January 21

The Confession – Jo Spain

Late one night a man walks into the luxurious home of disgraced banker Harry McNamara and his wife Julie. The man launches an unspeakably brutal attack on Harry as a horror-struck Julie watches, frozen by fear. It looks like Harry’s many sins – corruption, greed, betrayal – have finally caught up with him.

An hour later the intruder, JP Carney, hands himself in, confessing to the assault. The police have a victim, a suspect in custody and an eye-witness account, but Julie remains troubled.

Has Carney’s surrender really been driven by a guilty conscience or is this confession the first calculated move in a deadly game?

 

My thanks to Quercus Books for my review copy and to Anne Cater for the chance to join the blog tour.

Not many books will get down to the action as quickly as The Confession.  A brutal attack on one of Ireland’s most successful bankers is vividly described in the opening chapter of Jo Spain’s superb new novel.

JP Carney walks into the home of Harry and Julie McNamara and beats Harry with a golf club as Julie sits watching, frozen in fear and unable to help her husband. It is graphic, it is shocking and it makes you want to read on – what could possibly have led to this?

Knowing Harry will suffer at the hands of Carney the author takes us into the lives of Julie, JP Carney and investigating police office – Alice Moody. We are taken back in time to when Julie first met Harry and we are given a good look at Carney and the tough upbringing he had to endure and the strong bond he formed with his younger sister. As the story unfolds we get to understand more about Carney but it remains unclear why he may have walked into a strangers home and attacked the homeowner.  But is Harry McNamara a stranger to JP Carney?

We also follow Julie’s history. Her chance meeting with Harry and the fairy-tale romance as she is courted by one of the most successful (and rich) bankers in Ireland. Once again, as the story unfolds, we see Julie open up more about her relationship with Harry and the pressures and self doubts as she tries to remain Julie rather than Mrs McNamara.

The real-time investigations are being conducted by Alice Moody, my favourite character in The Confession. She cannot accept Carney’s assertion that he has no knowledge of Harry McNamara and that his house was picked at random. Moody will drive the story as she pushes to get to the bottom of Carney’s seemingly random attack and she believes that the McNamara’s may have somehow brought Carney into their lives – even if they don’t know why.

The reason The Confession worked so well for me was the characters driving the story. It is all about the people and how they faced up to several key moments in their lives – all bringing them to a critical point when a seemingly random act of violence will change everything forever.

Wonderfully written and deeply compelling.

 

The Confession is published by Quercus on 25 January 2018 and you can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Confession-most-addictive-psychological-thriller-ebook/dp/B06XRL3N98/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

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January 19

City Without Stars – Tim Baker

The only thing more dangerous than the cartels is the truth…

In Ciudad Real, Mexico, a deadly war between rival cartels is erupting, and hundreds of female sweat-shop workers are being murdered. As his police superiors start shutting down his investigation, Fuentes suspects most of his colleagues are on the payroll of narco kingpin, El Santo.

Meanwhile, despairing union activist, Pilar, decides to take social justice into her own hands. But if she wants to stop the killings, she’s going to have to ignore all her instincts and accept the help of Fuentes. When the name of Mexico’s saintly orphan rescuer, Padre Márcio, keeps resurfacing, Pilar and Fuentes begin to realise how deep the cover-up goes.

 

My thanks to Lauren at Faber for my review copy and the chance to join the blog tour

I am not sure I have the language to do City Without Stars justice. If I were to say: Powerful, Magnificent, Majestic, Breathtaking then it would sound like I was describing a racehorse rather than Tim Baker’s novel. Yet City Without Stars is all those things, it is an incredible piece of story telling written with a brutal beauty and an incredible intensity.

The first word I used was “powerful” and City Without Stars is all about power. In Mexico there seem to be many battles to be fought and through the story we shall follow some of the fighters.  The drug Kingpin – El Santo – casts the longest shadow, he has the money, the men and the merchandise and he will do whatever he wants (and he does).  It is not often that I will flinch at something I read but one scene in particular brought out a full body wince/jolt, the unexpected sudden brutality was shocking.

