July 27

Sacrifice – Paul Finch

Innocent people are dying. Who will be next? Find out in the second Detective Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg from #1 ebookSacrifice bestseller Paul Finch.

A vicious serial killer is holding the country to ransom, publicly – and gruesomely – murdering his victims.

When a man is burnt alive on a bonfire, it seems like a tragic Guy Fawkes Night accident. But with the discovery of a young couple on Valentine’s Day – each with an arrow through the heart – something more sinister becomes clear. A ‘calendar killer’ is on the loose.

Detective Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg is up against it. With a rising body count and the public’s eyes on him, Heck must find the killer before he executes more victims.

Because this killer has a plan. And nothing will stop him completing it.


A couple of months ago I read Stalkers by Paul Finch. It was my introduction to Detective Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg and I loved it. My full review was posted back in June if you want to see how I enthused.

As there were only three Heckenburg books available I tried to pace myself and not just rip through them all in a week. Sadly my self-restraint lasted just a couple of weeks and I turned to the second book Sacrifice.

People are being murdered – in particularly nasty ways – and on days which coincide with festivals and holidays (Christmas Day, Valentines, May Day). Pressure mounts on the police and even the more obscure festival days are dreaded.

While Stalkers was very much about Heckenburg, I got a feeling from Sacrifice that there was a real Police team in place within Sacrifice and the dynamic between the members of the squad really added to the story. I have a fondness for the squad that Stuart MacBride created in his Logan McRae novels and I found myself comparing Heckenburg’s team with that of McRae’s – both with formidable women in charge!

Sacrifice was everything I wanted as it entertained, shocked and thrilled in equal measures (and I was genuinely surprised where the story wound up when the net started to close in on the culprit).

I cannot recommend Sacrifice enough: it is a great read and sadly I reached the end long before I wanted the story to end.

Now I am trying my best not to read the third book The Killing Club too soon (I want to have something to look forward to).


Long HalloweenAs an afterthought it is worth mentioning that when I finished Sacrifice I then felt compelled to read Batman: The Long Halloween. One of my favourite Batman stories which played out in the comics over a 12 month run and features most of the high profile Batman villains (let down only by a rather weak Joker plot line). If you read The Long Halloween you will see why Sacrifice brought it back to mind.

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July 27

The String Diaries – Stephen Lloyd Jones

He has a face you love. A voice you trust. To survive you must kill him.

Always looking
Always looking

The rules of survival are handed from mother to daughter. Inherited, like the curse that has stalked Hannah and her family across centuries.

He changes his appearance at will, speaks with a stolen voice and hides behind the face of a beloved, waiting to strike.

Generation after generation, he has destroyed them. And all they could do was to run.

Until now.

Now, it is time for Hannah to turn and fight.


Review copy kindly provided by Bookbridgr from Headline.


Hannah lives her life in constant fear. She has a stalker and has to maintain a constant vigilance to ensure he cannot find her. To help her evade her pursuer she has a very special collection of books, diaries and journals, which were handed down from her mother and grandmother. They recount stories of their experiences and warn of the evil that stalks them. This is necessary as they were all running from is the same man Jakab– he does not age, he can change his physical appearance to exactly mirror another and he will let no one get in his way.

In his debut novel Stephen Lloyd Jones has crafted a tense thriller which will keep you turning pages well into the night. The story jumps from a modern day setting back into 18th century Hungary where Hannah’s nemesis Jakab is introduced. We learn of his coming of age, how he develops his ‘talent’ of assuming another’s identity and the corrupting power that this gives him. Back to the present time and we find out a little more of Hannah and her family history – always with the constant threat of the ‘Bad Man’.

Pacing within the story is extremely well handled, Lloyd Jones progresses the present day pursuit throughout the story but introduces several cliff-hanger moments at which point he takes us back in time to develop the back-story and flesh out the character of his monster.

Despite the obvious corruption of Jakab and the callous nature he shows, the author also conveys the sense of loss that Jabab has experienced and you get an understanding into what motivates his murderous spree through the years.

A teaser chapter from a second novel at the end of The String Diaries confirms that there will be more to follow from Stephen Lloyd Jones – on the evidence of the first book the next story will be a welcome addition to my library.

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July 25

Competition – Top Secret Twenty One

Stephanie Plum is back!
Stephanie Plum is back!

The dead ends are turning into dead bodies.

Stephanie Plum is getting desperate. She’s running out of leads in the search for Jimmy Poletti, who was caught selling more than cars out of his New Jersey dealership. Even Joe Morelli, the city’s hottest cop, is struggling to find the criminal wheeler and dealer.

