Murder Game. Caroline Mitchell Christmas book recommendation 3

Earlier today I saw a tweet by Caroline Mitchell stating it was 4 years today that she held the first paperback copies of her first published book. Coincidently I was just about to write this blog recommending her books as great Christmas Presents for anybody who likes no holds barred, realistic crime thrillers

A few months ago I reviewed, and took part in the blog tour, for her novel Murder Game. It is one of the best books I’ve read this year. The link below leads to my post on the tour. I think you’ll see why I have recommended it as a Christmas Present

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Their Fatal Secrets Janice Frost

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Another new author to add to my list of must reads. Janice Frost kept me captivated with this book from the moment I read the first chapter. What I enjoyed, and found different to a lot of the books I’m reading is, it wasn’t heavily weighted to the Police side of the investigation.

The book starts with a body being fished out of a canal by two drunk students. The body is quickly identified as Leanne Jackson, a good girl turned bad, and then turned good again. The biggest part of the investigation is working out why this girl has been murdered.

However, it’s not the Police investigation that the book follows. Jess Stokes watches the Police Divers searching the river. Before Leanne had gone off the rails she used used to protect Jess from bullies when they were at school. Twice since Jess had seen Leanne as she got into trouble with the Police but ignored her. She had also ignored an email from Leanne asking for help. Now she is dead, and Jess feels guilty enough to try and work out what happened to her.

The Police team investigating the death start to make slow headway and Jess always seems to be one step in front of them. When Jess, and the 2 other women living in the flats in the same house as her, start to make disturbing discoveries, she starts to think she is being warned off. Is she putting herself in danger, should she stop.

There is a wonderful juxta-position between the naive Jess and her neighbours, and the Police Investigating team.

Ava Merry is the DS on the team, she is a fit extrovert who doesn’t mind partying. Ava and Jess have a passing acquaintance as early morning swimmers at the local pool and Jess reaches out to Ava to gauge how the investigations going.

When things at Jess’s house start to take a nasty turn Ava starts to become worried for her safety. Will it stop her digging.

This book is based in a town with a canal and marina. The murderer is shown straight away, as is the crimes he is committing, so there is no mystery. The man works in partnership with other criminals to get young girls onto a canal boat.

The tension in the book is all about Jess’s welfare, her investigation, and the Police’s investigation.

A real page turner the outcome is not clear right up to the last couple of pages.

I have often wondered why more crimes aren’t set on Canal Boats. They have free roaming rights across the country. As far as I’m aware there is not much in the way of surveillance on canals, and nobody takes any notice of them.

I once investigated an arson where the fire setters had used a canal boat to get into a remote car park on an industrial estate and start a fire which destroyed a factory before making their 3mph get away. Meanwhile the Police closed the roads of around the incident.

When you think about it a lot could be going on in those boats.

Pages:241

Publisher: Joffe Books

Available on Amazon

The Body in the Marsh. Nick Louth

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A confession to start my review. Nick Louth has escaped my attention in the past. He now has my full attention, and his previously published books have just been uploaded to my Kindle.

This is a cracking book.

Set against the back drop of a Cold Case Review, of the Murder of a young girl known in the press as Child F; in which the Surrey Police are under intense scrutiny, the last thing the Major Investigation Team need is another complex, high profile case.

When Elizabeth Knight is reported missing by one of her friends the Police quickly establish she is the wife of Professor Martin Knight, one of the main protagonists in the attacks on Surrey Police, and the way they handled the Child F case. She is also the first love of Craig Gillard

DCI Craig Gillard is a detective in Surrey, but we first meet him halfway up a rock climb in the Lake District rescuing a damsel-in-distress. The damsel happens to be a PCSO from his own force, and proves a bit of a nice distraction throughout the book.

Returning to Surrey Gillard heads the investigation into the disappearance of Elizabeth Knight, which quickly turns into a murder enquiry as forensic evidence stacks up to indicate she has been murdered.

What’s more Professor Knight has also gone missing. Is this a domestic murder? Evidence soon starts to show the Prof is a bit of a player, and has been having affairs for years.

The investigation finds a link between a property, that Elizabeth owns and rents out, to a suspect in the new investigation into the killing of Child F.

Gillard’s team work on both cases, and struggle to make much headway into either. The frustrations of the investigations are wonderfully portrayed by Louth as the story ploughs its way to a not very inevitable end. But what and end.

There is a lot of crime fiction on the shelves, at the moment. Most book shops have a shelf with their top reads,  top recommendations, or top ten.

This book is destined for those shelves, right at the top. It has Number 1 best seller written all over it.

Pages: 360

Publisher: Cancelo

Available on Amazon

Cold Blood Robert Bryndza

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A Police Procedural Thriller with a bit of everything, and all of it good

DCI Erika Foster is the head of a Major Investigation Team in London. When a body is found, in a suite case, on the banks of the Thames,  her team is assigned to the investigation. Or more to the fact, Foster Bullies her way forward to get her team on the investigation.

The body in the case has had his head removed, and his legs chopped off, so that he would fit. When a second body is found under the same circumstances, with the same damage to the body, Foster knows she is dealing with a serial killer.

As the bosses above her try to move the case to a different team Foster digs her heals in and insists her team are in the best to continue the investigation.

Following  a betrayal by somebody she trusted Foster is injured in an attack and is off duty for nearly a month.

The case is passed to another team and eventually pushed to one side as unsolved.