Faith has a strong grip over Mexican life too and it was no surprise to see that Padre Márcio was influential throughout the book. The link between church and corruption has been made in the past but Tim Baker shines the Mexican sun fully onto the worst behaviours of the church and its representatives. Padre Márcio gets the most detailed backstory, his position in the community explained by his path to adulthood and the trials he endured.

Where there are drugs there will also be police. Fuentes is the cop who wants to bring some justice to proceedings. Yet he knows the challenge he faces is enormous and he can have no faith in the integrity of his colleagues, many are in the pockets of the cartel and few will stand up and be seen to challenge the corruption.

The character who faced the biggest challenge is a young union actvist (Pilar).  In the opening pages we see she has been targeted as a potential threat to someone in power and action is being taken to quash that threat. Pilar is seeking a fairer deal and better treatment for the women working in the manufacturing plants, the women who work for a pittance, have no respect from the men that run the plants and who meekly accept their lot in life. She is an extraordinary force but knows that changing the accepted way will not be simple. Her struggle to be heard and to make an impact which cannot be ignored was an important balance to the violence and intensity of the rival drug dealers.

There is so much depth and detail in City Without Stars that I cannot even begin to scratch the surface in a short review. It is a dark, dark read. The violence is brutal, the corruption is rife and the people are generally untrustworthy and unlikeable. But it all makes for utterly compelling reading.

Gobsmackingly Good.

 

City Without Stars is published by Faber & Faber and you can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/City-Without-Stars-Tim-Baker-ebook/dp/B075RSLG2B/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1516314849&sr=1-1&keywords=city+without+stars

 

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January 13

The Cover Up – Marnie Riches

Watch your back. Everyone else will be.

How far would you go to protect your empire?

Manchester’s criminal underworld is reeling from the loss of its leader, Paddy O’Brien. In the wake of her husband’s death, Sheila O’Brien takes charge of the city, and for once, she’s doing things her way.

But she hasn’t reckoned with the fearsome Nigel Bancroft, a threat from Birmingham who is determined to conquer Manchester next.

As a power tussle begins, Sheila is determined to keep control of the empire she has won – even if it means she has to die trying…

 

My thanks to Sabah at Avon for my review copy and the chance to join the blog tour

 

Marnie Riches takes us back to Manchester as we revisit Sheila O’Brien. Following events in Born Bad Sheila now heads up the criminal empire built up by her late husband. However, keeping control of the drug supply, the prostitutes and the protection money is going to prove challenging – particularly when Birmingham crime lord Nigel Bancroft is looking to expand his territory into Manchester.

The housekeeping…The Cover Up is the second book in the Manchester series – reading the first book (Born Bad) would certainly help introduce the characters and explain their background but it is not essential. I have a total goldfish-memory and I struggle to remember character names and relationships across all the books I read; but Marnie Riches deftly interweaves the backstory you need into the narrative of The Cover Up to ensure new readers will enjoy the latest events.

And what a treat lies ahead!  Sheila faces constant challenges to her authority and she will need to show that she has the mettle to take her late-husband’s place. She relies heavily upon his former right-hand-man, Conky, who has also replaced his former boss in Sheila’s bed. While juggling attempts to establish a legitimate business empire and keep her criminal activities ticking over we see Sheila trying to bring friends closer to ensure she can trust those in her closest circle. What I had not been expecting was where some of her new alliances may be formed.

The Cover Up has many strong personalities all pushing for dominance and all seeking to eliminate their competition. There are are traps and dangers, subterfuge is rife and nobody can be trusted. It makes for enthralling reading and the story zips along at a cracking pace.

