April 27

Dead Woman Walking – Sharon Bolton

Dead Woman WalkingJust before dawn in the hills near the Scottish border, a man murders a young woman. At the same time, a hot-air balloon crashes out of the sky. There’s just one survivor.

She’s seen the killer’s face – but he’s also seen hers. And he won’t rest until he’s eliminated the only witness to his crime.

Alone, scared, trusting no one, she’s running to where she feels safe – but it could be the most dangerous place of all . . .

 

My thanks to Alison Barrow for my review copy and the chance to join the tour.

 

As a rule I prefer to read books which form part of an ongoing series rather than a stand-alone book, the familiarity of recurring characters I find appealing.  However, there is one distinct advantage that a stand-alone book holds over books in a series – the author can do absolutely whatever they like to the characters with no concern over long term consequences. Just imagine if Colin Dexter had bumped off Lewis in the second Inspector Morse novel!

In Dead Woman Walking Sharon Bolton kills off around a dozen characters in the opening chapters, amongst the victims is the sister of her lead character. For the rest of the novel Jessica mourns the loss of her sister whilst also running for her life to escape from a killer. And because this is a stand alone thriller you don’t know if Jessica will actually survive and make it to the end of the book – the killer is a resourceful and ruthless type.

What makes Jessica’s loss more shocking and impactful for the reader is that Sharon Bolton makes very effective use of flashbacks throughout Dead Woman Walking to re-enforce the strong bond that Jessica shared with her sister Bella. The flashbacks serve a secondary purpose but there are elements of spoilers therein…so moving on….

The Killer. Introduced very early in the story and we get to know all about him and we follow his attempts to track down Jessica. She has seen his face. He has seen hers. She cannot be allowed to live so it is a Hunter Vs Prey scenario and it makes for compelling reading. I became totally caught up in Dead Woman Walking and found myself reading well into the night – the classic case of “just one more chapter”.

I can’t give away too much of the story as this is one which you have to discover for yourself. Suffice to say that this is a book you simply have to read. It is Hunter Vs Prey chase thriller with twists and shocks and some very, very clever bits which had me reeling. Bookish magnificence.

 

Dead Woman Walking is published by Bantam Press and is available in Hardback and Digital format.

You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dead-Woman-Walking-Sharon-Bolton/dp/0593076427/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

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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 20

Hulk: Gray – Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale

Hulk GrayThis tale examines in new detail the earliest days of the Incredible Hulk. As Dr. Bruce Banner makes his first transformations into his brutish alter ego, relationships that will influence his life and the life of the Hulk are forged… and destroyed! Collects Hulk: Gray #1-6

 

Reviewing the comic via my comiXology app

I’ve been a reader for as long as I can remember and comic books have been a regular feature on my bookshelves (and in very long, white boxes) for around 30 years. When I was very young I was introduced to Spider-man and The Incredible Hulk through a weekly comic published by Marvel Comics UK.  They are nothing like the monthly publications that you find in stores like Forbidden Planet – think the Beano or Dandy but with more Thwip and Smash.

Hulk SpideyThese days I cannot afford to feed my comic book addiction to the extent that I would like so I rely upon my local library for many of the Graphic Novels that I read and I make very good use of an app on my phone and tablet called comiXology.  A phone app to let me read comic books…mind blown!

Hulk: Gray is a six part adventure featuring Dr Bruce Banner and his angry alter ego. The blurb describes it as a story which “examines in detail the earliest days of the Incredible Hulk”.  It is that – the story plays out in the immediate aftermath of the gamma explosion which changed Dr Banner’s life forever.  Technically it is a flashback recounting of the events as Banner is chatting to his friend Doc Sampson and trying to explain his side of events.

What initially drew me to Hulk: Gray (other than a love of the character) was the creative due of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. I had read, and loved, their Batman series The Long Halloween. Loeb writes a great story and Sale’s artwork really appeals. I do find that some comics can be a bit of a let down for me if I don’t like the art style (Secret Invasion I am looking at you).  But Loeb and Sale are a great duo.

