January 2

The Night Stalker & Dark Water

In January my day job changes and my mega commute of the last 5 months will cease. Between July and December I would spent around 5 hours each day driving the same road, home to office and home again. To pass the time I would listen to talking books, but as I was seldom awake while I was home I fell behind on reviewing those listens…catch-up time.

 

Today I have reviews for two Robert Bryndza books. Huge thanks to Noelle and Kim at Bookouture for the Audible review copies.

 

The Night Stalker

If the Night Stalker is watching, you’re already dead…

In the dead of a swelteringly hot summer’s night, Detective Erika Foster is called to a murder scene. The victim, a doctor, is found suffocated in bed. His wrists are bound and his eyes bulging through a clear plastic bag tied tight over his head.

A few days later, another victim is found dead, in exactly the same circumstances. As Erika and her team start digging deeper, they discover a calculated serial killer – stalking their victims before choosing the right moment to strike.

The victims are all single men, with very private lives. Why are their pasts shrouded in secrecy? And what links them to the killer?

As a heat wave descends upon London, Erika will do everything to stop the Night Stalker before the body count rises, even if it means risking her job. But the victims might not be the only ones being watched… Erika’s own life could be on the line.

 

The second Erika Foster novel. A series which my fellow bloggers all seemed to love (and I thought had sounded fantastic) but I was late to the party.  The good thing about playing catch-up is that there are several books waiting for me and I don’t need to wait months for the next installment!

The Night Stalker is a serial killer tale – one I really, really enjoyed. The victims are found in their homes, bound and suffocated; murdered in the place where they should have been safe from harm. As Foster considers the first victim, tied to his bed with a bag over his head, she cannot discount the possibility that the man died as a result of a sexual encounter gone wrong. The investigation will be complicated as she tries to uncover the man’s private life and unearth any secrets he may have tried to keep.

When a second victim is discovered the stakes are raised as is the pressure on Erika and her team.  A prominent media personality is dead, the press are clamouring for information and her bosses are demanding significant progress in made on the investigations.  Erika needs to find a possible connection between the two men but she cannot know if there is one – perhaps the victims were selected at random.

For the reader there is the chilling bonus of being able to follow part of the story from the viewpoint of the The Night Stalker.  We see the killer watching the next target and follow them as they break into the victim’s home. When the Night Stalker becomes aware of Erika’s investigation the Stalker then focuses on her – unknown to Erika she is a target.

Robert Bryndza is great at pacing the action and there were some fabulous twists through the story. The Night Stalker is gripping reading (or listening in this instance) and it significantly builds on the character of Erika Foster and her colleagues – setting up the rest of the series nicely.

 

Dark Water

Beneath the water the body sank rapidly.  She would lie still and undisturbed for many years but above her on dry land, the nightmare was just beginning.

When Detective Erika Foster receives a tip off that key evidence for a major narcotics case was stashed in a disused quarry on the outskirts of London, she orders for it to be searched. From the thick sludge the drugs are recovered, but so is the skeleton of a young child.

The remains are quickly identified as eleven-year-old Jessica Collins.  The missing girl who made headline news when she vanished twenty-six years ago.

As Erika tries to piece together new evidence with the old, she discovers a family harbouring secrets, a detective plagued by her failure to find Jessica, and the mysterious death of a man living by the quarry.

Is the suspect someone close to home? Someone doesn’t want this case solved. And they’ll do anything to stop Erika from finding the truth.

 

Book 3 and a rather distressing cold case for Erika and her team to take on. Except her team are not her team any longer – she has been transferred to a new station and it seems we will be robbed of the company of Moss and Peterson. Fortunately resurrecting an old investigation (a missing girl who vanished from her street some 26 years earlier) merits extra staff numbers and the trio will soon be reunited.

Dark Water has a very different feel from the first two novels but not to the detriment of excellent storytelling.

Erika will need to wade through boxes of old investigative notes but she could always seek out the assistance of the original investigating officer. This may lead to problems as the officer she needs to consult left the force in disgrace and has drunk herself to oblivion in the intervening years.

When a girl has been missing for 26 years there will inevitably be someone who knows where she has been all this time, someone who may not wish the police to look too closely into the case again. Who can Erika trust to reveal the truth after all those years? Certainly not the alleged pedophile who was once the prime suspect but now holds the police over a barrel after someone (convinced of his guilt) took matters into their own hands.