If you enjoy a dark thriller and like strong characters who will do whatever it takes to survive and protect those closest to them then The Cover Up is perfect reading. I loved this book and flew through it in quick time, once I started reading I did not want to stop.  More of these please Marnie!

 

The Cover Up is published by Avon and is available in paperback, audiobook (narrated by the author) and digital format.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cover-Up-Marnie-Riches/dp/0008203962/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1515835942&sr=1-1

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January 5

Games With The Dead – James Nally

Irish runaway. Insomniac. Functioning alcoholic.
Life is about to get complicated for DC Donal Lynch.

When a young woman is kidnapped, Donal is brought in to deliver the ransom money. But the tightly-planned drop off goes wrong, Julie Draper is discovered dead, and Donal finds his job on the line – a scapegoat for the officers in charge.

But when Donal is delivered a cryptic message in the night, he learns that Julie was killed long before the botched rescue mission. As he digs further into the murder in a bid to clear his own name, dark revelations make one thing certain: the police are chasing the wrong man, and the killer has far more blood on his hands than they could even imagine.

 

My thanks to Sabah at Avon for my review copy and the chance to join the blog tour

 

The third novel in the Donal Lynch series but Games With The Dead can easily be read as a stand alone novel without the need to have read the earlier books.  I can confirm this with a degree of certainty as I had not read the first two books and still thoroughly enjoyed Games.

The description of the novel (as above) led me to believe this may be a kidnap/murder tale and it is…but it is so much more as well.  The story opens with the police attempt to recover a kidnapped woman: Julie Draper. DC Donal Lynch is the man tasked with delivering the ransom payment and “rescuing” Julie from the kidnappers. Regrettably all does not go to plan and Donal will be held liable by his bosses.

With his work life in a crisis there is no respite for Donal at home either.  His girlfriend has been distant and remote since the birth of her son and Donal is hitting the drink too hard.  Not helping matters is the fact Ireland are in the soccer World Cup Finals (it is Summer 1994) and all Irish footy fans are swelling the takings at pubs up and down the land as they cheer on their heroes in the USA.  With Donal being urged on by his brother to shake off his other half we see our hero’s emotions pulled every which way.

I am reluctant to share too much of what happens to Donal during Games With The Dead, but he is given the opportunity to work for a different team within the police and it will place him in more danger than he is accustomed to facing – it makes for gripping reading.

While reading Games With The Dead I got wholly drawn into the story and Donal’s perils kept me turning the pages well into the night. After the initial kidnap drama had reached its unexpected endgame I was not sure what may lie ahead for Donal – what James Nally had in store for DC Lynch was an absolute treat for this crime fiction fan.

Highly recommended, some 90’s nostalgia and a thumping great read.

 

Games With The Dead is published by Avon and is available in paperback and digital format.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Games-Dead-Donal-Lynch-Thriller-ebook/dp/B072S4QY15/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1515088897&sr=8-1

 

 

 

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January 4

Dark Pines – Will Dean

An isolated Swedish town.

A deaf reporter terrified of nature.

A dense spruce forest overdue for harvest.

A pair of eyeless hunters found murdered in the woods.

It’s week one of the Swedish elk hunt and the sound of gunfire is everywhere. When Tuva Moodyson investigates the story that could make her career she stumbles on a web of secrets that knit Gavrik town together. Are the latest murders connected to the Medusa killings twenty years ago? Is someone following her? Why take the eyes? Tuva must face her demons and venture deep into the woods to stop the killer and write the story. And then get the hell out of Gavrik.

 

My thanks to Margot at One World Publications for my review copy and the chance to join the blog tour.

 

I have been looking forward to sharing my review of Dark Pines, when I read I book which I absolutely adored I want to share my review immediately!

Dark Pines is an atmospheric murder tale which takes the readers to a remote Swedish town and sees much of the action taking place in the dark, claustrophobic woods. The lead character, Tuva Moodyson, is a reporter working at the small local paper but the murder deep in the woods (during hunting season) may give her the opportunity to report on one of the biggest stories the region has ever seen.

