The Lost Boys. Rachel Amphlett

The murder of a youth, at a fair leads, to a disturbing investigation

Why is a young teenager miles from where he should be?

Why has he been stabbed and left dead in an alley?

What are the pills found close to his body?

This story covers some of the more scary issues in today’s society. Homeless or desperate young men running County Boundary drugs, Gangs Cuckooing vulnerable people, scared young people making bad decisions.

Detective Sergeant Mark Turpin is part of the investigation team. Both himself and Detective Constable Jan were close-by at the time of the killing, and arrived on the scene quickly. Both are affected in different ways. Jan struggles with the psychological issues raised by the death of a youngster, but for Mark things get a lot more personal.

The story of the crimes, and the investigation, are brilliant, but for me, the thing that elevates this book is the look at how vulnerable Police Officers are. Not every cop becomes hardened by experience. Jan in particular is affected psychologically by the first murder in this book.

The other thing that made me smile was the research that went into the book. Yes I have a personal interest in that, but when I know an author has asked for advice, on what is a relatively small part of the story, and has used that advice so well to make just a few paragraphs realistic, I know that all of the rest of the book is also researched and realistic.

This is a great book in a great series, but it can be read as a standalone story.

Available now

Little Bones. Patricia Gibney

For anybody that hasn’t found series of books, by Patricia Gibney, featuring DI Lottie Parker, you are missing out on one of the best Police Thriller series on the shelves.

For those of you that have, you are in for a treat with this one, I think it’s the best so far.

Lottie is called to a gruesome murder the victim has an old fashioned razor blade in her hand.

A woman receives a hand written note with three Rusty Razor Blades inside, she knows she’ll be dead within days, if not before the end of the day. Especially when she sees news of a murder on the news.

Somebody is coming for her. She knows why. She’s scared and so she should be.

Somebody is watching the Police. He wants to help, he has information, but he also suffers blackouts and doesn’t know if he’s the killer.

And all of that in the first few chapters.

Lottie and her team have their work cut out with this investigation.

You can rely on Patricia Gibney to keep it real, and this is no exception. Her books are like the written version of the real life, fly-on-the-wall, crime documentaries that follow live investigations. But her books are access all areas.

She takes you inside the head of the detectives, the criminals, the witnesses and the victims. She shows you the affect of a crime on everybody it touches, and throughout the series she has shown us the affect the work has on DI Lottie Parker and her family.

This book arrived in my inbox on a Friday morning, it went straight to the top of my to-be-read list, and was finished by Sunday, it gripped me from the first chapter. Brilliant.

Pages: 407. Publisher: Bookouture. Available now.

Dead Mercy. Noelle Holten

Right at the back of this book is an insight into why this story, and the series, is so good.

A modest Eleven lines under the title About the Author.

In those lines it relates Noelle Holten’s qualifications and experience.

A Senior Probation Officer for 18 years covering Domestic Violence and Abuse cases.

3 BA (Hons) degrees, Philosophy, Sociology (Crime and Deviance) and Community Justice, and to top it of a Masters in Criminology.

So Noelle is one of those rare breeds, a person that has experience to back her qualifications, and that really stands out and puts her way ahead of many authors.

The story sees DC Maggie Jamieson and the Staffordshire Police Major Organised Crime welcoming back Dr Kate Maloney to the team, and her Psychologist insights are going to be priceless.

When Maggie is called to the first murder scene she finds the victim has been bound, assaulted, and set alight.

Why would anybody do that to a person, is the fire part of the killers method of killing or is it an attempt to destroy evidence.

When a second body turns up under similar circumstances the phrase serial killer gets banded about but Maggie is quick to point out that you need three deaths before you can use that category. She spoke too soon.

As the body count mounts the team work their way through the investigation, building working hypothesis as they go. As in a real investigation suspects come to the fore, and hypothesis are built around the reasons for the killing; and as in a real investigation it takes time to get it right.

Although the reader gains an insight into the killers motives, through the occasional chapter written from their point of view, the Police are frustratingly chipping away at the edges without quite nailing it, until they inevitably put the pieces together, but how many people are going to die first.

They say never judge a book by its cover, and I would usually agree, but this book has a stunning cover and the story is every bit as good.

I mentioned Noelle’s qualifications and experience. She’s walked the walk, she has all of the t-shirts, and now she’s writing books about the things she knows.

If you want your crime fiction realistic, if you want the crimes, criminals, victims, and Police Officers to be truly reflective of the real thing, this book, and this series are what you are looking for.

Pages: 400. Publisher: One More Chapter, Harper Collins

Angel Maker. Morgan Greene

So. Is this the start of a new series or not.

Who cares it’s absolutely brilliant, and is one of my must reads of 2021.

