspect in, he carries on working with Ava on an investigation which is looking at the suspicious deaths of people with a history of depression and attempts at suicide.

The investigation against Luc puts the pressure on his relationship with the Scottish Police and even worse may compromise Ava professionally.

This series is really good Police Procedural with the undercurrents of a will-they-won’t-they relationship between Luc and Ava.

In this book that relationship is stretched to the limit. Maybe Luc isn’t the innocent man he has been portraying himself as.

The crimes investigated by Ava, looking at the deaths of people who had previously attempted to take their own lives, is compelling in its own way.

Helen Fields has found a group of vulnerable people who make ideal victims for a serial killer. She explores the reasons these people are depressed and what has led them to the place they now find themselves in.

She looks at the people that attempt to help them; and uncovers the nasty side, the people that pray on their vulnerability.

This book can be read as a stand-alone but I would recommend reading the first four in the series first. They are stunning crime novels, and once you’ve read this one you will want to read them anyway. So why not do it in order

Publishers: Avon Books UK

Publishing Date: 18thApril 2019

Her Pretty Bones Carla Kovach

Her Pretty Bones  Carla Kovach

If Carlsberg made Cops.

DI Gina Harte is back. She is probably the most troubled female Police Inspector on the shelves right now, and at the same time she is probably one of the best fictional cops on the shelves at the moment. 

When a young girl falls from the back of a van it quickly becomes apparent that she has been held against her will, she is undernourished and drug dependent, but who is she.

Harte’s teams first task is to identify the girl, then find out what has happened to her.

But this won’t be the last young girl found. Nor will it be the last one the team have difficulty identifying.

At the same time a mother is looking for her runaway daughter, could either of the two unidentified girls be her daughter, or could their story hold the key to finding her.

This book looks into the homeless runaways we see sleeping rough on our streets.

Not all of them come from unloving homes and many of them have families who are frantically looking for them, scared of every knock on the door in case its bad news.

Hartes team run their investigation without knowing about the desperate mom, are both looking into the same thing.

People on the streets tell their story to the mother, where they won’t talk to the Police. As a reader frustration builds when the two sides aren’t communicating. When the mother is left to walk the streets talking to people in the hope that she will uncover some clue to her daughters whereabouts.

The things she hears are hardly comforting, drugs, prostitution, shop lifting, abuse, assaults are day to day experiences for some of the rough sleepers.

This book made me stop and think more than many others have over the years.

Carla Kovach has written a wonderful story. Gina Harte is one of my favourite characters, but for me the star of this book is that Mom who is looking for her daughter.

I cannot begin to imagine what a parent would go through when a child goes missing. And yes I know what goes on, on the streets, but somehow it was all brought home in this book. The horrors of sleeping rough, making allegiances with people that can only bring danger, but in a weird way offer security.

This is a subject that I have read about in other books, but this is by far the best.

Pages: Kindle 2265KB

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 17thJanuary 2019

The Last Lullaby. Carol Wyer

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The second book to feature DI Natalie Wood, a middle-aged woman trying desperately to be a good wife, and mother, at the same time as leading a Major Investigation Team.

When the body of a woman is found brutally murdered in her bedroom suspicion is immediately placed on the husband.

The more the team look into him the more lies and untruths are uncovered but are they anything to do with the murder.

The victim was an entitled woman that thrived on playing people off against each other. The husband is an ex-con who has set up a gym in an underprivileged estate.

The investigation is set spinning in circles by the stories told by locals, and by the mixed messages they are receiving about the victim.

With the investigation going down one cul-de-sac after anther the team are getting nowhere. Then another woman is found dead in very similar circumstances and it becomes clear that it’s the same killer.

The investigation is still going nowhere quick until………you’ll have to read the book to find out.

This is a great story. The frustrations of the police are laid bare as they are sent on one false lead after another by people trying to protect their own back, or simply deciding they don’t want to help the Police.

The main character, Natalie, and her team are flat out. Carol Wyer writes about the affect their career has on their relationships better than any other writer at the moment.

She looks at the almost selfish attitude they have towards keeping the investigation going, usually at the cost of their nearest and dearest.

And the transient characters are equally as good

The first murder victim Charlotte is a woman that wants everything everybody else has, then once she’s got it, she gets bored and gets rid of it. The book could easily have been called Marmite Girl, because people in the book either love her or hate her.

Her Husband is a thug that makes it easy for the reader to want him to be guilty. The people he hangs out with are all rouges that think themselves above the law.

It’s not often that a Police Procedural is based around one murder, and although this one isn’t either, it very nearly is. And its brilliant. It allows the characters to be explored fully and develop. I have a feeling that some of them may make appearances in future books.

A great read and I can’t wait for book 3

Pages: 333

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing date: 7thDecember 2018.

The Songbird Richard Parker

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DI Tom Fabin returns for the second instalment of this Police Procedural series.

Never Say Goodbye promised a lot from this series, The Songbird doesn’t disappoint, in fact, it raised the bar.

With his nemesis, the mass murder Christopher Wisher, in prison things are looking good for Fabin on the work front.

On a personal level he is separated from his wife and his daughter Tilly has just started University.

Things are running along quite smoothly until his boss sends him to visit Wisher in prison. Wisher hands him his journal and asks him to read it.

When Fabin starts to read the journal, he realises it starts on the day that Wisher was sent to prison.

The cryptic entries in the journal mean nothing at first. Then the murders start, all with the same MO and signature that Wisher employed. These details were never released so who is copying Wisher.

