August 17

Block 46 – Johana Gustawsson – Audio

Evil remembers…

Falkenberg, Sweden. The mutilated body of talented young jewellery designer, Linnea Blix, is found in a snow-swept marina.
Hampstead Heath, London. The body of a young boy is discovered with similar wounds to Linnea’s.
Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 1944. In the midst of the hell of the Holocaust, Erich Hebner will do anything to see himself as a human again.

Are the two murders the work of a serial killer, and how are they connected to shocking events at Buchenwald?

Emily Roy, a profiler on loan to Scotland Yard from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, joins up with Linnea’s friend, French truecrime writer Alexis Castells, to investigate the puzzling case. They travel between Sweden and London, and then deep into the past, as a startling and terrifying connection comes to light.

 

Another from my unexpected (but very enjoyable) Audiobook Season – today I get to rave about Block 46.

First the audiobook experience.  Very positive!  The narration duties are split for Block 46 – the majority of the book is delivered by Patricia Rodriguez with the “historical” elements (which I shall come to shortly) picked up by Mark Meadows. The two voices work wonderfully – both actors are to be commended for bringing the story to life around me.

Block 46 is a modern day murder mystery but it holds a link to 1944 and a concentration camp in Germany (the aforementioned Historical element of the tale). In London Alexis Castells attends the launch of a new jewellery collection designed by her friend Linnea Blix – despite the importance of the night Linnea does not appear. Alexis travels to Sweden where Linnea would often stay “on retreat” but as she arrives in snowy Falkenberg Linnea’s body is found.

While Alexis gets swept up in the investigation into Linnea’s murder – kept in the loop through a friendship with criminal profiler Emily Roy – the reader gets to slip back in time where we encounter Erich Hebner.  A German national in a German concentration camp.  Erich is doing what he can to survive but when Johana Gustawsson begins to outline some of the terrors which Erich, and the other prisoners, endure each day it becomes impossible to see how he will escape from this Hell.

Narrative swings to present day, the murder investigation reveals some unexpected connections to London. Then we are back in wartime Germany and Erich’s story moves on…he has been granted a rare opportunity to contribute to the German “war effort” but how will he feel about helping when he learns he is going to Block 46. Nobody every comes out of Block 46 alive.

I cannot praise this book enough – at times harrowing but always compelling. It threw up the classic reading dilemma – so good I want to reach the end to find out what happened. But I don’t want to reach the end as I was enjoying it so much.

 

Block 46 is published by Orenda Books and is available in paperback, digital and audiobook.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Block-Roy-Castells-Johana-Gustawsson/dp/1910633704/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1502917618&sr=1-1

 

 

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August 9

The Girl in the Ice – Robert Bryndza – Audio

Her eyes are wide open. Her lips parted as if to speak. Her dead body frozen in the ice…She is not the only one.

When a young boy discovers the body of a woman beneath a thick sheet of ice in a South London park, Detective Erika Foster is called in to lead the murder investigation.

The victim, a beautiful young socialite, appeared to have the perfect life. Yet when Erika begins to dig deeper, she starts to connect the dots between the murder and the killings of three prostitutes, all found strangled, hands bound, and dumped in water around London.

What dark secrets is the girl in the ice hiding?

As Erika inches closer to uncovering the truth, the killer is closing in on Erika.

The last investigation Erika led went badly wrong…resulting in the death of her husband. With her career hanging by a thread, Erika must now battle her own personal demons as well as a killer more deadly than any she’s faced before. But will she get to him before he strikes again?

 

My thanks to Kim at Bookouture for the opportunity to listen to this book.

 

The variable nature of my day job sprang a recent surprise…gone is my daily train journey and my hour of peaceful reading on the train. Say hello to 3 or 4 hours in the car each day. Say hello to a series of audiobook reviews here at Grab This Book.

Audiobooks live and die on one crucial element – the narrator. It really does not matter how good the underlying story is, if the narration is jarring then listening to that voice for 10+ hours is not going to be a fun or relaxing experience.

Fortunately for Robert Bryndza’s The Girl in the Ice the listener is in very good hands. Jan Cramer narrates throughout and she does a fantastic job. Erika Foster’s voice is now firmly fixed into my mind and Cramer’s narration has brought a character to life for me more vividly than would have been the case had I read a paper copy of the book.

