April 14

The Contract – JM Gulvin

The ContractIn New Orleans, Texas Ranger John Q is out of his jurisdiction, and possibly out of his depth. It seems everyone in Louisiana wants to send him home, and every time he asks questions there’s trouble: from the pharmacist to the detective running scared to the pimp who turned to him as a last resort. Before John Q knows it, he looks the only link between a series of murders.

So who could be trying to set him up, and why, and who can he turn to in a city where Southern tradition and family ties rule?

Infused with the rhythms of its iconic setting, The Contract is a thriller to keep even the most seasoned crime readers gripped and guessing all the way to its endgame.

 

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

 

America in the latter half of the 1960’s is the setting for JM Gulvin’s second John Q thriller. Texas Ranger, John Quarrie, is a great lead character – cool under pressure, a sharp shooter and displays a logical and rational intelligence where we see him puzzling out the evidence he finds to unveil the bigger mysteries.

Evidence?  Well, The Contract opens with an armed robber.  John Q is not far from where the incident takes place and gives chase. Being a Texas Ranger, John Q knows the area well and he manages to pin down the robbers – a confrontation is inevitable and the reader gets to see early-on the unflappable nature of John Q as a gun fight ensues.

In the aftermath of the chase (and the subsequent arrest) John Q tries to uncover the motive behind the robbery and his investigations take him to New Orleans. I love reading about New Orleans, a seemingly sleepy town where old families run things behind the scenes and there is always the feeling that there is sinister undertone to every conversation.

Quarrie tracks down Gigi, a singer who is oblivious to the events back in Texas but is unwittingly linked to the death of a man. If Gigi is to be of any help to Quarrie in his investigations he needs to keep her safe but in a town where John Q is a stranger who does he trust?

The Contract is written with perfect pacing and tone for the deep South setting and the author has perfectly captured that feeling of 1960’s life. Reading The Contract it is so very easy to slip into the story and ignore everything else which is going on around you. JM Gulvin has penned a wonderful tale with conspiracy, murder and corruption and I heartily recommend it.

 

The Contract is published by Faber and is available in paperback and digital format. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/cka/Contract-John-Q-Mystery-JM-Gulvin/0571323812/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492158749&sr=1-1&keywords=the+contract+jm+gulvin

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April 10

Faithless – Kjell Ola Dahl

FaithlessOslo detectives Gunnarstranda and Frølich are back … and this time, it’s personal… When the body of a woman turns up in a dumpster, scalded and wrapped in plastic, Inspector Frank Frølich is shocked to discover that he knows her … and their recent meetings may hold the clue to her murder. As he ponders the tragic events surrounding her death, Frølich’s colleague Gunnarstranda investigates a disturbingly similar cold case involving the murder of a young girl in northern Norway and Frølich is forced to look into his own past to find the answers – and the killer – before he strikes again.

Dark, brooding and utterly chilling, Faithless is a breath-taking and atmospheric page-turner that marks the return of an internationally renowned and award-winning series, from one of the fathers of Nordic Noir.

 

My thanks to Karen at Orenda for my review copy and the opportunity to join the blog tour

I have been on a nice wee reading run of police procedural stories recently, Faithless keeps that run going whilst transporting me to Oslo at the same time. Good start!

The principle focus was on Inspector Frank Frølich and as the story opens he is parked up in his car, watching a suspect’s house. A woman passes and Frølich risks being spotted yet the woman continues into the suspects house only to leave a few hours later.  Frølich picks her up for questioning and she is discovered to be carrying a small amount of drugs.  Charges are pressed and Frølich is no further on in gaining evidence against his suspect.

Away from work Frølich has been invited to re-unite with an old friend who is celebrating his engagement. Frølich has lost contact with his friend over the years and realises it has been over 20 years since they last met.  Wary of the passage of time he decides to attend the engagement party. However, when he meets his friend’s fiancée he realises that this is not the first time that he has met this  woman – he charged her with drug possession some hours earlier.