Stephanie’s No. 1 temptation, Ranger, is also struggling. There’s a killer in town with a personal vendetta against him. If Ranger wants to survive, he’ll need Stephanie’s help – and to reveal a piece of his mysterious past.

Death threats, highly trained assassins and highly untrained assassins are all in a day’s work for bounty hunter Stephanie Plum!


Competition time – I have been running a competition on Twitter to giveaway a copy of Top Secret Twenty One. However, I want people to come and see my blog pages too  so I will give away a second copy of Janet Evanovich’s new Stephanie Plum novel here on my blog.  To register your entry all you need to do is leave a comment on this post telling me who you would trust most with your Top Secret. Personally, I have a 4 year old who cannot keep a secret for more than 10 seconds so it would be anyone bar him!

I will select a winner on the evening of Sunday 27th July. Sadly this if for UK readers only I am afraid – Good Luck!

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July 23

Ed McBain – 87th Precinct: The Heckler

I had been online looking for something to read and I found that the last 87th Precinct novel (Fiddlers) was available for bloggers/reviewers to request.  The book was actually published 9 years ago so I was surprised to see it offered for review, however, as a long-standing fan of Ed McBain and the boys of the 87th Precinct I had to submit a request.

Sadly it was not to be – my request for a review copy was declined. As it was one of the few books in the series I had still to read I was a tad disappointed. Still it whetted the appetite for a return to the fictional world of Isola. Turn to my Kindle and there I find a plethora of 87th Precinct stories all waiting to be read.

Over the course of a 5 year period in my late teens/early twenties I think I managed to pick up about 90% of Ed McBain’s books. Almost all the books I owned were second hand copies as I could never quite bring myself to pay £5 or £6 for a book I would read in one night. This remains true today, I am rebuilding my McBain collection on my Kindle but will only buy the books when they go into the sale (fortunately this seems to be quite a regular occurrence).

With over a dozen titles downloaded to my Kindle it was just a matter of selecting one I fancied. The Heckler won the the hecklerday.  One reason it beat off the other challengers was because I could not remember how the story panned out, but more importantly it was because it featured The Deaf Man – arch nemesis to Steve Carella and the other 87th Precinct cops.

The Deaf Man was a master criminal and a recurring character in McBain’s books – there are over 50 novels of the 87th Precinct and I seemed to recall the Deaf Man popping up quite often.  However, a quick check of Wikipedia suggests he only actually features in 6 books (with name-checks in others). Clearly I built up the memory more than the reality!

No matter, The Heckler brought me everything I wanted. The squad-room dynamic was there, characters I had long forgotten were welcomed back into my imagination and the actual story was good fun with lots of Sherlock Holmes references thrown in for good measure.

My reading pile grows ever larger but there will always be time to step back and squeeze in one of Ed McBain’s books. The Heckler is 54 years old and it shows its age in places, however, at heart it remains a good story told by one of the masters of his craft.

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July 21

Digital Circumstances – BRM Stewart

Digital Circumstances‘Martin McGregor left school in Glasgow with nothing but a talent for working with computers. He built up a successful business, installing hardware and software for companies and individuals. He was settled in a loving relationship.

But Martin’s company steals theirs and their clients’ data, all of it: account details, credit card numbers, identities – and sells them on to international cyber-criminals.

Martin never meant this to happen: it was all from circumstances all through his life, starting with a gangster’s money which gave him what he thought was his first lucky break.

Now he is trying to get clear, but his attempts attract the attentions of police and gangsters from three countries, and some people die. His partner knows something is going on, and she once told him never to lie to her.

And in New York, FBI agent Mark Grosvenor is on his trail’.


I downloaded Digital Circumstances to my Kindle on the recommendation of my Sister-in-Law. She and I share quite similar tastes in books and if she is praising a story I will tend to pay attention…except for Dan Brown books, there will always be something on top of the TBR pile before another Dan Brown novel.

So working only on a recommendation and the five paragraph blurb from the book description I launched into Digital Circumstances, the first novel by BRM Stewart. Loved it! Loved it! Loved It!

The central character (Martin McGregor) is a tech-head and as his story develops you also see the evolution of computers and how they evolved into our lives – a nice touch here and I suspect that McGregor is around the same age as I am given the computers he owned at the outset of the book! More worrying was the ease with which the gangsters, who also feature heavily in the story, quickly adapted to the technological developments and profited from our lack of understanding.

