October 9

Guest Post: Jane Isaac – Serial Heroes

Knowing that one of my favourite authors is about to release a new book is always an exciting time. I love that anticipation and will count down the days until I can catch up on the latest adventures of a much loved character.  But I am also on a quest to find out from the authors I enjoy reading which books they look forward to!

I am exceedingly happy to be able to welcome Jane Isaac to Grab This Book today. This is the 4th Season of my Serial Heroes feature and I initially contacted Jane when I was compiling the 3rd Season! Timing has been against us but I am extremely grateful to Jane for her patience during the long hiatus that this feature has experienced and I am even more grateful that she has introduced me to a new series to enjoy.

Jane Isaac

There’s definitely something special about discovering a new series. Getting to know the characters, watching their lives unfold amidst the storyline and develop as each book passes. Holding out for the next release to track what the character will do next.

I’m always looking for something original and different in our wonderful genre of crime fiction and, last year, I was delighted to discover Linda Castillo’s Kate Burkholder series, quite by accident at a local book fayre.

The first book that introduced Kate Burkholder is Sworn to Silence. Kate is Police Chief of Painters Mill, a settlement in the heart of Amish America and, formerly Amish herself, cultural differences play a huge part in this series. I like to learn something new from a book and the author certainly does her homework here, evoking a great sense of Amish life and how a crime affects the community. I was immediately gripped.

Each book has a strong hook, a tight plot and maintains a high tempo throughout, with a generous portion of suspense thrown in for good measure. Burkholder is relentless in her pursuance of the bad guys, and the ebb and flow of her ongoing relationship with Agent Tomasetti provides a nice addition and sub plot as the series progresses.

With travel being a passion of mine, I do find that the location of a story is particularly important to me. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s real or fictional, as long as it evokes a unique sense of place, so much so, that I can almost feel myself there, and Castillo certainly does that with Painters Mill.

I was delighted when I realised that I was a relative latecomer to this series and, consequently, these have become my ‘go to’ books when I need a treat. Sworn to Silence was first published in 2009 and I’ve just finished the sixth, The Dead Will Tell, in (currently) an eight book run, safe in the knowledge that I have at least another two full length titles to look forward to!

If you are looking for something unusual, an original angle on a murder mystery coupled with a nail-biting thriller, I’d urge you to give this series a try.

 

 

Jane Isaac is the author of the DI Will Jackman series and also the DCI Helen Lavery novels. Jane can be found online at www.janeisaac.co.uk and if you sign up to her newsletter you will receive updates on events, new releases and she hosts giveaways too.

You can find Jane’s books on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jane-Isaac/e/B007H9UUCK/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1507409293&sr=1-1

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October 9

Guest Post – Graham Smith: Serial Heroes

Two years ago, almost to the day, I discovered that authors are just like real people and that they enjoy reading books too! I blame Douglas Skelton (which is always a good starting point) who confessed his fondness for Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct novels. As I was a fan of this series too I enjoyed listening to which elements of McBain’s books had appealed to Douglas. Then I got to thinking – could I ask other authors which series of stories they enjoy? And why?

It turns out I could ask and they would answer!

This is the 4th “Season” of a feature I dubbed Serial Heroes. If you type Serial Heroes into the search box to the right of these pages you will find all the contributions thus far. Guest posts from Sarah Hilary, Steve Cavanagh, Angela Marsons and many more.

Today I am delighted to welcome Graham Smith to Grab This Book. When I first approached Graham to sound him out about contributing to this feature he knew instantly who he wanted to discuss…

 

I first came across the writing of Craig Russell through my role as a reviewer for Crimesquad.com when I received a review copy of The Valkyrie Song. When shortly after I was the lucky recipient of the first in a new series, Lennox, I thought all my Christmases had come at once.

With Jan Fabel, we have a series of drilled down police procedurals that are about so much more than the solving of heinous crimes, whereas with Lennox we are transported back in time to another world to accompany Lennox, the sardonic inquiry agent who stalks the meanest streets of 1950s Glasgow. By comparison, Fabel’s stomping ground is contemporary Hamburg.

For me Russell’s greatest strength as a writer is the way he can bring two disparate worlds to life in a way that triggers all five of my senses and yet still manages to hold my attention like a breakdancing unicorn.