From this awkward opening I was drawn in to Frølich’s difficult investigation. The woman (Veronika) remains a potential lead which will give Frølich an opportunity to gather intel on his chief suspect.  However, his unexpected personal association with Veronika will create a problem – and it is a problem which is destined to become more complicated.

Concurrent to the problems he will face with Veronika, Frølich and his colleagues are also investigating the disappearance of a student from Uganda who has been studying at the university. He will need to juggle time and resources and we get to see the benefit of having a great supporting cast who can assist Frølich.

Faithless marked my introduction to the works of Kjell Ola Dahl. Frølich has appeared in previous novels but I didn’t feel that I needed to have read the earlier books to keep up with events in Faithless – it stands well on its own. Given how much I enjoyed this book I am keen to try others in the series, especially if there is a book which follows Faithless because THAT ENDING totally shocked me. Clearly I am not going to say why, but I was left wanting more after a breath-taking finale to the story.

The original novel has been translated by Don Bartlett and I’d like to acknowledge what a splendid job has been done. Faithless flows really well, is very accessible (which is to say the language is not stilted or fussy) and I raced through the book keeping up with Frølich et all.

Cracking stuff. If I enjoyed all my books this much I’d be a very happy reader.

 

Faithless is published by Orenda Books and is available in paperback and digital format from 15 April 2017. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Faithless-Oslo-Detectives-Kjell-Dahl/dp/1910633275/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1491862043&sr=1-1&keywords=faithless+kjell+ola+dahl

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April 9

The Man Who Loved Islands – David F Ross

The Man Who Loved IslandsThe Disco Boys and THE Band are BACK …In the early ’80s, Bobby Cassidy and Joey Miller were inseparable; childhood friends and fledgling business associates. Now, both are depressed and lonely, and they haven’t spoken to each other in more than ten years. A bizarre opportunity to honour the memory of someone close to both of them presents itself, if only they can forgive … and forget.

Absurdly funny, deeply moving and utterly human, The Man Who Loved Islands is an unforgettable finale to the Disco Days trilogy.

 

My thanks to Karen at Orenda for my review copy

 

If you were here for The Last Days of Disco and then The Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas then The Man Who Loved Islands is an absolute treat. We have returning characters, you will know how David Ross can tear at your heartstrings then have you howling with laughter and, of course, we have the best soundtrack and musical references that you will find in any book on the fiction shelves.

If you have not read the first two books (and you really should) then fear not…The Man Who Loved Islands can stand alone and be thoroughly enjoyed. Where the earlier stories were very much tales of Ayrshire, this time we have a much more international feel. The first third of the book sees the narrative jump back and forward in time and events mainly take place between the Far East and Ibiza. The changing timeline and the locational switches give Islands a very different feel to the first two novels (albeit the conversational language is 100% Scottish).

Bobby and Joey are old friends who have drifted apart. Though both have achieved a degree of success in their lives, they have both reached a stage where they are largely unhappy with where they find themselves now. The chance of a reunion arises – the opportunity to build bridges and re-establish that old friendship and both men find themselves drawn together again.

The Man Who Loved Islands splits the pacing. The first half of the book is slower, reflecting the unhappy position that the boys have found themselves in.  We spend time with Bobby in Ibiza during the off season, he scrimping and slaving to try to make that elusive breakthrough on the club scene. The long quiet days will frustrate and leave him almost fatigued with lethargy, sleeping late, watching tv re-runs he is in a spiral of waste. Joey is an architect but is being edged out of his firm by younger and more hungry colleagues. He is listless and travelling from hotel to hotel in an unfulfilling existence.

Into the latter stages of the story the pace dramatically lifts, the fun is back and the hijinks return. It is funny, fresh and damned entertaining. Plus there is the music – always the music and the forgotten songs, the trivia and the sheer depth of knowledge which infuse David Ross brings to his books make reading them so very enjoyable.

Fabulous, funny and frequently foul mouthed.

