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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February 27

Say Nothing – Brad Parks

Say NothingOn a normal Wednesday afternoon, Judge Scott Sampson is preparing to pick up his six-year-old twins for their weekly swim. His wife Alison texts him with a change of plan: she has to take them to the doctor instead. So Scott heads home early. But when Alison arrives back later, she is alone – no Sam, no Emma – and denies any knowledge of the text . . .
The phone then rings: an anonymous voice tells them that the Judge must do exactly what he is told in an upcoming drug case and, most importantly, they must ‘say nothing’.

So begins this powerful, tense breakout thriller about a close-knit young family plunged into unimaginable horror. As a twisting game of cat and mouse ensues, they know that one false move could lose them their children for ever.
Hugely suspenseful – with its fascinating insight into the US judicial system and its politics of influence and nepotism – Say Nothing is, above all, the poignant story of the terror these parents face, and their stop-at-nothing compulsion to get their children back.

 

My Thanks to Lauren at Faber & Faber for my review copy.

 

When I get asked what book I would recommend, Say Nothing is now my first answer. I have just spent the last two days pouring over this thriller, devouring every word and I cannot say too many good things about it. Let me save you a skip to the foot of the page…Say Nothing gets an epic 5 stars from me.

<And breathe>

We meet Scott Sampson. He is a judge with a good reputation. He has a happy home life, a loving family and life is grand. But things are about to change.  Scott receives a text message from his wife telling him she is taking their young twins to an appointment with the doctor and that he need not collect them from school. No cause for concern, just a change to their normal routine – until Scott’s wife returns home without the kids and they realise something has gone wrong. As the couple try to make sense of their conflicting understanding of the afternoon’s events the phone rings and their world is turned upside down.

Their twins have been kidnapped. Further instruction will follow in due course but in the meantime neither Scott or Alison can let anyone know what has happened – SAY NOTHING.

Scott has to continue going to work and hearing cases so in addition to a tense kidnap story we are treated to an engaging courtroom drama too. I have not read very many legal thrillers of late and I realise that I miss them – Say Nothing handles the switches between courthouse and domestic drama brilliantly and both elements to the story play out fabulously well.

The story zips along at a fast pace and, with the constant worry over what may happen to two helpless kids at the hands of their abductors, you find that you just have to keep reading.

The book asks how far you would go to protect your children and Scott and Alison will be pushed to the limit. Doubts and suspicion of family, friends and colleagues will threaten to overwhelm them and events outwith their control will seem to conspire against them and try to thwart the safe return of the twins.

Gradually it becomes clear exactly why the kidnap was arranged and Scott will become increasingly pressured into following orders to keep his children safe. But if a high profile judge starts behaving erratically then people will start to notice. How long can Scott maintain the façade of normality when someone else is calling the shots and seems to know his every move?

Brilliant, brilliant storytelling which I cannot recommend enough. I mention it was a 5 star read?

 

Say Nothing is published on 2 March 2017 by Faber & Faber and you can order a copy here.

Follow the Say Nothing tour

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February 13

The Intrusions – Stav Sherez

The IntrusionsWhen a distressed young woman arrives at their station claiming her friend has been abducted, and that the man threatened to come back and ‘claim her next’, Detectives Carrigan and Miller are thrust into a terrifying new world of stalking and obsession.

Taking them from a Bayswater hostel, where backpackers and foreign students share dorms and failing dreams, to the emerging threat of online intimidation, hacking, and control, The Intrusions explores disturbing contemporary themes with all the skill and dark psychology that Stav Sherez’s work has been so acclaimed for.

Under scrutiny themselves, and with old foes and enmities re-surfacing, how long will Carrigan and Miller have to find out the truth behind what these two women have been subjected to?

 

My thanks to Faber & Faber for my review copy which I received through Netgalley

The Intrusions gripped me. Totally, completely hooked me from the outset. I read it in three sittings and each time I had to put down the book (to go and do the day job) I was counting down the minutes until the time when I could pick it up and begin reading again.

