Deaths Silent Judgement Anne Coates

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Deaths Silent Judgement    Anne Coates

What a fantastic read.

Set in the 1990’s, an era which is rapidly becoming my favourite for crime fiction, the story in this book is realistic, and frighteningly believable

Journalist Hannah Weybridge is back, and the story starts a short time after the end of Anne Coate’s previous book Dancers in The Wind.

When Hannah finds her best friend murdered in a church life begins to take an interesting and dangerous turn.

Her friend Liz was a dentist. She had a successful practice in the City, but since returning from carrying out charitable work in Somalia, she has also worked in the church roviding dental care to vagrants.

This opens a whole list of characters who Hannah meets.

Liz’s Mom, Lady Celia Rayman, is not happy with the Police investigation into her daughter’s murder and asks Hannah to have a look at the case.

As Hannah starts to dig she meets the vagrants who live in the Bull Ring, a cardboard city at one of London’s Train Stations. Finding out that Liz had Biblical knick-names for these patients she ponders  if the names have any significance.

She digs into the charity that Liz worked for in Africa, uncovering the uncomfortable truth surrounding Female Genital Mutilation, kidnapping, and trafficking, but has this got anything to do with Liz’s murder.

Then there’s the clergy. Liz was killed at a church working for one of the local Priests projects.

When the priest goes missing and turns up a few days later, in intensive care, Hannah becomes concerned that the church is trying to cover things up.

Hannah Weybridge is one of those characters that it is easy to fall in love with. Still traumatised by the events which took place in Dancers in the Wind. Living at home with her 14-month old daughter she is paranoid about most things. Her daughter is looked after by her Nanny, allowing Hannah to carry on her work as a journalist, but that career has been hampered by the earlier events. The story she submitted was spiked and Hannah has been shackled by a contract that allows her very little scope to write.

With her personal life falling apart, or at least becoming very complicated Hannah starts to piece together the jigsaw that was Liz’s life.

Did it involve her work with the Vagrants?

Was it something to do with the charity work that Liz had been working on?

Has it got something to do with the church?

Is Liz’s family history anything to do with her death?

All of these strands are possible right up till the last couple of chapters when things start to become resolved.

Right at the very end there’s a nice little twist. A cliff hanger which will have you waiting for the next Hannah Waybridge story just as much as I am.

Pages: 244

Publisher: Urbane Publications

Publishing Date: 11th May 2017.

Pre-order available on Amazon

The Killer On The Wall Emma Kavanagh

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The Killer on the Wall      Emma Kavanagh

 

The population of a tight knit town on the Scottish borders is left terrified when three bodies are found propped against Hadrian’s Wall.

Over the next two weeks more bodies are found and then Heath McGowan is found and arrested by Sergeant Eric Bell.

Twenty years later the young girl, 15-year-old Isla Bell, who found the first bodies is now a Criminal Psychologist.

For twenty year’s the sleepy town of Briganton has tried its best to get over its notoriety, bus-loads of tourists still visit the site where the bodies were found, and the occasional documentary team arrive to record a program.

Dr Isla is carrying out a study into Serial Killers using MRI technology to measure their brain functions. At last she has the chance to interview and examine McGowan, The Wall Killer.

And that’s is when the murders start again.

Sergeant Eric Bell, now celebrity cop Superintendent Eric Bell, takes charge of the new investigation but seems to be frustratingly stubborn in his opinions and ways.

Detective Constable Mina Arian, a recent transferee from the Met, doubts Bell and begins to investigate both series of killings. Is the right person in prison, did he have an accomplice, or is there really a copy-cat killer on the rampage.

This story is told via the eyes of three main protagonists.

Isla, the girl that finds the first bodies, and is now the insecure Criminal Psychologist, who is afraid of the dark, and her own shadow at times.

Ramsey, Isla’s husband who was a survivor of the first attack when the tree bodies were left against the wall.

Mina the Detective Constable that was born in Iraq bit moved to London with her family when she was 4. The woman that is badgered by her mother, the cop that thinks everybody else is looking in the wrong direction.

Each of these main protagonists have a great story. All of them are conflicted in themselves, but seem to be spiralling around a conclusion they don’t want to recognise.

