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 2

2016: My Top 5 Scottish Books

As a Scottish blogger I am always keen to read crime/thriller books set in my native land or tales written by fellow Scots. I love to read stories which are set in the towns and cities I know so well. I like when the characters talk like me and I enjoy knowing that I am being entertained by someone who knows what is meant by “getting the messages.”

Before I share my choices for my Top Ten Reads of 2016 I am taking this chance to highlight my Top 5 Scottish Books for 2016.

 

The Dead Don't Boogie5. The Dead Don’t Boogie – Douglas Skelton

A missing teenage girl should be an easy job for Dominic Queste – after all, finding lost souls is what he does best. But sometimes it’s better if those souls stay lost. Jenny Deavers is trouble, especially for an ex-cokehead like Queste. Some truly nasty characters are very keen indeed to get to Jenny, and will stop at nothing…including murder. As the bodies pile up, Queste has to use all his street smarts both to protect Jenny and to find out just who wants her dead. The trail leads him to a vicious world of brutal gangsters, merciless hitmen, dark family secrets and an insatiable lust for power in the highest echelons of politics.

There are not many authors that can inject massive doses of humour into a thriller and get the balance of laughs and thrills right. Douglas Skelton manages to hit that combination perfectly as he introduces us to Dominic Queste in The Dead Don’t Boogie.

Order a copy here.

 

 

Willow Walk4.  Willow Walk – SJI Holliday

When the past catches up, do you run and hide or stand and fight?

When a woman is brutally attacked on a lonely country road by an escaped inmate from a nearby psychiatric hospital, Sergeant Davie Gray must track him down before he strikes again. But Gray is already facing a series of deaths connected to legal highs and a local fairground, as well as dealing with his girlfriend Marie’s bizarre behaviour. As Gray investigates the crimes, he suspects a horrifying link between Marie and the man on the run but how can he confront her when she’s pushing him away?

 

SJI Holliday returns to Banktoun in the follow-up novel to 2015’s Black Wood.  I loved this story as it was deliciously dark and creepy with some nasty twists thrown in for good measure.  As an added bonus we get Susi Holliday’s fantastic characterisation – she creates the most believable people in her books, I swear that I have actually met half the people she writes about.

Order a copy here.

 

 

In Place of Death3. In Place of Death – Craig Robertson

A young man enters the culverted remains of an ancient Glasgow stream, looking for thrills. Deep below the city, it is decaying and claustrophobic and gets more so with every step. As the ceiling lowers to no more than a couple of feet above the ground, the man finds his path blocked by another person. Someone with his throat cut.

As DS Rachel Narey leads the official investigation, photographer Tony Winter follows a lead of his own, through the shadowy world of urbexers, people who pursue a dangerous and illegal hobby, a world that Winter knows more about than he lets on. And it soon becomes clear that the murderer has killed before, and has no qualms about doing so again.

 

A brilliant murder mystery which makes the most incredible use of Glasgow and its landscape.  Craig Robertson brings back Narey and Winter and introduces us to urbexing. In Place of Death was a fabulous read but it also got me looking at Glasgow in a whole new light too. When a book educates as well as entertains then I am never going to be unhappy.

Order a copy here.

 

 

Killer Instincts2. Killer Instincts – Linden Chase

There’s darkness in the heart of Tranquility. Society has developed reliable tests to detect psychopathy in individuals. Those with the disorder are re-classified as victims rather than monsters. The question remains though, how does a liberal society deal with the inherently violent impulses of human predators who live among us. In response a government think tank is launching an experiment, Tranquility; an island where psychopaths will be isolated and left to form their own community.

Zane King, an investigative journalist, has been given a tip-off by a high-level government source that something big is happening on a remote island. After a heart-stopping journey Zane manages to infiltrate Tranquility by persuading the citizens that he’s a psychopath just like them. It doesn’t take Zane long to realise that something has gone very wrong with the experiment but by the time he fully understands what the island is really all about the community is already imploding in a wave of monstrous violence. “Not for the faint hearted…

 

If Lord of the Flies were a slasher movie then you have Killer Instincts.  Loved the idea of a sinister, shadowy agency that controlled Tranquility. Loved the idea of the Hunt. Loved the unpredictable characters.  It is dark read. Very, very dark. But it’s really, really good.