As the murders continue it becomes apparent that they are reflecting the entries in the journal.

The crimes start to add up and Fabin tries to make sense of the journal entries. Whoever is carrying out the crimes is escalating, and the end game is getting closer.

This is a brilliant book. Richard Parker has moved away from the stereotypical cop character. Yes, Fabins family life isn’t great, but there are a lot of broken marriages out there. He has created a cop that cooks as a form of stress relief, he’s not a big drinker, or a womaniser. In fact, he’s pretty normal, not boring, just normal

But that’s where normal ends.

The Songbird follows on from the first in the series, Never Say Goodbye, and I really would recommend you read that one first.

When I reviewed Never Say Goodbye, I said the last hundred words made the hairs on my arm stand up. Well he’s done it again and ended on another cliff hanger that has me impatiently waiting for the next instalment.

 

Bring it on Richard.

Pages: 264

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 19thDecember 2018. JUST IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS

A link to my review of  Never Say Goodbye

https://nigeladamsbookworm.com/2018/08/19/never-say-goodbye-richard-parker/

Where The Truth Lies M.J Lee

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The story starts  in 2008 with new constable, PC Tom Ridpath, taking part in a vehicle stop which leads to the arrest of a man who is wanted for the kidnap of a prostitute. When the man runs off Ridpath follows him to a lock-up unit where he is in for a nasty surprise.

Ten years later and Constable Ridpath is now probationary DI Redpath. Returning to work after a serious illness Ridpath is tasked to work as the Coroner’s Liaison Officer.

The job as the Coroners Officer is not one Ridpath wants but he is given very little choice by the Senior Officers of the Manchester MIT. Take it or take a job somewhere else. If he can stick it out without any health relapses, then he can return to MIT.

What he, the Coroner, and the MIT don’t realise is the first case he is asked to deal with will bring everybody into conflict.

A recent spate of murders has the MIT baffled. Somebody is taking vulnerable women of the streets and killing them in some horrific ways before dumping the bodies.

The conviction, of the man Ridpath caught in 2008, has been brought into doubt and the Coroner reopens an inquest into the death of the one person they charged him with murdering.

Ridpath is a pariah to his old colleagues when he acts on the Coroners requests. They see him as an outsider for  bringing doubt on the original investigation, but there is one young DS who starts to look on Ridpath as a voice of reason.

As the two investigations inevitably head for a head on collision a truly captivating story unfolds.

This is the first book I have read by M.J. Lee, and to be honest I cannot understand why I haven’t heard of him before.

This book had me drawn in from the beginning. The character Ridpath is flawed. Like most people that work in the Police he is target focused, to the point that his family come a distant second priority.  His wife is driven to distraction by his attitude towards his ongoing treatment, and check-ups, following his illness.

He is split between wanting to do the right thing by the Coroner and doing what his ex-colleagues expect, which will allow him back onto the Major Investigation Team.

The murders that take place in this book are brutal, but are written in such a way that the narrative cuts away just when it’s getting too bad. M. J Lee has struck the balance perfectly.

The crimes and the investigations are multi-layered but not beyond comprehension. In fact the story is woven together brilliantly, and at no time are there any of those “I don’t believe it” moments.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s another one that is listed as “Book 1” so I’m hoping it’s the beginning of a series. If it is, what a start!

I can’t wait to read what happens next, especially after the last chapters little cliff hanger.

Pages: 352

Publisher: Canelo

Available now.

The Silent Dead. Graham Smith

 

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Every now and again something stunning comes along, and now is that time.

In The Silent Dead I found a gem of a book.

Not only is the story original, and compelling, but the main character is one of the best fictional Police Detectives I’ve had the pleasure to be introduced to.

I’ll start with the detective. Detective Constable Beth Young is only 23 years old, but she’s already lived a full life. She had been a model, her boyfriend dumped her when she became a cop at the earliest age she could. He wanted a model girlfriend on his arm, not a Police Officer.

Her stunning good looks have been robbed from her by an errant broken bottle in a pub during a night out, and she now carries vicious scars on one side of her face. Does it hold her back? No. In fact she uses the way people react to the scars to help her gauge the type of person they are.

She is a puzzle solver, and has complicated puzzle books on her shelves next to the books on her other interest, serial killers.

She has a strange way of thinking, and uses logic to help her think outside the box. She emphasises with victims, and she understands perpetrators.

Her only problem is she has no filters, her scars redden when she’s angry, and at times there is no filter between her brain and her mouth.

I like this girl a lot.

Beth has just started in Cumbria’s Force Major Investigation Team. A small close knit team she is having trouble integrating into. The first case she works on is grim.

A bride spots a corpse in the grounds of the ruined mansion in which she is having her wedding.

The corpse has been posed and has suffered a horrific death. The investigation leads to the discovery of more bodies posed in the same manner. But the killer is not only escalating they are experimenting, until they have created their perfect murder.

Beth quickly has to find her feet in the investigation and uses her logic to start to piece together information from the different murder scenes. But as the young new detective, will the old hands take her seriously.

This is book has shot right into my top three of this year, and would be pretty close to one of my favourite books of the last 5 or 6 years.

I love the character Beth Young, and hopefully there is a lot of scope for Graham Smith to create a long series with her.

The manner of killing in this book is well written and without being overly graphic, is very gruesome. In fact it will live with me for a while.

A great book, just stunning.

Pages: 362

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 30thNovember 2018.