 

The Man Who Loved Islands is published by Orenda Books and is available in paperback and digital format.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Man-Loved-Islands-Disco-Days/dp/1910633151/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1491683160&sr=8-1&keywords=the+man+who+loved+islands

 

 

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April 8

The Stolen Child – Sanjida Kay

 

Zoe and Ollie Morley tried for years to have a baby and couldn’t. They turned to adoption and their dreams came true when they were approved to adopt a little girl from birth. They named her Evie.

Seven years later, the family has moved to Yorkshire and grown in number: a wonderful surprise in the form of baby Ben. As a working mum it’s not easy for Zoe, but life is good.

But then Evie begins to receive letters and gifts.

The Stolen ChildThe sender claims to be her birth father.

He has been looking for his daughter.

And now he is coming to take her

 

My thanks to Kirsty at Atlantic Books for my review copy

 

Last year I read Sanjida Kay’s debut novel, Bone By Bone, and it messed with my head. Bone By Bone tells an intense story which focusses heavily on bullying and the impact that it can have. Despite all the terrible things I read about in the many dozens of crime thrillers I read each year, I find it hardest to read about bullies. Sanjida Kay did an amazing job of crafting a story around bullying which drew me in and kept me reading – I had to see how the story would be resolved.

Spin forward to yesterday morning and I don’t mind admitting that I was more than a little wary of picking up Sanjida Kay’s new novel: The Stolen Child.  Yup that DID say “yesterday morning”  I poured through The Stolen Child in superfast time as Sanjida has written another nail-biting emotional rollercoaster of a novel.

Zoe and Ollie adopted Evie 7 years ago. The story actually opens when Evie’s mother goes into labour – early. A tricky birth and a spell in intensive care for a baby, could this have had some impact upon Evie’s behaviour as when we meet her (aged 7) she appears a flighty, distracted girl?  Zoe is struggling to cope with the demands of young children, managing a home, trying to find time to work on her painting and she has, in Ollie, a husband who appears more focussed on work than his family. It is not an uncommon situation but Sanjida Kay brings the reader into the family home and exposes all their insecurities and weak moments.

As is indicated in the book description, Evie is receiving notes which appear to come from her father. Zoe finds the notes and the family face the challenge of explaining to a headstrong child that she was adopted. Evie’s reaction is initially one of acceptance, however, when her temper is raised she starts to lash out at Zoe and indicates that she want’s her “real” family.  Once again Sanjida Kay has a story which unsettles and I can honestly say that during the course of the book I was empathising with almost all of the characters at some point (and wanting to give them a stern talking to at others).

There are loads of discussion points which could arise from The Stolen Child and after this review I have some possible topics for consideration – this book is a dream for reading groups.

 

The Stolen Child is published by Corvus, is available now in paperback and digital format and you can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stolen-Child-Sanjida-Kay/dp/1782396918/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1491607094&sr=1-1&keywords=sanjida+kay

 

Book Club Questions:

  • What do you think about the attraction between Zoe and Harris?
  • Sanjida KayWho do you think is the best person for Zoe to be with – Ollie or Harris?
  • How does Ollie and Zoe’s marriage and their relationship change as the
    novel progresses?
  • Zoe says she feels almost like a single mum at times. Do you think this
    is true for many modern-day families?
  • Zoe is trying to be an artist. How hard to you think it is for her, and
    women like her, to juggle creativity and motherhood?
  • The novel is set in Ilkley, with some of the key scenes taking place on
    Ilkley Moor. Do you think such a large expanse of wilderness can be
    strange and frightening?
  • What do you think of the relationship between Jack and Evie?
    How do you feel Zoe and Ollie handled Evie’s adoption? Do you think
    she’s simply a ‘quirky child’ as Ollie does, or has she been damaged by
    her biological mother?
  • Zoe initially thinks that Harris is not from Ilkley. Later she and the police
    make some key assumptions about him based on what they believe
    about his religion and ethnicity. What role does race play in this novel?
    The title of the novel comes from a poem by WB Yeats, also called, The
    Stolen Child. How much of an influence do you think fairy tales, like the
    one described in Yeat’s poem, play in the novel?
  • Sanjida Kay has said that one of her favourite books is Emily Brontë’s
    Wuthering Heights. Can you see the novel’s influence on The Stolen
    Child?
  • Were you surprised by the ending?