What made matters worse was that when I found out what the Intrusions from the title actually were I became more than a little freaked out. Not only was I dying to get back to reading, I was obsessing slightly about plot threads from the story and looking around my environment wondering if there were reasons to worry!

Cryptic?  Sorry but once you read the book you will understand why…it is a chilling idea but I have no doubt it is happening all around us.

The Intrusions was my first introduction to Stav Sheraz’s books and there were references to previous stories featuring the lead characters (Carrigan and Miller). Sometimes that can be a frustration for a new reader but in this case I found myself on several occasions thinking “I MUST go back and read the earlier books” as the backstory sounds superb.

The Intrusions begins with an abduction but it is not long before events will spiral into a much bigger challenge for the police. I particularly enjoyed how well the investigation was presented by the author, I really felt I was tracking their footsteps as they hunted down leads. Not every police thriller can capture the sense of urgency and pressure of an active investigation but, as I indicated above, I was gripped.

Without doubt one of the best books I have read for many months and a story I am recommending to anyone that will listen. Do not miss The Intrusions.

 

The Intrusions is published by Faber & Faber and is available now. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/cka/Intrusions-Carrigan-Miller-Stav-Sherez/0571297250/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1486941671&sr=1-1&keywords=stav+sherez

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November 11

Crash Land – Doug Johnstone

crash-landSitting in the departure lounge of Kirkwall Airport, Finn Sullivan just wants to get off Orkney. But then he meets the mysterious and dangerous Maddie Pierce, stepping in to save her from some unwanted attention, and his life is changed forever.

Set against the brutal, unforgiving landscape of Orkney, CRASH LAND is a psychological thriller steeped in guilt, shame, lust, deception and murder.

 

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

 

I love reading books set in Scotland, mainly down to the fact that I have lived, or spent time, in virtually every corner of my homeland and the locations I know so well can really lift a story. But despite having heard so many wonderful things about the Orkney Isles I have not yet ventured that far North. Now that I have read Crash Land I really want to make that journey. Doug Johnstone has made the islands sound so remote, beautiful, secluded and packed full of historical intrigue that I need to experience the place for myself…

But it is not just the location which makes Crash Land such a wonderful read – the story of Finn Sullivan’s chance encounter with Maddie Pierce (and all the consequences thereafter) is a thumpingly good and surprisingly dark page-turner.

Finn is leaving Orkney to return to his home on the Scottish mainland. He is killing time in the bar of the airport departure lounge when he spots Maddie – she is hard to miss.  Maddie is travelling alone and attracting the unwanted attention of four boorish oil workers so she moves to join Finn who she perceives to be less of a threat. The typically inclement weather delays their flight so the two get chatting and we see that Finn has become quite enamoured with Ms Pierce. However, Finn has done most of the talking and soon realises that he knows very little about Maddie.

The two board their plane and set off on a journey which will change their lives forever. What follows is a delightfully tightly plotted story where you will never quite be sure where the truth lies. Trusts will be broken, many lies told and friendships (both new and old) will be tested to their limits.

Doug Johnstone has taken a very small cast of characters and built a gripping story around them. Finn is caught up in the centre of all the troubles and will need to decide where his loyalties lie. His mental and emotional limits will be tested and he will face predicaments from his worst nightmares. Reading Finn’s story and watching him try to continue to do what he believes is the right thing was a treat – though often I got frustrated with the decisions he was making!

Maddie, was a mystery. I was never quite sure where she was going or what was driving her…Doug Johnstone dripped her story out with expert pacing and I cheered for her and booed her in equal measure.

Crash Land is a cracking read – I thoroughly enjoyed it and have no hesitation in recommending that you read it too.