Tuva is a terrific character and I loved reading her story. Her deafness is depicted really well by Will Dean, it is an issue she deals with and ensures other characters adapt to her requirements. She has a strong personality and tenacious attitude and this serves her well as her reporting of the deaths in the woods will become problematic for the residents of her home town.

The murder story is chilling too.  Twenty years prior to events in Dark Pines a killer stalked the woods, removing the eyes of their victims. The killer became known as “Medusa” but was never caught and, without explanation, the murders ceased. Spinning forward to present day the latest murder is causing the townsfolk significant concern – when it become apparent that the victim has had his eyes removed their concern intensifies.

Dark Pines is a storming read. One of those books which can wholly consume your attention and pull you entirely into the story.  A five star review for a book which I will be recommending to everyone.

 

Dark Pines is published by Point Blank and can be ordered here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dark-Pines-Tuva-Moodyson-Mystery/dp/1786073854/ref=la_B0759QS537_1_1_twi_pap_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1515062614&sr=1-1

 

 

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December 17

Scorched Shadows – Steve McHugh

In the final chapter of the Hellequin Chronicles, secrets will be revealed, friendships tested, and destinies fulfilled.

Avalon is under siege. A shadowy cabal, headed by a mysterious figure known only as “My Liege,” has launched a series of deadly attacks across the globe, catching innocent human bystanders in the crossfire.

Emerging from the debris of battle, Nate Garrett, the sixteen-hundred-year-old sorcerer also called Hellequin, and his friends must stop My Liege once and for all. But powerful forces stand in their way. To save Avalon, they will need to enlist the help of Mordred, once Nate’s greatest nemesis, now his most formidable ally. But Mordred is grappling with a dark prophecy that could spell Nate’s doom…

The fate of the world hangs in the balance. Even if Nate can halt the war, will there be anything left worth saving?

 

My thanks to Anne Cater for the opportunity to join the blog tour

Initially it seemed odd picking up a new series at the last book, but I have heard great things about Steve McHugh’s books from some of my blogger pals so I really wanted to try Scorched Shadows.

Now I can see why they have been so keen I try Steve’s books – Scorched Shadows was a treat to read.

Take a modern day setting then bring in King Arthur, Mordred and other characters of lore and legend – the mix of fantasy and thrilling adventure made for great reading. A full-on battle to save the world which features sorcerers, magic, battles and plenty of lighthearted moments to break up the action and nicely pace it out.

I enjoyed the dialogue between the characters. The events of six previous books are clearly very relevant but at no stage did I feel disadvantaged by not having read them. Sounds like this should not be possible yet the author brings through all the salient points (without leaving this reader feeling the backstory had been crushed in). Past alliances, conflicts and liaisons all neatly get dropped into the plot and new events zip along.

I was engaged from the first chapter – an explosive opening if you will – and once caught up in the story I just could not stop reading.

Now I know how the story ends I want to go back and see how it begins! I don’t read as much Fantasy as I once did and Steve McHugh has made me want to read more – I shall start with his books…seems a great place to start.

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Scorched-Shadows-Hellequin-Chronicles-Book-ebook/dp/B071WC6Q5W/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

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December 3

Just One Time – K.S. Hunter

Desire can have dire consequences 

Two years ago, David Madden made a mistake that almost cost him his marriage. His wife, Alison, gave him another chance, but she has not forgotten, nor has she forgiven.

She is irresistible

Then David meets the alluring Nina at a theatre in London. When he loses his phone in the dark, she helps him find it, and by giving her his number he unwittingly invites her into his life.

What David initially views as an innocent flirt turns into a dangerous game of deception. His increasingly suspicious wife thinks something is up, and each lie he tells pushes them further apart.

She is insatiable

Nina pursues David relentlessly, following him to New York where she gives him an ultimatum: sleep with her, just one time, and then she’ll get out of his life forever; or she’ll ruin everything he holds dear.

