February 11

Gallery of the Dead – Chris Carter

Thirty-seven years in the force, and if I was allowed to choose just one thing to erase from my mind, what’s inside that room would be it.

That’s what a LAPD Lieutenant tells Detectives Hunter and Garcia of the Ultra Violent Crimes Unit as they arrive at one of the most shocking crime scenes they have ever attended.

In a completely unexpected turn of events, the detectives find themselves joining forces with the FBI to track down a serial killer whose hunting ground sees no borders; a psychopath who loves what he does because to him murder is much more than just killing – it’s an art form.

Welcome to The Gallery of the Dead.

 

My thanks to Rhiannon at Simon & Schuster for my review copy and the chance to join the blog tour.

 

I can only say good things about Gallery of the Dead as I absolutely loved it. It’s a dark but totally gripping read in which Robert Hunter finds himself attending a murder scene and believing that the killer has been too efficient for this to have been his first kill.

From the opening chapter I was hooked – a woman arrives home, she potters through the rooms whilst chatting to her cat. It seemed all too normal, too domesticated and so I expected something nasty was about to happen.  Reading on my mind was whirring with possibilities over what Chris Carter could have in store…would she find something horrible? Is there someone in her house?  Will she receive a terrifying phone call?  From the very first paragraphs you are drawn in and you want to keep reading as you are sure something bad (really bad) is about to happen.

And it does.

Boom – he got me. And for the next few hundred pages Chris Carter was not letting me go – Gallery of the Dead is one of those rare gems where you don’t want to stop reading and the action and twists and shocks just keep coming. “One more chapter?” Hell no…I can give it another hour – at least.

Hunter is back in top form too (this is book 9 in the series).  Gallery of the Dead can be read entirely on its own, wholly self contained and easy to enjoy without knowing the back story.  His analytical mind and sharp eye quickly identifies “marks” left on the body of the victim (no spoilers here) and using the police database to search for similar occurrences he alerts the FBI to the murder he is investigating.

The FBI have already been aware of the killer (this is not his first murder) and they propose a liaison with the police.  The agent heading up the FBI taskforce is aware of Hunter’s skills and is keen to have him on board – but if you get Hunter you get his partner too and with that comes a wisecracking cop who will rub up the FBI agents in the wrong way. I loved the friction and rivalry between police and FBI and it was only made better by Hunter’s reaction to the sniping around him!

If you like a serial killer story, one which will not hold back on the grim detail and the sadistic nature of a murderous mind then you need to seek out Chris Carter’s books.  Gallery of the Dead is a brilliant read – entertainment to the max.

 

Gallery of the Dead is published by Simon & Schuster and is available now in hardback, audiobook and digital format. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gallery-Dead-Robert-Hunter-9/dp/1471156346/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1518307286&sr=8-1

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December 23

2014 – My Magnificent Seven

Although I have only been actively blogging for six months it is time for my end of year round up. A quick check of my blog finds that I have reviewed around 50 books in the last 6 months of the year. To select a top 10 from 50 seemed too many so I was going to do a top five. Until I started my list and I discovered that I wanted to include one or two more: Grab This Book’s Magnificent Seven was born.

So in no particular order I present the seven books that I enjoyed reading most (and the reasons why) during 2014.

 

Stalkers – Paul Finch

I was late to the party on Paul Finch’s brilliant Mark Heckenburg novels. The good thing about this was: by the time I read Stalkers there were two sequels and two more on the way.

Stalkers is a compelling thriller which pulls no punches and delivers shocks and twists in equal measure. I have probably recommended Paul Finch’s books to more of my friends than any other author this year – thus far I have had nothing but positive feedback from those that took my advice.

Stalkers Review

Doctor Who: Engines of War – George Mann

Cast your eye over my blog and you will find that Doctor Who books crop up fairly frequently. I make no apology for this, I have been a fan of the show for 35 years and I have been reading Doctor Who novels since the 1980’s. Not counting the books I read more than once, or the many audio plays, I think I have read around 350 different Who novels (although it is probably more).

For me, George Mann’s Engines of War stands out as one of the best that I have read. Ever. It features the Daleks, a new companion (Scarlet) and even better – The War Doctor. The Doctor has been fighting in the Time War, the Daleks fear him and the Timelords still cannot control him. His weariness of the War is telling and this is not a Doctor that can solve all the problems and just disappear in his TARDIS waiting for the next adventure. Mann catches the fatigue and frustration of the Doctor brilliantly.

If you enjoy Doctor Who and have seen John Hurt’s War Doctor in action then this is a must read. If you like an exciting good guy/bad guy story this is also for you, there is a great adventure to share. If you hate all things Doctor Who, this may not be the book for you. But I loved it!

Engines of War Review

 

Vendetta – Dreda Say Mitchell

Some books are in my list for personal reasons and some are here as they are stand out reads. Vendetta falls into the latter category. It was (without any doubt) one of the most entertaining books that I have read in recent years.

I cannot say enough good things about Vendetta and was thrilled to be able to participate in the Blog Tour when it was published. Dreda Say Mitchell penned a fantastic article Heroes to Die For  which featured on my site. The combination of hosting the tour, having an exclusive article to feature and the book being one of my favourite reads of the year made this a memorable title for me.

Vendetta Review

 

Digital Circumstances – Brian Stewart

Summer 2014 was an amazing time to be in Scotland. We had the Edinburgh Festival (as we always do), the Book Festival (as we always do) but we also had Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games and the small matter of the Indy Ref – the world was watching.

Three out of the four events were spectacular successes – the fourth is subject to ongoing debate but 55% of the people were happy at the time!