Of the three Erika Foster books I listened to over the last 5 months I think Dark Water just edges it as my favourite, though that *may* be down to the ongoing development of the characters and my appreciation of the books growing!

Both the above books are narrated by Jan Cramer and she is absolutely marvellous. Having listened to the first three Erika Foster novels, and not actually reading any of the books first, my perception of all the characters has been defined by Jan Cramer’s depiction of them.

I have a dilemma now over whether to get book 4 on audio or pick up a Kindle copy – whatever I choose I already know I am looking forward to my next encounter with Erika Foster.

 

The Night Stalker and Dark Water are published by Bookouture and can be ordered here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Robert-Bryndza/e/B0089KJBVM/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

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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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October 31

The Killing Game – JS Carol

the-killing-gameA woman walks into a restaurant. Will she come out alive?

JJ Johnson is Hollywood’s favourite publicist. Her word can launch careers – and break them.

But when lunch at exclusive restaurant Alfie’s turns into a fight for her life against a terrifying stranger, she quickly learns this is one situation she can’t talk her way out of.

The twisted individual knows everything about each of the wealthy diners. And soon, it becomes clear that he wants something more than money.

Can JJ find a way out, or risk becoming a victim to a man with nothing left to lose…?

 

My thanks to Bookouture for my review copy

JJ Johnson has built a career out of manipulating situations, putting the right people into the right place and gaining maximum exposure for her clients. She is the ringmaster. A Puppet Master. As one of the best publicists in Hollywood she understands the importance of being seen at all the right places.

Alfie’s restaurant is an exclusive destination for the great and good of Hollywood. It can take weeks to get table but it offers a haven away from snooping journalists and paparazzi camera lenses. JJ loves to eat at Alfie’s and she can arrange a table at short notice if she feels it would work to a client’s advantage.

But as we join JJ and the other diners at Alfie’s we will quickly find that being sheltered from public view is not always a good thing. When the Ringmaster has to cede control to someone else a dangerous game begins and there is no guarantee that there will be any survivors. In a story which unfolds over a very tight timeframe (and can virtually be read in real time) this is an absolute rush of a read.

I inhaled The Killing Game when I read it. The pages could not turn fast enough and I just did not want to put it down. JS Carol lets the story flow at a breakneck pace and, pleasingly, there was always the feeling that ANYTHING could happen next.

If you like your thrillers packed with action, unpredictable and with a high body-count then look no further than The Killing Game.

 

 

The Killing Game is published by Bookouture and is available in paperback and digital editions. You can order your copy by clicking here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Killing-Game-tense-gripping-thriller-ebook/dp/B01LXKJUNR/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1477954924&sr=1-1&keywords=the+killing+game

 

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October 13

Angela Marsons and Caroline Mitchell

Last month’s visit to Bloody Scotland reminded me how much I enjoy having the opportunity to hear authors chatting about their books. Having grown up in the remote wilderness of the Scottish Highlands, I am very aware that not everyone has the opportunity to get to festivals or book launches – I hate the thought that readers may miss out on the chance to hear their favourite authors discussing their writing.

In a few short weeks Caroline Mitchell and Angela Marsons will both release their new novels. Caroline is introducing a new lead character, DS Ruby Preston, in Love You To Death.  Angela is bringing us the next instalment in the Kim Stone series: Blood Lines. It is fair to say that I am more than a little excited about having the chance to read both books.

I asked Angela and Caroline if they would be willing to let me listen in while they discussed their new books, I was thrilled that they agreed. I also had a burning question that I wanted to put to them both, I just had to find a way to get a word in edgeways….

 

C – I’m very curious to know if Kim is based on anyone in particular, or is she your alter-ego Angie?

A – Kim Stone isn’t based on anyone in particular but she had been in my ear for years.  I didn’t let her out because even in my own head she sounded rude and abrasive and I didn’t think anyone would like her.  Even I didn’t like her all that much.  But once I gave her control of the pencil I did realise she had some redeeming qualities.  I gave her free reign after trying to write about characters I thought publishers would like and after years of rejection just decided to write the book I wanted to write. Even after five books I still feel as though I’m getting to know her.