 

Crash Land is published by Faber & Faber and is available in paperback and digital  format. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Crash-Land-Doug-Johnstone/dp/057133086X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1478817373&sr=8-1&keywords=crash+land+by+doug+johnstone

 

Catch the previous legs of the Tour:

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June 6

Long Time Lost – Chris Ewan

Long time lostNick Miller and his team provide a unique and highly illegal service, relocating at-risk individuals across Europe with new identities and new lives. Nick excels at what he does for a reason: he’s spent years living in the shadows under an assumed name.
But when Nick steps in to prevent the attempted murder of witness-in-hiding Kate Sutherland on the Isle of Man, he triggers a chain of events with devastating consequences for everyone he protects – because Nick and Kate share a common enemy in Connor Lane, a man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants, even if it means tearing Nick’s entire network apart.

 

My thanks to Sophie at Faber for my review copy

Last year I really enjoyed Chris Ewan’s Dark Tides.  It was a claustrophobic, atmospheric thriller.  This year Chris brings us Long Time Lost and shows his skills on a much larger platform as this is a globetrotting action adventure. It is also a damn fine read!

Nick Miller is a man with secrets. He comes to the rescue of Kate Sutherland who narrowly avoids death when the witness protection scheme fails her. Kate places her trust in Nick to keep her safe until such time as she can get to court to testify.

Miller, working with a handpicked team, is keeping a small number of people safe in various European cities. He has developed a surreptitious means for keeping track of them and as long as everyone follows Miller’s rules their safety will be assured. But there is one key question that everyone in the story must be able to answer: “Can you keep a secret?”

Kate and Miller are caught up in a desperate rush across Europe as Miller’s “clients” become targets.

Back at home, the police are very keen to catch up with Nick Miller. It seems that Miller has secrets of his own and if he values his continued freedom then he needs to keep off the radar too.

Long Time Lost is a tense thrill ride. Chris Ewan keeps the action zipping along and when we meet the bad guys that Kate and Miller are trying to escape, the tension cranks up a notch or two.

Chris Ewan always seems to create characters that I actually care about (given the number of books I can have on the go at any one time this is not something I say often). I had lots of fun reading Long Time Lost – it was one of the books I read long into the night when I really should have been trying to sleep. Perfect reading for thriller fans.

 

Long Time Lost is published by Faber & Faber. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Long-Time-Lost-Chris-Ewan-ebook/dp/B01B8GDRKE/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1464996879&sr=1-1

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January 29

Fever City – Tim Baker

Fever City Nick Alston, a Los Angeles private investigator, is hired to find the kidnapped son of America’s richest and most hated man.

Hastings, a mob hitman in search of redemption, is also on the trail. But both men soon become ensnared by a sinister cabal that spreads from the White House all the way to Dealey Plaza.

Decades later in Dallas, Alston’s son stumbles across evidence from JFK conspiracy buffs that just might link his father to the shot heard round the world.

Violent, vivid, visceral: FEVER CITY is a high–octane, nightmare journey through a Mad Men-era America of dark powers, corruption and conspiracy.

 

My thanks to Faber & Faber for my review copy.

 

My friends will groan when they find I have read a book with a conspiracy theory element to it as I love ‘em. Roswell, the Moon Landings, JFK and Nessie all provide hours of fascination. Obviously from the 4 I listed one is a total fabrication of the truth but I am quite happy to believe that there was a UFO at Roswell, JFK was not killed by Lee Harvey Oswald and I have seen pictures of Nessie so she clearly is a real thing too.

In Fever City Tim Baker has crafted a phenomenal story around the JFK assassination – putting forward new observations and casting more suspicions over the ‘official’ story on the death of a President. Many famous names crop up through the story and relationships, alliances and adversaries are explored.  It is a compelling read and as I reached the end of the book I could not turn the pages fast enough to see how everything would resolve.

The narrative is handled from three viewpoints and events cover three different points in history. 1960 when the child of one of America’s richest (and most loathed) men is kidnapped – Private Investigator Nick Alston is called in to help locate the kidnapped boy.