During the height of all things Scottish I started reading Digital Circumstances, written and self-published by Brian Stewart. The story is (mainly) set in Glasgow and had a great mix of cybercrime and gangsters. As Glasgow is a city I know well and was very much in the public eye as I was reading Digital Circumstances – it just seemed a perfect read at the time.

A fun read and worth seeking out.

Digital Circumstances Review

 

Someone Else’s Skin – Sarah Hilary

A debut novel and the introduction of a principle character (Marnie Rome) which the author is planning on developing into an ongoing series. I have included this book in my top picks of the year mainly because it was a brilliant story which I got totally drawn into as I read.

However, Someone Else’s Skin holds the honour of being the book in 2014 with the best plot twist. It totally floored me and had me re-evaluating everything I had read up to that point in the story.

I read well over 100 novels this year, it would be very remiss of me to exclude the year’s ‘Jaw Drop’ moment from the list of my top books.

Someone Else’s Skin Review

 

An Evil Mind – Chris Carter

A fellow blogger contacted me asking if I could help him by reading a Chris Carter book (a task I felt reasonably comfortable accepting). He had been set a mission by the publishers: to find readers who had not read Chris Carter’s work and see if he could turn them into fans. I agreed to help and duly received a copy of An Evil Mind.

Click through to check my review for a more comprehensive summary, however, the addition of four new Chris Carter novels to my bookcase in the last few weeks should give a fairly big clue as to how much I enjoyed An Evil Mind. When drawing up a shortlist of possible titles to include in my Magnificent Seven, nothing came close to dislodging An Evil Mind from the list.

My thanks to Shaun on this one – take some time to visit his blog at: www.bookaddictshaun.co.uk

An Evil Mind Review

 

Red Rising – Pierce Brown

The book that broke my rules. Don’t get drawn back into Fantasy novels. Don’t start a series of books if the last books are not published yet. Don’t lend out your copies of your favourite books to friends as you know they will love it. Three copies of Red Rising later I currently only have my digital copy left – I MAY get some of my paperbacks back (eventually)!

This book made me want to read Fantasy novels again – this is after an 8 year hiatus where I have only really read crime and thrillers. A must read novel and worthy for inclusion in ANY list of recommended reads.

Red Rising Review

 

So there we have it – my best reading memories from 2014 and a brief explanation as to why these books stood out for me.

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November 25

An Evil Mind – Chris Carter

An Evil MInd
An Evil MInd

A freak accident in rural Wyoming leads the Sheriff’s Department to arrest a man for a possible double homicide, but further investigations suggest a much more horrifying discovery – a serial killer who has been kidnapping, torturing and mutilating victims all over the United States for at least twenty-five years. The suspect claims he is a pawn in a huge labyrinth of lies and deception – can he be believed? The case is immediately handed over to the FBI, but this time they’re forced to ask for outside help. Ex-criminal behaviour psychologist and lead Detective with the Ultra Violent Crime Unit of the LAPD, Robert Hunter, is asked to run a series of interviews with the apprehended man. These interviews begin to reveal terrifying secrets that no one could’ve foreseen, including the real identity of a killer so elusive that no one, not even the FBI, had any idea he existed …until now.

 

I must thank @bookaddictshaun for giving me the chance to read An Evil Mind. Shaun contacted me and asked if I had ever read any Chris Carter books. I had to confess that I had not but I was aware that Shaun was a big fan: as you can see by visiting bookaddictshaun.co.uk

Shaun then asked if I wanted to assist with a project he was working on, mysteriously entitled “Task Force Carter”. His mission was to find someone who had yet to read a Chris Carter novel and introduce that person to Carter’s work. To this end Shaun sent me An Evil Mind to read and report back on.

Having ‘inhaled’ An Evil Mind in record time I can honestly say that I am now a fan of Chris Carter and will be looking to catch-up on more of his books. (I have added two to my TBR pile already).

An Evil Mind is the 6th book that features Carter’s recurring central character Robert Hunter. Having not read the preceding 5 books (obviously) I cannot compare how this title sits against the earlier books but I imagine from the way the story unfolded that this book may be a little different to the first five. I say this as the situation Hunter finds himself in during An Evil Mind could only be done in one book, however, I hope that when I read the earlier books that I will find references to events explored in An Evil Mind. If this is the case then I believe the real reward for a reader is to do the titles sequentially.

However, this is to take nothing away from An Evil Mind which reads extremely well as a stand-alone thriller. The intensity of the story is breath-taking at times and the horrors described made this compelling reading, there was almost a morbid fascination that kicked in making me want to keep reading to see just how evil the book’s central criminal could be. (Very is the answer).

This is a must read for crime fans and will appeal to readers that like a fast paced tempo to their stories. Carter writes in short chapters which give rise to many cliff-hangers throughout the book and keeps the tension levels up as the plot unfolds. His pacing is masterly and the way that Hunter had to gradually draw out confessions from his prisoner over a period of hours almost gave me the feeling of living the story in real time.

When I had finished reading the indicators of a great story were all present: I wanted more when the book ended, I want to read more books by this author and I will have no hesitation in recommending An Evil Mind to others. Added Bonus Points for making me angry at characters (shows that I bought in to the story) and a merit for one particularly nasty twist which cannot be disclosed due to SPOILERS.

My only regret is that I hadn’t read the first five books before I picked up An Evil Mind – no fault of the author, that is purely down to me. A great story with twists a-plenty.

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July 9

The Hunter – Chris Carter (Short Story)

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

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

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

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

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