As for the story – I loved it. A society rich girl (and seemingly an extremely shallow young woman) is found dead in the waters of London. She has been bound and brutally attacked prior to death and Erika Foster is put in charge of the investigation. Foster is taking on a new role in London, relocating from Manchester following the death of her husband (a fellow police officer) when a police operation went badly wrong.

Thrown in at the deep end – Foster must establish her authority over a new team, overcome racial prejudices when dealing with the dead girl’s parents and contend with factions within the police who are determined to undermine her investigation to keep a politically sensitive murder investigation “acceptable” in the media.

The juggle and pressure which Foster faces will take its toll and I felt myself getting frustrated that she was being thwarted at pursing the leads she felt needed tackled. Robert Bryndza presents us with a string of red herrings and a suspect pool which is sufficiently broad and unlikeable (for various reasons) that it will keep you guessing to the identity of the killer – right until the shocking endgame.

Fans of police procedurals and gripping serial killer thrillers – this is a book for you. I cannot listen as fast as I can read – but I grudged every second that I had to remove my earbuds whilst listening to The Girl in the Ice.

 

The Girl in the Ice is available as a paperback, digital book and (obviously) as an audiobook. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Girl-Ice-gripping-thriller-Detective-ebook/dp/B019G6DSDE/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

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August 3

Perfect Prey – Helen Fields

Welcome to Edinburgh. Murder capital of Europe.

In the middle of a rock festival, a charity worker is sliced across the stomach. He dies minutes later. In a crowd of thousands, no one saw his attacker.

The following week, the body of a primary school teacher is found in a dumpster in an Edinburgh alley, strangled with her own woollen scarf.

D.I. Ava Turner and D.I. Luc Callanach have no leads and no motive – until around the city, graffitied on buildings, words appear describing each victim.

It’s only when they realise the words are being written before rather than after the murders, that they understand the killer is announcing his next victim…and the more innocent the better.

 

My thanks to Sabah at Avon for a review copy of Perfect Prey and the chance to join the tour.

 

One day.

A single day.

I started Perfect Prey at 8.30am this morning in a Starbucks coffee shop and at 11.58pm this evening (well now yesterday evening) I finished the last chapter. It was fantastic. I am enjoying a summer where I seem to be only choosing great books to read but Perfect Prey has been a wonderful high point.

Luc Callanach was first introduced in Perfect Remains – he arrived in Edinburgh from France where he had worked for Interpol. Luc now works for Police Scotland, his arrival and the problems which forced his move to Scotland are covered in Perfect Remains – reading the books in order is recommended but not essential.

If you are a fan of crime fiction then reading both books IS essential. Helen Fields is making Edinburgh a very nasty place to be and I am loving her work. Her tales are dark, the crimes that Callanach is called to investigate are both graphic and disturbing and I found both Perfect books utterly gripping.

In Perfect Prey Edinburgh is rocked by a series of high profile brutal killings. Over a very short space of time 3 vicious deaths have shocked the residents of the capital and the reputation of the city world-wide is suffering. Pressure is placed on Callanach and his colleague, Ava Turner, to come up with results (and fast). What is not helping is the presence of an old flame of Ava’s. He is also a cop – up from London to work on a high profile tech/internet operation, his presence unsettles Callanach as the two do not hit it off. It also disrupts the effective working relationship that Callanach and Turner had established.  With the two at loggerheads the investigations stutter – they are reliant upon their colleagues to keep communications flowing.

With little progress being made and more lives in danger, Callanach reaches out to two contacts from outwith the Police. By going off radar and involving civilians he risks his career but who can he really trust when vital information from the investigations is leaking to the press?

I want to tell you about evil murderers. I want to discuss Luc and Ava. I want to share all the great twists and that terrible thing that happened….but they would all be spoilers and you really need to find them out for yourself. What I really need is for it to be January 2018 so I can read the next book.

Perfect Prey is a must read. The Callanach books are already firmly established as a series I want to follow. Don’t let these books pass you by – brilliant, brilliant stories.