I found McGregor’s character was really well developed and I wanted him to come through the tale unscathed. There are some ‘Thrillers’ I can finish and not even remember the central character’s name much less care what happens to them during the course of a book. The supporting characters were well realised and as they came and went from McGregor’s life there were times I felt genuine regret for what had happened to them or anger towards how they were behaving.

Another bonus was that Digital Circumstances is mainly set in Glasgow, a city I studied in and where I got my first job. I always feel that when I am reading about a place I know well it becomes much easier to become engaged in a story. As the story also features Portugal, America and Eastern Europe there was a real feeling of the scale to the book: it highlighted the extent of the reach of the criminal underworld and the even longer reach of the authorities chasing them down.

The story played out well and kept me gripped, one of the books that I did not want to end. A cracking debut novel and I was delighted to hear Mr Stewart is writing his next book. I strongly recommend that you grab a copy of Digital Circumstances.



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July 17

In Progress…

I am trying to divide my reading time between too many books this week!

After a weekend trip to Englandshire I forgot to bring my Kindle home. Fortunately my family were continuing the holiday without me (work commitments) so the Kindle and I will soon be reunited – but it left me on paperbacks for the week.

As it turns out this has been a bit of a blessing as I got to catch up on a Stephanie Plum novel (from Janet Evanovich). Although the series has now reached the 21st book, I am dragging my heels and have only just finished Smokin’ Seventeen.

The lovely people at my local library kept me going in Evanovich novels for a few weeks last year and I romped through the first 14 books in record time. Cracking, entertainment with humour and excitement in equal doses. However, I didn’t want to catch up with all the books in one run as I liked the idea of still having a few books left to read so I took an enforced break for several months.  That period of self denial is over and am loving reading about Stephanie Plum again.

When the Evanovich book was not within reach I have also been using the Kindle App on my ‘phone to read Digital Circumstances by BRM Stewart. What a joy that has been!  I will post a review once I get through the final 10% but it is fair to say I will be recommending it to everyone – especially those who know Glasgow.

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July 15

Fan – Danny Rhodes (a tough fixture)

I received a copy of Fan from the lovely Sophie at Reviewed The Book – Sophie has an amazing number of reviews on her site and you should take a wander over to http://www.reviewedthebook.co.uk  Sophie, thanks for the copy!

I had seen a lot of mentions on Twitter about Fan. The overwhelming opinions I heard stated that it was a great read. References were made to the Hillsborough disaster, Nottingham Forest and the football world of years gone by. As a football fan this sounded like something I had to read and the other bloggers who were showering praise have been seeing me right thus far and making great recommendations. I will also highlight the publisher Arcadia Books who are doing a fantastic job in promoting a title that many people should seek out.

Scroll down my pages and you will soon find that I started Fan some time ago. I have started (and finished) several books since beginning Fan but this one took me quite a bit longer than I expected. This is not because I am a slow reader, nor is it down to my reluctance in writing up my reviews it is because I was not sure how I felt about Fan.

It is a very, very powerful story. It captures a time I was a part of but probably too young to fully understand. I recall several of the key historical events with more clarity than I would like and the depth of detail and accuracy almost gives the story the feeling of reading a diary rather than a work of fiction. HOWEVER….I found it hard to read and I put it down for several weeks about half way through before I felt that I was ready to finish the story.

Let me be clear, it is a great book and I will recommend it to anyone who asks me if they should read it but, it just was not for me. I like my fiction a little less realistic and generally the books that I really get into are sometimes best taken with a pinch of salt.

The central character in Fan is a flawed individual who did not endear himself to this reader. His is story which spans two time lines, there is the memory of growing up as a Forest fan in the 1980’s and this overlaps with the present day as he struggles to maintain a normal life while haunted by the ghosts of his past.

I found that I was looking forward more to the present day parts of the story rather than the historical reminiscing. I wanted to see where the character was going and if he could salvage something from his self-enforced darkness.

I am glad I read this one, not my usual type of story but it will stay with me for a while (which is more than can be said about lots of the more generic titles I have read).

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July 12

Friday was a catching up day

A good day as I managed to finish two books from the reading pile. Will post up full reviews of each in the very near future, however, tonight I have the fun problem of what to read next.

Busy day ahead so I may sneak in a quick read of a Batman graphic novel – one of the books I finished today made me want to read one Batman’s The Long Halloween (one of my favourites).