Characterisation is another of Russell’s great strengths as Fabel is serious where Lennox delivers one liners with the confidence of a seasoned stand-up comedian, yet it is Lennox who lives and operates in the underbelly of society while Fabel is only compelled to walk those streets to better improve the lives of others in his search for justice. At heart both men are decent, but Lennox’s dark past marks him out as the kind of man Fabel pursues.

It isn’t just the lead characters who capture the imagination of his readers, but the minor characters who inhabit a page or sometimes less also stick in the memory

As a former police officer, freelance writer and creative director he’s got first-hand experience to lend authority to his writing and he’s got too many award nominations and wins to his name to mention them all, although I will say he won the 2015 Scottish Crime Writer of the Year and is the only non-German to ever receive the highly prestigious Polizeistern (Police Star) from the Polizei Hamburg.

He even stepped away from his usual crime fiction persona and wrote a fantastically intelligent and insightful thriller which was part time-slip, part high-concept and part human-discovery called Biblical under the pseudonym Christopher Galt.

Russell’s descriptive passages are a joy to behold and a particular favour is ‘he shook his Easter Island head’ which for me demonstrates his ability so say so much with so few words.

When I was but a budding writer, I learned so much about the craft of writing by reading Craig Russell’s books, I cannot quantify the influence he’s had on my career, through my own osmosis of his tradecraft. I was once fortunate enough to read out a piece of my own writing on the same bill as Russell and it wasn’t until after my reading that I confessed to him, that my twist at the end was inspired by a particularly memorable character of his.

I’ve been lucky enough to meet Craig Russell on several occasions and I’m proud to now class him as a friend. We share similar tastes in films and every time I talk with him, I leave his company feeling more educated than I was before the meeting. To me he’s a friend, a writer I can only ever dream of emulating, a gentleman and an author who deserves a far greater readership than he currently enjoys.

One of my proudest achievements as a writer is that he saw fit to blurb one of my books. When someone who counts the great Michael Connelly as a fan does that, it’s a little bit special.

 

 

 

Graham can be found online at grahamsmithauthor.com He is the author of the fantastic Jake Boulder series (the latest of which The Kindred Killers I reviewed here) and also the DI Harry Evans Major Crimes stories.

Visit Graham’s Amazon page here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Graham-Smith/e/B006FTIBBU/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

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October 5

Quieter Than Killing – Sarah Hilary

It’s winter, the nights are dark and freezing, and a series of seemingly random assaults is pulling DI Marnie Rome and DS Noah Jake out onto streets of London. When Marnie’s family home is ransacked, there are signs that the burglary can have only been committed by someone who knows her. Then a child goes missing, yet no-one has reported it. Suddenly, events seem connected, and it’s personal.

Someone out there is playing games. It is time for both Marnie and Noah to face the truth about the creeping, chilling reaches of a troubled upbringing. Keeping quiet can be a means of survival, but the effects can be as terrible as killing.

 

My thanks to Katie at Headline for my review copy and the chance to join the blog tour

 

Quieter Than Killing is the 4th book by Sarah Hilary to feature DI Marnie Rome. Each book can be read as a stand-alone novel but what you need to do is make sure you DO read all four books – they are all fantastic.

We readers are blessed with choice when it comes to police procedurals and crime thrillers, yet – for me – the Marnie Rome books stand head and shoulders above the others. Rome is a determined and focused detective who lives in the constant shadow of personal tragedy and it makes her own story utterly compelling.

In Quieter Than Killing, London is in the grip of a bitter winter and Marnie and DS Noah Jake are on the hunt for a violent offender. Someone has targeted three people for a vicious beating – disfiguring injuries have been inflicted and the only obvious link between the victims is that they have each (in the past) served time in prison for violent attacks of their own.  Are Marnie and Noah looking for a vigilante?  If so then how are they selecting their victims and what possible motive could they have?

Elsewhere the reader gets to see Finn.  He is 10 years old and has been plucked from the street and locked into a house from which there seems no escape.  His captor, dubbed Brady by Finn, has “rules” which Finn must obey…cooking and cleaning is expected and noise or disobedience are not tolerated. Finn is convinced Brady is a pervert who is planning to murder him, but Brady is keeping his distance and has been keeping Finn alive for several weeks. What does he need with the young boy and how much longer must Finn endure his captivity?

I got to enjoy Quieter Than Killing in audio and I need to give a massive thumbs-up to the narrator Imogen Church who voiced Marnie almost exactly how I had imagined her.