This is a great story.

A psychological thriller that kept me reading from the first page right up to the end.

A story that managed to surprise me in the last couple of chapters.

A story that left me wanting another instalment.

Summer holidays are coming, and people are going to be looking for a poolside book. Don’t wait, get it now. You won’t be disappointed.

Pages: 384

Published by: Arrow

Mississippi Burning Greg Isles

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As a white, 1960’s born, British man, I am vaguely aware of the problems that America had in the 60’s, with particularly the Southern states struggling with integration. I’ve read books which have mentioned the KKK and other white supremacist groups, but never have I read a series of books which bring home the problems that were, and are still being, encountered in these areas.

Greg Isle has written series of books set around the happenings of Natchez, a small town on the Mississippi. There are 6 books which use the town as a backdrop, and all of them include the same list of central characters at their core. The final three have been categorised as “The Natchez Burning” Trilogy. All six of the books are great reads. The Trilogy is the natural progression from the first three, the final book in the series Mississippi Blood is simply stunning in the way it concludes this epic series of books.

Set a few weeks after the traumatic end of The Bone Tree, Penn Cage, the Major of Natchez, is still shocked by the fact that his girlfriend has been killed, and that his father is in prison. For years Dr Tom Cage has fought for the rights of the black people in his town. He has been the sworn enemy of a vicious group of white men known as The Double Eagles, and one of their main leaders, and original members, Snake Knox is still at large.

Tom is charged with murdering his one-time lover Viola Turner, with who he has recently found out he has a son, Lincoln.

Lincoln is out for revenge on the man who he now see’s as being responsible for his wayward upbringing. He will do anything to ensure his “father” is punished.

The corrupt County Sheriff, Billy Byrd is in cahoots with Snake Knox, and the local prosecutor Shadrach Johnson has been a violent opponent of Dr Cages for years, so the odds of him getting a fair trial seem very slim.

Whilst Penn tries everything in his power to uncover evidence against others to incriminate them in the murder of Viola, Dr Tom seems intent on self-destruction.

Hiring one of his best friends, Quentin Avery, the best defence lawyers in the south, Dr Tom opts for an unorthodox approach to his defence.

As an ex-prosecutor Penn is driven to distraction by his father’s tactics, but Tom and Avery won’t explain their tactics to him.

The trial is almost farcical as the prosecution and defence ignore all the rules, and the Judge decides to give enough leeway for them both to go head-to-head in an epic court room battle.

The trial lasts for 4 days but during that time pressure is put on both sides by outside influences including Snake Knox, the FBI, and a gang of bikers known as the VK’s.

People are threatened, assaulted, murdered. Old alliances are destroyed and new ones made. Family members on both sides suffer. Penn struggles to keep his family alive outside of the courtroom, and together inside it.

History of Dr Toms past comes out in the trial, history that his family are not aware of, and it has the potential to tear them apart.

New characters come, and go, but they all add to the plot. Not one word of the 702 pages is wasted.

This book would be hard to read as a stand-alone novel; and to be honest I wouldn’t recommend you read it as one. I would recommend all of the other books as some of the best I have ever read.

The first two chapters of this book include news articles which are there as a reminder of what happened in the The Bone Tree & Natchez Burning. As a quick catch-up they are great but they do not replace the actual books.

Throughout Mississippi Burning the reader is taken back to past events in the trilogy and the other 3 books in the series.

In all the books I have ever read, this is the most compelling series I have read.

If you like John Grisham, but with less filters, you will love these books.

If you are looking for a set of books to keep you occupied for a couple of months I’d recommend reading all six, one after another. But if you do, you will have one hell of a void to fill when you finish.

I actually wish I was the 18 year-old me, In my cabin on a merchant tanker with nothing to fill the off duty hours but read books. I would sit and read the lot back-back.

I hope this is not the end of the Natchez books. I’ve loved every page.

 

Imperfection Ray Clark

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This book seems to have had a luke-warm reception looking at the reviews on Amazon.

I have to disagree. I found it intriguing and charming.

I liked the characters, I liked the settings. I think Ray Clark has managed to balance the need to give enough information, and not give too much gore in the description. I went back and read a couple of the murder scene depictions and yes, they are horrific murders, but they are described in an almost sympathetic way. There are too many novels these days that rely on the shock factor.

