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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May 2

The Quiet Man – James Carol

The Quiet ManIn Vancouver, the wife of a millionaire is dead following an explosion in her own home.

Everyone thinks her husband is responsible, but former FBI profiler Jefferson Winter isn’t so sure. The method is too perfect; the lack of mistakes, uncanny. He’s seen a series of carefully orchestrated murders – once a year, on exactly the same day, a woman dies in a situation just like this one.

That date is fast approaching and Winter knows another victim has been selected. Can he identify the quiet man before he strikes again?

 

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

 

There is nothing better for a reader to pick up a book and immediately become lost in the story. The Quiet Man did that for me – I absolutely loved it.

Jefferson Winter is a former FBI profiler who is called to Vancouver to assist a former cop to solve a series of murders which have taken place over a number of years.  On August 5th someone will be killed. They will be tied to a chair in their kitchen and a bomb placed in the room with them and each year the bomb is triggered in the same way (but no spoiler on that dark detail).  It is approaching August 5th again and Winter has been engaged by the spouse of one of the victims to help find the killer.

The Vancouver police have made no progress, the lead investigator has been replaced but Winter will need to prove his credentials and show he can make a valued contribution to the investigation if he is to receive any formal co-operation from the police. The political aspect of the story in that regard made for fun reading – Winter doesn’t have too much respect for the police and they are wary of his involvement. The verbal sparring was entertaining and it was fun to see Winter puzzling out the past crimes and looking for threads whilst keeping one step ahead of everyone else.

The Quiet Man is absorbing, cleverly plotted thriller. Although this is not the first outing for Jefferson Winter you don’t need to have read any of the previous books to enjoy the new adventure. The prolonged gap between each of the killer’s victims made for an interesting twist and the bombing element was nasty – great combo for readers.

I said at the start that I loved The Quiet Man – I really, really did and it gets a 5* review score. Plus I have now bought all the other books in the series – that’s almost like an extra star.

 

The Quiet Man is published by Faber on 4th May and is available in paperback and digital format. A copy can be ordered here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Quiet-Man-James-Carol-ebook/dp/B01MR5L174/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1493758543&sr=1-1

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April 28

Tag – You’re Dead – Douglas Skelton

Tag You're DeadMaverick investigator Dominic Queste is on the trail of missing butcher Sam Price. But he soon uncovers links to a killer with a taste for games. What began as a simple favour for his girlfriend quickly descends into a battle for survival against an enemy who has no qualms about turning victims into prime cuts.

Amidst a twisted game of cat and mouse, suspicious coppers, vicious crooks and a seemingly random burglary, Queste has to keep his wits about him. Or he might just find himself on the butcher’s block.

 

My thanks to Sara at Saraband for my review copy.

Last year Douglas Skelton introduced us to Dominic Queste in the wonderfully titled The Dead Don’t Boogie. At the end of 2016, when I was looking back over the books that I had enjoyed over the previous 12 months, I included Boogie in my top 5 Scottish Books of the Year. Queste had to return (and he did) but Mr Skelton made us wait.

Spin forward to April 2017 and Dominic Queste is here for a second outing in Tag – You’re Dead and it was well worth the wait as this is another corker.

Queste is called into action to trace a missing butcher. But it appears that the missing man may have had his fingers in more than one steak pie – it seems that he also liked to aid in the relocation of stolen goods (and this kind of behaviour attracts the wrong type of person opening up a huge list of possible suspects that may know why he has vanished).

Dominic will have his work cut-out so the last thing that he needs is to have attracted the unwanted attentions of a killer that likes to stalk and torment his victims before ending their lives. Unfortunately for Queste he appears to be lined up as the killer’s next victim and if Dominic doesn’t play the game then the killer is more than happy to target Dominic’s friends.  Keeping his predicament a secret is paramount in the rules of the killer’s game, however, this will create a problem for Queste as the lady in his life (the fabulous Ginty) has trust issues having fallen for the wrong type of character in the past.

Tag – You’re Dead is a dark suspenseful thriller, there are some nasty types running around and not all of them are Dominic’s friends. But Queste is an absolute joy to read about. He is quick witted and fails at keeping his mouth shut when discretion would be advisable. It is a tricky balance to have a wisecracking lead character taking you through such a tense adventure but Douglas Skelton pitches it perfectly and Tag – You’re Dead is not going to disappoint.