On that same note I absolutely adored Jennifer Knight.  I loved her dedication and strength but also her flaws and idiosyncrasies. I devoured all three Jennifer books and hope there might come a time when you bring her back. Is that a possibility and how long had she been living with you before you put her to paper?

C – Thanks Angie, I’m so glad that Kim Stone hung around for her story to be told. It’s amazing how our characters take on a life of their own. Jennifer had been living in my head since my own real life paranormal experiences while working in the police. I’d love to write another book one day, and I’ve left it open for her to return. At the moment I’m concentrating hard on my new DS Ruby Preston series. Brought up in the East End of London, she’s a real tough cookie. In a scene in book two, she learns how to shoot a gun. I’ve been itching to visit a firing range and try it out for real. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve done in the name of research? And don’t worry about the gun, you’re safe for now! 

caroline-mitchell2A – Well, I must say that Ruby Preston already sounds like my kind of main character and imagining you with a gun makes me happy (for once) that we live so many miles away from each other. I’m not sure about the most interesting thing I’ve done but certainly one of the funniest was only the other day when Julie and I were standing out on the decking with a piece of plastic roughly the same size as a shotgun trying to see how practical it would be to shoot yourself in the back of the neck.  I must say that research is one of my favourite parts of the process as I love to learn about things that interest and intrigue me.  Some writers hate the research part. How do you feel about it and how long do you normally take to research each book?

C – Ha! That made me laugh out loud. My husband sleeps with one eye open as it is, without me throwing a gun into the mix! It’s no stretch of the imagination to picture you and Julie on the decking play acting with your plastic gun. 🙂  Yes, I love research too, it’s so much fun. As we write for digital publishers, time is of the essence, so I’m limited with the amount of time I can spend on research for each book. I do spend a lot of time thinking about my characters though, they practically move in to my head for the duration of the book. I think that’s what’s nice about series; I get to spend time with the same characters that I’ve invested in. With stand alones, it can be hard to get them to move out when I’m done. You’ve written two stand alones prior to Kim, would you like to write any more, and if so, what genre?

blood-linesA – My two published stand alone novels (and others that shall never see the light of day) were stories that burned inside me.  They were subjects that I wanted to explore to see where they went and what I could learn about the subject matter.  I really enjoy analysing the mechanics of human relationships and the psychology behind what makes us act in certain ways. With the Kim Stone schedule of two books per year it would have to be a subject matter that  I just couldn’t let go of or I might be tempted to introduce the odd crime scene where it would be totally inappropriate.  Talking of different genres I recently read your psychological thriller Witness to be released later this year and absolutely LOVED it. The crossover from your previous work appears seamless to me but did you experience any problems while writing it?

C – The thought of some of your manuscripts languishing under your bed never seeing the light of day is a travesty. I think we need to start a petition to have them freed! I’ve heard such great things about Dear Mother and The Forgotten Woman. Thank you for your lovely words about Witness. I loved writing it. It was meant to be a straight thriller but as I began writing, stories of domestic abuse just flowed onto the page. I used to safeguard high risk victims of domestic abuse in the police, helping victims leave their abusive partners and begin their lives again. As the story formed, it portrayed that domestic abuse is as much about coercive control as it is violence, and it takes enormous strength to break away from such a relationship when someone has control of every facet of your life. It’s set between Frinton where I live, and Wales – near where you live. I see that many of your readers love your Black Country setting. What inspired you to use it as a setting for your Kim Stone books, and do you get many messages from readers about particular places that you use?

A – Before I wrote Silent Scream I had always tried to use both characters and settings that I thought publishers and agents would like even though they weren’t too familiar to me.  It was in a post-rejection fit of rage that I wrote the character I wanted to and used the area I know well. Traditional publishers rejected Silent Scream and said the setting and main character would never work. I get so many messages from local people thrilled at seeing places they know in the books but I also get messages from people wanting to know more about the Black Country.  I think the dark, industrial past of the area works well with Kim Stone’s character.  She would not do well in the Cotswolds, I fear!! It sounds to me that Ruby Preston is well represented by the setting you have chosen too.  Was that deliberate?