There was one thing I did find irritating. At each murder scene, there is a clue in the form of what appears to be a quote from a stage play, a film or a book. Everybody is perplexed as to where it has come from, or has it just been made up. I just wanted to shout “google” at my Kindle.

That said this is a good story. It’s almost Sherlock Holmes like in its setting. The first murder happens on the stage of a local theatre in Leeds.

What follows is a series of murders based around theatrical themes and personalities.  Some of the characters are strange, but in an addictive way. They fit into the story by being just like the type of people we all imagine working in that field.

The plot ticks along nicely as DI Stewart Gardiner and his team, especially DS Sean Reilly begin to put the case together, but every time they think they have it cracked, or can try to anticipate the killers next move, they are thrown by the next murder.

Clark writes from the suspects point of view as well, or has he. So yes, it is quite easy to form an opinion of who you think the murder is but you should read right to the end of the last page to make sure you’re right.

If you do read it to the last page. You won’t be disappointed.

I read it. I liked it, and I will read the next one.

DEAD SOULS Angela Marsons

 

 

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Written from the heart.

It’s a note I’ve never written before when I’m reading a book to review; but it’s there in my note book, right in the centre of the page.

It’s been over written several times so it really stands out, and I can remember every page I was reading when I went over it, because that’s how it felt reading this book.

The book starts off with, what most people wouldn’t class as a crime, a young man’s suicide. The thoughts he goes through, the logic he uses, are so well written that although it’s a short chapter, it’s one which will live with me for a long time.

That suicide is investigated by Kev Dawson and Stacey Wood. Kev is the alfa-male Sergeant and Stacey is the slightly introvert Detective Constable, who does most of the on-line investigation work, from the office.

The scene is bad enough but the suicide note brings out emotions in Stacey that she keeps hidden from her colleagues. The death is suicide, but why did this young lad take his own life. Stacey can’t leave it, and starts to look into the victim and his life.

Meanwhile some bodies have been found in a University Archaeological dig in a field of a farm that straddles the borders of the West Midlands, and West Mercia Police Forces boundary.

Until the bones can be identified, and a date of burial put on them, they must be investigated as a murder scene. DI Kim Stone and her old adversary from the neighbouring force DI Tom Travis argue at the scene over who will take ownership of the investigation.

The next day the argument is solved. The bosses have decided on a joint investigation with Stone leaving her team to work with Travis and his team on the bones found in the dig.

The tumultuous relationship between Kim Stone and Tom Travis is one of the main threads through the book and adds a cracking dynamic to the story.

As Kim is away her trusty Sergeant, and sidekick-partner, Bryant is forced to work with Kev Dawson. Two men doing the same job with totally different approaches, and attitudes. Another tumultuous partnership.

Bryant and Dawson start to investigate several crimes that appear to be race driven and in doing so come across the horrible side of society. The violent racist, bigoted minority which causes so much pain to innocent people.

Becoming deeply involved with the investigation they don’t notice that Stacey is beginning to become secretive and withdrawn as she looks into the young suicide victim’s life.

The deeper she looks into why the lad might have committed suicide, the more bells are rung about her own life.

When Bryant and Dawson deliberately try to stop her becoming involved with the race crimes, “to protect her”, she becomes more and more withdrawn and struggles with memories from her past.

The parts of this book which are written from Stacey’s point of view are stunningly written. Again, that note was over written “written from heart”

Meanwhile in West Mercia, Kim and Travis are looking into the Landowner, and his tenant, of the field where the bones have been found. As they are doing so the bones are being examined by Dr A. One of Angela Marsons peripheral characters that deserve their own book. The interchanges between her and Kim Stone provide that bit of humour every dark story needs; and this is a dark story.

Three sets of bones were found during the dig, and they’re recently enough buried to launch an active murder investigation.

There are three story lines in this book. The relationship between the 2 DI’s Stone and Travis, as they investigate the murder of the people found buried in the field. The relationship between Bryant and Dawson as they investigate the violent race crimes. Finally; Stacey Woods journey into the life of a young suicide victim, and the effects it has on her.