Tag – You’re Dead gets a five star score from me. Dominic Queste is one of the best new characters I have encountered in recent years and in the hands of top wordsmith, Douglas Skelton, he gets the chance to shine. Top, top reading – add Tag – You’re Dead to your shopping basket.

 

Tag You’re Dead is published by Contraband and is available now in paperback and digital formats. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tag-Youre-Dead-Douglas-Skelton-x/dp/1910192724/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1493331632&sr=1-1&keywords=tag+you%27re+dead

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April 27

Watching The Bodies – Graham Smith

Watching The BodiesWhen Jake Boulder is asked by his PI friend to help investigate the vicious murder of Kira Niemeyer, he soon finds himself tracking a serial killer who selects his next victim in a most unusual manner.

As the body count rises, Boulder has to work with the police to identify the heinous killer before more lives are taken. What ensues is a twisted game of cat and mouse, that only Boulder or the Watcher can survive.

 

My thanks to Sarah and the team at Bloodhound Books for the chance to join the blog tour.

 

Having enjoyed Graham Smith’s previous books, Cumbrian crime thrillers featuring DI Harry Evans of the Major Crime Teams, I was already keenly awaiting his next venture. I was not expecting Smith to make a jump to the US for Watching the Bodies. Nor was I expecting his new protagonist (Jake Boulder) to rocket into my list of favourite characters. But he did. And he did.

First up – Jake Boulder, living and working in Utah but a Scottish Brawler. Fast with his fists, peacemaker (in that he ends the fights other people start) and living a simple single life (much to the frustration of his mother!)

Watching the Bodies, dumps you straight into the action.  I say “dumps” as this is exactly where we begin…at a spot where a killer has dumped his victim. We (and the killer) witness the discovery of the body. Great intro and I had to know more but there was to be no let up as we switch straight to Jake Boulder. We meet him for the first time as he is about to get into a fight and we soon realise that our lead character is not one to be messed with.

Boulder’s friend is a PI. He wants Jake to help him track down the killer, the victim’s father is an influential figure in the town and has no faith in the local police to find out who killed his daughter. This will not be an easy assignment for Boulder as he and the victim, Kira, had been friends and as they begin the investigation into her death Jake will realise that he actually knew very little about the lifestyle Kira had chosen for herself.

Before Boulder’s investigations yield much progress another body is found and it becomes increasingly clear to him that there is a serial killer at work. But there appear to be too many inconsistencies between the crimes for it to be the work of a single killer and, even if it were to be a single killer, how were the victims selected? As Jake digs deeper he will uncover more than he could have ever anticipated.

I have always been a sucker for a serial killer story and in Watching the Bodies I have found one of the best serial killer tales that I have read for a long, long time. I loved this. The killer’s motivation and clues to their identity are gently teased out through the story so that by the time you are approaching the endgame you know exactly what is at stake and how much peril certain characters will be in. It works fabulously well and I was utterly hooked.

A thumpingly good first outing for Jake Boulder and I really, really hope that there will be more to come. If you like a dark and twisty serial killer story then Watching the Bodies is a book you simply must read.

 

Watching the Bodies is published by Bloodhound Books and is available now. The links you need are below:

Links:

Graham on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/grahamnsmithauthor/?fref=ts

Graham’s Website: https://www.grahamsmithauthor.com/

Here on Twitter: https://twitter.com/GrahamSmith1972?lang=en-gb

And the all important link to order the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Graham-Smith/e/B006FTIBBU/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1491159376&sr=8-1

 

 

Graham Smith is married with a young son. A time served joiner he has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000 he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland. 

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website Crimesquad.com since 2009.

He is the author of four books featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team and one book, WATCHING THE BODIES in a new series featuring Utah doorman, Jake Boulder.

 

 

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April 22

Good News Bad News – WHS McIntyre

Good News bad NewsLife’s full of good news and bad news for defence lawyer Robbie Munro. The good news is he’s in work, representing Antionia Brechin on a drugs charge. The bad news is that she’s the granddaughter of notorious Sheriff Brechin.