 

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April 7

Night is Watching – Lucy Cameron

Night is WatchingCan You Feel Your Blood Drain…

Couples are being slaughtered in their homes; women drained of blood, men violently beaten.  There are no clues to track the killer, no explanation as to why an increasing amount of blood is being removed from the crime scenes.

Detective Sergeant Rhys Morgan is seconded to the ‘Couples Killer’ investigation. Tormented by vivid nightmares, he hasn’t slept soundly for weeks becoming convinced a creature from these nightmares poses a threat to him and his family. His behaviour becomes increasingly erratic causing his bosses to wonder if he’s the right man for the job.

As clues to the killer’s identity are uncovered, the line between what is real and what cannot be starts to blur and Rhys discovers the answer to catching the killer and exorcizing his own demons, may be as irrational as he fears.

 

My thanks to Lucy and Noelle (CrimeBookJunkie) who provided my review copy and the opportunity to join the blog tour.

 

A serial killer (dubbed the “Couples Killer”) and a police investigation which seems to be going nowhere – a very promising start to Night is Watching. Then it just got better as Lucy Cameron is not holding back.

The killer’s female victims are strung up and (eventually) their bodies drained of blood. The victim’s husband will also be found at the scene of the crime…battered, beaten and stuffed into a cupboard away from their spouse. This is not a story for the faint of heart and I need to highlight that the story will take a turn into horror territory – it is not by chance that the description (above) makes reference to Rhys Morgan’s demons.

Morgan is the detective brought into the murder squad to assist with the hunt for the Couples Killer.  His home life is not in a good place, he and his wife are walking on eggshells around each other and the memory of Morgan’s sister (who vanished from his life when he was a child) hangs heavy over the household.  Morgan is obsessive over the memory of his sister and despite the patience and tolerance of his wife it is clear that his inability to move on is creating real problems for his marriage.

Readers are treated to an early sense of creepy tension when a strange man moves into a house on Morgan’s street. Lucy Cameron unsettles us early with the feeling that something odd has arrived in our midst.  Morgan learns that the detective that was leading the investigation has had a breakdown, leads all need rechecked as the police find their colleague had become fixated on supernatural angles to the killings However, as Rhys starts to become involved within the case he also finds that there are some very unusual incidents occurring and he becomes fixated upon his new neighbour.

Night Is Watching TourLucy Cameron does a great job of balancing a story about a murder investigation while phasing in elements of dark horror. What I felt was done particularly well was how we see the impact of the horrific and unsettling events that Rhys Morgan has to face when it begins to impact upon his mental health.  When Morgan is adamant he is on the track of a killer his colleagues are questioning his ability to remain part of the investigative team.

Night is Watching is a brilliant read for those that like their crime stories with a horror or supernatural twist. If you have read and enjoyed James Oswald or Caroline Mitchell’s books (and you really should) then Night is Watching is one for you.

 

Night is Watching is published by Caffeine Nights and is available in digital format here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XCBKFS6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1491509946&sr=8-1&keywords=night+is+watching

 

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April 3

Will to Live – Rachel Amphlett

Will to Live Cover MEDIUM WEB(1)Reputation is everything.

When a packed commuter train runs over a body on a stretch of track known to locals as ‘Suicide Mile’, it soon transpires that the man was a victim of a calculated murder.

As the investigation evolves and a pattern of murders is uncovered, Detective Sergeant Kay Hunter realises the railway’s recent reputation may be the work of a brutal serial killer.

With a backlog of cold cases to investigate and attempting to uncover who is behind a professional vendetta against her, Kay must keep one step ahead of both the killer and her own adversaries.

When a second murder takes place within a week of the first, she realises the killer’s timetable has changed, and she’s running out of time to stop him…

Will to Live is the second book in a new crime thriller series featuring Kay Hunter – a detective with a hidden past and an uncertain future…

 

My thanks to Rachel and Emma (Emma Mitchell, Publicity Manager) for a review copy and the chance to join the tour.