Will the relationships work. Will everybody come out of this in one piece, either emotionally or physically.

This book had me hooked from the very first page and had me enthralled all the way through.

The last dozen or so chapters had me holding my breath so often I was exhausted at the end; and what an ending.

The end of this book is full of twists and turns, and I defy anybody to see the results coming.

I read all the time. It’s my escape from reality. There are several authors I look forward to reading when I know they have a new book coming out.

Angela Marsons is at the very top of that list.

This is the best book I’ve read, by the best author on the shelves at the moment.

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BLOG TOUR THE LOST CHILDREN HELEN PHIFER

 

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Helen Phifer Blog Tour  The Lost Children

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to get an early look at this book. I admit until then I had never heard of Helen Phifer, but I will be on the lookout for her books in the future.

What made this book special?

Helen has managed to write a book which captivated me, not just with the story, but the characters in it.

So often in modern writing one is sacrificed for the other, or the book becomes overly long, not this one. It strikes the perfect balance. The story is a page turner from the start, but just as much as the main story-line, I invested in the characters.

From DI Lucy Harwin, the dyed-red-haired, tattooed single woman who is estranged from her husband and daughter; to the very glamorous Dr Catherine Maxwell, the Pathologist, all the Police charters are intriguing. In fact I think Dr Maxwell would make a tremendous protagonist in her own series.

The victims and perpetrator of the crimes are equally as enthralling, and mysterious. Helen has taken as much care about the characters on the peripheries as she has on the main ones, and that means there was no way of working out who the perpetrator was by the balance of the amount of time they got on the page.

The one thing that makes this book stand out is the correct use of terminology, and the believability of the Police Officers and the way they work and interact with each other. There is a letter from the author in the back of the book. In it she drops out that she works for the Police. I don’t know in what capacity but the fact that she is immersed in that world shows in her writing.

So, if you want a realistic, enthralling Police Thriller, with a cast of characters who you are going to want to meet again, then this is just the book.

I’ve put my original review below here. I’ve just read it again. I think my enthusiasm for this book, and the series to follow speaks for itself.

 

 

The Lost Children

I jotted something down in my note book really early into reading this book.

Refreshing, an author who knows current police procedures and terminology”

 That little note reflects why this crime thriller stands out from many of the others on the shelves today.

That and the fact that there is a full cast of excellent characters surrounding DI Lucy Harwin, work colleagues, family, and even the victims and their families, all add to the eclectic mix of people she encounters on a daily basis.

The opening to the book is going to be familiar to some readers. There have been a few books partially set in the care homes and institutes of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s recently.

And why not, every year there seems to be another case of historic abuse associated with these establishments.

This book stands out though. Helen Phifer has written a thriller in more ways than one.

The main protagonist, DI Lucy Harwin, is a little bit out there. Dyed Red hair, tattoo’s, and an attitude. Divorced from her husband, estranged from her teenage daughter, and living alone. On forced gardening leave following her involvement in a tragic serious incident, we meet Lucy at her counselling on the day she is supposed to start back to work.

Unfortunately for her a gruesome murder is waiting for her on her return to the usually quiet seaside town of Brooklyn Bay. What a setting for a book, once a prosperous seaside resort, now struggling with the recession and lack of holiday makers.

Lucy has a good team, some of which we get to meet in detail, but others who play interesting little bit parts, hopefully they will start to build in future books.

Lucy’s mainstay, and probably her best friend is DS Mattie Jackson. They have one of those relationships where they both know a little bit too much about each other, care a little bit too much for each other, and act like an old married couple without actually ever being in a relationship.

As the murders start to stack up, the once happy seaside town starts to look like a dangerous place to live.

Lucy and Mattie, and their team, start to link the crimes. At about the same time the reader will start to link two or three characters with being the murder.

Helen has written this book teasingly well. Yes, I knew who the killer was early, well I thought I did. It was always one of the three people but gentle little shifts in the story had me moving from one to the another regularly. If I’m honest I didn’t actually positively identify who was responsible for the crimes until the last couple of chapters.

I recently wrote a blog about Angela Marsons DI Kim Stone books.