As with all of Sarah Hilary’s books the story is gripping, the clues well hidden and the entertainment is to the max. If you are not already reading these books you damn well should be.

 

Quieter Than Killing is published by Headline and is available in paperback and digital format. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Quieter-Than-Killing-D-I-Marnie-ebook/dp/B01INGSU68/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1507232613&sr=1-1&keywords=sarah+hilary

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October 2

Sleep No More – P.D. James

The acknowledged ‘Queen of Crime’, P. D. James, was a past master of the short story, weaving together motifs of the Golden Age of crime-writing with deep psychological insight to create gripping, suspenseful tales. The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories contained four of these perfectly formed stories, and this companion volume contains a further six, published here together for the first time.

As the six murderous tales unfold, the dark motive of revenge is revealed at the heart of each. Bullying schoolmasters receive their comeuppance, unhappy marriages and childhoods are avenged, a murder in the small hours of Christmas Day puts an end to the vicious new lord of the manor, and, from the safety of his nursing home, an octogenarian exerts exquisite retribution.

The punishments inflicted on the guilty are fittingly severe, but here they are meted out by the unseen forces of natural justice rather than the institutions of the law. Once again, P. D. James shows her expert control of the short-story form, conjuring motives and scenarios with complete conviction, and each with a satisfying twist in the tail.

 

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

 

One of my earliest memories of crime drama was watching Shroud for a Nightingale on tv with my mum. Shroud was a PD James story and I still remember being gripped by the story and being particularly disappointed when it ended.

I picked up all the PD James novels I could find once Shroud had finished and I spent many happy hours catching up on the stories of Adam Dalgliesh. I was a firm fan by then and over the next three decades I would always seek out a new PD James novel on release.

Now, many months after her death I get to read a new collection of stories – six in all – gathered in a new book from Faber & Faber: Sleep No More. As soon as I started on the first story I was caught up in her world once again. Her writing style feels so formal against modern books yet the tales she tells seem timeless.

The six stories collected in Sleep No More are:
The Yo-Yo
The Victim
The Murder of Santa Claus
The Girl Who Loved Graveyards
A Very Desirable Residence and
Mr Millcroft’s Birthday

My favourites were most certainly the 3rd and 4th in the above list. The Murder of Santa Claus a very nicely worked murder tale which was almost certainly mirroring the style of an Agatha Christie tale.

The Girl Who Loved Graveyards was the darkest of the collection. While each story has a murder to consider Graveyards was the “unfiltered” tale and the author did not shy away from the crime, it was vividly described to shocking effect.

Short stories are exactly that – short. This collection comes in at around 170 pages in length and if I were ordering the book online I’d like to have known that ahead of time. It is a cracking collection of cleverly written tales, which I read in a couple of hours.

But the treat in Sleep No More is the class of the author’s storytelling. I loved reading this one and the variety of approaches was a treat. A twist, a clever narrative, that shocking ending and the clever reveals which have you flicking back to see where you missed the clue.

She was one of the best at what she did, her work lives on and Sleep No More only enhances my appreciation of her skills.

 

Sleep No More is published by Faber & Faber and is available in Hardback and Digital formats – you can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sleep-No-More-Murderous-Tales-ebook/dp/B0721NSJZW/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

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September 28

Death Parts Us – Alex Walters

Twenty years ago, Jackie Galloway was a senior cop with a bad reputation. Then he ended up on the wrong side of the wrong people, and his career was ruined. Sacked and with no pension, he ends up eking out his last days on Scotland’s Black Isle, his mind lost to dementia, supported only by his long-suffering wife, Bridie.

Then Galloway is found dead. The police assume the death to be accidental, until Bridie Galloway reveals that her husband has been receiving apparently threatening letters containing only the phrase: ‘NOT FORGOTTEN. NOT FORGIVEN.’

DI Alec McKay is struggling to come to terms with life without his estranged wife Chrissie, and is living in isolation on the Black Isle. As a junior officer, McKay had been allocated to Galloway’s team and has bad memories of the man and his methods. Now he finds himself investigating Galloway’s death.

But when suspicion falls on him and more police officers are murdered, the pressure is on for McKay to solve the case.

Why would the killer seek revenge twenty years after Galloway left the force?