Meanwhile, another of Robbie’s clients, Ellen Fletcher, has won the lottery and asked Robbie to find her husband Freddy, who disappeared having swindled the evil Jake Turpie. Unfortunately, Jake’s not willing to bury the hatchet – not unless it’s in Freddy’s head.

Robbie juggles cases and private life with his usual dexterity, but the more he tries to fix things the more trouble everyone’s in.

 

My thanks to Keara at Sandstone Press for my review copy and for the chance to join the blog tour

 

Robbie Munro is a defence lawyer and he sounds like the kind of guy you would want to have fighting your corner for you. He understands the law but does not feel that applying the law necessarily means that justice will be served or that the consequences will always be appropriate for the crime committed.  This is entertainingly demonstrated at the start of the book when a young teacher is due to be sentenced by Robbie’s nemesis Sheriff Brechin.

The verbal battling in the courtroom between Robbie and Sheriff Brechin is laced with much of the wry humour which is evident throughout the book and it firmly establishes that there is no love lost between the two men. This sets up a future dilemma very nicely as Brechin’s grand-daughter (herself a promising young lawyer) finds herself on the wrong end of the law.  As Robbie is the only criminal defence lawyer she knows she appoints him to represent her. A new client is Good News, the prospect of failing and letting down the Brechin family – very Bad News.

Away from the court Robbie is approached by a client who has her own Good News Bad News.  She has won the lottery and wants to enlist Robbie’s help in tracking down her husband (a conman that everyone believes to be dead). However the client only has a few months to live so time is tight and Robbie will have his work cut out to ensure he can keep himself on the right side of the law and not let down his client.

This was my introduction to Robbie Munro but the Best Defence series has been running for a while.  The good news is that Good News Bad News can be read as a stand alone novel (and it is a book I highly recommend).  The bad news is that (if you are like me) then reading Good News Bad News will make you want to read all the other books in the series – brace your TBR pile for some legal drama courtesy of WHS McIntyre.

 

Good News Bad News is published by Sandstone Press and is available in paperback and digital format.  Order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Good-News-Bad-Best-Defence/dp/1910985600/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492812720&sr=1-1&keywords=good+news+bad+news

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April 17

Ashes to Ashes – Paul Finch

Ashes to AshesJohn Sagan is a forgettable man. You could pass him in the street and not realise he’s there. But then, that’s why he’s so dangerous.

A torturer for hire, Sagan has terrorised – and mutilated – countless victims. And now he’s on the move. DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg must chase the trail, even when it leads him to his hometown of Bradburn – a place he never thought he’d set foot in again.

But Sagan isn’t the only problem. Bradburn is being terrorised by a lone killer who burns his victims to death. And with the victims chosen at random, no-one knows who will be next. Least of all Heck…

 

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

Mark “Heck” Heckenburg is back and I couldn’t be happier. Each book in this series has been a 5 star read for me and Ashes to Ashes keeps that streak going. I think that we have to conclude that Paul Finch writes the books that I want to read.

Ashes to Ashes opens with a fairly gruesome attack, two men are torched to death by a mystery figure wielding a flamethrower. If you have read Finch’s previous books you will know that there is no sugar-coating to be found, Ashes to Ashes will contain scenes which are shocking and potentially disturbing but it makes for gripping reading too.

Heck is in London on the trail of a torturer, however, his chief suspect will flee the city and it is not long before Heck will find himself back in the North West in his hometown of Bradburn. Returning to his childhood haunts will bring Heck back into contact with old friends and family and we get to see in more detail how Heck’s past very much shaped the man he would become.

In Bradburn Heck and his colleagues find themselves stretched between hunting for their torturer (Sagan) and the flamethrower killer (dubbed The Incinerator). To get any clue on their suspects Heck will need to engage and confront the local gangs and this means putting himself in the firing line. Ashes to Ashes keeps the action coming thick and fast, The Incinerator is a chilling character and their pursuit of the potential victims lead to some wonderful moments of suspense.

Ashes to Ashes was an absolute joy to read.  If you like a police thriller with a deliciously dark edge then look no further.

