August 17

Block 46 – Johana Gustawsson – Audio

Evil remembers…

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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August 13

I Know A Secret – Tess Gerritsen

I have a secret.
And someone wants to make sure I never tell . . .

In a house decorated with horror movie posters, a young woman’s body is found. She lies on her bed, two bloodied objects clutched in her palm. Detective Jane Rizzoli and Forensic Pathologist Maura Isles are called to the murder scene, but even faced with this gruesome sight they are unable to identify the immediate cause of death.

Their investigation leads them to a high-profile murder case that was seemingly solved years before. But when another body is found in horrific circumstances, the link between the two victims is clear. Was the wrong person sent to prison? Is the real killer out there right now, picking off new targets?

One woman knows the killer is coming for her next. She’s the only one who can help Rizzoli and Isles catch him.

But she has a secret that she has to keep . . .

 

My thanks to Alison at Transworld for the chance to join the tour – and to Anne who made it happen

 

By the time a bestselling series reaches Book 12 you can be assured that the previous 11 books have found their way into many, many homes and that readers everywhere will be keenly awaiting the next instalment. The good news for fans of Rizzoli and Isles is that their latest adventure – I Know A Secret – is in shops know and it is a cracking read…you will think the wait was worthwhile.

I appreciate that not every reader can keep up with all the books by all the authors so can I Know a Secret be enjoyed by someone picking up a Tess Gerritsen novel for the first time? I believe it can. There are references to events, characters and relationships which clearly occurred in earlier titles (you can’t write 12 books in a series whilst pretending each new novel begins with a blank slate on all previous events) but I did not feel there was any disadvantage to come to this book as a new reader. Everything is clear or self explanatory but the main focus is firmly kept of the latest investigation.

Rizzoli and Isles are called to a murder scene – the victim had been involved in making horror films and her death could almost be said to mirror her genre of choice. A gruesome spectacle meets the investigators but despite the unsettling scene they are not immediately able to identify a cause of death.

An investigation is ongoing and, pleasingly, we get to follow Jane Rizzoli as she interviews suspects and chases down potential leads – I do very much enjoy when you feel you are also uncovering the facts as you read. It is not long before a second body turns up. The nature of the attack on each victim is very different but a connection is found and an apparent symbolism throws new light onto the case.

I zipped through I Know A Secret – one of those great books which will keep you hooked. Tess Gerritsen has spun a slick story, the narrative moves along at a good pace so you don’t feel that there are any lags or drops in the action.

Fans of Tess Gerritsen will love I Know A Secret. New readers should seek it out, it is a great story and does not fall into the trap of being too concentrated upon the lives of Rizzoli and Isles at the price of neglecting the murder investigation. You are in the hands of a great storyteller and there I got nothing but pure enjoyment from I Know a Secret.

 

I Know A Secret is available in Hardback and Digital format – you can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Know-Secret-Rizzoli-Isles-12-ebook/dp/B01MTK7M7O/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

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August 10

To Kill the President – Sam Bourne

A blockbuster thriller from No.1 Sunday Times bestselling author Sam Bourne, in which Maggie Costello uncovers an assassination plot to kill the tyrannical new president.

The unthinkable has happened…

The United States has elected a volatile demagogue as president, backed by his ruthless chief strategist, Crawford ‘Mac’ McNamara.

When a war of words with the North Korean regime spirals out of control and the President comes perilously close to launching a nuclear attack, it’s clear someone has to act, or the world will be reduced to ashes.

Soon Maggie Costello, a seasoned Washington operator and stubbornly principled, discovers an inside plot to kill the President – and faces the ultimate moral dilemma. Should she save the President and leave the free world at the mercy of an increasingly crazed would-be tyrant – or commit treason against her Commander in Chief and risk plunging the country into a civil war?

 

My thanks to Harper Collins for my review copy – received through Netgalley.

I don’t think there can ever have been a better timed political thriller. As I type we have President Trump threatening North Korea with “Fire and Fury”.  As the world waits to see if someone gets an itchy trigger finger (and people plan to beg George RR Martin to tweet who ends up on that Throne if the 15 minute warning sounds) we have a work of fiction which reads like the newspapers.

To Kill The President opens with a 3am situation in the…well it is in the Situation Room…as the unnamed president demands that his staff launch a nuclear attack on North Korea.  This fury has been prompted by a tweet the President has seen from the North Koreans which he believes to be a personal attack on his character.

The incident requires cool heads but that is not going to come from the Commander in Chief and someone will need to step up to save millions of lives.  I shouldn’t refer to this as an “explosive” opening but it certainly grabbed my attention. As you read To Kill The President you are left in no doubt that you are looking at a mirror on reality, perhaps some events are marginally blurred and not a true reflection on the last 8 months, but it is hard to convince yourself this could not happen.

As the title suggests – an extreme option appears the only course of action left to save USA and the World but who would step up to take the life of their democratically elected leader? Who can be trusted?  How could it be done quickly? What are the consequences of failure?

If you have even a passing interest in political thrillers then this is a great read. You don’t need to understand the inner workings of the US Political Machine to keep track of the players in this power game as the story flows with a surprisingly small central cast of characters.  Perfect summer reading and truly a thriller for our times.

