Deadly Wishes & Deadly Choices. Rachel McLean

The first two books in the DI Zoe Finch Series. So, why review two books in one blog?

Because as soon as I finished Deadly Wishes I picked up Deadly Choices and just carried on reading. They are that good.

Set in Birmingham Zoe Finch is a DI in Force CID working out of Harborne Police station, and that is the first tick, because that is where all serious crimes in Birmingham are Investigated from.

In Deadly Wishes Zoe is Acting DI and is the first Senior Detective at the scene of a murder. The murder of the Assistant Chief Constable, whose retirement function she had attended earlier in the evening.

The investigation is quickly taken out of her hands, as SIO, because of internal politics, but Zoe and her team are kept as part of the investigative team.

Her team start to uncover some uncomfortable truths about the dead ACC, he’s manipulated his wife, in an overbearingly controllable way, for years. There are home improvements that have taken place, on their already expensive house which cannot be accounted for by the families finance’s. There are expensive art works that there is no indication of legitimate purchase. Worse of all there appears to be a connection between the ACC and a child abuse ring that has recently been broken.

The problem is who to trust. Zoe has at least one other Senior Officer she suspects is corrupt and has connections to a local thug who was connected to the child abuse gang.

The story is brilliant in it’s realistic simplicity. The small cast of characters which are all interconnected either by being on the right side of the law, Zoe and her team, or the wrong side of the law. Villains and maybe the odd corrupt cop.

The first book in the series had me hitting Amazon to down load book 2 the second I finished it.

In Deadly Choices Zoe, who is now a substantive DI leads the investigation into the kidnap of two children who were on a day out at Cadbury World with their mom.

Although the murder of the ACC was solved in book one, there are still some underlying issues hanging over into this story. Zoe still suspects a senior officer is corrupt and in the employ of Underworld hard man Trevor Hamm, but now she also knows that Professional Standards are onto a Senior Officer in the West Midlands Police, and in this book the investigations are going to overlap.

The missing children are the step-children of a DS working for Local CID out of Kings Norton Police Station. Step dad Ian Osman acts suspiciously from the start. But he’s a cop whose kids have gone missing, he wouldn’t be expected to sit on his hands, he would be bound to think he can do a better job of investigating wouldn’t he? Or is there another reason he’s acting like he is.

Then Zoe notices the same home improvement company that carried out the work at the ACC’s house is working on the roof at the Osman home.

Another coincidence?

These books had me reading cover to cover over a weekend, and I will admit I’m now reading book 3, and it’s just as good.

Zoe is a great character. A single mom whose 18 year old son is the result of an affair with a fellow officer she didn’t know was married. She lives in a two-up-two-down terrace house in the middle of Selly Oak, bedsit country for Birmingham University.

She’s highly strung, which is not surprising as she’s a coffee addict. Her only real vice as she’s teatotal. She plays well with people she likes, her team, but is sharp and blunt with others.

Her forte is digging deep into documents, reading correspondence, looking at bank statements and receipts, spotting inconsistencies in peoples lives.

Her team have other talents and between them they are really good at carrying out investigations into the most serious of crimes that happen across Birmingham

And the city is the other star of these stories. I’m a Brummy and I’m always surprised just how few books are set in the City. We have Angela Marsons writing the brilliant DI Kim Stone series set in the Black Country, but never make the mistake of thinking Birmingham and the Black Country are the same place.

Just like Angela Marsons, Rachel McLean uses her knowledge of the local area to bring the books to life. Setting the stories in real locations, which are just right for each story.

Not just using places that are recognisable, but places where realistically that part of the story fits.

She catches the nuances of the characters perfectly. More ticks in the boxes for great reading.

As far as I can see there are 6 books in this series. I honestly can’t see me reading anything else until I’ve read them all.

Publisher: Ackroyd Publishing. Pages: Both Books just over 400 each. Available now

The Body In The Snow. Nick Louth

The Body In The Snow Nick Louth

When a young, newly qualified, Forensic Scene Investigator goes out jogging in the snow the day before her first day on duty she didn’t expect to be a witness to a murder.

First on the scene she attempts to protect it from being destroyed by the victims dog, and preserve tacks that are being lost as the snow melts.

Her knight in shining armour arrives in the form of Senior Investigating Officer Craig Gillllard, one of Surreys Murder Investigation Team.