 C – I love this response, I can’t imagine Kim Stone anywhere else either. The dark broodiness of the Black Country setting suits her perfectly. I’ve gobbled up every one of your thrillers and it’s been a pleasure to watch her character progress throughout the series. As for me, well London has always been a source of fascination. Every time I visit I’m like a child, eyes wide in wonderment as I take in the sounds and smells of this amazing city. Such a diverse place makes for rich pickings when it comes to describing characters and scenery. Like you, my character seems to fit in with the setting and I can’t imagine them being based anywhere else. Fair play to you for having the dogged determination to keep going with your manuscript and writing the setting that struck a chord with you. What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to writers still trying to make it? 

 love-you-to-deathA – I also love visiting London but I find the roads around Covent Garden can be quite hazardous!! I think my one piece of advice above all else would be to trust your own instinct.  Once you enter the world of submissions there will be advice, comments, directions, improvements from a variety of sources and you have to know when to follow that advice.  There is no-one closer to the characters, story and journey than the writer and it can be easy to take everyone else’s opinions on board but you have to keep hold of the story that you wanted to tell in the first place.  Given your journey, what would you say to anyone following your path?

C – Ha! You wouldn’t be referring to the time we met in Covent Garden and I almost got you and Julie run over by a car would you? I blame Siri myself! I love your advice above and totally agree. It takes time to find your voice. I started off writing paranormal, then crime and now thrillers too. My advice is that it can be hard, so you’ll need to grow a thick hide, but just remember that this is meant to be fun too. Always try to keep your writing as an enjoyable process. It’s all about perspective. I count my blessings every day. Now Gordon I must apologise as we’ve not allowed you to get a word in edgeways! I hear you have a question for us …

G – There didn’t seem a good point to interrupt! But thanks Caroline…given that Jennifer’s investigations can take somewhat mysterious and supernatural twists, how do you think Jennifer and Kim would get on were their paths to cross on a case? 

C – That’s a really good question Gordon. Kim does not suffer fools gladly and I believe in past books she’s been skeptical when it comes to the paranormal. I think at first they would clash, but if they came together over the course of an investigation Jennifer would admire her investigative abilities and win her around. Things always seem to happen when Jennifer is near so if the evidence was right before Kim’s eyes, I think Kim would rub her hands together and say to Jennifer ‘right, what are we dealing with?’ Then crack on with the investigation as calm as you like. 

Tell me if I’m wrong Angie, what does Kim say? 

angela-marsonsA – I absolutely agree with Caroline’s assessment of how the two of them would respond to each other. Admittedly, Kim is definitely a ‘don’t believe it until I see it’ kind of girl but once someone has proven their ability or understanding of a subject about which she knows very little she would give them the benefit of the doubt and work with it. Like Jennifer she is all about moving forwards and doing everything necessary to solve a case so I think they would work it very well. I can even imagine Kim giving her a good-natured nickname like ‘mystic meg’ and Jennifer would probably do the same back.  Now, here’s a little secret – when I first wrote Silent Scream I wrote Kim with hint of unexplained intuition which I took out later as by that time I knew it didn’t fit with the rest of her sceptical character. 

Intuition is good and Kim has it in bucket loads. I think most good investigators have that initial gut feeling and put it to good use. It’s when the CPS is demanding evidence that it gets frustrating. I suppose it’s a matter of finding a balance. Here’s to a long a fruitful investigative career for our fictional characters. May they continue their crime busting efforts for long to come. *Raises glass. Cheers! 

 

I cannot thank Caroline and Angela enough for letting me eavesdrop on their conversation, I got the feeling that it had been running long before I joined them and will continue even longer.

 

 Love You to Death is published on 11 November and can be ordered here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Love-You-Death-Absolutely-Detective-ebook/dp/B01LYPU1MW/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1476308879&sr=8-3&keywords=caroline+mitchell

You can find all of Caroline’s books through this link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Caroline-Mitchell/e/B00GUUATPU/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

 Blood Lines is published on 4 November and can be ordered here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blood-Lines-Angela-Marsons/dp/1786810999/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1476309070&sr=1-1&keywords=angela+marsons

Angela’s books can be ordered on this link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Angela-Marsons/e/B00J6D3914/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1

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May 25

Play Dead – Angela Marsons

Play-Dead-KindleThe dead don’t tell secrets… unless you listen.
The girl’s smashed-in face stared unseeing up to the blue sky, soil spilling out of her mouth. A hundred flies hovered above the bloodied mess.
Westerley research facility is not for the faint-hearted. A ‘body farm’ investigating human decomposition, its inhabitants are corpses in various states of decay. But when Detective Kim Stone and her team discover the fresh body of a young woman, it seems a killer has discovered the perfect cover to bury their crime.
Then a second girl is attacked and left for dead, her body drugged and mouth filled with soil. It’s clear to Stone and the team that a serial killer is at work – but just how many bodies will they uncover? And who is next?
As local reporter, Tracy Frost, disappears, the stakes are raised. The past seems to hold the key to the killer’s secrets – but can Kim uncover the truth before a twisted, damaged mind claims another victim …?
The latest utterly addictive thriller from the No.1 bestseller Angela Marsons.