I read this book in 2 days, and would have read it in one sitting if I had the time.

Why do I ask if it’s the start of a new series, because there are several places where it fleetingly mentions big cases the main character, DI Jamie Johansson, has worked on in the Met.

The question is answered by the author at the end of the book. He thanks the reader for reading the book and explains that there have been previous books about Jamie’s cases in London, but that he has always wanted to write Scandium Noir, and that this is the real start of The Jamie Johansson series

It works, it really works, and for me, yes it is the start of a new series and I’ve just downloaded the next, Rising Tide, on to my Kindle. Will I read the previous books? Yes but I’m in no rush. I’ll read them as a prequel at some time.

The story

Jamie Johansson is a British Police Officer who moved to the U.K. with her mother following a messy Divorce from her Swedish Detective father.

Her father committed suicide not long after capturing and incarcerating the Angel Maker, a man who had raped and killed teenage girls before posing them as a praying Angel with tree boughs carved and pushed through the bodies.

The Angel Maker has just died in prison and now a new body has been found, a fresh kill, carried out and posed in exactly the same way as the other seven.

Swedish Police Detective Andres Wiik has requested Jamie’s attendance as he believes that she may know something about the original cases that was lost when her father died. She had been the little girl often seen around the police station with her dad. The apple of his eye he took on hunting and fishing trips. She may have been told something about those original investigations, and she is a cop with a huge reputation for solving cases.

When she arrives she’s taken to the scene, surprisingly still well preserved because of the cold weather.

From there she’s taken to a house, and this might be why she’s really there. It’s her fathers old house, the one she thought her mother had sold, but it’s actually hers and hasn’t been touched since her fathers death. It’s a time capsule that takes her back to the good, and not so good, days with her father.

His old note books hold a wealth of information but not much about the Angel Maker case.

The story of the investigation into the current crime obviously throws doubt on the original conviction based on her dads investigations, but that is the least of her worries.

This is a cracker of a story, one of, if not the best, I’ve read this year

There are twist and turns in the plot which had me thinking I had the crime solved, then I hadn’t. I knew who the murderer was, I didn’t. How the book was going to end, I really didn’t.

The end of this book is a real hook, and I swallowed it.

I didn’t see the last chapter coming, and it made what was already a great read, into the opening of what I think is going to be a great series.

I don’t do star markings, but if I did, this would be one more than the top mark six out of five. No hesitation.

Pages: 444. Publisher: Mercury Books. Available now

When The Guilty Cry. M.J Lee

Right up to date. Set against the political fallout of Greater Manchester Police being placed into Special Measures, a lack of Officers as we come out of the latest lock-down, and pressure on Officers, from those above, to perform beyond their time stretched capabilities, this is a cracking portrayal of today’s policing.

Ridpath is back, and he’s still working for the Coroner, but with MIT pushed to breaking point, and most of the team crunching numbers, it’s inevitable that he’s going to get drawn back to work for the Police.

When 3 severed hands are found in a backpack, in an abandoned Children’s Home Ridpath originally attends as the Coroners Officer. GMP see this as a no win situation, a cold case which appears to be unsolvable. Passing it off to Ridpath seems the ideal opportunity to get the investigation off their books.

At the same time a mother and father have applied for a Declaration of Death certificate for their daughter who has has been missing since 2009.

Last seen heading off to a Music Festival, the then 16 year old girl hasn’t been seen since. Her mother is close to death and wants closure before she dies.

The Coroner is sympathetic and decides to hold the inquest in an impossibly short time frame and tells Ridpath to investigate the circumstances of the disappearance within a week.

That is the starting point for a fast paced story that had me captivated from page one. And if you’ve ever read any of MJ Lee’s books you’ll know that you have to read to the very last sentence, this one is no exception.

The home where the back-pack was found is associated with child abuse, and the name Jimmy Saville just adds to the spin chilling presumptions of what happened their.

The hands provide a series of complex forensic issues, how old are they, can any fingerprints or DNA be recovered, whose are they? And where are the rest of the bodies they belong to.

MIT’s Senior Officer wants this case off her books, and she gives Ridpath the same time frame constraints as the Coroner, She wants it wrapped up or moved on in a week. Impossible!

I love this series. I recently read a post, on one of the book readers forums, that they were fed up with Detectives private lives intruding into Crime Novels.

I couldn’t disagree more, and Lee’s Ridpath is a prefect example of why.

Struggling to balance his work and being a single Dad, taking life advice from his young daughter, when he should be guiding her through life, and still grieving his wife’s death, he just carries on. Because that’s what people do. But the pages devoted to the relationship between him and his daughter are brilliant, and just add so much to an already great story.

