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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March 9

Born Bad – Marnie Riches

Born BadThe battle is on…

When gang leader Paddy O’Brien is stabbed in his brother’s famous nightclub, Manchester’s criminal underworld is shaken to the core. Tensions are running high, and as the body count begins to grow, the O’Brien family must face a tough decision – sell their side of the city to the infamous Boddlington gang or stick it out and risk losing their king.

But war comes easy to the bad boys, and they won’t go down without a fight. So begins a fierce battle for the South Side, with the leading Manchester gangsters taking the law into their own hands – but only the strongest will survive…

 

My thanks to Helena at Avon for my review copy and the chance to join the Born Bad blog tour.

 

One of the reviews where I will cut to the chase…reading Born Bad was a joyous experience, I bloody loved it.

Manchester’s criminal underworld are a volatile crowd and Marnie Riches is going to light the blue touch-paper under these powerful gangs and pit them against each other in a battle for supremacy. It is going to be bloody, the players will be treacherous and, in a world where reputation is everything, nobody can afford to show any weakness.

The story will track multiple characters and their lives will intertwine. At the heart of Born Bad is Paddy O’Brien – he is head of the family and controls one of the gangs.  Paddy gets what he wants and expects obedience, particularly from his wife Sheila. Although a powerful woman in her own right, Sheila cannot stand up to the volatile and aggressive behaviour of her husband and their relationship is somewhat strained. But when the opportunity comes for Paddy to get out and leave his enterprise behind both he and Sheila are eyeing up a new start, a clean break.

Needless to say walking away from the lifestyle which has defined him will not be easy and events will appear to conspire against him. A matter of family honour will lead to bloodshed – a hired killer engaged to avenge a perceived wrongdoing. But a death will demand a retaliation and a peaceful exit for Paddy and Sheila looks a bleak prospect.

The multiple focal points in Born Bad keeps the story flowing at a cracking pace. These are not nice people that we are reading about so you can be sure that something unpleasant will soon befall someone (I had such fun trying to predict who may not make it to the end of the chapter).

In a book of bad guys there are clear distinctions between those we are to root for and the really “evil” people we want to see fail. The character interaction is brilliantly handled, humour and empathy meets anger and irrationality and the reactions and responses are exactly how you would expect. The characters drive the story and they are wonderfully realised, without the depth and development that Marnie Riches bestows upon them the emotional engagement would not have been there for me. I believed in the characters and that gave Born Bad the life and vibrancy that a good book needs.

Yeah – I loved it.

 

Born Bad is published by Avon and is available now in paperback and digital format and you can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Born-Bad-Marnie-Riches-ebook/dp/B01KTKEX2Q/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1489098471&sr=1-1

 

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March 9

Guest Post: Marnie Riches – Born Bad

Manchester’s musical inspiration by Marnie Riches

Born BadManchester has a world-class music scene, and I’m lucky to have been a teen before and during the Madchester heyday, when the cool kids went to the Haçienda. I used to go there almost every Wednesday and Saturday to dance my little cotton socks off, praying that I might clap eyes on New Order, who co-owned the place. I was also an aspiring rockstar in my early twenties, when I returned home for a year after university and an abortive first stab at London life, trying to get a band together. In 1996, you could say I was a contemporary of the upcoming (as they were then), Elbow, and if you’re an Elbow fan, you’d be interested to know that I tried and failed to bag off with the legendary Seldom Seen Kid at a party, shortly before he sadly passed away. I remember him painting the railings of The Temple bar just outside where I worked at Manchester’s Training & Enterprise Council. We’d chat about being in bands and the struggle to get signed and “make it”. I migrated back down to London a couple of months later to immerse myself in proper trainee rockstardom. Three years of close-but-no-cigar followed, playing the Britpop wannabe circuit in Camden and Islington, but alas, my excellent band had missed that groovy gravy train… We were always in the right place at the wrong time.

But sod that! I’m now a best-selling crime writer, so all’s well that ends well.