 

My thanks to Kim at Bookouture for my review copy and for the chance to join the blog tour.

 

Let me cut to the chase – Play Dead is brilliant. I am going to give it a 5 star score and I am going to urge you to read it. The only excuse you are permitted for not reading it immediately is that you have not yet read the first three books in the series.  To be clear, you don’t *need* to have read them to start Play Dead…but why miss out on all the previous amazingness?

Still here?  Then let me elaborate a bit on why Play Dead has had me hooked over the last couple of days.

First is the return of Kim Stone – a lead character that shuns social niceties, keeps everyone at a distance and has a deep rooted sense of justice that makes her an excellent police officer. She has, for me, been one of the stand-out characters in crime fiction since her debut in Silent Scream.

Next up a serial killer. Through flashbacks we are given a small insight into what may be motivating the brutal murders of local women, faces smashed, soil forced into their mouths. Their bodies are dumped in a secret research centre (a ‘body farm’) – the researchers particularly disturbed to have unexpected bodies landing in their facility. Nasty. But good Nasty.

Three – the return of Stone’s nemesis, journalist Tracy Frost.  The interplay between these two makes for fabulous reading.  Frost plays a much larger role in Play Dead but this may not necessarily be a good thing for her! Readers will get to know Ms Frost very well in Play Dead and I will wager that some opinions of the odious journalist will change as readers progress through the story. I found myself wondering how her relationship with Stone would have developed had they both been aware of their respective backgrounds before they crossed swords in a professional capacity. Shame we will not get to see how that develops in future books…or will we?  **NO SPOILERS**

Four – not content with hitting her heroine with a demanding series of crimes to investigate we also learn a bit more about Kim’s background. And here Angela Marsons broke me a little.  Returning readers will know that Kim had a tough childhood, elements of this are explored in more detail through Play Dead. If you have developed any emotional attachment to Kim’s character (and it seems I have) then some of the revelations will make for tough reading.

Getting upset on behalf of a fictional character? Yeah, that happened.

Five – EVERYTHING ELSE. The pages practically turned themselves and I didn’t want to stop reading. Play Dead sees Stone back at her tetchy best and I just cannot get enough of these stories.  5/5…oh I said that already.

 

The blog tour draws to a close tomorrow but you can catch up on all things Play Dead if you follow through all the tour hosts.

Play-Dead-Blog-Tour-Graphic

 

Play Dead is published by Bookouture and is available in paperback and digital formats.

You can order a copy of Play Dead here: http://amzn.to/1Mdiokh

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December 15

Guest Post – Angela Marsons: Serial Heroes

Back in October I spent an entertaining evening listening to Mr Douglas Skelton discussing his writing experiences. During the course of the conversation Douglas told the assembled gathering that he was a fan of the Ed McBain 87th Precinct books.  That got me wondering which other ongoing series of crime novels authors looked forward to reading. I decided I would try and find out.

I asked five authors if they would like to prepare a short guest post in which they shared their thoughts on their favourite crime series. As it was Douglas that started this quest he got to kick off proceedings yesterday and you can read his thoughts on Ed McBain’s books here:

Today I am delighted to welcome my second guest: Angela Marsons.

When I drew up my Top Ten books of 2015 Angela presented me with a bit of a dilemma – she released three books during the year (Silent Scream, Evil Games and Lost Girls) but under my strict rules I could only allow myself to include one of her books in the list. All were worthy of inclusion and if you have not yet met DI Kim Stone then I suggest you rectify that as soon as you have finished reading this article!

I will pass this over to Angela now – I suspect that she would not be alone with this selection…

 

ANGELA MARSONS:

When I was asked to write a piece about my favourite series of books there was no hesitation in my choosing the ‘Tony Hill’ series of books written by Val McDermid.