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July 9

The Hunter – Chris Carter (Short Story)

It is hard to gauge from reading a short story if you are going to enjoy a full novel penned by the same author. In the case of Chris Carter’s The Hunter I also suspect that this particular short story was mainly written as a wee extra  treat for established fans rather than be intended as an introduction to his recurring hero, Robert Hunter.

However, as my introduction to Carter’s work I found this a very satisfying experience and I will certainly be moving on to read The Crucifix Killer (described as ‘the first full length thriller featuring Robert Hunter’ in the sneak preview that was attached to my kindle copy of The Hunter).

I am rapidly finding that following fellow bloggers on Twitter is throwing up too many recommended reads – my TBR pile has grown considerably in the last few months. Chris Carter is one such recommendation and The Hunter seemed a good jumping on point – how many spoilers could there possibly be in a book set before the first full novel? None! (I think).

The Hunter is a great take on the classic ‘Locked Room’ murder.  A young woman is found dead in her locked apartment – apparent suicide and the police wish the case closed as quickly as possible. Enter Robert Hunter and suddenly he is asking the questions that no-one else seemed to have considered. Nicely written with good characterisation which makes me want to see the characters expanded upon in subsequent tales.

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July 4

Doctor Who: Tales of Trenzalore

Richards, Mann, Finch, Morris
Richards, Mann, Finch, Morris

As it had been foretold, the armies of the Universe gathered at Trenzalore. Only one thing stood between the planet and destruction – the Doctor. For nine hundred years, he defended the planet, and the tiny town of Christmas, against the forces that would destroy it.
He never knew how long he could keep the peace. He never knew what creatures would emerge from the snowy night to threaten him next. He knew only that at the end he would die on Trenzalore.

Some of what happened during those terrible years is well documented. But most of it remains shrouded in mystery and darkness.

Until now.

This is a glimpse of just some of the terrors the people faced, the monstrous threats the Doctor defeated. These are the tales of the monsters who found themselves afraid – and of the one man who was not.
(Tales of Trenzalore documents four of the Doctor’s adventures from different periods during the Siege of Trenzalore and the ensuing battle:

Let it Snow – by Justin Richards
An Apple a Day – by George Mann
Strangers in the Outland – by Paul Finch
The Dreaming – by Mark Morris)

A review copy was kindly provided by Netgalley.


It needs to be made clear from outset that I am a long-standing Doctor Who fan and have been for around 35 of my 40 years. Love it, followed it, collected it and kept the faith from 1989 to the full resurrection when Rose aired. I collected the Virgin New Adventures, The Missing Adventures, the BBC collections of 8th and Past Doctors. I listen to Big Finish audio adventures and read the fantastic Doctor Who Monthly. I am a fan!

One thing that should also be known is that I found the concept of The Doctor being stuck for years on Trenzalore at the end of Matt Smith’s regeneration a bit….sad. All the buzz and energy he showed only to have his wings clipped and be made to ride out his time in the odd town of Christmas – this was an unexpected twist.

Fortunately, it appears his time was not too dull as evidenced within the 4 stories captured in Tales of Trenzalore. For fans of the classic stories there are some returning foes that will bring a nostalgic smile to your face. Newer fans can enjoy familiarity too as the Ice Warriors feature in the first story (no more reveals though, read to see who else appears!)

Each of the 4 stories are well paced and capture the essence of Smith’s Doctor. I have read several of Justin Richards previous Who novels and know he is very adept at crafting a strong adventure. No change here I was pleased to find. The introductory story in the collection whetted the appetite and made me crave the next tale.

I found An Apple a Day to be the most emotive story – classic enemy and Mann also showed the impact that the Doctor’s ongoing peril has upon the other citizens of Christmas.

Scroll down my Blog and you will see my newfound love of Paul Finch stories. Imagine my delight when I find Mr Finch’s name on the author’s list of a Doctor Who story! Strangers in the Outland un-nerved me most as this was the enemy I found the most threatening and the author really captured my attention with an isolated Doctor being relentlessly chased down. Strangers in the Outland ended all too soon for this reader!

Finally the Doctor reaching the end of his life faces another ‘classic’ enemy in The Dreaming. A strong story with a more frail Doctor than I like to contemplate but a Doctor who remains resolute and as ingenious as we would expect.

As a collection of stories I found Tales of Trenzalore to be a delight. I am shunning unread books to re-visit some Doctor Who stories and have dug out a couple of Doctor Who DVD’s to feed my inner fan.

5/5 for this collection – Grab this Book!


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