On the day of her return to Duty, a third body in a case is found and connected to the first two. Her team are reinstated as the lead and Foster continues her investigation.

Foster is the main protagonist in this book but the story also follows the killers. As well as a tale of a police investigation it is also the story of how easy it is for an innocent person to become so infatuated with somebody they will end up committing hideous crimes.

This story moves at a fast pace, hardly allowing the reader any respite between crimes scenes.

This tied in with well written characters, all of who are easy to love, hate or empathise with makes this book a great read.

This book will resonate with real Police Officers. Bryndza has captured the frustrations of the front line Police Officers who are dealing with the effects of austerity.

 

Pages:378

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 20th September 2017.

Available to pre-order on Amazon

BLOG TOUR THE LOST CHILDREN HELEN PHIFER

 

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Helen Phifer Blog Tour  The Lost Children

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to get an early look at this book. I admit until then I had never heard of Helen Phifer, but I will be on the lookout for her books in the future.

What made this book special?

Helen has managed to write a book which captivated me, not just with the story, but the characters in it.

So often in modern writing one is sacrificed for the other, or the book becomes overly long, not this one. It strikes the perfect balance. The story is a page turner from the start, but just as much as the main story-line, I invested in the characters.

From DI Lucy Harwin, the dyed-red-haired, tattooed single woman who is estranged from her husband and daughter; to the very glamorous Dr Catherine Maxwell, the Pathologist, all the Police charters are intriguing. In fact I think Dr Maxwell would make a tremendous protagonist in her own series.

The victims and perpetrator of the crimes are equally as enthralling, and mysterious. Helen has taken as much care about the characters on the peripheries as she has on the main ones, and that means there was no way of working out who the perpetrator was by the balance of the amount of time they got on the page.

The one thing that makes this book stand out is the correct use of terminology, and the believability of the Police Officers and the way they work and interact with each other. There is a letter from the author in the back of the book. In it she drops out that she works for the Police. I don’t know in what capacity but the fact that she is immersed in that world shows in her writing.

So, if you want a realistic, enthralling Police Thriller, with a cast of characters who you are going to want to meet again, then this is just the book.

I’ve put my original review below here. I’ve just read it again. I think my enthusiasm for this book, and the series to follow speaks for itself.

 

 

The Lost Children

I jotted something down in my note book really early into reading this book.

Refreshing, an author who knows current police procedures and terminology”

 That little note reflects why this crime thriller stands out from many of the others on the shelves today.

That and the fact that there is a full cast of excellent characters surrounding DI Lucy Harwin, work colleagues, family, and even the victims and their families, all add to the eclectic mix of people she encounters on a daily basis.

The opening to the book is going to be familiar to some readers. There have been a few books partially set in the care homes and institutes of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s recently.

And why not, every year there seems to be another case of historic abuse associated with these establishments.

This book stands out though. Helen Phifer has written a thriller in more ways than one.

The main protagonist, DI Lucy Harwin, is a little bit out there. Dyed Red hair, tattoo’s, and an attitude. Divorced from her husband, estranged from her teenage daughter, and living alone. On forced gardening leave following her involvement in a tragic serious incident, we meet Lucy at her counselling on the day she is supposed to start back to work.

Unfortunately for her a gruesome murder is waiting for her on her return to the usually quiet seaside town of Brooklyn Bay. What a setting for a book, once a prosperous seaside resort, now struggling with the recession and lack of holiday makers.

Lucy has a good team, some of which we get to meet in detail, but others who play interesting little bit parts, hopefully they will start to build in future books.

Lucy’s mainstay, and probably her best friend is DS Mattie Jackson. They have one of those relationships where they both know a little bit too much about each other, care a little bit too much for each other, and act like an old married couple without actually ever being in a relationship.

As the murders start to stack up, the once happy seaside town starts to look like a dangerous place to live.

Lucy and Mattie, and their team, start to link the crimes. At about the same time the reader will start to link two or three characters with being the murder.

Helen has written this book teasingly well. Yes, I knew who the killer was early, well I thought I did. It was always one of the three people but gentle little shifts in the story had me moving from one to the another regularly. If I’m honest I didn’t actually positively identify who was responsible for the crimes until the last couple of chapters.

I recently wrote a blog about Angela Marsons DI Kim Stone books.

In that I said you don’t always need a cliff-hanger finish to make you eagerly await the next book in the series. The best series are those which have a cast of characters that make you want to read about them again. To look forward to seeing how they have fared since the last book.

That’s exactly how I felt at the end of this book. I loved the story. I loved the characters. I loved the setting. I loved the fact that it was written by somebody who works in the police, see the letter from Helen at the End of the Book, so all of the phrases and techniques are current and accurate. Most of all I’m looking forward to meeting Lucy, Mattie, Col and the rest of the Major Investigation team; Jack and Amanda the CSI team, and most of all the glamorous Pathologist Dr Catherine Maxwell again in future books. There is so much potential for these characters that each could take a turn at being the main protagonist, and the series would still move forward nicely.

I have a list, on my computer, that I call UK Lady Killer Writers. I look forward to each of their books coming out.

 

Angela Marsons

Marri Hannah

Marni Riches

Robert Galbraith (I know but we know who she is)

 

There is now a new name on the list. Helen Phifer.

 

What a night that would be. Sat around a table with that little cohort drinking Red Wine or Jack Daniels, and nothing to do but talk about crime thriller plots.

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