The victim is Tanvi Roy, the owner of a large Indian Cuisine Company and the matriarch of the dysfunctional Roy Family.

The family are Hindus and run their business, and their family affairs, in a traditional manner.

Mrs Roy’s husband had died before the story starts but his influences run right through the book. The multi-million pound fortune is tied up in a Codicil which sees unequal sharing of equities, with Sons, Grandsons, and even Son-in-Laws, being given much more value than, wives, daughters and granddaughters.

The unequal distribution of share holding’s means that it’s nearly impossible to get a group decision, and one rival company has been trying to buy the Roy’s business for years

This gives just about everybody in the family a reason to see Mrs Roy dead.

Throughout the investigation Gillard uncovers years of resent within the family.

I love a book that gives me new knowledge as well as entertains me. This book has done just that. I fell into a Google worm-hole that lasted for hours looking at Hindu family traditions, including Codicil Wills, arranged marriages and Castes.

Nick Louth has written a wonderful book. Some people will do as I did and research the Hindu faith, and I’m sure will learn they did not know as much as they thought.

I think this was a brave book to write. It looks at a religion and bases a family murder firmly in the way that people of that faith act. It looks at the differences between generations, and the conflicts between the older, first generation of immigrants, and their more westernised younger generations, and the problems that it can.

A wonderful book that kept me reading when I should have been doing other things.

Publishing Date. 31st January 2020

Publishers. Canelo

Where The Silence Calls M.J Lee

IMG_3258

DI Ridpath is not your usual cop-character. Recovering from cancer he had been living a single life when his wife and daughter moved out in frustration of his lack of self-care.

Now they are back at home, Ridpath is in remission, and he’s back at work, but on restricted duties. In short life is good.

Working as a DI in the roll of Coroners Officer Ridpath is out of the day-to-day life of a Police Officer, it’s not his job to investigate crimes, it’s his job to gather evidence for the Coroner, to help identify bodies, to pass on the unwelcome news to relatives, but he does miss being at the coal front of an investigation

So when two men are found dead, in a short space of time, in different Police districts, their bodies badly burned, Ridpath’s detective antenna starts to nag at him.

Both Police departments are running at their limits due to cut backs, and when Ridpath tries to show that they may have linked cases, neither are interested. Why would they be, there is no post mortem results yet, and both look like accidental fires, except for one thing, and that’s what gets Ridpath hooked.

As Ridpath struggles to get the Police to take him serious he runs the risk of upsetting the Coroner, and with both Police and the Coroner, looking to cut manpower he could be backing himself into a sticky corner.

Then another burnt body is found.

This is another cracking novel in a great series.

M.J Lee uses the metropolis of Manchester as a great canvas to paint his crime stories. In Ridpath he has given us a character that is different enough from the usual troubled cop to engage in. Ridpath’s personal circumstances run through the series like a vein taking blood to all the important parts. In short Lee went out on a limb with this character, but its paid off, boy has it paid off.

Pages: 351

Publisher: Canelo

Publishing date: 23rdSeptember 2019

GONE Leona Deakin

IMG_3197

People are going missing, nothing unusual in that, people go missing every day, but some of these people are being given a card with a message on it just before they disappear.

On the card is the message “Happy First Birthday. Dare To Play The Game” For some reason the Police aren’t linking the cases, and where they do, they deem the missing person to be old enough, and in good enough health, for them not to be seen as vulnerable.

Dr Augusta Bloom is a Psychologist who has teamed up with Ex MI6 officer Marcus Jameson to carry out independent investigations.

One of the woman that goes missing is related, in a tenuous way to Marcus, and he is asked to look into the case.

Between him and Dr Augusta they start to identify a worrying trend in the type of person that has gone missing after being invited to play the game.

But why are people being asked to play, and what is the end game.

As the two investigate secrets are uncovered which surprise everybody, and scare more than a few.

Can Dr Augusta, the shy almost introvert Psychologist, get into the mind of whoever is collecting these people. While she tries Marcus uses his investigative skills, and a few contacts from his Secret Service past to try to link all of victims.

The main part of this story is the hunt for the missing people, but what I found really intriguing was who was being invited to play the game, and the purpose they were asked to join in. It would not be a big leap of faith to see this happen in real life, and with frightening consequences.

A good read.

 

Pages: 384

Publisher: Black Swan

Publishing Date: 3rdOctober 2019

In The Silence. M.R. Mackenzie

 

IMG_2513

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