 

Perfect Prey is published by Avon and is available now in paperback and digital format.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Perfect-Prey-DI-Callanach-Thriller/dp/0008181586/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1501715565&sr=8-1&keywords=helen+fields

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July 22

In The Still – Jacqueline Chadwick

When Ali Dalglish immigrated to Canada she left behind her career as Britain’s most in-demand forensic pathologist & criminal psychologist. Now, eight years later, Ali feels alone, and bored, and full of resentment. Suffocated and frustrated by her circumstances and in an increasingly love-starved marriage, Ali finds herself embroiled in a murder case that forces her to call upon her dormant investigative skills.

As she’s pulled deeper into the case of ‘The Alder Beach Girl’ and into the mind of a true psychopath, Ali is forced to confront her fears and to finally embrace her own history of mental illness. In an increasingly febrile atmosphere Ali must fight hard to protect those she loves from the wrath of a determined and vicious predator and to ultimately allow the woman she once was to breathe again.

 

My thanks to Chris at Fahrenheit Press for my review copy

 

Lets start with an important word for this review:

benchmark
noun
noun: benchmark; plural noun: benchmarks
  1. a standard or point of reference against which things may be compared.

 

In The Still is the book that all my forthcoming reads will be compared to for the considerable future. I absolutely-bloody-loved it. Ali Dalglish is the smart, in-your-face protagonist who made me want to keep turning the pages.

Having left Britain 8 years prior to events in In The Still, Ali has left a successful career and emigrated to Canada with her family.  Her husband works for the local fire service but Ali is home schooling her son and seems to be living a reasonably unfulfilling life. Home tensions will come to the fore during the telling of the story and it helps make Ali and her family appear much more authentic and gives some break from her pursuit of a killer.

Oh yes there is a killer at loose and Ali (along with her irritating neighbour) have found the body. Ali’s initial exposure to the corpse gives her the opportunity to consider the victim – her previous training as a forensic pathologist kicks in and Ali begins to formulate some ideas as to what may have happened to the unfortunate young woman who would become known as The Alder Beach Girl. Ali is not convinced that the local police have the skill (or competence) to investigate the murder and pushes for a reliable investigator to become involved.

It needs to be noted that In The Still is quite graphic in places and as far from “cozy crime” as you could hope to be. Exactly how I like them.

Jacqueline Chadwick provides great detail on Ali’s profiling rationale. The technical and background information which is considered during Ali’s investigations gives a depth to the story and established Ali’s status and her ability to push the investigation forward. But Ali doesn’t suffer fools gladly so there are some fabulous conversations to enjoy as an angry Scottish woman vents at the world around her.

In The Still totally grabbed me, I couldn’t put it down and it was one of those brilliant reading experiences where everything just worked for me. The killer is sadistic and deploys horrible methodology, the investigation to track down the killer is well paced, fun to read and extremely gripping. The lead character won me over from virtually the first page and the suspicion as to the identity of the killer swings between different contenders as the story unfolds – it kept me guessing and I am not ashamed to admit I called it wrong.

Every time I pick up a new book to read I hope it will be a story which enthrals, entertains and excites. I want it to be the book I will recommend to all my friends and I want it to be a story I will return to (and know I will enjoy reading it more than once). In The Still is that book.

 

In The Still is published by Fahrenheit Press and is available now in paperback and digital format.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Still-1-Ali-Dalglish/dp/1548611956/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1500741390&sr=1-1

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June 26

The Fourth Monkey – J D Barker

The Fourth MonkeyBrilliant. Complicated. Psychopath.

That’s the Four Monkey Killer or ‘4MK’. A murderer with a twisted vision and absolutely no mercy.

Detective Sam Porter has hunted him for five long years, the recipient of box after box of grisly trinkets carved from the bodies of 4MK’s victims.

But now Porter has learnt the killer’s twisted history and is racing to do the seemingly impossible – find 4MK’s latest victim before it’s too late…

 

My thanks to Sahina at Harper Collins for the chance to join the blog tour

 

I love a serial killer story and the majority of the serial killer thrillers that I read and enjoy are really well done. But sometimes a book comes along which just ticks all the right boxes and stands out from the rest – The Fourth Monkey is that book.

For years a Killer has eluded the police and cop, Sam Porter, has long been frustrated in his attempts to track down the Fourth Monkey Killer (4MK). The killer leaves gift wrapped boxes which contain body parts of the victims, an ear, their eyes and then their tongue.

