The Darling Dead. Graham Smith

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

In The Darling 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.

The Goodnight Song. Nick Hollin

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This is one of the most original psychological thrillers I have ever read wrapped up in a very believable Police procedural story.

DI Katie Rhodes has an unusual partner, in all ways, in Criminal Psychologist Nathan Radley.

Katie and Nathan have been hiding away,  in an isolated cottage, since the end of the last case they worked on together.

They have no intension of coming back to the real world, until a blogger starts to put posts on line that implicate Nathan in a murder.

Nathan had a troubled childhood, and one of his coping methods was to write a journal. Years later the journal surfaced with a few pages missing. The pages with his darkest thoughts about murders he might commit.

It’s these pages that the blogger has found and is publishing. But where did they get them from.

And how is it that the techniques Nathan wrote about all those years ago are being used on victims today

This is enough to bring Katie and Nathan out of their self-inflicted isolation.

The investigation sees the relationship between the two stretched, even Katie is having trouble understanding how the murder can so closely resemble Nathans writings, although she knows he was with her when the murder was committed.

This is a story of doubt. Nathan doubts himself, as do just about everybody else.

Katie begins to doubt herself and wonder if she has been manipulated.

Nick Hollin has created two of the most compellingly unique characters in current fiction. In Nathan Radley he has introduced a mind that is more crazed-axe-man than cop.

In Katie Rhodes he has taken a normal enthusiastic cop and put her through a set of circumstances that has led her to be an introvert, who manages to doubt what she has achieved in the past, and wonder about the future, well at least at the start of the book.

If you like your books to make you think whilst you’re reading them. If you like a story that’s challenging, and if you like a plot that has you hooked from the first page to the last. Then this book is for you.

The Goodnight Song is the second in the series and can be read as a stand-alone, but I would suggest reading Dark Lies. A link for my review of which is below.

https://nigeladamsbookworm.com/2018/03/26/dark-lies-nick-hollin/

Pages: 283

Publishers: Bookouture

Available now

Truth and Lies. Caroline Mitchell

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Straight off, I loved this book.

Take a sprinkling of Fred and Rose West and add a pinch of Myra Hindley and there you have the main villain in this book.

Lillian Grimes is in prison for being one half of a husband and wife team that went from swinging to killing. Carrying out deprived sex attacks and killing their victims after luring them into their home. The victims were buried in the garden, under the cellar floor, and in the walls.

Lillian’s husband killed himself in prison but had already told police there were three other victims. He named them but didn’t say where they were buried.

Now Lillian is using that to her advantage. She wants to drip the information to detectives, but she has a price.

DI Amy Winter is a pocket rocket of a detective. At 5”2 she is not very tall but don’t ever underestimate her.

Amy’s dad was one of the cops who put Lillian in prison, his recent death has left a hole, but she is determined to carry on.

When Lillian gets in touch and says she will only deal with Amy, and will take her to the first burial site, Amy has no idea of the effect it’s going to have on her.

As Lillian plays her mind games a young girl is kidnapped. Amy and her team should be concentrating on the kidnapping, but Amy’s head is with the missing bodies and the revelations Lillian keeps making.

This book is tremendous. I can’t remember a book ever having me hooked so quickly, and kept me hooked so thoroughly until the very last page.

Caroline Mitchell is an ex-Detective and her experience always shines through in the reality of her books; but this book has taken it to another level.

The tension is brilliant. The inter-weaving of the plot lines make the story play out wonderfully.

The reference to Fred and Rose, and Myra Hindley, at the beginning of this blog are not waffle. The crimes Lillian has been convicted of are Fred and Rose’s crimes, or bloody close to them. The fact that Hindley also tried to curry favour by taking the police to the moors to show where the bodies of some of the victims were buried, is also very reminiscent of Lillian’s behaviour.

But there was something else that Rose West and Myra Hindley had in common, and so has Lillian.

What an utterly compelling read. One that had me doing my own research to see if my thoughts were right. Just my kind of book.

Oh, and there’s a twist right at the end. Please let there be a sequel. I want to know what happens next.

Pages: 348

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Publishing Date: 30th August 2018.

The Birthday. Carol Wyer

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2 years after she went missing the body of Ava Sawyer is found buried in the grounds of the Garden Centre she disappeared from during a birthday party.

DI Natalie Wood and her small team are tasked with finding answers the original team to investigate the disappearance didn’t.

But this is no ordinary missing persons/murder investigation. Now that the body has been found it acts as a catalyst for more crimes. More of the girls from the party start  to get killed and are left posed in public places.

The investigation very much becomes a race against time.

The team have to find a killer. There are so many suspects, each one looking like they could be the killer, but each of them ruled out as suspects.

Have the team missed the killer?

Natalie already blames herself for one child abduction and murder case, she worked on, being tragically unsuccessful. She wasn’t the boss on that investigation, but she is on this one.

Has she learnt from others mistakes?

The last case affected her mentally and emotionally. Can she hold it together through this case?

The characters in this book are just what you would expect to find in any police team. DI Wood is struggling to balance her work and personal life. How can she try to keep her marriage going and still conduct such a high profile and emotional case.

Her team are made up of a mix of characters who it are easy to associate with and I’m sure we will get to know as the series progresses. There are friendships and there is conflict, just like the real world.

The best thing about this story is the realism. Carol Wyer hits so many nails on the head with the observations she makes.

She brings to life the frustrations of a real investigation.

The amount of facts that come flooding in and need sorting.

Deciding on what takes priority, and the worry that the decision was wrong.