I love everything this lady writes and would happily read her shopping list if she would let me.

In the Tony Hill series Val McDermid taps into the two things that interest me the most in both reading and writing.  Psychology and Crime.

Splinter the SilenceTony Hill is a psychological profiler who is both driven and damaged but very intriguing.  None of the books satisfy my need to know more about him which has to be the mark of a true genius that after nine books I’m still hungry for more.

I enjoy the chemistry between the character of Tony Hill and Carol Jordan and the inability of our hero to take their relationship to the next level only adds to the intrigue of his character and offers us yet another layer to his personality.  The character of Carol Jordan is not without her flaws but is the perfect foil to let Tony Hill shine.

It was through the television series that I discovered these books as I am a great fan of Robson Green who I think portrays the character perfectly.  So well, in fact, that the part could have been written for him.

Even though I had watched the television series this did not detract from my enjoyment of the books.  Many plot twists and storylines that exist in the books do not make it to the screen and reading the book is like rediscovering the story all over again but with many more stories expertly threaded in too.

To get the best out of these books I would suggest cancelling your plans, switching off the phone, laptop, iPad and smart phone and just immerse yourself in a spectacular journey that starts on the very first page.

 

 

Angela MarsonsAngela Marsons can be found over at http://angelamarsons-books.com/

She is also on Twitter: @WriteAngie

I reviewed Silent Scream, Evil Games and Lost Girls earlier this year and you can link through to my reviews by clicking on the book title.  If you missed which of the three I included in my Top Ten I eventually opted for Evil Games (best villain in any of the books that I read this year).

Visit Angela’s Amazon page where you can easily purchase any of her books: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Angela-Marsons/e/B00J6D3914/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1450222771&sr=8-2-ent

 

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November 5

Lost Girls – Angela Marsons

Lost GirlsTwo girls go missing. Only one will return.

The couple that offers the highest amount will see their daughter again. The losing couple will not. Make no mistake. One child will die.

When nine-year-old best friends Charlie and Amy disappear, two families are plunged into a living nightmare. A text message confirms the unthinkable; that the girls are the victims of a terrifying kidnapping.

And when a second text message pits the two families against each other for the life of their children, the clock starts ticking for D.I. Kim Stone and the squad.

Seemingly outwitted at every turn, as they uncover a trail of bodies, Stone realises that these ruthless killers might be the most deadly she has ever faced. And that their chances of bringing the girls home alive, are getting smaller by the hour…

Untangling a dark web of secrets from the families’ past might hold the key to solving this case. But can Kim stay alive long enough to do so? Or will someone’s child pay the ultimate price?

 

My thanks to Bookouture for my review copy which I received through Netgalley.

Back in March I reviewed the debut appearance of DI Kim Stone in Angela Marson’s Silent Scream, I really enjoyed it. Then in late June I reviewed Evil Games  (the second in the series) and it blew me away – a really gripping thriller.  Now it is early November and I get to review the 3rd Kim Stone novel: Lost Girls. I may need to break out my thesaurus to find some new superlatives I can use in my review.

Lost Girls is stunning. A majestic race against time for DI Kim Stone to recover two kidnapped girls. But the twist is that the kidnappers are only interested in returning one of the girls and are playing the parents off against each other to see who will pay the most to recover their child.  Nasty and brutally effective – the emotion Angela Marsons generates between the families makes for compelling reading and Stone is caught in the middle.

The reader gets to see the investigation into recovering the girls but also we follow the kidnappers and experience the trauma of the girls too. The shifting viewpoint really emphasises the enormity of the task facing the police. We share the fear of the victims, the hopeless and angry tension of the families and we see the stone cold evil from the kidnappers – one of whom is delighting in the possibility of harming the children. A comprehensive overview of the whole story and it works splendidly, you cannot help yourself from being hooked by this thriller.

A double kidnapping is more than Stone can be expected to co-ordinate on her own and good use is made of Stone’s squad. I enjoy seeing the return of these characters and I always feel that the supporting cast in any series needs to be believable and enjoyable to keep me returning book after book. Added to the existing team members are external specialists in hostage/kidnap scenarios and these new faces cause Stone some additional issues to contend with – she is not a woman who enjoys being out of her comfort zone and this case is really stretching her to her limits.  Factor in the additional pressure from the police chiefs and the need to maintain a press black-out (while a local journalist is snooping around determined to score points off Stone) and you have all the key ingredients for a tense thriller.