 

To Kill The President is published by Harper Collins and is available in paperback and digital format.  Copies can be easily ordered through this link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kill-President-most-explosive-thriller-ebook/dp/B0167NVGQ0/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

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August 9

The Girl in the Ice – Robert Bryndza – Audio

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

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

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

What dark secrets is the girl in the ice hiding?

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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August 6

The Girls in the Water – Victoria Jenkins

When the body of Lola Evans is found in a local park on a cold winter’s morning, Detective Alex King and her new recruit Chloe Lane are called in to lead the hunt for the killer.

Days later, a second girl goes missing. It seems the two shared a troubled history, and were members of the same support group. Who is the monster preying on these vulnerable girls?

As the detectives start to piece together the clues, Chloe realises that she too is in danger – as she uncovers secrets about her own brother’s death which someone will kill to keep hidden.

Alex and Chloe are soon fighting for their lives, and in a race against time to reach the next victim before it’s too late…

 

My thanks to Noelle at Bookouture for the chance to join the tour.

I love knowing that the book I am about to read is going to be part of a series. I usually prefer to read about recurring characters than a stand-alone thriller (mainly because I buy in to the characters more readily when I see them grow from book to book).  So when I turned to The Girls in the Water and spotted “Detectives King & Lane, Book 1” my heart soared – a serial killer tale with two cops that look like they may become a regular feature in the release schedules – good start!

Happily The Girls in the Water did not let me down. King and Lane are strong characters in their debut outing – King with a “complicated” home life and Lane with a troubled past which will spill over into her work as she reaches out to King to assist with a private investigation into a murder from years earlier.

More pressing for the two is the fact that someone seems to be killing vulnerable young girls. As a reader we get to watch the killer with his victims.  He uplifts them and takes them to a remote room “you can scream, nobody will hear you” then subjects them to some extremely unpleasant ordeals before finally snuffing out their life. Potentially disturbing scenes warning for those of a nervous nature!  Victoria Jenkins is not going to draw a curtain over the peril that the girls face and it makes her book darker and more intense.

Getting a series established cannot be an easy task but this is a very promising opening and I will certainly be looking out for the next book.

 

The Girls in the Water is available in paperback and digital format and you can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Girls-Water-completely-detective-Detectives-ebook/dp/B0722TFLVW/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

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August 3

Perfect Prey – Helen Fields

Welcome to Edinburgh. Murder capital of Europe.

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

One day.

A single day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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August 1

The Pinocchio Brief – Abi Silver

A schoolboy accused of a brutal murder. A retired lawyer with secrets to hide…

A 15-year-old schoolboy is accused of the murder of one of his teachers. His lawyers, the guarded veteran, Judith, and the energetic young solicitor, Constance, begin a desperate pursuit of the truth, revealing uncomfortable secrets about the teacher and the school. But Judith has her own secrets which she risks exposing when it is announced that a new lie-detecting device, nicknamed Pinocchio, will be used during the trial. And is the accused, a troubled boy who loves challenges, trying to help them or not?

The Pinocchio Brief is a gripping, very human thriller which confronts our assumptions about truth and reliance on technology.

 

Click here to view a one-minute trailer for The Pinocchio Brief http://bit.ly/2uHzCzk

 

A murder mystery in a prestigious school leads to a fascinating courtroom drama and we also have an accused that is something of an enigma.

Ray is a schoolboy, quiet, bullied and a genius. He is also accused of the murder of his maths teacher after being found in his room, hands covered in blood and unable (or unwilling) to provide police or his legal representatives with any information which may help clear him of the crime.

The aforementioned legal representatives are Constance, a young and diligent solicitor and Judith. Judith is a courtroom veteran who retired from practice some years previous to the Ray’s trial.  Constance persuades Judith to come out of retirement to help defend Ray, but can the two combine the best of their skills to persuade a jury that the awkward loner did not kill his teacher.

What may be the biggest hurdle to overcome is the new Pinocchio technology which is being introduced to the courtroom.  Developed as a more reliable “lie detector” the Pinocchio machine is intended to read the movements and mannerisms of witnesses or defendants in court and provide accurate feedback on whether they have lied to the court.  Ray’s trial is the first big public test of the technology and Judith, for reasons of her own, is keen to have Pinocchio removed from the process.

Can a machine replace a jury? Why does Judith want the technology removed from the court? Why is Ray so unwilling to communicate with Constance and Judith? Who really killed the teacher, could it have been Ray – despite Judith’s conviction he is innocent?

All those questions kept me reading. Several hooks which all drew me in.  The Pinocchio Brief is a cracking courtroom drama but the murder story is also really well thought out. Shades of classic Christie with the murder in the school, a small suspect pool who all have very different backgrounds and each of the suspects has a reason for bumping off the teacher. This is the type of book I love to read.

Thoroughly enjoyed The Pinocchio Brief and hope this finds its way into many homes – seek it out…there is a handy link just below. 

 

The Pinocchio Brief is published by Lightning Books and is available in paperback and digital format. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pinocchio-Brief-Silver-Abi-ebook/dp/B073QCN77F/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

 

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