When is it right to send your team home for rest, when every minute is so vital and may literally mean the difference between life and death.

There is one passage in the book when Natalie is struck by the normality of ongoing life after a traumatic incident.

In my career the thing that always used to get into my head was the disrupted normality. A terrible fire in a bedroom that had claimed lives, yet breakfast places set in the unaffected kitchen downstairs. School coats, which would never be worn again, hanging over the backs of chairs.

Not many authors consider this, and even less describe the feelings and emotions so well. It is only a small passage in the book, but it shows the consideration that has been put into it.

This is the first book in a new series. I think it’s going to be stunning.

Pages: 316

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 27th September 2018.

Her Final Hour Carla Kovach

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Straight off I’m going to say this is one of my Books of the Year.

I was hooked from the first chapter.

In 1993 a girl is drugged and raped.

In the present day a woman is struggling to escape an abusive marriage when she is killed.

DI Gina Harte has just landed after a few days away on holiday and is called in to lead the investigation into the death.

Gina is a good DI with a proven tack history and is well respected amongst her colleagues. What they don’t know is that she was in an abusive marriage for years, and this investigation is going to resurrect memories and take her to a really dark place.

The murder is almost perfect, and it quickly becomes apparent that the team are looking for somebody who is forensically aware and is going to be difficult to identify.

What is the connection to the rape in the prologue, that would be too much of a spoiler, but it’s just one of the strands of this plot that weaves a great story.

Nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors, not everybody is living in a happy-ever-after way.

The story also shows the consequences of actions taken by the Police, and the perceptions some people have of them on a personal basis.

Gina manages to put herself in mortal danger, as well as the emotional turmoil she is in as she remembers her late husband.

Her emotions lead this to become a very personal investigation and she will have to dig deep to come out of the investigation with her mind and body intact.

This story made me think. There is something about the crime, and the perpetrator, or is it perpetrators, (you’ll have to read it to find out) that is strikingly obvious, but that I’ve never read about or considered before.

Carla Kovach has come up with an original plot with one hell of a twist at the end.

I didn’t see it coming but it gave me one of those “Of Course. That makes perfect sense” moments

The story starts of fast and just keeps going. I have used the phrase, “ I couldn’t put it down” before, and usually it just means I read it in a few sittings over a couple of days. This one I really couldn’t put down. If I didn’t have to sleep it would have been a one sitting read.

This is the second book in the Gina Harte series. Below is a link to my review of the first The Next Girl

https://nigeladamsbookworm.com/2018/04/04/the-next-girl-carla-kovach/

 

Her Final Hour

Pages: 316

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing date: 23rd August 2018.

For Better and Worse. Margot Hunt

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17 years ago, Natali and William were on their first date. Both Law School students they occupied themselves innocently plotting the perfect murder.

Now happily married, or so Nat thinks, in a seaside town in Florida, they enjoy a Sunday morning on the beach with Charlie, their 11 year old son.

When an emergency meeting is called at Charlies school the perfect life starts to unravel.

Now, as a Criminal Defence Attorney,  Nat has a good knowledge of how the law will treat people who end up being either the accused, or the accuser, and she is not sure which is the worse experience.

She has to protect Charlie, but will her husband want, or be capable, of  helping in any way.

She is sure Will is having an affair, but little does she know the effect it could have on her plans.

This is a great story and uses a clever little trick to really give the reader a terrific ride.

Most of the story is told in the first person by Nat. Her emotions, her interpretations of events, her thoughts.

But a couple of the chapters are written in the first person from Wills point of view. Does he see things like his wife does. The secrets he is keeping from Nat, and how he tries to balance her world with his.

This psychological thriller explores a mother and a father and how far they would go to protect their child. Two very different approaches, two very different ethos, with one aim. Keep Charlie safe.

This is a great story. I loved the way the two main characters have a common need, but both have very different ways of trying to achieve it.

This is no normal husband, wife, combined front. This is two people struggling to find a way to survive a series of events and come out of it in one piece. But one of them has a very different idea of what that should be achieved.

This is the first Margot Hunt book I’ve read. It definitely won’t be the last.

Pages: 384

Publisher: Mira Books

Publishing Date UK: 11th December 2018.

The Affair. Sheryl Browne

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I have to say I have read some mixed reviews of this book, it seems to divide people, and everybody is entitled to an opinion.

My Opinion?

It’s a great story

But it’s going to be hard to review it without giving anything away in the way of spoilers.

The story, a bit like life itself, is a like a domino rally. In this case one of those where two different dominos are tipped over in different strings, at the same time, and start a chain reaction that culminates in that final slab falling, with one hell of a bang.

The first domino in the first string. Alicia has been telling a lie for a while now. It’s not a malicious lie, more the type of lie that involves not telling your family about a piece of your past which is a bit murky.

But when somebody from that past turns up in the present, and has a malicious streak about them, then things start to go wrong.

More lies are told to try and cover up the past, and the tumbling dominos gather speed.

Alicia’s husband is shattered after finishing a long night shift at the hospital. Because she’s been distracted Alicia has forgot to fill her car with fuel, and when it doesn’t start her husband piles Alicia, and their two children, into the car to drop them off to work, school, and the child minders.

And so the first domino of the second string is toppled.

Together the two strings gather pace, weaving across each other until the traumatic culmination and the dropping of the final tile, right in the centre of everything.

This book really plays with the emotions, there are times when I empathised with the main character but hated her. There were other times when I hated what she was doing but loved her.

I really liked it.

 

Pages: 351

Publishers: Bookouture

Publishing date: 10th August 2018.