She is unstoppable

Of course, once won’t be enough for Nina, and what David hoped would be the end is merely the beginning.

A modern-day Fatal Attraction, Just One Time is a steamy psychological thriller that will have you hooked from the first page and holding your breath until its shocking conclusion.

If you liked Gone Girl and Maestra, you’ll love Just One Time.

 

Thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the opportunity to join the tour.

 

I am glad the book’s blurb mentioned Fatal Attraction – I have not seen many films made after 1995 and I was worried that stating Just One Time had reminded me of Fatal Attraction would make me seem a bit out of touch!!!

But it did. Remind me of a film with an obsessive female and a man totally out of his depth.

Just One Time opens with David getting drunk and intimate (graphically) on a one night stand.  His wife finds out about his dalliance. We spin forward two years and David’s marriage is just holding together, his wife has not forgiven him but for the sake of their young daughter she has not kicked him out.  David is very much aware that he is on his last chance but his “moment of weakness” had been Just One Time.

But on a night at the theatre David meets Nina.  She gets his phone number and she wants him. Obsessively and Nina is not going to give up until she gets her man. So will begin David’s torment.  Shunned by his wife and desired by a gorgeous woman will David give in to his temptations?

Well there are spoilers in answering that so you will need to read to find out more.  However, I can share that Nina will stop at nothing to get what she wants and David will find it increasingly hard to escape her advances.

Just One Time was a quick read – Amazon showing 180 pages in length so I zipped through it.  But it held my attention well and it gave more than one instance of uncomfortable reading. I appreciate why the description used Gone Girl and Maestra, it did merge the more notorious elements of each book.

A wee change of page from my normal books and I did enjoy it, some nice wee twists along the way too.

 

Just One time is the first novel by K.S. Hunter, the alter ego of an international bestselling author, whose identity will remain a secret.

The book releases on Kindle on 7 December 2017 and you can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Just-One-Time-K-S-Hunter-ebook/dp/B077CXFVK3/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1512246860&sr=8-1&keywords=just+one+time

 

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December 1

Gilding the Lily – Justine John

A gripping mystery of jealousy, murder and lies.

An invitation to her estranged, wealthy father’s surprise 75th birthday party in New York sees Amelia and her husband, Jack, set off across the pond to meet a whole new world of family politics.

Amelia, now a successful businesswoman, feels guilty about never liking her father’s women, so does her upmost to give his new socialite partner, Evelyn, the benefit of the doubt. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could just all get along? But there’s something very dark, determined and dangerous about her…

When Amelia’s father, Roger, becomes ill, Jack grows suspicious that there is more to it. Amelia understands why, but no one else will believe them. They travel back to America to piece together the puzzle, but when Roger goes missing, the couple are driven to their wits’ end. It takes a DEA officer and a secret assassin to bring them answers, but the ruthless truth is something no one expected…

 

My thanks to Justine for the invitation to join the blog tour and for allowing me the opportunity to provide a free and fair review of her novel.

 

I came to Gilding the Lily blind. I like to do this from time to time, start a book with out knowing what the story is about or even who the lead character is. I get to enjoy the story “cold” without waiting for an event (be it murder, marriage or mistake) which has been revealed in the book’s description.

Because I came to Gilding the Lily without any forewarning of what to expect I was horrified at the extent of the evil behaviour of one of the characters.  It built up slowly so by the time I came to realise what was going on I was fully caught up in the drama.

The clues had been there…

Evelyn has made a success throughout her life of captivating a partner who will look after her and give her opportunities and wealth. With more than one husband dead and gone she seeks out a new mate and further comforts her nest. She is now with Roger, he is older than Evelyn and has a grown daughter (Amelia) who he does not see very frequently.