The body parts of each victim are removed over a short period of time which prolongs the suffering and distress of their family. However the killer is delivering more than just body parts – they are leaving a message to someone close to the victim. The ear, eyes and tongue which are removed represent the See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil mantra which we all recognise. However there is a fourth monkey and his caution to Do No Evil drives this story.

A lucky break for the police gives them their first real clue in the 4MK murders. A road traffic accident kills the man en-route to posting the ear of his latest victim to their unsuspecting family. With the killer dead, the race is on for the police to locate the victim (where ever they may be hidden) before they perish alone.

The police have a tangible clue that may assist – the killer’s journal. A telling of a childhood incident which forged the path the killer would follow (and show what a twisted childhood he had).  The narrative will switch from present day to the killers childhood diary – both storylines are compelling reading (I am not normally a fan of flashback tales but in this case is is gloriously twisted and grim).

I cannot give away too much of the story as this is a book you really need to read to get the best impact from the reveals. What I will say is that The Fourth Monkey is without doubt one of the best Serial Killer Thrillers I have read for a long, long time. It is June – there is going to have to be a pretty spectacular book lurking in the latter months of 2017 to improve on The Fourth Monkey for sheer reading pleasure.

 

The Fourth Monkey is published by HQ on 27 June 2017 and is available in Hardback and digital format.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fourth-Monkey-Detective-Sam-Porter/dp/0008216991/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

 

The Fourth Monkey - Blog Tour Banner

 

 

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June 22

The Killer – Susan Wilkins

The KillerShe was a woman, so they thought she’d be easy to kill . . .

Kaz Phelps is on the run – from the past, from the legacy of her criminal family, from the haunting memories of her murdered lover. The police want her back in jail and her enemies want her dead. While standing by the grave of her gangster brother, Kaz realizes she only has one option. To fight back.

Nicci Armstrong was one of the Met’s best detectives until personal tragedy forced her to quit. Now she’s responsible for the security of the super-rich who use her city as a playground. She is one of the few people Kaz might trust. But Nicci’s biggest mistake yet is falling in love with a man she knows is only using her.

Meanwhile, as envious rivals back home plot against him, a Russian billionaire searches for a special gift to keep the Kremlin onside, a disgraced politician dreams of revenge and a Turkish drug baron plots to purge his dishonour with blood.

 

My thanks to Bethan at EDPR for my review copy

This is the latest review written by my super guest reviewer Lou.  I cannot describe just how animated she became while trying to describe how much she loved this book – we had to give her extra space to gesticulate 🙂

Over to Lou….

This is great. Reminiscent of Martina Cole at her best (but without Cole’s occasionally awkward phoneticisms) this is an excellent romp through the high lives and lowlifes of contemporary London. With two, strong female protagonists – and an extensive cast of fully-formed supporting characters – it starts with a funeral and inexorably racks up the bodies as it steamrollers to its conclusion.

The last book in a trilogy that started with The Informant and continued with The Mourner, The Killer offers a satisfying finale to Kaz Phelps’ struggle to escape her criminal past, and Nicci Armstrong’s efforts to move past her own tragedy and build a future outside of the Metropolitan Police.

Building momentum with police procedures and private investigations, touching on political machinations and organised criminality, Wilkins knowledgeably shows the reader a world of extremes. Wealth, fear, power, avarice – all have a devastating impact on the lives of Phelps and Armstrong and play a pivotal part in the ultimate denouement.

Well-written and skilfully paced, you don’t need to read the first two to enjoy the last, but I shall certainly be hunting them down so that I can indulge my new-found addiction until Wilkins writes me another one…

The Killer is released in paperback on 29th June and is available now in digital format.

You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Killer-Kaz-Phelps-Book-ebook/dp/B01ITD668Y/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

 

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June 2

Bitter Moon – Alexandra Sokoloff

Bitter MoonThe Huntress/FBI Thrillers: Book 4

FBI agent Matthew Roarke has been on leave, and in seclusion, since the capture of mass killer Cara Lindstrom—the victim turned avenger who preys on predators. Torn between devotion to the law and a powerful attraction to Cara and her lethal brand of justice, Roarke has retreated from both to search his soul. But Cara’s escape from custody and a police detective’s cryptic challenge soon draw him out of exile—into the California desert and deep into Cara’s past—to probe an unsolved murder that could be the key to her long and deadly career.

