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.

Out Of The Ashes Vicky Newham

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I have rarely read a book which has so many possible motives for one crime.

 

When two people are killed in a shop fire on Brick Lane the possible motives are endless, bigotry, jealousy, hatred, anti-Semitism, racism, revenge, anti-gentrification all of them could be the reason the shop was torched, and worryingly they are all realistic motives in today’s society.

 

So, DI Maya Rahman has her work cut out, but she is the ideal Officer for the job. As a 41 year old Bangladeshi who grew up on, and around, Brick Lane she is used to the mixing pot of a society that live and trades on the famous street. She even knows some of the residents who live near the fire.

 

The investigation is hindered by the damage at the shop. The fire has destroyed everything and the bodies are not easy to retrieve.

 

The fire happened as a Flash Mob descended on the street dancing to loud house music. Could this be a coincidence or are the two things related.

 

The investigation follows Maya and her team as they track through the world of young people who follow a cause on line, for no other reason than the promise of a bit of cash and some free drugs. Are they being manipulated to cause a distraction or are they responsible for the fire.

 

They encounter homeless refugees, some of which are young orphans, and see the way they are used by some of the lower forms of life in the community who are either too clever, or too scared, to do their own dirty work.

 

The story revolves around the investigation into the fire and the deaths that occurred in it, but the main story for me is the story of life on Brick Lane.

 

I have a feeling this book gets very close to the truth of some of the matters that involve the people of Brick Lane, and other suburbs of the bigger cities in the UK.

 

Generations of traders struggling to make a living in an ever increasing society that buys into the latest fad of “artisan” traders and over inflated property prices.

 

And of course, where money is the driver crime is not far behind.

 

I really enjoyed this book and was surprised to find it’s is the second in a series. I’m off to find the first now and then I shall look forward to the third.

 

Pages: 384

Publishers: HQ Harper Collins

Publishing date: 30thMay 2019

Final Betrayal

The sixth book in the series, where has that time gone, and every bit as good as the rest.

The small Irish town of Ragmullin is again going to be devastated by murder.

When two women go out on the town together, they get separated, one of them pulls and the other can’t be bothered to wait around for her friend.

When one of the women is reported missing Lottie starts to investigate, she soon finds out that both are missing, and it’s no surprise when they are found murdered.

The killer has left a clue, or is it their signature, but what does it mean.

At same time two other things are happening. A man is released from prison after doing 10 years for a serious assault which eventually ended in his victim dying; and Lottie’s family comes under threat from within.

With Lottie concentrating on the murder of the young women, the last thing she needs is her half-brother meddling in her life, but he does, and he opens a real can of worms.

Part of the investigation see’s the Police covering old ground. A property developer is renovating the Old Courthouse. He’s not the most honest of people and has been on the peripheries of investigations in the past. Has he stepped over the line this time, or is he just a puppeteer trying to manipulate people to get his deals done.

Inevitably this book races to a thunderous end. 

Patricia Gibney has a way of writing a story that has so many threads. It’s a bit like the rail tracks just outside of a main station. Lines running parallel to each other, and occasionally crossing, before they end up at the same destination.

In this case the threads cross numerous times as the different incidents, and investigations, drew close to each other and either crossed or veered off again. This made for an epic  compelling story

I look forward to getting reacquainted with DI Lottie Parker every time a new book comes out, and I’m yet to be disappointed. In fact, every time one comes out, I make the same mistake of picking it up and starting, not realising I’m going to get very little done until I’ve finished it. Yes, it happened again, I read this book over two days, well I did have to stop to sleep.

This is book six in the series. Can it be read as a stand-alone, yes. Should it be read as a stand-alone, no. 

If you haven’t met Lottie Parker yet start with first book and read them in order. You will get so much more out of them if you do.

Pages: 484

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication Date: 18thApril 2019

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.