In that I said you don’t always need a cliff-hanger finish to make you eagerly await the next book in the series. The best series are those which have a cast of characters that make you want to read about them again. To look forward to seeing how they have fared since the last book.

That’s exactly how I felt at the end of this book. I loved the story. I loved the characters. I loved the setting. I loved the fact that it was written by somebody who works in the police, see the letter from Helen at the End of the Book, so all of the phrases and techniques are current and accurate. Most of all I’m looking forward to meeting Lucy, Mattie, Col and the rest of the Major Investigation team; Jack and Amanda the CSI team, and most of all the glamorous Pathologist Dr Catherine Maxwell again in future books. There is so much potential for these characters that each could take a turn at being the main protagonist, and the series would still move forward nicely.

I have a list, on my computer, that I call UK Lady Killer Writers. I look forward to each of their books coming out.

 

Angela Marsons

Marri Hannah

Marni Riches

Robert Galbraith (I know but we know who she is)

 

There is now a new name on the list. Helen Phifer.

 

What a night that would be. Sat around a table with that little cohort drinking Red Wine or Jack Daniels, and nothing to do but talk about crime thriller plots.

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Let the Dead Speak Jane Casey

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The newly promoted DS Maeve Kerrigan is back, and you won’t be disappointed.

Whether you’re new to Jane Casey’s work, or a fan of her books, this is a treat.

Although this is the latest in a series, it reads well as a stand-alone. So, if you are new to Maeve Kerrigan and her team you won’t feel like a stranger at a party; and if you’ve read the previous books, you will love this one.

Maeve is single, again, she’s still working on the Murder Investigation Team, but has been promoted to Detective Sergeant. With the added responsibility comes the added problem of looking after a new team member. Detective Constable Georgia Shaw is not exactly making friends. Being young and attractive is enough to rile some people, but add to the fact she is on the fast-track-promotion scheme, and has little or no experience as a copper, and you have a character that adds a nice little sub plot to the main story.

The main story is brilliant in its simplicity. The crimes all happen on the same street and involve two families and a few other local members of the community.

Kate Emery is a 42-year old single mother, divorced from her husband for over 12 years. Her daughter, 18-year old Chloe has cognitive disabilities, and Kate has dedicated her life to being her carer.

When Chloe returns home, from a weekend stay with her father and his new family, she finds her mother missing and the house is a blood bath.

Kerrigan and her team start a murder enquiry.

Chloe is left in the care of a family living over the road from her house. The Norris family are a tremendously well written bunch of characters. Devoutly Christian they stand for everything that Kate didn’t, but the daughter Bethany is Chloe’s best friend.

As the inquiry into Kate’s murder progresses Kerrigan and her team start to find evidence that Kate was not the woman she seems. Single, and attractive, it appears she has a secret life her daughter and “most” of the neighbours don’t know about.

She is receiving money from her ex-husband, and has her own business, but it still seems she needs more money.

Is Chloe actually as bad as her mother would have people think, or are her disabilities an exaggeration of her shy personality that her mother is trying to use to get benefits, schooling, and more money from her ex.

The story has a limited bunch of characters but anyone of them could be the killer, and I didn’t see the end coming right up till it leapt of the pages of the last chapters.

The Norris Family could have a whole book written just about them, would any of them want Kate dead, and what possible motive could any of them have for killing her.

Brian Emery, Chloe’s dad, and his new family could have a book written just about them too. His new wife is a bitch, and her two teenage sons are spoilt brats, who Chloe hates. So why does she spend the odd weekend at their house. Could one of them have wanted Kate dead. Does Chloe really hate them or would her mother’s death mean she could spend more time at the house.

This book has twists and turns in every chapter.

It has moralistic issues as well. I found myself liking characters I shouldn’t like.

Casey writes the story so well that when you are seeing things through Maeve Kerrigan’s eyes you find yourself going with her thought process. In other books of this ilk I often find myself disagreeing with the main character, or think “don’t be daft” but with Kerrigan everything just seems right and justified. Maybe we just think the same way.

If you haven’t read the other books in this series you really have missed out. Read this one then go back and start at the beginning.

Like I said at the start of this blog  YOU WON’T BE DISAPPOINTED