Jumping forward to 1963 when Alston is reunited with a hitman called Hastings (the two had first met during the kidnap investigation). Obviously 1963 is of huge significance and we follow events which will eventually build up to that fateful day in Dallas.

fever-city-_-blog-tour-graphicThen the narrative jumps forward to 2014 when the son of one of the key players (that of Nick Alston) is looking into all the theories which surround the assassination of JFK. As Fever City progresses Alston (junior) comes to realise that his father may have been very close to some of the key players who are implicated in one of history’s greatest cover-ups.

The switching narrative is brilliantly handled and the way the story flits across the time periods works really well. I initially had fears that this may fragment the story but these fears were short lived as Baker builds so much tension into the story you don’t mind being drawn through the years.

Fever City should come with a ‘dark’ or ‘gritty’ warning. The male characters can come across as hard, uncompromising or aggressive and the females are brilliantly balanced initially appearing to be femme fatales but ultimately showing more depth and inner steel than most of their male counterparts.

A deeply enjoyable story. Compelling, twisty and downright nasty at times. All plus points for me – definitely a bit of a favourite.

 

Fever City is published by Faber & Faber and can be purchased here.

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November 23

The Kind Worth Killing – Peter Swanson

A Kind Worth Killing‘Hello there.’
I looked at the pale, freckled hand on the back of the empty bar seat next to me in the business class lounge of Heathrow airport, then up into the stranger’s face.
‘Do I know you?’

Delayed in London, Ted Severson meets a woman at the airport bar. Over cocktails they tell each other rather more than they should, and a dark plan is hatched – but are either of them being serious, could they actually go through with it and, if they did, what would be their chances of getting away with it?

Back in Boston, Ted’s wife Miranda is busy site managing the construction of their dream home, a beautiful house out on the Maine coastline. But what secrets is she carrying and to what lengths might she go to protect the vision she has of her deserved future?

A sublimely plotted novel of trust and betrayal, The Kind Worth Killing will keep you gripped and guessing late into the night.

 

My thanks to Sophie at Faber & Faber for my review copy

 

Can I just write ‘WOW’ and leave it at that?  The Kind Worth Killing is a WOW book, it just keeps giving – shocks, twists and that wonderful ‘one more chapter’ element that only the very best of reads can deliver.

Ted Severson meets a woman just before he boards a plane, they get chatting and (under the influence of too much booze) Ted shares too much of his personal worries with this stranger. However rather than this being the end of their acquaintance the couple find themselves sat next to each other on the flight and a plan is hatched that could solve all of Ted’s problems.

Meanwhile Ted’s wife, Miranda, is living the dream, she has snagged a rich husband, is overseeing the redevelopment of a gorgeous house and may just fight tooth and claw to protect her idyllic lifestyle.

If Ted’s problem is Miranda can he make his problem ‘go away’?  For Miranda – can she find a way to hang on to all that she holds dear (even if this does not necessarily include Ted)?

A brilliant clash of strong personalities lies ahead. Evil minds will plot and only the most devious will prevail. The police will become involved but such is the duplicity on show that they are clueless and scrabbling around in the dark – they know something is amiss but have no leads to pursue!

In 2014 Sarah Hilary delivered my ‘jaw drop’ moment in Someone Else’s Skin.  For 2015 my ‘jaw drop’ accolade goes to Peter Swanson – one scene in The Kind Worth Killing was just so unexpected that I was totally unprepared for what I was reading (and I honestly had no idea where the story was going to head from that point onwards). Once I had recovered from that shock I was so psyched at what I had just read that I was compelled to keep reading, long into the night. I just HAD to know what was going to happen next.

The Kind Worth Killing has more twists than Chubby Checker on a helter-skelter!  It is a dream to read and is without any doubt one of the best books I have read for a long, long time.

I am not going to recommend you read The Kind Worth Killing – I am going to tell you that you HAVE to read it!  A 5/5 review score goes without saying.  Except I did say it (for clarity).

 

The Kind Worth Killing is published by Faber & Faber and is available in paperback and digital formats: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kind-Worth-Killing-Peter-Swanson/dp/057130222X/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

 

 

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