Lost Girls was an amazing read, I read the final chapters with a racing heart as the endgame played out. There were twists and shocks right up to the very end and it is hard to think of any other books this year which have held my attention as much as this one did. Lost Girls easily scoops a five star score from me – loved it, didn’t want it to end.

Angela Marson’s DI Kim Stone books are essential reading for any crime fiction fan. For Angela Marsons to have produced three top quality novels in a single year is a phenomenal achievement, a quality writer on stunning form. I am already looking forward to seeing what the future may bring when the next Kim Stone novel is due, hopefully there will not be too long to wait.

 

Lost Girls is published by Bookouture and is available from 6th November.

Follow Angela Marsons on Twitter at : @WriteAngie

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November 4

Secrets of the Last Nazi – Iain King

Secrets of the Last NaziA mind-blowing conspiracy thriller

THE GREATEST DISCOVERY OF THE 20TH CENTURY.

KEPT SECRET.

UNTIL NOW.

Berlin, 2015 – a well-connected SS Commander is found dead, having protected the last secret of the Nazi empire for seventy years. A discovery by Nazi Scientists so potent it could change the balance of world power – forever.

Led by misfit military historian Myles Munro, an international team begin to piece together the complex puzzle left by SS Captain Werner Stolz. As their hunt across Europe gathers pace, the brutal killing of one of the group signals that they are not the only ones chasing the answer.

Plunged into a world of international espionage, Myles only has his intellect and instincts to keep him alive. As the team edge closer to an explosive truth, it becomes clear to him that there is a traitor amongst them.

Who can Myles trust? And can he unravel the clues of the past in time to save the future?

 

My thanks to Bookouture for my review copy which I received through Netgalley.

 

Myles Munro is a clumsy military historian, he has a cloud of scandal hanging over his head but is called into government duty to investigate the secrets left by former Nazi Werner Stolz. It seems that Stolz may have been keeper of a vast collection of Nazi information – documents and records far too important to be overlooked and potentially of huge value to modern governments.

A delegation of representatives from UK, America, Russia and France are brought together to investigate what Stolz has left behind, however, their investigations are not as secret as they may believe and it is not long before they find themselves in mortal danger.

Secrets of the Last Nazi plays out over a few European countries and feels suitably grand in scale for an international thriller. The action comes thick and fast and there really is a mesmerizing concept underpinning the whole story – one which initially seems unbelievable but as the story unfolded I found myself accepting as viable and plausible. Sharing the secret at the heart of the story is a massive spoiler, suffice to say that both the Church and scientific community combine to try to suppress the nature of Stolz’s legacy such is the risk that it poses to their credibility.

As the investigative team narrow down the clues that Stolz left for those that would follow him the reader learns that there is a traitor in their midst. As the story builds to the dramatic finale the stakes are raised and it becomes clear that our team will not all escape unscathed. Iain King created a small cast of characters that you will want to get to the bottom of the mystery they are facing. As the team members start to waiver and fall (and with suspicion of their motives always in question) you cannot help but keep reading.

While I do not normally seek out thrillers which are founded in the legacy of WW2 I was drawn into Secrets of the Last Nazi and will highly recommend it. It was refreshing to read a book which was much grander in scale than my normal choice of story and Iain King weaves the threads of a fantastic narrative into a slick adventure.

 

Secrets of the Last Nazi is published by Bookouture and is available in paperback and digital format.

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October 6

Time To Die – Caroline Mitchell

Time To Die 2He will predict your life… and your death.

Don’t ever cross his palm with silver. He will reveal your most shameful secrets. He will predict your death. He is hiding a secret. He is hiding a monster. And all his predictions come true.

Investigating a series of chilling murders, Detective Jennifer Knight finds herself tracking a mysterious tarot card reader known only as The Raven.

As the death toll rises, Jennifer and her team build a picture of a serial killer on the edge of sanity, driven by dark forces. But these are not random killings. And the method behind the madness could be the most terrifying thing of all …

Especially when it seems the death of one of their own is on the cards.

 

My thanks to Bookouture for my review copy.