 

It has been a while since I read a serial killer story. There have been a few books with multiple victims; but a serial killer story where a murderer stalks his victims, has a “style” which the police can use to identify a single killer and a team of detectives chasing down the clues…well it has been far too long since the last one!

Thank goodness, therefore, for Will to Live. Rachel Amphlett’s 2nd book to feature DS Kay Hunter was a very welcome companion on my daily commute as this was a serial killer story that I could really get my teeth into. As I hadn’t read Hunter’s introduction in Scared to Death I was slightly apprehensive that I may miss some important back story. If I did then it didn’t impact in any way upon my enjoyment of Will to Live, I was wholly consumed by the story and never felt that I had missed something vital through not (yet) reading the first book.

Hunter was immediately likeable as a lead character and her ongoing feud with one of her bosses gave an edge to the scenes in the department. For me, a good police procedural story will feature the squadroom discussions so we get a real feel of the investigation which is ongoing. No solo copper solving all the problems on their own but a team effort to track down a killer. Will to Live delivers this in fine style!  I loved the dynamic which the author has established between Hunter and her team and the mutual respect that the characters show each other really helps ground the characters and gives them authenticity.

What particularly drew me to Will to Live was the way the killer was dispatching his victims. Death by train is particularly gruesome and some of the scenes which take place by railway lines made for chilling and harrowing reading (exactly what I want in a crime thriller).

Away from the murders there is a backdrop of characters who have suffered, or are suffering from, depression or who are dealing with post trauma shock. These aspects of the story were handled with a great deal of sensitivity by Rachel Amphlett, highlighting a very real and often overlooked problem which impacts not just the individual but their family and friends too.

Will to Live – loved it, snatched every possible reading opportunity to keep the pages turning and I got through it in a day. I would be happy if I got into all my books in the way I was absorbed by this one.

 

Will to Live is available in digital format and can be ordered through this link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Will-Live-Detective-Hunter-thriller-ebook/dp/B06XZHB17C/ref=sr_1_13?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1491255620&sr=1-13&keywords=rachel+amphlett

 

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April 2

Deadly Game – Matt Johnson

Deadly GameReeling from the attempts on his life and that of his family, Police Inspector Robert Finlay returns to work to discover that any hope of a peaceful existence has been dashed. Assigned to investigate the Eastern European sex-slave industry just as a key witness is murdered.

Finlay, along with his new partner Nina Brasov, finds himself facing a ruthless criminal gang, determined to keep control of the traffic of people into the UK.

 

My thanks to Karen at Orenda for my review copy

 

After the events in Matt Johnson’s Wicked Game we welcome the return of Robert Finlay who this time is facing a Deadly Game.

Early housekeeping first: I hadn’t read Wicked Game before starting Deadly Game.  I don’t believe it is necessary to have read the first novel, however, the opening chapters do provide a summary of how events at the end of book 1 ended (ie spoilers). If you read the two out of sequence then you will potentially spoil some plot twists.

After the events of Wicked Game we find that Finlay is not going to find it easy to return to his former job, a change of scene will be required and fortunately there are some influential people keen to utilise his special talents. Finlay is posted to Eastern Europe where he finds himself learning to dive and is by chance also placed in close proximity to a young Romanian woman (and her bodyguard). With fate receiving a few helping hands Finlay and the girl end up diving together and a friendship is formed.

I found the opening sequences held my attention really effectively. The short chapter lengths and Johnson’s easy flowing writing style made for prime “one more chapter” material and before I knew it I had been drawn into the story. Finlay is a fine lead character, more human than the average international jet-setting adventurer. He is not bulletproof, he tires, he displays emotion and is someone you want to read about.

There is too much going on within Deadly Game for me to spill the beans on many of the plot twists suffice to say this is a cracking adventure tale and one which should grace the shelves of thriller fans. I’d welcome many more Finlay books, he is a character going places.