Order a copy here.

 

 

a-suitable-lie1 A Suitable Lie – Michael J Malone

Andy Boyd thinks he is the luckiest man alive. Widowed with a young child, after his wife dies in childbirth, he is certain that he will never again experience true love. Then he meets Anna. Feisty, fun and beautiful, she’s his perfect match… And she loves his son, too. When Andy ends up in the hospital on his wedding night, he receives his first clue that Anna is not all that she seems. He ignores it; a dangerous mistake that could cost him everything.

 

A “wow” book. Michael J Malone tells a harrowing story of domestic violence in a book which is chilling, memorable and incredibly important. I don’t think I could claim to have “enjoyed” reading A Suitable Lie but I couldn’t put it down, I HAD to find out what was going to happen next.

This is a book which will stick with me for a long time to come. It was frequently too realistic for this reader and it tackled a significantly under-reported subject in a sensitive yet compelling voice.

One of the stand-out books of 2016.

Order a copy here.

 

 

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January 17

In Place Of Death – Craig Robertson

In Place of Death

A young man enters the culverted remains of an ancient Glasgow stream, looking for thrills. Deep below the city, it is decaying and claustrophobic and gets more so with every step. As the ceiling lowers to no more than a couple of feet above the ground, the man finds his path blocked by another person. Someone with his throat cut.

As DS Rachel Narey leads the official investigation, photographer Tony Winter follows a lead of his own, through the shadowy world of urbexers, people who pursue a dangerous and illegal hobby, a world that Winter knows more about than he lets on. And it soon becomes clear that the murderer has killed before, and has no qualms about doing so again.

 

My thanks to Craig and Simon & Schuster for providing a review copy.

 

I have been having a slow return to updating my blog since the turn of the year.  I HAVE been reading and the reviews of the books I have read will appear in due course. However I wanted to have a wee run of reviews of books that I loved to start the year – step forward In Place of Death: a wonderful crime thriller, based in Glasgow and a book which introduced me to the concept of urbexing.

Urbexing is the name given to the exploration of abandoned urban buildings or places. Places closed off to the public while waiting demolition, potential refurbishment or just falling to ruin. But to some these forgotten buildings represent a challenge – a place to explore while knowing your presence is forbidden. Individuals that enjoy urbexing do not seek to damage or loot the buildings they visit – just enter, have a look around and get back out again. Some take pictures, others share their experiences through specialist chat forums. But in In Place of Death one adventurer found a little more than he expected on his explorations- a very dead body.

Craig Robertson’s brilliant duo, DI Rachel Narey and photographer Tony Winter, are back in In Place of Death and are called in as part of the investigation. They find themselves pitted against a stone cold killer, butting heads with Glasgow’s criminal underworld and questioning the lost souls that have fallen through the cracks in the system and are riding out their days in hovels to keep them from the streets. It frequently made for tense or harrowing reading and Robertson handles these scenes brilliantly. He puts his characters through an emotional wringer and you cannot help but keep reading to see how they cope with the traumas that are being piled upon them.

Through brilliant narrative we are guided on a tour of some of Glasgow’s famous landmarks and the darker corners. If you are in any way familiar with the city there is an extra level of enjoyment to be had when familiar buildings and structures are introduced. It made me look at some parts of the city in a whole new light and now when I travel into work each day I am looking around Glasgow to see other potential sites where the Urbexers may have tried to explore. It should be noted that you do not have to know Glasgow to enjoy this side of In Place of Death, as the locations (and their historical significance) are deftly woven into the narrative.

Narey and Winter will each have to face their personal demons during the course of the story. The scenes set away from the actual investigation further developed the back-story of the characters and this will be a real treat for returning readers. Winter and Narey are characters I want to read about, I love where Craig Robertson is taking this duo and I hope it is not too long before we meet them again.

I read too many books each year which entertain without ever really capturing my imagination.  Not so with In Place of Death which had me hooked from the outset and had just the right blend of intrigue, humour, darkness and sheer nail-biting tension. A 5 star thriller from an author I strongly urge you to read.

 

In Place of Death is published by Simon & Schuster and is available in Paperback and Digital format:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Place-Death-Craig-Robertson-ebook-x/dp/B00MK376TI/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

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