As McKay fights to link the events of past and present, he realizes that time is rapidly running out…

 

My thanks to Sarah and the team at Bloodhound Books for my review copy and the chance to join the Blog Blitz

If you live in London, Manchester or New York you will not bat an eye if you pick up a book set in the city you live. Happens all the time.  You may smile a little if you recognise a street name or if your old school is mentioned; it is a familiarity you would enjoy spotting.

I grew up in the Highlands of Scotland. I went to school in a town called Fortrose, I drove through the neighbouring town of Avoch* and walked to Rosemarkie. Ever heard of them?  Unlikely. They are not often selected as the setting for serial killer thrillers so we don’t get to experience that wee smile of familiarity.

But Death Parts Us by Alex Walters is set on The Black Isle and features all these towns (well…villages) and I read this book with a huge smile on my face.  I walked these streets, I went to that beach, I have crossed that bridge more times than I can count and I have tromped through the Fairy Glen. This is a book set in my wee part of the world and I bloody loved it.

But you are now thinking – I have never heard of these places, is this book one I will enjoy too?  YES. If we move beyond my love of the locations in the book there is also my love of great crime novels and Death Parts Us is a slick and highly entertaining thriller.

Retired police officers are dying. Initially their deaths are considered tragic accidents, old men in poor health who reach the end of their days. However, the frequency of sudden and unexpected deaths of old colleagues soon points to some sinister faction at work. Then it becomes clear that each of the dead men had been receiving letters “Not Forgotten. Not Forgiven”  DI Alec McKay wants to investigate, however, some unfortunate timing means he will be sidelined as Alec finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Can Alec have any influence on an investigation if he just asks a few questions around the villages?

The responsibility to investigate will fall to his younger colleague Ginny Horton. But Ginny has problems of her own. An unwelcome visitor from her past has tracked her down and Ginny is not prepared to face those old and unwelcome memories.  Not that she can turn to McKay, he is trying to adjust to life alone after a recent split from his wife and has his own problems to contend with.

Death Parts Us is the second novel to feature DI Alec McKay (Candles and Roses was the first book). I had not read the first book in the series so I can state with assurance that you can read Death Parts Us without needing to read Candles – the book is very enjoyable as a stand-alone novel.

I really enjoyed Death Parts Us and I cannot wait to go back and read the first book in the series. I urge you to seek this one out, a police procedural in a whole new setting and a cracking murder mystery to enjoy.

Death Parts Us is published by Bloodhound Books and you can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_ebooks_1?ie=UTF8&text=Alex+Walters&search-alias=digital-text&field-author=Alex+Walters&sort=relevancerank

 

*Avoch rhymes with “Loch” and is pronounced “awch” – it has a harbour where you can take out a boat to go dolphin spotting in the Cromarty Firth.

 

 

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September 25

Friend Request – Laura Marshall (Audiobook)

Maria wants to be friends.
But Maria is dead . . . isn’t she?

When Louise Williams receives a message from someone left long in the past, her heart nearly stops.

Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook.

Maria Weston has been missing for over twenty-five years. She was last seen the night of a school leavers’ party, and the world believes her to be dead. Particularly Louise, who has lived her adult life with a terrible secret.

As Maria’s messages start to escalate, Louise forces herself to reconnect with the old friends she once tried so hard to impress. Trying to piece together exactly what happened that night, she soon discovers there’s much she didn’t know. The only certainty is that Maria Weston disappeared that night, never to be heard from again – until now. . .

 

Another audiobook review and this one made for uncomfortable listening.  Returning visitors will perhaps know that I find stories about bullies hard to read. Well Friend Request looks at the impact of school-girl bullying as it occurs and the consequences of one prank going too far.

The blurb for this story sold it to me.  A Facebook friend request from a long dead friend sends Louise Williams into a turmoil.  Maria wants to be her friend.  But Maria wanted to be friends with Louise in 1989 and Louise let her down and chose to hang around with the popular girl rather than the girls she could relax and enjoy spending time with. Then something really bad happened and Maria died – so how can she now want to be friends?

Readers know that Louise has done something terrible in her past and that it still haunts her.  Over the course of the story we (through a number of flashback chapters) see how Louise conducted herself at school.  It makes for awkward reading at times as Louise was no angel and some of the things that she agreed to do in order to retain her status among her friends made her cringe as she recalls them. Made me cringe hearing about them and I got really annoyed with her.

In the present day Louise is a single mum and her 4yo son is her world.  Her best friend is determined that Louise should start dating again but she is equally determined that Louise keeps away from her ex.  When you read a thriller and there is a young child so integral to the plot you cannot help but worry if something bad may happen – tension I could have done without while I tried to cope with my stress over the bullying!!!