Evelyn and Amelia do not get along. Mainly down to Evelyn’s unusual behaviour when Amelia is around. However, as Roger’s health starts to fail Evelyn becomes more and more unpredictable. She soon makes it clear to Amelia that Amelia’s attempts to see (or even speak with) her father is becoming too tiring for Roger and Evelyn and she asks that Amelia gives them peace.

Amelia is horrified by Evelyn’s behaviour. She will not accept that her father does not want to see her and she starts to worry how much input her father has had into the decision she must stay away. Is Evelyn deliberately turning Roger against his daughter? How ill can her father really be that he would turn away his own child?  Then Amelia’s husband Jack makes an alarming observation which leads Amelia to believe that something very sinister is going on.

It is tricky to give too much information on the relationship of the characters in Gilding the Lily, much of the enjoyment in this dark and duplicitous tale comes from not knowing what you can trust. Evelyn is clearly a gold digger and Roger does seem rather distant from Amelia. But is Amelia simply paranoid?  Does she object to her father taking a new partner after the death of his wife (Amelia’s mother)?

Justine John teases out shocks and twists right to the last page. I read Gilding the Lily in a single sitting…I HAD to know what was happening!  Really entertaining but with a healthy dose of anxiety for the characters. Look out for this one it is great storytelling.

 

Gilding the Lily is available in paperback and digital format.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gilding-Lily-Justine-John-ebook/dp/B01N535MZY/ref=la_B01MYYADH3_1_1_twi_kin_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1512084367&sr=1-1

 

 

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November 30

The Deaths of December – Susi Holliday

The hunt is on for a serial killer in this thrilling festive crime novel

It looks like a regular advent calendar.

Until DC Becky Greene starts opening doors…and discovers a crime scene behind almost every one.

The police hope it’s a prank. Because if it isn’t, a murderer has just surfaced – someone who’s been killing for twenty years.

But why now? And why has he sent it to this police station?

As the country relaxes into festive cheer, Greene and DS Eddie Carmine must race against time to catch the killer. Because there are four doors left, and four murders will fill them…

It’s shaping up to be a deadly little Christmas.

 

My thanks to Mulholland Books for the chance to join the Blog Tour

As we drew ever closer to the end of 2017 I have seen dozens and dozens of Christmas novels being discussed and reviewed. None appealed to me. Crime thrillers tend not to be seasonal affairs and I don’t enjoy books like The Cozy Gingerbread-Latte Cafe on Mistletoe Lane (in Cornwall).

You do get plenty of crime books set in the winter months, the dark wet conditions seem perfect for masking foul deeds. However, there are not many crime novels which focus the plot around Christmas.

My Christmas book apathy soon changed when I first heard about Susi Holliday’s The Deaths of December.  Once I had read the outline (as above) I could not wait for the chance to read TDoD. The police receive a homemade advent calendar. Behind the doors is a photograph of a murder scene – some are immediately identifiable to DS Eddie Carmine as they are investigations he as been working on.  Is he being pranked by his colleagues? How would a stranger access what seem to be crime scene photographs? Only the police should have pictures of multiple murders no individual could assemble such a macabre collection of images – unless that individual was present at each murder. Could there be a serial killer at work?

Caramine and his colleague DC Becky Green must first try to establish the authenticity of the pictures, then identify where and when they were taken. As they start to pull together more information it becomes obvious they are facing a challenge quite unlike anything they have encountered before.  It makes for totally engrossing reading!

I have enjoyed each of Susi’s previous novels and in 4 years of blogging she has consistently retained my vote for the best author at capturing the essence of characters. In her Banktoun Trilogy each character was wonderfully realised and that remains the case in The Deaths of December. Every person in TDoD feels important to the plot, their contributions seem natural and the dialogue between characters has an authenticity that many writes do not seem to be able to capture. These believable/realistic characters make it so much easier to fall into the story and be taken along with events – nothing seems forced or jarred.