This is one of the best books I’ve read this year. A great addition to one of the best Police Crime Series on the shelves today

Publisher: Canelo Crime Pages: 368. Publishing date 21st September 2021

The Cliff Top Murders. Rachel McLean

The speed that Rachel McLean turns books out would usually be a red flag to me, but in this case I would be very wrong. Her books are not only good, they’re addictive, and as far as I’m concerned, the quicker she publishes them the better.

Her first series, set in Birmingham was brilliant. This, her second series is a spin off from that, and is just as good, if not better.

DCI Lesley Clarke is on a sabbatical from the West Midlands Police after sustaining an injury during a bomb attack in Birmingham. She has been seconded to a Dorset Police for a quite rehabilitation. The problem is there are murders that need solving even on the idyllic prehistoric coastline.

When the body of a young Lawyer is found at the foot of a cliff it’s not immediate clear if it’s the result of an accident, suicide, or murder. It soon becomes apparent it’s murder.

Still struggling to form relationships with all of her team Clarke is frustrated by their insular approach and the snails pace the local pathologist works at. But one relationship she has formed outside of work is going to become a problem on this case.

When a second body is found at the base of another cliff it throws up more questions. One of which is posed by one of her new colleagues, and it relates to the death of her predecessor.

In the Birmingham series one of Clarke’s DI’s uncovered police corruption on an epic scale, is it about to happen all over again in sleepy, but affluent Dorset.

Midsomer Murders meets Line of Duty but one hell of a lot better.

Please don’t read this as a standalone. Look through Amazon and pick up the first book in the series. The Corfe Castle Murders you will love it and get so much more from this one if you do.

If you want to spend a bit more money, and invest a bit more time, look for McLeans Birmingham Series starting with Deadly Wishes, it’s a cracking set of 6 books set in Birmingham and will give you a gateway into these Dorset books.

Pages: 342. Publisher: Ackroyd Publishing. Available now

The Body On The Moor. Nick Louth

Usual lead character DCI Craig Gillard takes a bit of a back seat in this book.

That’s because the story revolves more around the people that are involved in a crime from the civilian side.

A local head master is found beheaded in his car.

Who would target a man that is held in fairly high regard by most, but then we find out about the real man, and it seems there could be a few people who would be happy to see him dead.

Then there’s a Barrister who is really down on her luck, financially she is skint, her personal and professional life is stuck in a rut.

When she finds a young runaway living in her garden she finds that strangely the girl knows way too much about her life.

Dizzy, the runaway, has a terrible history, running away from home at 13, abused, by her “boyfriend” who got her addicted to drugs and then forced her into prostitution, working for one of the worst gang bosses in the country, she has escaped and is on the run in fear of her life.

So why chose Barrister Julia McGann’s garden to sleep in, and how does she know so much about her.

Gillard’s team are investigating the death of the headless headmaster, now that would have been a great title for a book. The more they dig into his life the more sleazy it looks.

The various affairs, the reluctant cuckold wife, the aggrieved students, the list of potential suspects seems endless, but the one woman they think most likely is proving impossible to identify.

This is one of those stories that had to be written from outside of the police prospective. It had to be written with Julia McGann as the main character. It is better for showing issues the police could not know about.

It’s a book about choices and the way one choice becomes the first strand of a spiders web, which when complete is a really complex structure.

That’s what this story is, a complex spiders web, and it’s brilliant.

Pages: 352 Publisher: Canelo. Available now

The Corfe Castle Murders. Rachel McLean

I would say this is the start of a new series but actually it’s more of a spin-off from McLeans “Deadly ….” series set in Birmingham

In this series DCI Lesley Clarke is seconded to Dorset, to recover from her injuries suffered during a Bomb attack in Birmingham

But if she thought she was in for a gentle introduction, to a quiet life, she would be very disappointed

24 hours before she is due to start her new duties she is the first Officer on a the scene when a body is discovered at an archaeological dig. This body is fresh, in fact it’s one of the team carrying out the dig.

The investigation into the murder takes Clarke and her new team into the world of academia, the murky ways of a wayward Professor, who has a liking for young ladies, and the money involved in funding major projects.

The crime investigation is a great story but the way McLean has used it to set up the next books in the series is brilliant.

Clarke herself is a great character, abrasive with a colourful approach to language. She is used to working her teams flat out in a busy metropolitan setting.

What she finds when she arrives in Dorset is a way more laid back approach, and her main man, her Sergeant, is something that she has never come across before.

DS Dennis Frampton is set to be one of the great DS’s in current crime fiction.

Frampton is a church going, throwback who seems to still think Policing is a mans job, and to Clarke’s horror, he employs a swear box in the office.