Hulk is in a “Hulk Smash” persona. Poor vocab and limited comprehension he just wants to be left alone. But General Ross and the US Army are hot on his tail – particularly when Hulk finds someone to take with him as he escapes the troops…Ross’s daughter Betty. Loeb does a fabulous job of showing how Hulk cannot express Banner’s love for Betty but that Hulk somehow knows that this girl is important to Hulk.

The immediate suspicion of General Ross is quickly put in place and the friendship of Hulk and Rick Jones is established too.  For fans there is also an unexpected cameo from another Avenger founding member to enjoy (a meeting which had never been documented prior to this story).

A highly entertaining story from one of the best writing teams of recent times.  Hulk: Gray has a lot going for it.

Until next time True Believers, Make Mine Marvel.

 

Hulk: Gray is a Marvel Comics publication which is available as a single volume Graphic Novel and on Kindle or a Comixology App.  Order it here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hulk-Gray-Jeph-Loeb-ebook/dp/B00AAJR0FY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1492720057&sr=1-1&keywords=hulk+grey

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April 19

A Room Full of Killers – Michael Wood

A Room Full of KillersEight killers. One house. And the almost perfect murder…

Starling House is home to some of Britain’s deadliest teenagers, still too young for prison.

When the latest arrival is found brutally murdered, DCI Matilda Darke and her team investigate, and discover a prison manager falling apart and a sabotaged security system. Neither the staff nor the inmates can be trusted.

The only person Matilda believes is innocent is facing prison for the rest of his life. With time running out, she must solve the unsolvable to save a young man from his fate, and find a murderer in a house full of killers…

 

My thanks to the Killer Reads team for a review copy which I received through Netgalley

 

The third in the DCI Matilda Darke series and A Room Full of Killers is another cracking read from Michael Wood.

A story set primarily within a secure facility where teenage boys, too young for prison, are incarcerated. They are moved from around the country to Starling House on the outskirts of Sheffield. Their crimes the shame of their family (where their family were not victims) and their notoriety splashed across newspaper headlines. Away from the spotlight they are held together in Starling House, a poorly resourced institution where the facility manager is doing everything in her power to keep things ticking over.

A new entrant to Starling House is about to upset the balance and the pressure which has been building is about to blow. A murder – the victim laid out in a public room and stabbed multiple times. The suspects: all the residents or a staff member pushed too far? A problem for the police as there is no obvious motive – all the young criminals were locked into their rooms for the night so how did someone have freedom to roam around and kill a fellow resident.

Crime readers will love the “locked room” puzzle which Michael Wood has devised. When the police attend a crime scene where they know there are already known killers in their midst it throws a highly entertaining curveball and watching Matilda Darke and her colleagues contend with this unwelcome problem is great fun.

As for Matilda, she has had a tough time of it in the first two novels and the memory of a very high profile failure is not going away in A Room Full of Killers.  I have been enjoying the ongoing story arc which has been hanging over Matilda in the first three books and it is nicely brought on this time around. NB each book can stand alone, the arc is well explained as is key to Matilda’s character.

Matilda Darke should become a familiar character to anyone that enjoys crime fiction.  Michael Wood is building a great series here and you want to ensure you are here for the journey.

 

A Room Full of Killers is available in digital format, and paperback from 18 May 2017. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Room-Full-Killers-Matilda-thriller-ebook/dp/B01LKXFZZ0/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1492548578&sr=1-1

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April 18

Two O’Clock Boy – Mark Hill

Today I am delighted to welcome Mark Hill to Grab This Book as I have the honour of hosting a leg of the blog tour for Two O’Clock Boy.

Mark had previously agreed to join me to take part in my Book Chains Q&A (he was nominated by Susi Holliday who also left me a question to put to Mark). As the blog tour for Two O’Clock Boy was approaching we made Mark hold out a bit longer than anticipated to see what burning question Susi had lined up for him. For those keeping count, Mark is the sixth link in my chain…

Before we cut to the questions here is the book you should be looking out for:

Two O'Clock BoyTWO CHILDHOOD FRIENDS… ONE BECAME A DETECTIVE… ONE BECAME A KILLER…

Thirty years ago, the Longacre Children’s Home stood on a London street where once-grand Victorian homes lay derelict. There its children lived in terror of Gordon Tallis, the home’s manager.