It will come as no surprise to you, then, given my musical past, that I have a soundtrack to all the novels I write. For Born Bad, it comprises quintessentially Mancunian classics. Here are my top four tunes with thoughts on why I’ve chosen them to describe musically a story about Manchester’s gangland and gritty underbelly:

 

Isolation by Joy Division

IsolationI was always more of a New Order fan than a Joy Division fan, but Isolation’s industrial sound and effortless lo-fi cool makes me think of Manchester. When it plays in my car – the only opportunity I really have to deafen myself with my favourite music, nowadays, since I work in silence – I envisage bleak, grey streets on council estates. I feel the urban anti-chic of the city pulsate through me with every beat, putting me in mind of Born Bad’s Leviticus Bell, living in his crappy high-rise council flat on the Sweeney Hall estate. He is isolated by his poverty, lack of opportunity and desperate situation at home. But he’s street-smart and authentically urban-cool. He’ll do for me!

 

Bizarre Love Triangle by New Order

Bizarre Love TriangFrank O’Brien in Born Bad owns the world-class super-club, M1 House. Though I’m not stretchy enough to go clubbing more than once or twice per year now, M1 House is an amalgam of all the great clubs in Manchester, past and present. The DJs play the best music. The kids have the best time, obviously blighted by lethal gang violence – not that Manchester clubs are immune to being occasionally caught in the crossfire. Bizarre Love Triangle played in the Haçienda during its finest hour. I can remember standing in the lofty foyer, by the full-height, industrial plastic flaps, ringing wet with sweat from dancing on the packed dancefloor, listening to the track booming from the sound system. I revelled in how marvellous it was to be a Mancunian, listening to one of Manchester’s biggest bands in one of the coolest clubs in the world at that best of times. The clean electronic sound, with Hooky’s distinctive bassline over the top, embodies Mancunian artistic endeavour and the need to dance the blues away. Listen to it and understand Manchester.

 

Fools’ Gold by Stone Roses

Fools GoldThough I was never a mega-fan of the Stone Roses, I always loved Fools’ Gold as a song that epitomised Mancunian cool. Its shuffling backbeat and Mani’s iconic, super-funky bassline represent everything that’s effortlessly, timelessly stylish about Manchester’s music scene. Since it was used in the soundtrack to Guy Ritchie’s gangster flick, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels – a film I must have watched at least twenty times for its slick dialogue, complex story-telling and sharp humour – Fools’ Gold has also acquired gangland connotations for me. In fact, the Manchester series with Born Bad as its first installation, is all about the pursuit of a villain’s fools’ gold – dirty cash you can barely get away with or enjoy spending because those ill-gotten gains might bring the law and the tax man down on you. The track brings to mind Manchester’s mean streets, its glittering new buildings and the clean crispness of freshly laundered money. Scratch the surface and you can see how really filthy it still is beneath!

 

How Soon is Now? by The Smiths

the-smiths-how-soon-is-now-rhinoThe Smiths are a long-standing love of mine, musically – the early Smiths, that is. Morrissey and Marr are undoubtedly one of the best songwriting duos ever and the pair encapsulated a working class desperation and loneliness like no other band has managed to do. Their sonically brilliant songs represent true Mancunian misery, black humour and poetry at its best. When I wrote about the hopeless life of Leviticus Bell in Born Bad, How Soon is Now? might have been his personal soundtrack. There’s nobody who truly loves him – even his own mother, Gloria. The chugging Bo Diddly-style guitar of Johnny Marr creates an impression of the grind of urban life with a searing, whining guitar-sound layered above it that puts me in mind of emergency service sirens, whizzing by in the night. But in among the canon of work by the Smiths, there are tracks that bristle with humour and hope, just as this book boasts the darkest and the lightest of moments, introduced by Gloria and the eccentric henchman, Conky McFadden. So, The Smiths had to be on my list!

 

If Marnie’s choices have made you want to revisit these classics then she has very kindly pulled together a Spotify playlist which you can access here: https://open.spotify.com/user/1142057371/playlist/0DgbSgJtWpOF14WgYiJC0e

 

Born Bad is published by Avon and is available now in paperback and digital format and you can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Born-Bad-Marnie-Riches-ebook/dp/B01KTKEX2Q/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1489098471&sr=1-1

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March 8

The Witchfinder’s Sister – Beth Underdown

The Witchfinder's Sister jacket‘The number of women my brother Matthew killed, so far as I can reckon it, is one hundred and six…’

1645. When Alice Hopkins’ husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.

But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which he is gathering women’s names.