 

Deadly Game is published by Orenda Books and is available in paperback and digital format. Copies can be ordered here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Deadly-Game-Robert-Finlay-Matt-Johnson/1910633666/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1491161541&sr=8-1&keywords=deadly+game

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March 29

Six Stories – Matt Wesolowski

Six Stories1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who took that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby.

2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure.

In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame… As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth. A chilling, unpredictable and startling thriller, Six Stories is also a classic murder mystery with a modern twist, and a devastating ending.

 

My thanks to Karen at Orenda for my review copy and the chance to join the blog tour.

Very, very occasionally something different crops up in my reading queue, a book which is quite unlike anything else that is clamouring to be read – Six Stories is that book. A murder story, told (in the main) as a series of podcast interviews where journalist Scott King chats with a key player in an unsolved murder case from an incident which took place in 1997.

A teenager, part of a group of kids visiting a remote “outward bound centre” vanishes in the night. His body turns up one year later but despite extensive police involvement and significant media interest no arrest was ever made and the crime remains unsolved.

Journalist King interviews other teens from the small group that visited the centre that fateful weekend. They were frequent guests on familiar territory and the “responsible adults” supervising them were quite lax in allowing these young adults scope to drink and smoke. Each of the titular “Stories” is an interview with one of the people who make up that group. As the stories are told we are given more insight into the dynamic of the kids, there are bullies and there are sheep. Some were friends, others were outcasts but each will contribute more to the bigger picture of what may have happened to Tom Jeffries.

It is frequently made clear that King is not a detective and that he is not looking to “solve” the mystery. However, the reader cannot help but get drawn into events and you find yourself hoping that something will break – a clue will slip out which gives you an insight into how the book may resolve the issue. As such you read Six Stories with an increasing level of concentration and focus lest you miss the nugget which may let slip an inconsistency in the various recollections.

The interview/podcast format is superb. The individual episodes are broken up with very short sequences which are not part of the podcast but these add an additional dark and intriguing element to the tale. Six Stories is incredibly atmospheric and the interview sections give a real intimacy to the telling of the story. At times it did not feel like I was reading a book – more akin to listening to an old story teller spinning a yarn for the crowd in a smoky tavern.

If you want a richly rewarding reading experience then Six Stories is it.

 

Six Stories is published by Orenda Books and is available in paperback and digital format. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Six-Stories-Matt-Wesolowski/dp/1910633623/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1490822340&sr=8-1&keywords=Matt+Wesolowski

 

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March 21

Parallel Lines – Steven Savile

Parallel Lines_high resHow far would you go to provide for your child? Adam Shaw is dying, and knows he’ll leave his disabled son with nothing. His solution? Rob a bank. It’s no surprise that things go wrong. What is surprising is that when another customer is accidentally shot, no one in the bank is in a hurry to hand Adam over to the police. There’s the manager who’s desperate to avoid an audit, the security guard with a serious grudge, and the woman who knows exactly how bad the victim really was… Eight people, twelve hours, one chance to cover up a murder. But it’s not just the police they have to fool. When many lives intersect, the results can be explosive.

 

My thanks to Lydia at Titan Books for my review copy and the chance to join the Parallel Lines blog tour

 

Parallel Lines has 8 key characters. At the foot of my review I have a fantastic guest post from Steven Savile which focuses on Richard Rhodes (the Manager of the bank at the centre of events in Parallel Lines).

 

Although I read loads of crime fiction I cannot think of too many stories about a bank robbery. There are books where a bank gets robbed but it is usually only a chapter or two of action then the story moves on. Parallel Lines is all about a robbery, over 80% of the story has the reader in the bank as the crime is taking place and it is a brilliant, brilliant read.

The story opens with a focus on Adam, the robber, and his motivations for holding up a bank.  When things start to go wrong for him (no spoiler, it’s in the cover info) we get to see the other people that were in the bank at the point Adam pulls a gun on the cashier.  From here on Steven Savile will focus on different characters who are also in the bank, we get their backgrounds, their motivations to help or hinder Adam in his predicament and we see how their lives have overlapped prior to the fateful day in the bank.

