In The Silence. M.R. Mackenzie

 

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Zoe is a Dr of Psychology who specialises in crimes against women. She lives and works in Rome, but spent much of her youth in Glasgow.

Returning for a friends party she does not realise she is about to bump into an old acquaintance at the party. She also doesn’t know that that acquaintance is going to end up dying in her arms in a park in the very early hours of the morning.

At first Zoe is a suspect, in fact she’s a suspect all the way through the book, but she decides to keep some information from the police and try to investigate the killing herself.

Doing this she discovers some nasty truths about some of the people she used to know, she also allows a supressed memory to surface.

The question is not just who is the killer, but why, and how many other people are they going to kill. The Police seem clueless. Zoe is beginning to make headway but is also putting herself in danger.

The story is good, the characters are good but there was one thing in this book that really got on my nerves.

Zoe comes home to visit party girl Anna, and M.R Mackenzie has written her dialog in phonetic Scottish. I’ve seen this work in books before but for some reason this just seems a bit OTT in this book.

If you can get past the way Anna speaks this book has a great story.

I like the crime book which concentrates on people outside of the Police Force. People who are affected by crimes; the witnesses, the families, people caught up in an event.

Mackenzie has found a great way to unravel a crime mystery using this technique. It makes the book feel a bit more like “that could be me”, and that’s what makes it such a good thriller.

Publishers: Bloodhound Books

Perfect Dead Jackie Baldwin

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When this book came up for review I liked the look of the blurb that went along with it. It was the second in the DI Frank Farrell series, so naturally I downloaded the first in the series and read that first. Thank God I did, I have discovered a great new Police Crime Series.

Frank Farrell is a great character for a book. An ex-priest who leaves the proesthood because he broke the sacrament of the confessional, and helped the police catch a murderer. It was only natural that once out of the Church he would become a cop, and so he started a distinguished career in the Big City and made his way up to DI.

Then he moved back to his hometown of Dumfries, which is where we find him in this series.

I won’t go on about book 1 Dead Man’s Prayer, take it from me it’s a fantastic read, because this blog is about Perfect Dead, which is just as good if not better.

Perfect Dead sees the MIT in Dumfries overwhelmed with 4 cases, murders, missing persons and art forgery, in the small town of Kirkcudbright.

Farrell is one of 2 DI’s tasked with breaking the cases along with his childhood friend DCI Lind, and their small band of Detectives.

The cases all seem to be centred around a small community of artists which provide a great cast of characters for the story. Each one is wonderfully written, and the way they weave into the story is fascinating.

This story is multi-layered and takes loads of twists, but all the time it stays within the realms of possibility.

Jackie Baldwin has created a wonderful set of characters. DI Farrell is still conflicted between his faith and his job, and when it comes to personal relationships he really does struggle. His main sidekick is DC Mhairi McCleod, a young woman that had, until Farrell arrived in her nick, built up a reputation as a party girl, but he sees the potential and relies on her for a lot of his work.

There are many others, all with great side stories, in the cast of police characters. Just as much effort is put into the criminals, with great effect.

The crimes in this book are perfectly written and they all add to the story, but what is the link. I didn’t work it out until the last chapters.

And talking of the last chapters, what a climax to a book.

I started this review saying I read the first book in the series before I reviewed Perfect Dead. That’s because I like to read books in chronological order. But this can be read as a stand-alone-novel, and a brilliant story it is.

Jackie Baldwin is a new author to me, but has gone straight onto the must read list.

 

Publisher: Killer Reads, Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 15th June 2018

Available to pre-order for the Kindle

The Perfect Silence. Helen Fields.

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Every now and again a book come along and stops me in my tracks. Perfect Silence is one of only a handful to have done this in 40 odd years of reading psychological thrillers.

The book starts with a woman crawling along a country lane. Badly injured having been viciously abused by her kidnapper, who has left her to die slowly, and alone, with no chance of anybody finding her in time to save her.

When she is found the Edinburgh Major Investigation Team is tasked with finding the killer.

DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach make a great team. She is young and ambitious but a great officer, he is the French transferee from Interpol who has adopted Scotland as his homeland, even if it is somewhat reluctantly.

Together with their team they start the investigation into the murder of the woman but quickly realise that another woman has been taken. From then on it becomes a race against time as the kidnapper kills the women before taking the next victim. Every time they take a new victim they leave behind their uniquely grotesque calling card.

But how many women will go missing and be killed before Ava and her team catch the person responsible.