Then Connor Laird arrived: a frighteningly intense boy who quickly became Tallis’ favourite criminal helper. Soon after, destruction befell the Longacre, and the facts of that night have lain buried . . . until today.

Now, a mysterious figure, the Two O’Clock Boy, is killing all who grew up there, one by one. DI Ray Drake will do whatever it take to stop the murders – but he will go even further to cover up the truth.

 

First Question is never actually a question. This is where I ask you to introduce yourself and give you the opportunity to get a couple of plugs in early.

Hi, I’m Mark Hill, I’m a crime author. My debut novel Two O’Clock Boy has just been published in paperback, to great acclaim – at least in this house. It’s in the shops right now! It’s the first in a series about DI Ray Drake and DS Flick Crowley, two North London coppers.

 Now can you introduce us to Ray Drake?

Ray’s a Detective Inspector. A good man, I think, but someone with a lot of baggage. I mean, we all have a bit of baggage, don’t we? But Ray’s baggage is heavier than most. He’s got some secrets, dare I say… some dark secrets. So when a guy goes round killing people – people Ray may or may not have known a long way back – well, it opens up a whole can of worms. Flick’s just doing her job, trying to find the murderer, but Ray keeps sticking his nose in…

 It is a London based story and I am Glasgow based, so I need to ask…is Longacre Children’s home a real place? Have you written about places you know or have you adopted an artistic interpretation of the city?

It’s a combination of real places and not so real places. Sometimes I couldn’t write a scene without having a very specific sense of a particular place, but the scenes set in the 1980s Hackney have elements of a fever dream. They were a composite of some of the things I remember seeing when I came to London as a kid – fenced-up gaps in streets where bombed houses still hadn’t been rebuilt after the Second World War, wastelands and long grass even in the heart of the city – a real sense of urban decay, of an era coming to an end. It’s long redeveloped now, of course.

What I can promise you is that the Longacre is totally made up, although I’m sure places like it have existed.

Did all those reviews, the author interviews, the guest posts help you decide what you wanted to write?

I was already writing the book that became Two O’Clock Boy when I was helping Crime Thriller Fella on his blog, but you can never read too many books – and to find out what all those amazing authors thought was hugely useful and inspiring. Reviewing also helped me think about what made a book motor, and analyse more carefully the kind of things I liked about it. Reading is essential if you want to write.  But what you realise, ultimately, is that you have to find your own way. I’ve never understood when some people say they can’t read novels while they write in case they’re unduly influenced. If that was the case, I’d never be able to read or I’d never be able to write, both of which consequences are unacceptable.

As a supplemental to that, can you single out any books which may have influenced how you approached writing Two O’Clock Boy?

That’s a hard one. I don’t think there’s one particular book, but there are a lot of influences in Two O’Clock Boy. It’s both a psychological thriller and a police procedural with historical elements. A lot of fantastic books influenced it, I’m sure –  but also a lot of terrific movies and film scripts, which is probably why many people have said it has a very filmic quality to it.

Why do you think crime readers particularly enjoy serial killer stories?

I can’t imagine murdering someone. Living with the knowledge of that kind of transgression, the burden of it, must rot the soul. The idea that there are people out there who are impelled to take the lives of others, who positively thrive on it – and that these predators could be walking among us – is fascinating and terrifying. Crime novels, horror novels, allow us to look safely through that looking glass. Oddly enough, I’ve never regarded the Two O’Clock Boy as a serial killer, although clearly he’s an enthusiastic murderer. Serial killing suggests some kind of random urge, but the Boy has a very specific deadly agenda…

Mark HillSo who was Crime Thriller Fella and why did he have to slide off into the shadows?