I loved the balance of past and future and there are subtle clues over what may lie ahead but you want to keep reading to find out what went wrong in the past. You also want to know how Maria can suddenly have arrived back in Louise’s life and who else may have heard from her.   With a School Reunion looming is it really a good idea for everyone to revisit memories of days best forgotten.

I did mention that this was an audiobook read for me so some thoughts from a listener…narration duties were well handled by Elaine Claxton. She was very listenable and brought the story to life, particularly when covering the chapters from 1989 and she makes her voice younger and softer which was particularly effective.  At over 11 hours in length this was one of the longer stories I heard last month but it didn’t feel it – it zipped along at a good pace and I didn’t experience a feeling of padding or mid-story drop off as I have with some of my other recent audiobooks.

For this story of school days which may be best forgotten the report card is very positive.  I thoroughly enjoyed having Friend Request for company and would not hesitate to recommend it.

 

Friend Request is published by Sphere and is available in paperback, digital and audiobook formats.  You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Friend-Request-addictive-psychological-thriller-ebook/dp/B01LWTZ751/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1506190627&sr=1-1

 

 

 

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September 23

Secrets in Death – JD Robb (Audiobook)

Lt. Eve Dallas must separate rumors from reality when a woman who traffics in other people’s secrets is silenced.

The chic Manhattan nightspot Du Vin is not the kind of place Eve Dallas would usually patronize, and it’s not the kind of bar where a lot of blood gets spilled. But that’s exactly what happens one cold February evening.

The mortally wounded woman is Larinda Mars, a self-described “social information reporter,” or as most people would call it, a professional gossip. As it turns out, she was keeping the most shocking stories quiet, for profitable use in her side business as a blackmailer. Setting her sights on rich, prominent marks, she’d find out what they most wanted to keep hidden and then bleed them dry. Now someone’s done the same to her, literally – with a knife to the brachial artery.

Eve didn’t like Larinda Mars. But she likes murder even less. To find justice for this victim, she’ll have to plunge into the dirty little secrets of all the people Larinda Mars victimized herself. But along the way, she may be exposed to some information she really didn’t want to know…

 

Another audiobook review – this time I thought I would use September’s Audible Subscription Credit to pick up the newest title in JD Robb’s fantastic “in Death” series.

Full disclosure from the start – I LOVE THESE BOOKS. I have ploughed hours of my life into reading and re-reading stories about Eve Dallas – the tough cop who is perpetually (and hilariously) uncomfortable when not chasing down murderers.  Secrets in Death is book 45 in the series – I have read all previous books (often more than once) and I am heavily invested in the lives of the characters.

So did I enjoy Secrets in Death?  Yes!  I thought it was the best new release in this series for a while. Did I like the Audio?  On the whole I did – but Susan Ericksen’s Irish accent was a bit of a shock initially and took a little getting used to. When Dallas is married to an Irishman that’s a bit of an issue, particularly since Roarke features heavily in Secrets.

The story its-self was really strong.  Eve is enduring an awkward meeting in a plush New York bar when tv’s gossip girl (who Eve had previously noticed sitting at a nearby table) stumbles across the floor of the bar and falls to the floor.  She is bleeding heaving and despite the best efforts of Dallas and two medical practitioners also in the bar – Larinda Mars dies at Eve’s feet.

It is a strong start and the pace keeps going.  Larinda has made her fame through sharing the secrets and gossip of the nations celebs. As she climbed the ladder to her success she has upset more than her fair share of people with her exclusive reveals.  But there may be more to Larinda’s investigative powers than a simple nose for the “truth” and it is not long before Eve becomes embroiled in an investigation where potential suspects are very good at keeping secrets.

Book 45 in the series – you do need to have an awareness of the background of the characters to get the most from Secrets. However it can be read as a stand alone as there is a strong murder story at the heart of the book.

A strong entry into the series though a minor quibble was that I did find that identifying the murderer was slightly easier this time around than in some of the other books. However, the story was as sharp as ever and I never fail to enjoy a JD Robb novel.