If that’s not bad enough somebody is attacking the drug fuelled vagrants across the City, and Ava is desperately trying to protect them as well as catch their attackers. This investigation leads her into a conflict it doesn’t look like she can win.

Will this distract her and her team from finding the killer of the women.

This book had me hooked from page one. By the end of the book I was breathless.

Helen Fields has a way of writing that keeps the reader turning the page. A lot of authors can do that. But she can do something not very many can. There are chapters in this book where the very last sentence made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up in horror. Not the grislily sort of horror, the psychological sort. Wow

Last year I was lucky enough to read Perfect Remains by Helen Fields, but because it was part of a judging system for a literature prize, I wasn’t able to review it on my blog. It was one of the best books I’ve read.

Well I can shout from the roof tops about this one. It’s the best book I’ve read this year, and right up there in the list of the best books I’ve ever read.

Pages: 432

Publisher: Avon

Publishing Date: 23rd August 2018

Available to pre-order on Amazon

The Way Of All Flesh. Ambrose Parry

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Will Raven is just about to start as the new medical apprentice to the renown Dr James Simpson, but just before taking up his appointment he finds a friend dead in her bed. Twisted in death the body looks as though it is in spasm, and Will leaves without telling anybody. He has to, his friend is “just another dead whore” as he latter hears her called.

Moving into his new digs Will cannot forget his dead friend as he sets about his new job. But as more bodies are found, contorted in the same way as his fiend, it becomes obvious that somebody is killing women, but why.

Finding an unlikely ally in a young house maid, Sarah, who is fascinated by Homeopathy, and hankers for a job in medicine only open to men from privileged backgrounds, Will begins to look for who was responsible for killing the women.

Set in Edinburgh in the winter of 1847. A time when Doctors and Chemists are racing to find the ideal Anesthetic. A time when women are turning to prostitution  to make ends meet. A time when illegal back street abortions are killing too many women who have no other option.

This story is not one that races along. It is a bit of a plod at times but it is well worth plodding through it.

Ambrose Parry paints a great picture of the life and times of the upper and lower classes of Edinburgh society, and nicely places his main character Will somewhere in the middle.

He paints a time when peoples egos outpaced the science they were trying to establish.

Pages: 416

Publishers: Canongate Books

Publishing Date: 30th August

Available to pre-order on Amazon

Deathly Wind. Keith Moray

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This is the second book in the DI Torquil McKinnon series set on a remote Scottish Island.

But don’t let the remote small island, with its small community put you off. This is a complex story with many twists and turns.

The story starts with an assassin killing a family, and a missing Police Officer.

At the same time a big-time-Charlie from the mainland takes over the big house and brings with him the threat of erecting a wind farm on the old crofts. The problem is the crofts are still being run as farms by well-established families.

The new Laird is Jock McArdle, a business man from Glasgow, who brings with him two enforcers.

More deaths start to take place on the island but are most of them just accidents.

As the death count rises there are conflicts amongst the small group of residents on the island. Half of them are against the wind farms, the other half are for them.

There is a hedgehog cull about to take place but one resident, Megan, who is fervently against it, starts to cause problems. Could she be responsible for some of the deaths?

Her Boyfriend Nial is a Bird Protectionist, who is very protective of the eagle population on the island. So, when it is claimed one of the deaths is down to an eagle attack he too starts to act strangely. Could he be the murderer?

Then there is the young pretty Megan. She only had eyes for the missing Police Officer but is finding comfort in half of the male population. Is one of her comforters acting out of jealousy.

The small island Police force is headed by DI Torquil McKinnon, the motorcycle riding, bag pie playing, widower, who went to school with most of the main suspects in the crimes. With one of his two full time officers missing he has to run the inquiry with his full time DS, and two volunteer constables. The story of the investigation is brilliantly addictive, and the result is not easily anticipated.

Over the last year I have read a few books set in the remote Scottish Isles. The large open spaces with the small tight knit communities lend themselves to some great stories. In fact, I have come to realise that The Scottish Isles Murder books are the new Closed Room Mysteries of Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie fame.

The two books in this series which have so far been published are brilliant.

If you like a good murder mystery you will love these books.

With summer creeping up on us, people might be looking for a book to read around the pool or on the beach. Get this series. There is only one problem with them. You will be left desperately wanting book 3, and we are going to have to wait for a while for that.

Pages: 224

Publisher: Sapere

Available now

The Photographer Craig Robertson

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This book covers issues so current that at times I almost felt like I was reading a fly-on-the-wall expose of a real investigation.