It’s a very sad story. Crime Thriller Fella was a blogger, a very odd character, who briefly fancied himself as a bit of a playa in the blogging firmament. But between you and me, he was a bit of an oddball who got a little bit too big for his boots and started confusing crime fiction with reality. He sadly fell in with a bad crowd. I can’t go into specifics, but a criminal enterprise went wrong, he double-crossed some people of dubious morals, and was forced into Witness Protection. I don’t know where he is now but he sometimes leaves drunken rambling messages on my voicemail in the dead of night about WordPress settings, or delivers the odd threatening message in the mail disguised as book post. Sometimes, very occasionally, I get the sense I’m being watched. He’ll turn up sooner or later, I’m sure. At the bottom of a canal, probably.

 

Now the quickfire ones:

Last film you saw at the cinema?

Life, the Alien knock-off with Ryan Reynolds and Jake Gylen… Gyllin… Jake Gallenhi… That guy from Brokeback. It was okay.

The coffee Revels are the best ones in the bag – True or False?

Don’t be daft. It’s the orange ones.

Which has been the Best Bond film?

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is easily my favourite. Poor old Lazenby had just the one shot at the role but, oh, what a Bond movie to star in.

You have been invited to appear on a reality tv show – which one would let your skills shine?

Gogglebox. I’m really, really good at watching television.

Which one concert/show from history do you wish you had been able to see?

I’ve got Orson Welles’s notorious radio production of War Of The Worlds on vinyl somewhere. Presented as a mock news report, a lot of the hysteria it allegedly caused – riots and suicides and suchlike – has been proved to be false, but the conceit is astonishing for its time, Welles was such a genius. I often wonder what it must have been like to be a kid in 1938 listening to it in an isolated cabin beneath a sky full of stars, watching in terror a comet trail across the heavens. 

Bookmark, corner folder or “any old scrap of paper” – how do you keep your place?

I do like a nice postcard, but the whole book usually ends up covered in tiny post-its stuck everywhere, like it has some kind of flaky yellow disease. I like making notes.

As you may know this feature is called Book Chains and it was Susi Holliday that nominated you to keep my Q&A chain going.  Susi wanted me to ask you the following question:

What’s your karaoke song?

High And Dry by Radiohead. I can clear a room super fast.

 

My final question to Mark was to ask him to nominate my next guest and to set a question. While the question will remain under wraps for the time being, I CAN confirm that in the near future Mr Derek Farrell shall return to Grab This Book as he has agreed to continue my Book Chain.

My thanks to Mark for being so patient and for being such a good sport. But we do need to be clear…the coffee Revels are (and always will be) the best in the packet.

Two O’Clock Boy is published by Sphere and is available now in paperback and digital format.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Two-OClock-Boy-detective-killer-ebook/dp/B01FFZH4LW/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

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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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Category: 5* Reviews, Blog Tours, From The Bookshelf | Comments Off on The Restless Dead – Simon Beckett
April 14

The Contract – JM Gulvin

The ContractIn New Orleans, Texas Ranger John Q is out of his jurisdiction, and possibly out of his depth. It seems everyone in Louisiana wants to send him home, and every time he asks questions there’s trouble: from the pharmacist to the detective running scared to the pimp who turned to him as a last resort. Before John Q knows it, he looks the only link between a series of murders.

So who could be trying to set him up, and why, and who can he turn to in a city where Southern tradition and family ties rule?

Infused with the rhythms of its iconic setting, The Contract is a thriller to keep even the most seasoned crime readers gripped and guessing all the way to its endgame.

 

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

 

America in the latter half of the 1960’s is the setting for JM Gulvin’s second John Q thriller. Texas Ranger, John Quarrie, is a great lead character – cool under pressure, a sharp shooter and displays a logical and rational intelligence where we see him puzzling out the evidence he finds to unveil the bigger mysteries.

Evidence?  Well, The Contract opens with an armed robber.  John Q is not far from where the incident takes place and gives chase. Being a Texas Ranger, John Q knows the area well and he manages to pin down the robbers – a confrontation is inevitable and the reader gets to see early-on the unflappable nature of John Q as a gun fight ensues.

In the aftermath of the chase (and the subsequent arrest) John Q tries to uncover the motive behind the robbery and his investigations take him to New Orleans. I love reading about New Orleans, a seemingly sleepy town where old families run things behind the scenes and there is always the feeling that there is sinister undertone to every conversation.