To what lengths will Matthew’s obsession drive him?
And what choice will Alice make, when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan?

 

My thanks to Josie at Penguin Randomhouse for my review copy

 

Matthew Hopkins – the Witchfinder. One of the most notorious figures from a dark period in the history of the UK. He was responsible for many deaths, all in the name of purging witchcraft from England. In The Witchfinder’s Sister Beth Underdown is taking a very different approach to telling his story and it is wonderfully done.

As the title suggests the story is about Hopkins’ sister (Alice). We first meet Alice as she is travelling to her family home, she is pregnant but has recently lost her husband. On returning home she will reside with her brother, Matthew. Their mother has also passed away since Alice was last home so she is returning to an unfamiliar domesticity.

Alice gets settled into her new quarters before we are first introduced to Matthew. He has been travelling so the author can firmly establish the household before she introduces the reader to The Witchfinder.  I adored how Beth Underdown allowed us to learn about Matthew, the man, before we start to learn about Matthew, The Witchfinder.  We learn of his disfigurement, how he and his sister looked out for each other as children and we see how he runs his house.

Yet as the story evolves – and it is a wonderfully written work of historical fiction – the tension between Alice and Matthew will grow. We see Matthew fade and The Witchfinder come to the fore.  He has plans and he has a mission and it will keep everyone enthralled.

Beth Underdown has delivered a magnificent tale, creepy, accessible and enthralling. Highly recommended.

 

The Witchfinder’s Sister is published by Penguin and is available here

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March 4

Anglesey Blue – Dylan H Jones

Anglesey BlueA Gripping New Serial Killer Thriller

MURDER. BETRAYAL. REVENGE.

It’s not the homecoming Detective Inspector Tudor Manx was expecting, but solving the case is just the start of his problems.

Recently transferred from the London Met to the North Wales Constabulary, Detective Inspector Tudor Manx has come to Island of Anglesey hoping for a quiet life.

But his hopes are dashed when a brutally mutilated body is found crucified to the bow of a fishing boat sending shockwaves through the peaceful community.

Manx’s faces pressure to solve the case quickly equipped with an inexperienced team.

Is the body a message or a premonition of more murders to come?

Adding to his mounting problems, Manx’s troubled past returns to haunt him. Manx left the island after the disappearance of his younger sister, Miriam; a cold case that still remains unsolved.

Can Manx solve the case before the body count rises?

How will he cope when he is forced to choose between his family and his duty as a police officer?

 

My thanks to the team at Bloodhound Books for my review copy and the opportunity to join my very first Bloodhound tour.

 

Picking up a book by an author I have never read before is always a bit of a thrill for me. You can read the book blurb or you can have a story recommended by a friend, but it is not until you start to read a book for yourself that you can know if you are going to enjoy the next few hundred pages. I knew from pretty early on in Anglesey Blue that I was going to enjoy it.

First there is DI Tudor Manx, adjusting to life in Anglesey after a transfer from London (and under a bit of a cloud within the force), he gives the reader an outsiders-eye view on life in the town. His team are a relatively inexperienced bunch of coppers – life in small town Wales doesn’t seem to compare to that of London’s Met police so Manx will have to drive, encourage and motivate his colleagues if they are to make any progress with a murder enquiry.

Yup Murder. There is a decidedly dark tone to Anglesey Blue which I delighted in. Bodies cropped up, a particularly nasty drug dealer (with his hired muscle) is looking to establish new distribution channels on the island for their new drug of choice. Manx and his team will have their work cut out but for a reader it is a highly entertaining challenge.

One of the best ways to hook me in a story is to have great dialogue between the characters, not just the conversations which will drive a police investigation but the chat amongst colleagues and friends. Dylan H Jones absolutely nails this for me – the station chatter, the flirtatious barmaid, the meeting of parents concerned about drugs on the island…it was so well written that I wanted to keep reading as I was enjoying not just the crimes and investigations but the camaraderie amongst the characters.

