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

 

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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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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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