Following young Cara’s trail, Roarke uncovers a horrifying attack on a schoolgirl, the shocking suicide of another, and a human monster stalking Cara’s old high school. Separated by sixteen years, crossing paths in the present and past, Roarke and fourteen-year-old Cara must race to find and stop the sadistic sexual predator before more young women are brutalized.

 

I received a review copy through Netgalley

Cara Lindstrom is a killer. Matthew Roarke is an FBI agent (though in Bitter Moon he is on leave). Their paths have crossed and it has had a profound impact upon Roarke’s life and his career.  Bitter Moon is the 4th book in Alexandra Sokoloff’s Huntress/FBI Thrillers series and reading the first three books in the series (Huntress Moon, Blood Moon and Cold Moon) will ensure you get the best reading experience for Bitter Moon.

So the book…it’s a corker.

Roarke is on leave of absence from the FBI but a call from an angry law enforcement officer wanting to know why Roarke doesn’t want to catch Cara Lindstrom, sees him hitting the road and heading to Riverside County, California. On meeting the angry cop face-to-face, Roarke is puzzled why the officer is so irate over Cara being on the run. Roarke knows that Lindstrom spent time in Riverside County shortly after the “incident” (spoilers) which determined the path her life would take.  He elects to stick around and do a big of digging into the background of the town.

What I loved about the direction Bitter Moon takes is that we follow Roarke trying to piece together what Cara may have been doing in Riverside County, the places she visited and the people she crossed paths with.  But between the sections of the narrative which follow Roarke we get a Cara narrative.  A Cara narrative from when she was a schoolgirl, trying to fit into her new school, her new social care house and trying to contend with the monsters she has faced and must continue to battle. The shifting timeframe of the book is wonderfully worked and makes Bitter Moon stand out in the series as the tone feels so different.

What really makes these stories resonate with me is the fact Roarke is still torn over the crimes Cara commits. She kills sexual predators, killers, men who prey upon young vulnerable girls. Cara is looking to protect those innocent victims by killing the host of the EVIL within the predators. Roarke as a law enforcement officer knows she is a killer yet also knows that her victims are committing crimes which bring Cara’s judgement upon themselves. In Bitter Moon he almost seems bewildered that Cara could be killing at such a young age (and with such ruthless efficiency).  The reader gets to see Cara identifying the threat and we watch how she deals with it. Alexandra Sokoloff paints an unflinching picture of all the crimes and the series is all the more powerful for the anger and energy which drive the stories.

Bitter Moon can be read and enjoyed as a stand alone novel but this series is so damn good I really would recommend picking up Huntress Moon and working your way through the 4 books in order. Bitter Moon is a 5 star read for me. I loved it and I cannot wait to see where the Cara/Roarke story goes next.

 

Bitter Moon is published by Thomas & Mercer and is available in paperback, digital and audiobook formats.  You can order a copy through this link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bitter-Moon-Huntress-Thrillers-Book-ebook/dp/B01F8PWUY0/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

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May 31

One To Watch – Rachel Amphlett

One To WatchSophie Whittaker shared a terrifying secret. Hours later, she was dead.

Detective Kay Hunter and her colleagues are shocked by the vicious murder of a teenage girl at a private party in the Kentish countryside.

A tangled web of dark secrets is exposed as twisted motives point to a history of greed and corruption within the tight-knit community.

Confronted by a growing number of suspects and her own enemies who are waging a vendetta against her, Kay makes a shocking discovery that will make her question her trust in everyone she knows.

 

My thanks to Emma Mitchell and to Rachel Amphlett for my review copy and the chance to join the blog tour.

 

If you are not reading Rachel Amphlett’s books yet – you really should be.  One To Watch is the third in the Kay Hunter series and my favourite thus far.

At a private party the guest of honour is found brutally murdered. Her close friend knows the victim had a big secret which she was going to announce to her family the next day but could this secret have been the reason she was killed?

I don’t say this lightly but there were shades of Dame Agatha in One To Watch.  We have a small group of potential suspects:  the Lady seeking to protect the family name and ancestral home. Her husband, who has a more down-to-earth outlook on future prospects.  There is the American Businessman, he holds aspirations of joining the gentry. Their children, their minister and a rogue “bit of rough” that has invaded their idyllic life.