 

Ashes to Ashes is published by Avon and is available in paperback and digital format. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ashes-bestseller-gripping-Detective-Heckenburg/dp/0007551290/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492421085&sr=1-1&keywords=ashes+to+ashes+paul+finch

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April 15

The Restless Dead – Simon Beckett

The Restless Dead‘Composed of over sixty per cent water itself, a human body isn’t naturally buoyant. It will float only for as long as there is air in its lungs, before gradually sinking to the bottom as the air seeps out. If the water is very cold or deep, it will remain there, undergoing a slow, dark dissolution that can take years. But if the water is warm enough for bacteria to feed and multiply, then it will continue to decompose. Gases will build up in the intestines, increasing the body’s buoyancy until it floats again.
And the dead will literally rise . . . ‘

Once one of the country’s most respected forensics experts, Dr David Hunter is facing an uncertain professional – and personal – future. So when he gets a call from Essex police, he’s eager for the chance to assist them.

A badly decomposed body has been found in a desolate area of tidal mudflats and saltmarsh called the Backwaters. Under pressure to close the case, the police want Hunter to help with the recovery and identification.

It’s thought the remains are those of Leo Villiers, the son of a prominent businessman who vanished weeks ago. To complicate matters, it was rumoured that Villiers was having an affair with a local woman. And she too is missing.

But Hunter has his doubts about the identity. He knows the condition of the unrecognizable body could hide a multitude of sins. Then more remains are discovered – and these remote wetlands begin to give up their secrets . . .

With its eerie, claustrophobic sense of place, viscerally authentic detail and explosive heart-in-mouth moments, The Restless Dead offers a masterclass in crime fiction and marks the stunning return of one of the genre’s best.

 

My thanks to Hannah at Penguin Random House for my review copy and the chance to join the tour.

 

No beating about the bush on this review – The Restless Dead was a brilliant read. It gets a 5* score and I want to go back and read the previous David Hunter novels right now…I seriously love these books.

It has been a few years since Dr Hunter last appeared but when we are first reunited with him it seems his past adventures may have gained him the tag of troublemaker. Opportunities for police consultation work have dried up and without the prestige of high profile police investigations his current residency is in jeopardy.
So when a call comes in to assist Essex Police with the recovery and identification of a body found in coastal mudflats, Hunter cannot refuse. Thus begins The Restless Dead – a book which shall take Hunter to the remote villages of costal Essex where everyone knows all their neighbours and secrets have to be preciously guarded as the normal “goldfish bowl” of village life means everyone knows your history.

When the body has been recovered Hunter finds himself unable to return to London and he is temporarily stranded at the rural Essex coastline.  He finds a temporary accommodation but in doing so unwittingly becomes drawn into the lives of one of the families who are anxiously waiting for news on a missing woman. They want to know if the body recovered from the marshes is that of the wife/sister they have been missing. Hunter, initially oblivious to their plight and not understanding who they are, just wants a warm bed and a change of clothes.

Although the body is quickly identified Hunter is not wholly convinced over the timeline of the story as it has been described to him.  If the missing person vanished six weeks prior to the recovery of the body then why does the body only seem to have been in the water for a month at most?  Returning to the scene Hunter finds another clue which casts further doubt on the identity of the corpse and this creates problems for the local police.

In The Restless Dead there are feuds, misunderstandings and hostile characters – Beckett has done a marvellous job of keeping Hunter in the midst of all the tension and hostility and making the reader uncomfortable and edgy as they read.  Having read the previous David Hunter books I know what a tough time he has had previously and you just want something to go right for him. Reading the previous books gives you the background you need to get the most from The Restless Dead but it reads well as a stand-alone novel too as the author provides any background info which you may need.

Simon Beckett is a wonderful storyteller. He gives the detail and explanations which make forensic thrillers engaging reads, his characters are always well defined and wholly believable. Did I mention that The Restless Dead is a 5* read?  It is.

 

The Restless Dead is published by Bantam Press and is currently available in Hardback and digital formats. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Restless-Dead-Simon-Beckett/dp/0593063473/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492242215&sr=1-1&keywords=the+restless+dead+simon+beckett

 

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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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Category: 5* Reviews, Blog Tours, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on Will to Live – Rachel Amphlett
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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Category: 5* Reviews, Blog Tours, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on Parallel Lines – Steven Savile