 

Secrets in Death is published by Piatkus and is available in Hardback, Digital and audiobook format: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Secrets-Death-J-D-Robb-ebook/dp/B01MSAHS7G/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

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September 21

The Ice Shroud – Gordon Ell

When a woman’s body is discovered frozen in the ice of a river near the alpine resort of Queenstown, Detective Sergeant Malcolm Buchan faces both a mystery and a moral dilemma. The identity of the nude woman is critical to the motives and manner of her murder, and Buchan is personally involved. So are a number of locals, from ski bums to multi-millionaire businessman.

Newly appointed to head CIB in the Southern Lakes district, Buchan hunts the killer through the entanglements of corruption and abuse that lie barely below the surface of the tourist towns.

The assistance of a woman traffic sergeant is critical to the hunt but she brings her own dilemmas. The community is practised at keeping its secrets, and finding the truth comes at a price

 

The Ice Shroud has been named on the Best First Novel shortlist for the first ever Ngaio Marsh Awards. I have been invited to join the blog tour for the Awards and I was thrilled to have the chance to read Gordon Ell’s debut novel. My heartfelt thanks to Craig Sisterson for inviting me to join this international blog tour.

 

Wikipedia tells me that Dunedin is the second largest city in the South Island of New Zealand – its name comes from the old Gaelic name for Edinburgh (capital city of Scotland) MY capital city.  I knew the origins of the name Dunedin before I read The Ice Shroud so every time Dunedin received a name check in the book I had a happy smile – wee things like this make me absurdly happy!

What also makes me happy is when I have the chance to read a cleverly written and engaging murder mystery and I found The Ice Shroud to be exactly that, I found it utterly compelling. A whodunnit tale set in a small New Zealand town where the police are not prepared to investigate a mysterious death and yet they have to cobble a team together when a badly mutilated corpse is discovered.

Leading the investigation is DS Malcolm Buchan he has completed tours in Afghanistan but returned to New Zealand and now works for the police. He is assisted in his investigations by Magda Hansen – a traffic cop who just happened to be first on scene when a woman’s body was found deep in a ravine and partially submerged in an icy river.

We follow Buchan and Magda as they first meet then try to work out how they can recover the body from its incredibly inaccessible resting place. Once the corpse is finally recovered Buchan will find himself facing a personal dilemma which could have significant implications over how the investigation will proceed.

The victim lived and worked in a Southern resort region on the South Island. There is a high turnover of tourists to the town but the locals have a strong support network and will close ranks against the police who come knocking at their doors.  As Buchan uncovers more details of the life that the victim lived he only uncovers more questions, how could her specialist boutique sustain such heavy losses? Why did  her Bank Manager and her Accountant both offer her personal loans on a loss making business but not seek any security on her borrowing?  Why does the local barman deny knowing the victim, despite her being a frequent visitor at his establishment?

Buchan will have to break down the suspicious defences of the residents, pick out the half-truths and work out why nobody is keen to admit to knowing his victim – despite all indications that they knew her well.  To this end Gordon Ell has penned a wonderfully crafted small town murder mystery. With a relatively small cast of potential suspects, all confined in a small area and all seemingly knowing of each other’s interests The Ice Shroud is also a fascinating study of characters and what may drive them.

Having read a few Ngaio Marsh novels in my younger days I can remember them being cleverly crafted tales which always kept me guessing. The Ice Shroud therefore sits very well on the shortlist for a Ngaio Marsh award, the clever plotting by the author reflects the dogged determination of DS Buchan to find a killer and I could not turn the pages fast enough. Highly recommended, if you are a fan of police procedurals then The Ice Shroud is not a book to miss.

 

The Ice Shroud is published by Bush Press.

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September 19

Wychwood – George Mann

 

After losing her job and her partner in one fell swoop, journalist Elspeth Reeves is back in her mother s house in the sleepy village of Wilsby-under-Wychwood, wondering where it all went wrong. Then a body is found in the neighbouring Wychwoods: a woman ritually slaughtered, with cryptic symbols scattered around her corpse. Elspeth recognizes these from a local myth of the Carrion King, a Saxon magician who once held a malevolent court deep in the forest. As more murders follow, Elspeth joins her childhood friend DS Peter Shaw to investigate, and the two discover sinister village secrets harking back decades.

 

My thanks to Phillipa at Titan Books for my review copy and the chance to join the blog tour

 

Yesterday evening I made myself a cup of coffee and sat down to start reading Wychwood. Two hours later I finally looked up from my book, it was well past midnight, my coffee was stone cold and I was contemplating “just a few more chapters” before bed. This is a good’un.