As you would expect the first impressions of all of these characters may be misleading and at various stages in the story you will start to doubt what they are telling the police. Some will seemingly have a very good motive for killing Sophie but did they have the opportunity.  As Kay Hunter and her colleagues start to unpick the lies and half-truths it becomes clear that some secrets will be revealed and they will have devastating consequences for those involved.

The pacing of One To Watch matched the feel of a Golden Age crime story too. There is no need for a series of high-octane set piece scenes as everything is investigated and discovered with careful shrewdness. This is a story driven by the characters, how they live, the choices they made and how they interact with those around them.

Where One To Watch also excels is when Amphlett returns to the ongoing problem that has spanned all the books in the series thus far – someone is out to get Kay Hunter.  While the “no spoilers” rule is very much in place I can hint to some incidents in One To Watch which will further develop the ongoing story arc that someone is trying to undermine her position at work and to possibly end her career permanently.  It is a delightfully eerie shadow which will hang over the whole book and I loved that.

I inhaled One To Watch and read it in two sittings. Very much the kind of book that I can get utterly lost in – a 5 star read and I immediately start looking forward to the next one.

 

One To Watch publishes on 8 June and you can order a copy here: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/one-to-watch/id1232535445

 

One to Watch BT Banner(1)

 

 

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May 19

The Fact of a Body – Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

The Fact of a BodyBefore Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich begins a summer job at a law firm in Louisiana, working on the retrial defence of death-row convicted murderer and child molester, Ricky Langley, she thinks her position is clear. The child of two lawyers, she is staunchly anti death penalty. But the moment Ricky’s face flashes on the screen as she reviews old tapes, the moment she hears him speak of his crimes, she is overcome with the feeling of wanting him to die. Shocked by her reaction, she digs deeper and deeper into the case, realizing that despite their vastly different circumstances, something in his story is unsettlingly, uncannily familiar.

Crime, even the darkest and most unspeakable acts, can happen to any one of us, and as Alexandria pores over the facts of the murder, she finds herself thrust into the complicated narrative of Ricky’s childhood. And by examining minute details of Ricky’s case, she is forced to face her own story, to unearth long-buried family secrets, to reckon with how her own past colours her view of his crime.

As enthralling as true-crime classics such as In Cold Blood and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and broadcast phenomena such as Making a Murderer and Serial, The Fact of a Body is a groundbreaking, heart-stopping investigation into how the law is personal, composed of individual stories and proof that arriving at the truth is more complicated, and powerful, than we could ever imagine.

 

My thanks to Rachael at Pan Macmillan for my review copy – received through Netgalley

Non fiction – sometimes (well almost never) I read non fiction. The few times I do make a departure from my comfort zone of “made-up stuff” it has to be for a book that really captures my interest – The Fact of a Body was that book. The synopsis (as outlined above) grabbed me – why would someone so firmly against the death penalty suddenly have such a dramatic change of heart. What could one man have done to shake the fundamental belief of an educated and intelligent young woman that would make her wish him dead?  That is the kind of non-fiction story I cannot look past.

Langley arrested
Langley arrested

Ricky Langley was a paedophile who murdered a young boy and hid his body for several days before his crime was finally discovered and he was arrested and subsequently sentenced to death. The Fact of a Body will explore Langley’s story, his crimes are unflinchingly documented, his motives and behaviour will be considered and it will frequently make for uncomfortable reading.

Langley’s background and the events leading to his conviction will told by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich – a lawyer who travelled to Louisiana to work on death sentence cases during summer recess from Law School. The author tells the reader Langley’s story and cold facts are fleshed out into an absorbing narrative. At times I did feel I was reading a work of fiction such was the level of detail and the recreation of conversations that are used to build up an accurate recreation of events.

Author picture by Nina Subin
Author picture by Nina Subin

Interwoven with the Ricky Langley story is that of the author herself.  This is her tale too and Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich will give an equally unflinching account of how her life was shaped. From her first introduction to law, the fascination of arguing cases and the desire to pursue a legal career we also get her personal story. The no spoilers rule if firmly in play here but if you read through the description at the top of the review it should be clear that Langley’s case will cause the author to confront some close-to-home events in her own life.

The Fact of a Body is a compelling read. It is the story of families and the secrets they keep, the struggles they face and it is the story of a man who knows he has a problem which he cannot control, yet was allowed to live and work in a community unchallenged by the authorities until it was too late to prevent a tragic death.