There are many crime novels out there to choose from but miss Anglesey Blue at your peril, it’s a gem.

 

Anglesey Blue is published by Bloodhound Books and is available now in paperback and digital format.

You can order a copy here.

Anglesey Blue Tour

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March 3

False Prophet/Never Forget (Saul Marshall) – Richard Davis

So what do you do when you read the *wrong* title for a blog tour?  Well you spend half an hour coming up with imaginative names to call yourself. Then 5 minutes checking you definitely have mixed up which book was the focus of the tour (I had). And then you stay up reading until 3am to post a blog tour “double-header” of the Saul Marshall books by Richard Davis.

There was quite a lot of coffee involved in bringing you these reviews, but good books and lots of coffee is how I like it!

FALSE PROPHET

FalseProphet_CropA psychotic terrorist has his son. He will do anything to save him

When a rogue cult turns deadly, the FBI call on former conman Agent Saul Marshall. FALSE PROPHET introduces a gripping new series from thriller writer Richard Davis

Marshall is soon drawn into a cat and mouse chase with the leader of the cult, Ivan Drexler. As the scale of Drexler’s terrorist ambition becomes ever clearer, news arrives that he has taken Marshall’s son hostage. Removed from the line of duty, he must work alone, off-grid.

As the attacks intensify, Saul will stop at nothing to defeat Drexler.

But the FBI are questioning Saul’s own part in the carnage. He must work fast to save both his country and his life. Can Saul stop the carnage before it’s too late? And can he save his son?

As wave after wave of attacks break, the clock is ticking for Saul.

 

First up in this double-header is False Prophet. We are introduced to Saul Marshall – he is a guy with a fascinating past, an FBI agent who was once one of the best conmen in the game. He is resourceful, connected and a bit of a loose cannon (basically he is a hugely entertaining lead character).

Marshall is on a visit to England. A prisoner with a history of mental health issues has a warning for Saul – he knows of a former prisoner by name of Ivan Drexler who has crossed paths with Saul in the past and he blames Saul for his incarceration. The warning is that Drexler (who is without conscience or compassion) may be planning to unleash a string of attacks on American citizens.

Saul cannot ignore the warning but there seems to be no real substance to the suspicions. However, events are soon flipped on their head.  Draxler is heading up a cult and has kidnapped Saul’s son to ensure Saul places himself into the path of Draxler and his minions. Can Saul keep up with Draxler and stop him unleashing his terror attacks?

False Prophet is a fast paced action thriller. Draxler as the “big bad” is a particularly evil character who inflicts some quite gruesome (and imaginative) harm onto several characters throughout the story. It makes for quite compelling reading and the speed at which the story unfolds is the perfect way to reflect the urgency/race against time which faces Marshall.

As a fan of action thrillers I have to say that False Prophet ticked all the right boxes for this reader.  The chapters are short and punchy which kept the feeling of a high tempo going. Draxler’s cult were suitably disturbing and the author did a good job of positioning their foundation and their threat risk. Marshall, as I have indicated, is a fun character to follow and I loved having Never Forget to dive straight into on finishing False Prophet – I was happy to keep Marshall’s story going a bit longer.

 

False Prophet is published by Canelo and you can order a copy here.

 

NEVER FORGET

Canelo_NeverForget_Ebook4Saul Marshall is on the run.

As a wave of seemingly random assassinations engulfs California, Marshall finds himself drawn into a situation spiralling out of control.

He soon discovers some of the webs’ most secure protocols have been compromised by a rogue team of former Chinese agents. When Marshall realises what they plan, the stakes are raised…

And that’s before the Secretary of State gets involved. Can Marshall unravel the deceit and tricks before it’s too late? Can he stop the carnage, or will he become part of it? One thing is for certain: either way his enemies will never forget.

 

Never Forget – Saul Marshall returns (though thanks to my scheduling faux pas he has been my constant companion for a few days).  Happy days though as I have been enjoying the frenetic adventures.

The Saul Marshall books are most definitely recommended for fans of the action thriller. If you have read your way through the Scott Mariani (Ben Hope) books or enjoyed Matthew Reilly then I urge you to seek out Never Forget and False Prophet, these are guaranteed thrill-fests.