I cannot get too detailed over how the robbery and subsequent events unfold but I can assure you that Parallel Lives really had me hooked. The author brilliantly set up the different characters – each will act to preserve their own self interest, however, their futures will be linked in a way which they could never have foreseen.

What makes Parallel Lines such a compelling read is that virtually all the characters are required to become a liar at some point in the tale.  For some this comes naturally, but for others they find they are required to play a role which is unfamiliar to them and their discomfort makes for fun and tense moments. But the problem with telling lies is that you cannot keep the lie going forever and, keeping me turning the pages, was the drive to find out which lies would come unstuck and the consequences which may befall the liars.

I am intentionally not giving away much about Parallel Lines – stories told this well deserve to be told in full and I would urge you to seek out this book and discover the fate of Adam and his hostages for yourself. Did I mention that this was a brilliant book?  It is – scroll down and order a copy today via the handy link at the foot of the page.

 

Now as promised, for the blog tour Mr Savile has a few words on one of the key characters in Parallel Lines:

Richard Rhodes

Secrets and lies make the world go around. I’d originally intended to do a short piece now on a few of my favourite liars in crime fiction, the idea of unreliable narrators and purposely misleading the audience as you go along, but as the first name (Frank Abernathy) came to me, I realised that actually this was an opportunity for a little truth. You see there’s a core of lies in Parallel Lines, and people pretending to be someone they aren’t. There’s the Dane, who also calls himself Kage Salisbury, who’s pretending to be a cop, there’s the security guard, Monk, who at one point is pretending to be a dead man, and there’s Richard Rhodes, the bank manager who fancies himself as a bit of a Robin Hood. There’s also a lot of truth in how I see the world wrapped up on their lies.

You see, I come from a line of great liars.

My father was a golden tongued salesman who could charm the birds out of the trees. He ended up featuring in a double page spread in The Sun back in the ‘90s, but that was the end of his story, not the beginning. Back in the day he was one of the leading guys in his field—which was focussed on male vanity, he provided wigs and weaves and hair transplants to the stars. He had all the celebrity clients, members of The Bee Gees and Slade, Crocodile Rockers and footballers. And I remember him telling me once he invented the costs of treatment on the spot, depending upon the wealth of the client across the table. He made a lot of money from sheiks and other men who couldn’t stand the idea of being bald. I used to joke that I was the best advert in the world walking into the clinic and the worst every time I walked out.

But dad was nothing compared with his dad, and you’ll get the Frank Abernathy reference now, if you’ve seen Catch Me if You Can. See, granddad (who I never met) was special.  For years I’ve toyed with writing the novel of his life, I’ve even got a title (The Last of the Great Liars), but the problem is I don’t think anyone would believe it. Here’s my understanding of how it went down. This may or may not be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but, but then, we’re talking about secrets and lies here.