Quarrie tracks down Gigi, a singer who is oblivious to the events back in Texas but is unwittingly linked to the death of a man. If Gigi is to be of any help to Quarrie in his investigations he needs to keep her safe but in a town where John Q is a stranger who does he trust?

The Contract is written with perfect pacing and tone for the deep South setting and the author has perfectly captured that feeling of 1960’s life. Reading The Contract it is so very easy to slip into the story and ignore everything else which is going on around you. JM Gulvin has penned a wonderful tale with conspiracy, murder and corruption and I heartily recommend it.

 

The Contract is published by Faber and is available in paperback and digital format. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/cka/Contract-John-Q-Mystery-JM-Gulvin/0571323812/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492158749&sr=1-1&keywords=the+contract+jm+gulvin

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April 12

Dog Fight – Michael J Malone

dog fightKenny O Neill, a villain with a conscience, returns in a hard-hitting thriller of exploitation, corruption and criminal gangs. When Kenny s cousin, Ian, comes to the aid of a fellow ex-squaddie in a heap of trouble, he gets caught up in the vicious underground fight scene, where callous criminals prey on the vulnerable, damaged and homeless.

With Ian in too deep to escape, Kenny has no option other than to infiltrate the gang for the sake of his family. Kenny is an experienced MMA fighter, as tough as they come, but has he found himself in the one fight he can never win?

 

My thanks to Sara at Contraband for my review copy

 

Dog Fight…even the title makes Michael J Malone’s new novel sound dark and dangerous. It’s not misleading. Dog Fight is a Kenny O’Neill story and it doesn’t matter how big-hearted Kenny can be – he is still one of Glasgow’s gangsters and dark and dangerous goes with the territory.

A homeless ex-soldier is given the opportunity to make a few quid if he will take part in an underground fight club. Though not as fit as he once was, the former soldier fancies his chances and sees the opportunity to get some much needed cash. It soon becomes clear that this offer may not have been made with his best intentions at heart. 

Although I said this was a Kenny story, his cousin Ian also features heavily. Ian is ex-military and has accumulated a few demons in the past – most notably a drug habit which he has managed to vanquish. Ian is still in touch with some of his former squad mates and it is while visiting one of his pals that the path of the story is set.  Ian’s mate is suffering, injured and disabled in action and with anger issues that he struggles to control. He has borrowed lots of money to fund a drug habit and to buy gifts for his son. But when the loan needs repaid and the enforcers are sent to collect Ian is going to get in the way. After a confrontation with the ‘wrong people’ Ian receives an offer which will give him the chance to earn a few quid.

Meanwhile Kenny has his own problems to contend with. He is dealing with the aftermath of events in Bad Samaritan (no spoilers from me) and an unexpected domestic drama will shake up his family. When his cousin Ian suddenly vanishes Kenny needs to call on his contacts to track him down, however, information comes at a price and Kenny will need to pay the price to find his cousin.

Dog Fight does give the reader much to contemplate. The underground fight club gives us some brutal scenes to read through and the morality of exploiting vulnerable former soldiers was unsettling. Malone is highlighting how poorly retuning soldiers are treated when they try to resume a “normal” life. PTSD and lack of a support network is a real problem and the vulnerabilities are brought to the fore by the author who is almost challenging the reader to help tackle this issue.

Kenny’s story is nicely developed too and it is easy to see why he is a firm favourite with returning readers. You don’t have to have read any of the previous novels to pick up and enjoy Dog Fight, the book stands well on its own, but knowing the backstory will enhance enjoyment.

Dog Fight can be dark, gritty and unflinching but there is humour energy and there are uplifting scenes too. Michael J Malone can’t half tell a good story – this is a beauty.

Dog Fight is published by Contraband and is available now in both paperback and digital format. Order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dog-Fight-Kenny-ONeill-2/dp/1910192775/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1491427752&sr=1-1&keywords=michael+j+malone

 

Follow the blog tour here:

Dog Fight blogtour

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