I found The Fact of a Body more unsettling than many thrillers or horror stories I have read.  I put this down to knowing that the crimes I was reading about were based on fact – someone died, mistakes were made and the grief we read about were real tears shed by grieving survivors. That said, I was very glad to have read The Fact of a Body as it was such a powerful reading experience. As the blurb said…if you watched and were hooked by Making a Murderer then The Fact of a Body should be an immediate addition to your bookshelves.

 

The Fact of a Body was published on 18 May 2017 by Macmillan and you can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fact-Body-Murder-Memoir/dp/1509805621/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1495228425&sr=8-1&keywords=the+fact+of+a+body

 

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May 8

Blackwater – GJ Moffat

BlackwaterDeputy Sheriff Early Simms of the Blackwater County Sheriff’s Department knows about the violence that incubates within the souls of men – and that sometimes it needs a release.  As a high school football player he relished inflicting pain, until he made a tackle that left a promising young athlete dead from a broken neck.  Early did not play another game and his dreams of leaving the small town that he grew up in never materialised.  Instead, he followed his father into the town’s police force.

Now older, Early is outwardly content with the life he has made for himself in Blackwater.  But that life is about to be turned upside down.  Kate Foley, his high school girlfriend, arrives in town on the run from an abusive husband and it stirs feelings that Early thought he had forgotten.

Jimmy and Marshall Cain are brothers – men with the capacity for the kind of violence that Early Simms knows all too well.  A botched home invasion by the brothers goes horribly wrong, leaving a man and woman dead and their teenage daughter kidnapped.
Events spiral further out of control, with the brothers embarking on a killing spree that leads them to a confrontation with Early Simms and an FBI task force.  At the same time, Kate Foley’s husband is armed and on the hunt for his wife.

Early is about to find himself in a fight not just for the life he has known, but for the future he has glimpsed in stolen moments with Kate. And to defeat the maelstrom hurtling towards him, he must once again confront the violence in his own soul.

 

My thanks to Chris at Fahrenheit Press for letting me have a very early chance to read Blackwater

If a story is going to grip me then one of the best ways to do it is to have a lead character that I want to read about. Blackwater has Early Simms – he is a Deputy in the Blackwater Sheriff’s Department and he is exactly the kind of character that I want to read about. Early can outsmart the bad guys, take down the brawlers and he is comfortable and respected in his hometown of Blackwater. He is the character you hope will appear in many more books.

As I got to read Blackwater very early I didn’t know what to expect before I started reading.  I had reached the half way point (and just come up for air for the first time) when I noticed GJ Moffat had tweeted a response to a blogger question “What is the book about?”  His reply:  A good man. Some very bad men. A love story. A crime story. Basically, it rocks.

He nailed it.  Especially “it rocks”.

The good man is Early. A tragic incident which occurred while he was at school changed his life forever and he now seems to be trying to ensure that the overwhelming perception that others will have of him is that he is a good man.

The “very bad men” are truly bad people. Two brothers will lose control of a situation that will spiral into a manhunt which draws in the police and FBI. They are without compassion and their crimes were shocking (but they made for compelling reading).  It should be noted that the brothers may not be the only bad men. If there *were* to be others then I couldn’t possibly discuss them in a review as that would be creeping into SPOILERS territory. I don’t do that. But I would suggest that reading Blackwater would let you find out for yourself about the other bad people that I cannot discuss!

Next up “the love story”. Yes indeed and here is where I can laud the author for brilliant characters and great story pacing. This is an action packed thriller but GJ Moffat still manages to give his cast a proper backstory and lets them develop and grow while the action is unfolding around them.

The “crime story”…well I refer to the brothers again and also to those unmentionable spoilers.  There is a lot going on in Blackwater but the different story threads are woven together will real skill by the author. I read with increasing anticipation as events started to build towards their climax and I was wholly unprepared for the unexpected twists.

Blackwater is a book which will suck you in and is a richly rewarding read. I absolutely loved it and has left me with that dreaded book hangover feeling…where you know the next book you pick up will not be as good as the one you have just finished. Highly, highly recommended – Mr Moffat can tell a great story. 5 stars all the way.

 

Blackwater is published by Fahrenheit Press and is due to release week commencing 8th May.

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