 

After enjoying the debut appearance of Jennifer Knight in Don’t Turn Around I was keen to find what lay in store for  Jennifer in Caroline Mitchell’s new thriller Time To Die. Fortunately for returning fans there is another cracking thriller to enjoy.

What I find particularly appealing about these books is the fact that Knight and her colleagues are police officers but are also tasked with investigating issues which have a supernatural element. This opens up so much more potential for Caroline Mitchell to take her stories to the darker side of human (and inhuman) nature and she uses this freedom to great effect.

In Time To Die we encounter Raven, he has the ability to read your life in his tarot cards. He can see your darkest secrets and can also see your death. But sometimes Raven may need to give these premonitions of death a little helping hand…just to make sure the cards are correct.

Tarot has always held a dark fascination and the startling accuracy of the readings that Raven offers to his victims causes them (and the reader) a deeply unsettling feeling. I find that a chiller which is closely grounded in a believable situation is more unsettling than a ‘zombie apocalypse’ horror tale. Caroline Mitchell has delivered the chill factor I love – Raven is a disturbing character, his motives are unsettling and his need to satisfy the tarot cards and ensure his predictions remain true made for compelling reading.

The investigation into Raven’s suspicious behaviour ensures there is a strong police procedural element to Time To Die which appealed to my love of crime fiction. There is a real feel of a criminal investigation being conducted into the violent deaths depicted in the book. We follow the investigation and (as we know the Raven is a murderer) we get to see the police closing in on their suspect. However, the Raven knows they are coming and is taking his own steps to avoid capture.

On a final thought, I also enjoyed the further development of Jennifer Knight’s character: her obsession with cleanliness, the fractious relationship she has with her family and we learn more about her colleagues. All these elements help build a more complete story and give the depth to the book that not all authors accomplish. I look forward to another return to Haven and to see more investigations for Knight and her colleagues. My kind of book – thoroughly recommended.

 

 

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June 29

Evil Games – Angela Marsons

Evil GamesThe greater the evil, the more deadly the game …

When a rapist is found mutilated in a brutal attack, Detective Kim Stone and her team are called in to bring a swift resolution. But, as more vengeful killings come to light, it soon becomes clear that there is someone far more sinister at work.

With the investigation quickly gathering momentum, Kim soon finds herself exposed to great danger and in the sights of a lethal individual undertaking their own twisted experiment.

Up against a sociopath who seems to know her every weakness, for Detective Stone, each move she makes could be deadly. As the body count starts to mount, Kim will have to dig deeper than ever before to stop the killing. And this time – it’s personal.

 

Thanks to Bookouture for my review copy which I received through Netgalley

 

After a strong debut appearance in last year’s Silent Scream DI Kim Stone returns in Evil Games and it is a well named book!

There is a lot going on for DI Stone, a successful operation which her team worked hard to pull off is now under jeopardy. A violent rapist is attacked yards from his home, despite his previous crimes Kim and her team need to ensure he receives their best efforts in finding his attacker.

As investigations proceed Kim finds herself coming into contact with a dangerous sociopath. Her own personal traumas still haunt Kim so facing an adversary who has the skill (and the inclination) to undermine a person’s weaknesses for entertainment places her in a vulnerable position.

Kim tries to explain to her colleagues that the sociopath (no spoilers) is not all that they may appear, however, her suspicions seem so unlikely that she struggles to convince anyone that there is substance to her suspicions. It seems that Kim’s own lack of social skills make her an unlikely candidate to identify issues in someone else’s behaviour.

Two books into a series and Angela Marsons has established a lead character that you will fully get behind. Readers cannot fail to engage with DI Stone and, despite her obvious character flaws, you know why she behaves the way she does and it just makes you root for her more.

Evil Games are just that – Kim is facing an ‘Iago-esk’ opponent who can manipulate the weak and vulnerable. These victims are turned into weapons by the sociopath and set off back to their tormented lives to lash out and harm others – just to see what they do. It is quite troubling reading at times but Angela Marsons handles it brilliantly – my sense of injustice was roused many times during Evil Games.

Evil Games is highly recommended. I grudged any time that I had to stop reading it and was disappointed when it ended – if that is not a sign of a good book then I am not sure what is!

 

Evil Games is published by Bookouture and is available now.

Angela Marsons is on Twitter: @WriteAngie

 

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