Narration is handled by multiple characters and each contributor seemed to have a personal voice. The story flows really well and the moving viewpoint kept me turning pages. I do love a serial killer story and this one is a cracker (no Christmas pun intended).

With Christmas looming The Deaths of December should be required reading for the cold winter evenings. Loved this a lot and I am sure you will too.

 

The Deaths of December is published by Mulholland Books and is available in paperback and digital format.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deaths-December-cracking-Christmas-thriller/dp/1473659361/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1511988244&sr=8-1&keywords=susi+holliday

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November 30

Briefly Maiden – Jacqueline Chadwick

Ali Dalglish is back in the role she loves: working alongside Vancouver Island’s Integrated Major Incident Squad and is once again partnered with Inspector Rey Cuzzocrea.

As the chemistry between Ali and Cuzzocrea intensifies so does the hunt for a twisted killer as they are tasked with solving a series of violent murders with links to a sinister paedophile ring in the idyllic island city of Cedar River.

In the midst of the chaos, Ali is pulled by her desire to find and save the children at the heart of the case but she is thwarted by an evil so cunning and powerful that it threatens to become the nemesis she never imagined possible: one that could bring her to her knees.

 

Thank you to Chris at Fahrenheit Press for the opportunity to review Briefly Maiden

 

In Scotland there was a generation (my generation) who grew up in awe of a Scottish chap called Dalglish – he had the nickname “King”.

There are many generations of crime fiction readers who hold a policeman called Dalglish in the highest regard.

Time for a new generation of readers to embrace a “Dalglish” – Ali Dalglish.

Jacqueline Chadwick’s feisty (and very Scottish) protagonist has been the most welcome new addition to my reading in 2017.  Following a brilliant debut, in In The Still, Ali Dalglish returns in the equally brilliant Briefly Maiden.

We catch up with Ali several months after the events of In The Still. She is working alongside Inspector Rey Cuzzocre for the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Incident Squad. A brutal murder is the focus of their current investigation. The victim appears to have been linked to a paedophile ring, his body shows multiple stab wounds and the killer has removed part of his victim’s body (leaving the police in no doubt there is a sexual motive behind his death).

Readers get to follow the killer. We see more victims being identified and targeted and we learn how other members of the paedophile ring will start to take steps to protect themselves.

Ali and her colleagues will have their work cut out. Adopting unorthodox investigative procedures may be their only hope.

The Major Incident Squad play a key role in Briefly Maiden.  While Ali was an outsider when we first encountered her in In The Still, she is now part of a well established team (although Ali is still not fully integrated into the mix).  She is many miles away from her native Scotland and Ali stands out among her colleagues – not just because of her accent and background, but her no nonsense approach to life causes ructions between her and her colleagues. There is also the small matter of the building sexual tension between Ali and Cuzzocrea. The scenes where Ali and colleagues are butting heads with each other or are pushing ahead with the investigation were particularly enjoyable.

Not for the faint of heart. The investigation will consider the worst aspects of humanity – Jacqueline Chadwick does not shield the reader from the crimes committed or the retribution the killer seeks to dole out.  What we do get to enjoy is a slick crime thriller which twists and turns throughout and a story which keeps the reader hooked,

But nothing will prepare you for the finale.

Those last few chapters are exactly why I keep reading and blogging. When I picked my jaw off the floor I immediately wanted to tell my friends they had to read Briefly Maiden. I want others to experience that rush from reading a brilliantly told story. I want to talk to them about how great Ali is and how she can steal every scene she is in. I want to see them engrossed (as I was) in a book which was both powerful and compelling.

Briefly Maiden – outstanding. I’ve not enjoyed any book as much as this for a long, long time.

 

Briefly Maiden is published by Fahrenheit Press and is available in paperback and digital format here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Briefly-Maiden-Ali-Dalglish-Book-ebook/dp/B0771PVW8K/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1511987257&sr=1-1&keywords=briefly+maiden

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