I think this is the first spin-off series I’ve ever read, and certainly the first I’ve commented on. It works. Clarke was a strong, if occasional, character in the previous series, and she certainly deserves an outing in stories of her own.

The move from writing stories based in a big city, to ones based in the slow pace of the Dorset countryside has also worked. The setting for this book is stunning and fits the story perfectly.

But perhaps the biggest gamble on Rachel McLeans part was hitting the right note when it came to integrating a successful City cop into a County Force. The obstacles that Clarke has to overcome, without being the big “I am”. The relationships she needs to form, especially with DS Frampton.

But that gamble is the reason the book has worked so well. McLean has dealt with it all perfectly. I can only hope this is the first in a long series.

Pages: 352. Published by: Ackroyd Publishing. Available now to preorder Published on 15th July 2021

A Cut For A Cut

DI Kate Young is a brilliant detective. She gets investigations solved. She gets on well with her team, in the main. But she’s flawed, and I mean really flawed.

Her husband was murdered and she was one of the first cops on the scene.

Now she’s having trouble letting him go, in fact she’s talking to him, and she’s beginning to get caught by others and the excuses are running out.

Is she up to carrying out a major investigation. She’s about to find out.

The first body is found dumped by a reservoir. Killed, raped and has MINE carved into her back.

The method of killing is very specific and would require training in martial arts.

When a second body turns up with the same method used to kill them, and the same message carved into them, it is obvious that they have a serial killer in the area.

Kate starts to see links to a previous case, but is that just what she wants to see, is the voice in her head influencing her decisions.

The links she wants to see will implicate a Senior Officer in the death off an underage boy at a sex party.

Her husband was investigating corruption within the Police, and connections to sex parties.

Is reality blurring with whatever Kate has going on in her own mind.

There are connections but if Kate doesn’t get things right people are going to get away with hideous crimes.

The main investigation in this book is the series of murder rapes from which the book takes its title.

The running story of Police corruption bubbles along really nicely adding a great second dimension to the book.

But it’s the third dimension that lifts this book to the levels of must be read, best seller.

Kate Young is brilliant. She is battling demons in her mind. Carol Wyer has really got into her thoughts. At times you would swear Young is talking to a person that is in the land of the living, and then you realise she’s talking to her dead husband.

At times it’s like she’s trying to reason something out, but she’s using her husbands voice as the prompt or counter argument.

That gives this book a real edge.

At times I was concerned for Kates sanity, at other times I was impressed with her deductive reasoning, all the time she is on the very edge of sanity.

Her team are brilliant. They support her throughout but even they are beginning to have concerns.

I love Carol Wyer’s writing. Her books always hold me from page one, and that in itself brings me concerns. Every time I start one of her books I wonder if it’s going to be the one to disappoint. It’s never happened yet. She is the very definition of raising the bar with each story.

This series, is her best series yet. Her best characters, her best crimes, her best stories.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

But be warned, not all of Carol’s books have a happy ending, or an easy ride for all of the characters.

Pages: 365. Publisher: Thomas & Mercer. Available now

https://amzn.to/3pCnXyX

The House In The Woods. Mark Dawson

The murders in this book made me think of the White House Farm Murders, and the arrest of Jeremy Bamber, and what a great crime to use as a template.

A man stands accused of Killing his parents and twin brother and sister in a remote house in the country.

With only circumstantial evidence the police charge him and get the case to court.

His wife makes a last gasp attempt to help her husband by hiring a local private detective a few days before the case goes to court.

And what a private detective. Atticus Priest is a mixture of all the best bits of two great literature detectives, Sherlock Holmes and Cormoran Strike.

He also has mild Asperger and is prone to say exactly what he thinks.

Priest is employed by the wife to prove her husband’s innocence by discrediting the police investigation. That itself will lead him to cross paths with ex colleagues, and an ex-lover, in beautifully awkward scenes.

I loved this book. Much of it is set around the trial. Atticus is employed late and attends court to help him get his head around the case. He can read peoples body language and studies the defendant, the legal teams and the jury.

He looks at things in ways reminiscent of Holmes and ploughs through the investigation, and life, in the same way Strike does in the Robert Galbraith (I know it’s JKR) series, with bluff, bluster, and with little regard for the rules.

All, of the characters in this book are well written. They all fit perfectly into the plot.

The plot twists and turns and at times I thought I knew who the murderer was, although my opinion on that changed several times. But when the reveal came I was part shocked, and part, how did I not see that coming. Completely plausible and a terrific end to the book, but not the story.

There’s a subplot that runs in the background of the main story, and I was delighted that the last few pages of this book were the first chapter of the next book in the series, and that is now loaded onto my Kindle and ready to read

Publisher: Unputdownable. Pages: 498