Journalist Elspeth Reeves leaves London to return home to her mother in the small village of Wilsby-under-Wychwood. Elspeth needs some familiar comfort as she has lost her job and her marriage has ended but as she nears her mother’s home she has to endure the ordeal of a huge traffic jam – roads into the village are locked down while the police investigate “an incident”.

Elspeth’s family home backs onto the local woods – the police have sealed off access but Elspeth jumps the wall and goes for a snoop. She is shocked to spot the body of a woman – the corpse is carefully laid out on the forest floor and adorned in a cape of swan feathers, head surrounded by dead birds. More shocking for Elspeth is that she recognises the image, this body has been displayed to depict an image from a local myth…that of the Carrion King.

Before she can get away from the body she is discovered by a policeman. DS Peter Shaw was a school-friend of Elspeth and he keeps her presence at the murder scene a secret from his boss.  However when Elspeth turns up at the police station the next day with a book on local myths and shows Shaw an image which appears to mirror the staging of his murder victim he agrees to pool information with Elspeth to track down a killer.

The first body we see is not the only death in the village and there is a sinister killer at work. The small village setting gives the book a suitably sinister/creepy feel which would have been lost in a larger setting. The historic overtures and the suggestion of witchcraft or dark forces at work made this particularly engaging reading.  Elspeth and Shaw are engaging lead characters and I enjoyed their relaxed and companionable relationship.

I am a big fan of George Mann’s writing style, incredibly readable and perfectly paced to keep me flicking the pages.  Wychwood is creepy and very entertaining – I liked it a lot.

 

Wychwood is available in paperback and digital format and can be ordered here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wychwood-1-George-Mann/dp/1783294094/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1505771716&sr=1-2

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September 17

37 Hours – JF Kirwan

The only way to hunt down a killer is to become one…

After two long years spent in a secret British prison, Nadia Laksheva is suddenly granted her freedom. Yet there is a dangerous price to pay for her release: she must retrieve the Russian nuclear warhead stolen by her deadliest enemy, a powerful and ruthless terrorist known only as The Client.

But her mysterious nemesis is always one step ahead and the clock is ticking. In 37 hours, the warhead will explode, reducing the city of London to a pile of ash. Only this time, Nadia is prepared to pull the trigger at any cost…

The deadly trail will take her from crowded Moscow to the silent streets of Chernobyl, but will Nadia find what she is looking for before the clock hits zero?

 

My thanks to Noelle and Kate at Thick as Thieves Publicity for the opportunity to host (and close out) the blog tour

 

37 Hours is the follow-up to 66 Metres and the second in the series to feature Nadia Laksheva. Housekeeping first, the story of 37 Hours picks up 2 years after events in 66 Metres. There is clear reference to what has already gone before and I am certain that reading the books in order would be advantageous. However, I have not read the first book and I had a blast reading 37 Hours so while it may be advantageous it is by no means essential – 37 Hours can stand alone as a cracking story.

This was an adventure thriller where events zip around the globe and the stakes felt so high that the tension was ever present. Nadia Laksheva is in prison – two long years of captivity and as 37 Hours opens we see her in her cell contemplating her situation. But the story begins just as Nadia is offered a chance to walk free – assuming she will assist with a mission which is considered to be of vital importance.

Straight into the action from here and I was sucked into a story which kept me hooked. Nuclear missiles lost at sea means Nadia has to dive with a team of “experts” to make them safe. The underwater scenes are brilliantly detailed and had me flashing back to the first time I saw Thunderball – the dark (almost claustrophobic) tension as the hero – in this case Nadia – places her life on the line and faces unexpected challenges.

The story shifts location and there are more underwater scenes to enjoy and a new danger to be faced. No spoilers, however, the underwater cave scenes chilled me. Gotta love when a book does that!

JF Kirwan has done a brilliant job of keeping 37 Hours a tense, tight and wickedly entertaining adventure story. Nadia is a feisty and likeable lead and she faces more than her fair share of peril during the course of events.

I really do not want to give away too much of the story but with a nuclear threat, a sinister “bad guy” calling the shots, exotic locations and Russians, Germans and Brits keeping that global feeling running through the book – this feels like the Summer Blockbuster you don’t want to miss.

 

37 Hours is published by HQ Digital. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hours-Nadia-Laksheva-Thriller-Book-ebook/dp/B01N3KP711/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1505680806&sr=1-4&keywords=jf+kirwan

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