Age 18 he signed up with the Canadian mounted police, and actually seemed to have it all there, beautiful fiancé who became wife, great job and eventually three kids, but wanderlust kicked in and he just picked up and walked off, joined the merchant navy and sailed into my grandmother’s life. He was sunk twice on the way, which always makes me think of him as a bit of an Uncle Albert. Anyway, he pitched up in Somerset, met my gran, married and had three kids, including my dad, and again everything was hunky and dory, you know apart from the one telling detail, the wife and three kids back in Canada… but this was pre-internet, hell, to a large extent it was pre-pretty much everything we think of as common place today.  Now, maybe it was a pathology, maybe he couldn’t stand being happy, but even as he’s got Nan and the kids on one side of the country he’s setting up another family on the other coast, another marriage, more kids. My dad told me recently how his father had taken him out to dinner, given him a five bob note and told him he was the man of the family now and how he had to look after his mum, and then just walked out to join the other family he’d set up. Not that they were enough to keep him. He’d reinvented himself several more times during his life, abandoning his family each time, at one point working on the Trans Siberian Railway, on oil pipelines in Eastern Europe and working his way down eventually to Australia where he ended up working as a cook for gold miners and getting himself adopted as a friendly grandfather for a new family. And, in keeping with his larger than life life, his death was the stuff of legend. He told them he had cancer, got in a car and drove into the outback, lay down at the side of the road and waited to die. Of course, there was no cancer. Pretty much nothing in his life was true. Remarkably, he ended up on children’s tv in Adelaide, where he made elaborate model ships, and something like 2,000 people turned up at his funeral. How do we know all this? He kept a travelling chest and in it was all of the documentation, the birth certificates, marriage certificates, pay slips, everything to track him across continents and through reinvention after reinvention all the way back to the beginning. But here’s the interesting thing, all of it was redacted. The names of the people blacked out to protect them. All of it except for my grandmother and their three children. Meaning that at Nan’s funeral, the priest delivered the eulogy, describing her as the loving mother of David, Wrey, Anthony and John… and everyone’s looking around thinking John? Who the hell is John? Only to discover it was one of the bastard children come following the path of breadcrumbs laid down by the travelling chest.

Now, and this bit kills me, he did all of this under his own name. He’d completely reinvent everything about himself apart from his name. It couldn’t happen today, not in the era of the big brother that is the internet where nothing ever gets forgotten. But it happened back then, and looking at my lineage it doesn’t surprise me that I ended up doing what I do, telling stories, inventing and reinventing things. Telling elaborate lies for a living.

Like I said, Parallel Lines has a core of liars at its heart. But the one I sympathise most with is Richard Rhodes. You see he’s a good man, or at least wants to be a good man. But he wants the glamour, too. He just can’t help himself. He may not be up there on the scale with my grandfather, but he’s certainly caught by the glamour of not being his average ordinary self for a few hours when he walks into Archer’s casino. He can’t help himself. He wants to feel the way those other guys do, the cool ones who have the perfect stubble and the gravelly voice and those melt-the-knickers eyes. So he reinvents himself, just like granddad did, and for just a couple of hours he might even get to be all that he pretends to be. The thing is, once the lie is spoken it is only ever going to end badly for him. Which is good for us, because secrets and lies make the world go around.  And stories would be really dull without them.

 

Parallel Lines is published by Titan Books and is available to order here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Parallel-Lines-Steven-Savile/dp/1783297913/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1490130680&sr=1-1&keywords=parallel+lines

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March 18

Revenge of the Malakim – Paul Harrison

Revenge of the MakalimIt’s high summer and the streets of Bridlington East Yorkshire are awash with tourists. A serial killer is on the loose. DCI Will Scott and his team embark upon a fast paced investigation to catch a killer with a unique agenda. As the body count rises the killer randomly moves location and the police are unwittingly drawn into a dark and sinister world where cover-ups and corruption reigns. A place where no one can truly be trusted and nothing is ever what it seems.

 

My thanks to the publisher for my review copy

Revenge of the Malakim is not going to pull any punches. It is Book One of the Grooming Parlour Trilogy, a pretty clear indication that the subject matter is going to be controversial.

Very early in the story we visit our first murder scene in the company of DCI Will Scott. The victim had been brutally tortured prior to his death and Paul Harrison is pulling no punches as he describes the horrors to the readers. The police are shaken by the brutality on display but the necessity to track down a killer will push them on.

It becomes clear that their victim had been responsible for sickening acts of child abuse and this will create an added political element to the investigation and how it must be handled. However, Will Scott will need to be sure who he can turn to for help, corruption is rife and when important people feel their secrets may be under threat you can be sure they will not be passive.

There is a dark undertone to Revenge of the Malakim and it is assuredly not a book for those that prefer their crime to be “cosy”. I did take a little time to get used to the writing style, it is quite descriptive throughout the book which slowed the narrative a little but the story kept me reading

 

Revenge of the Malakim is available here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Revenge-Malakim-Grooming-Parlour-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B06XMQQ5Z4/ref=asap_bc?i e=UTF8

 

 

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