From the start of the book a vicious rapist is identified and taken to court, only to have key evidence thrown out on a technicality. The one and only witness who has been brave enough to come forward to give evidence at the trial breaks down and runs away leaving the judge no choice but to throw the case out.

The accused rapist is a semi-famous business man and his name has been released to the press, his victim is only known by a pseudo name. The moral debate about this is touched on, but what follows is a huge amount of trolling abuse aimed at the victim and the female police officer who took the case to court.

Detective Inspector Rachel Narey is the officer in question. She is becoming the target of abuse and threats of violence.

Rachel is frustrated that the case got thrown out of court, and even more frustrated that a file containing hundreds of photographs of random women taken all over the streets of Glasgow was thrown out of evidence; and that she was forced to return the photos and all copies of them to the accused.

She knows she had the right man, her bosses know she had the right man. They also know that every woman in the photos is a victim, or potential victim, of the attacker. Those photos are now off limits. How can she get after him?

When her husband, Tony, a journalist, is sent the photos on a computer file he knows he can’t tell his wife. He also knows he may have the biggest story he has ever had, but at what cost to his marriage.

Meanwhile a rape counsellor has been on the trail of a man who attacks his victims in a very specific manner, and it’s the same way that Narey’s victim was attacked. She has a file she’s named “The Beast File” containing 9 year’s worth of investigations. She has never got near identifying the victim until now.

Three lines of investigation start. DI Narey is still after her man but is confined by the letter of the law. Her husband Tony is not nearly so confined but without official status he is placing himself in danger.

Then there is Tony’s Uncle Dan, an ex-cop and God Father to Rachel and Tony’s little girl. He arrives to stay and look after the girl because of the threats made on social media to Rachel. He opens up a third line of inquiry when he joins in the twitter chat and ingratiates himself with the bigoted keyboard warriors that hide behind their computer screens.

With all three looking for a way to put the attacker behind bars the story highlights the difference between how different people can get information, legitimately or otherwise.

It shows the frustrations of modern policing, what can be done and what can’t.

It shows the frustrations of victims who get up the courage to step forward, only to be let down by the judicial system.

It shows how easy it is for so called secret identities to be found out; and how they become widely known through social media, and the effect that has on the person who is so often the victim of a serious crime.

This book could not be more topical. It reflects issues that have been in the press very recently, and even mentions the Black Cab Rapist whose immanent release is causing so much consternation.

I like books that get me thinking. This book got me thinking about some of the laws of this country, and the way some trials are reported.

It also got me thinking something I have never thought before. Maybe some of this investigative journalism is better placed to find out the truth than a proper legal investigation.

For a work of fiction that takes some doing.

Then I read Craig Robertson’s biography.

Now I know why this book is so good.

I’m off to find his back catalogue. I can’t not read them. I hope they are just as good as this one. They have a lot to live up to.

Pages: 448

Publishers UK: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date UK: 25th January 2018

Every Night I Dream Of Hell Malcolm Mackay

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Every Night I Dream of Hell Malcolm Mackay

I love books by this Author. Malcolm Mackay writes from the other side of the law to most. The main protagonists in his books are criminals, they are not people you want to like, but somehow you still end up routing for them.

The book is set in Glasgow amongst an underworld that has recently been disorganised by one of the leaders being imprisoned.

The main character, Nate Logan, is an enforcer for the gang, a violent man with his own rules and values.

The core of the story is an attempted take over of the city’s underworld and the leadership of the gang Logan works for. In a world where nobody can be taken at face value Logan finds himself trying to work out who the enemy is.

Just to confuse matters the mother of his child appears to be trying to reenter his life; and at the same time a Detective Inspector, who is looking into the gang crimes, also makes an approach in an attempt to work with Logan to keep the violence which is erupting to a minimum. Between these two, his young apprentice, and his bosses his loyalties are tested to the limit

The book is a page turner. I’ve used the words morals before but McKay’s books test them like no other.

There is no good guy in this story, just bad ones. The tale is full of twists and turns. Who would you trust in the underworld of one of Britain’s most gang ridden city’s. In this book even their rule book and code of honour is ripped up.

If you want an easy read this is not for you. I read it on two long train journey’s and found that the time had flown by but the most read pages were the 5 at the front, the list of characters with a brief over view of who they are. This is not a criticism, in fact I think more authors should do the same, but without those pages I would have struggled to keep up with who was who, and where their allegiances were.

I don’t use a star ratting or anything like that. I rate a book by who I would recommend it to.

In this case I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book to any of my friends.