In Never Forget I felt there was much greater emphasis placed upon Saul’s “unconventional” background. Before becoming an FBI agent he had been a successful conman and these skills are exploited here to great effect. The break from a more traditional FBI approach and mixing up the investigative element with the alternative skills that Saul brings to the party make him an unpredictable and engaging lead.

As was the case with False Prophet the central themes are extremely well positioned. Never Forget is tech focussed – reading about cybercrime/hacking and technology manipulation gave me a distinctly uneasy feeling as I start to question how much of the fiction in the novel could actually be possible (or even happening in some form). There is political intrigue too and it all meshes well to keep the reader hooked.

Never Forget will stand well without the need to have read the first book. Everything you need to know is nicely explained but once the story gets started you just get drawn in and go along with what’s unfolding on the pages in front of you.

A very welcome change in pace for this reader, there is always a place in my book collection for an exhilarating thriller and Never Forget fits the bill very nicely.

 

Never Forget is published by Canelo and can be ordered here.

 

My thanks to Faye Rogers for my review copies and the opportunity to join the tour.

Never Forget blog tour 4

 

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February 27

Say Nothing – Brad Parks

Say NothingOn a normal Wednesday afternoon, Judge Scott Sampson is preparing to pick up his six-year-old twins for their weekly swim. His wife Alison texts him with a change of plan: she has to take them to the doctor instead. So Scott heads home early. But when Alison arrives back later, she is alone – no Sam, no Emma – and denies any knowledge of the text . . .
The phone then rings: an anonymous voice tells them that the Judge must do exactly what he is told in an upcoming drug case and, most importantly, they must ‘say nothing’.

So begins this powerful, tense breakout thriller about a close-knit young family plunged into unimaginable horror. As a twisting game of cat and mouse ensues, they know that one false move could lose them their children for ever.
Hugely suspenseful – with its fascinating insight into the US judicial system and its politics of influence and nepotism – Say Nothing is, above all, the poignant story of the terror these parents face, and their stop-at-nothing compulsion to get their children back.

 

My Thanks to Lauren at Faber & Faber for my review copy.

 

When I get asked what book I would recommend, Say Nothing is now my first answer. I have just spent the last two days pouring over this thriller, devouring every word and I cannot say too many good things about it. Let me save you a skip to the foot of the page…Say Nothing gets an epic 5 stars from me.

<And breathe>

We meet Scott Sampson. He is a judge with a good reputation. He has a happy home life, a loving family and life is grand. But things are about to change.  Scott receives a text message from his wife telling him she is taking their young twins to an appointment with the doctor and that he need not collect them from school. No cause for concern, just a change to their normal routine – until Scott’s wife returns home without the kids and they realise something has gone wrong. As the couple try to make sense of their conflicting understanding of the afternoon’s events the phone rings and their world is turned upside down.

Their twins have been kidnapped. Further instruction will follow in due course but in the meantime neither Scott or Alison can let anyone know what has happened – SAY NOTHING.

Scott has to continue going to work and hearing cases so in addition to a tense kidnap story we are treated to an engaging courtroom drama too. I have not read very many legal thrillers of late and I realise that I miss them – Say Nothing handles the switches between courthouse and domestic drama brilliantly and both elements to the story play out fabulously well.

The story zips along at a fast pace and, with the constant worry over what may happen to two helpless kids at the hands of their abductors, you find that you just have to keep reading.

The book asks how far you would go to protect your children and Scott and Alison will be pushed to the limit. Doubts and suspicion of family, friends and colleagues will threaten to overwhelm them and events outwith their control will seem to conspire against them and try to thwart the safe return of the twins.

Gradually it becomes clear exactly why the kidnap was arranged and Scott will become increasingly pressured into following orders to keep his children safe. But if a high profile judge starts behaving erratically then people will start to notice. How long can Scott maintain the façade of normality when someone else is calling the shots and seems to know his every move?

Brilliant, brilliant storytelling which I cannot recommend enough. I mention it was a 5 star read?

 

Say Nothing is published on 2 March 2017 by Faber & Faber and you can order a copy here.

Follow the Say Nothing tour

SAY NOTHING_blog tour graphic

 

 

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