The Silent Room Mari Hannah

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You know that feeling? The one when your favourite author diverges from their series to write a stand-alone novel. The feeling when you hope it’s as good as the series but you’re disappointed the usual characters aren’t in the story.

That feeling lasted about 2 pages when I was reading The Silent Room. The book had me hooked so quick I read half of it the first day I had it.

Mari Hannah introduces some fantastic new characters in this book. The main protagonist Detective Sergeant Matthew Ryan is depressed that his ex-boss, and best friend, Jack Fenwick has been charged with a serious crime Ryan does not think he committed. But when a prison transfer van is hijacked and Fenwick is released and disappears, it appears that Fenwick may have been guilty after all.

To make matters worse Detective Superintendent Eloise O’Neil and her sidekick Detective Sergeant Maguire, of Northumbria Professional Standards Department, are tasked with investigating the escape Ryan immediately comes under their scrutiny.

Ryan quickly starts to make his own inquiries whilst the official police investigation carries on.

The two investigations run parallel to each other with the added friction of Ryan and Maguire being in constant conflict.

The end of the book comes quick. As with all of her books Mari Hannah doesn’t give the reader an easy ride on the way, and the twists and turns continue right to the end. I usually read on a Kindle but was lucky enough to have a paperback copy of The Silent Room. With what appeared to be only a few pages left I was beginning to think I was home and dry and that all of the drama was over, I should have known better. All the way to the last paragraph of the last page this book delivers.

This is a great book. Mari Hannah has written a story that quickly draws the reader in. It is set, like all of her books in the stunning countryside of Northumbria, allowing her to use remote destinations with the full attention of “Big City” Policing.

The characters are great. The reader will instantly form an empathy with Matthew Ryan. As with all of her characters there are some great, and believable, back-stories. I have a feeling she must write a complete bio for each character, even the bit part ones, as they all fit together and into the story amazingly.

If you are a Fan of the Kate Daniels series of books you are going to love this book.

If you are a new reader to her books, enjoy this and then read her others.

Mari Hannah has a unique way of getting it right. Her stories are believable. Her procedures are accurate. Her characters come to life on the page.

I recently wrote a blog titled Killer-Lady-Writers, about how lucky we are in the UK to have some women writing fantastic Police Procedural thrillers.

This book cements Mari as being right at the top of the list.

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Pretty Dead Anne Frasier

Pretty Dead     Anne Frasier

Set in Savannah Georgia the story revolves around a series of murders. What sets this book apart from most others is exactly that, it revolves around the murders, and the main story is that of the characters.

From the start the reader knows the name of the killer, Jeffrey Nightingale. Nightingale is clever, he knows that the Police look for patterns of behaviour when looking for offenders, so every few years he takes on a new persona, changes location, and changes the way he kills.

The main protagonist in the story is Elise Sandburg, Head of Savannah Police Department. As well as investigating a murder she is struggling to put her past behind her, having been kidnapped and violently assaulted on a previous case. Elise’s father makes an unwelcome return during the investigation that only complicates matters. Especially as his return was kept a secret by department partner David Gould

Gould has his own demons in his past, but is the anniversary of his son’s death enough to distract him from the current investigation.

Just to add to the conundrum of characters FBI profiler Victor Lamont is brought in to help with the case. The history between Gould and Lamont is fraught with tension and threatens to divide the investigation team.

Then there is Jay Thomas Paul, “a man with three surnames” as Elise refers to him; a reporter from the New York Times that is given permission to shadow Sandburg and Gould during their investigations into the increasing death count.

And then there is the Crosswords

What have they got to do with the story?

I loved this book. It stands out from others of the same genre because it concentrates more on the characters than it does on the crimes. However the crimes are perfect for the story allowing all of the characters story-lines to move along in a believable way.

I am sorry to admit it but this is the first book of Anne Frasier’s that I’ve read. Having looked her up on the net I now know she’s a New York Times Best Selling Author with many books to her name. In fact Pretty Dead is the third in a series following on from Play Dead and Stay Dead, both of which are now on my have-to-read-soon list.

It might be a geographical problem, I’ve looked in UK bookshops and only found one or two of her books. If you are reading this in the UK get on Amazon and grab yourself a treat.

More information about Anne Frasier and her books can be found on her own website

http://www.annefrasier.com

Who would I recommend this book too. Everybody who likes a good Police Procedural, a good Thriller, or just a good story.

People who like books by the UK authors Mari Hannah and Marnie Riches, and the American writer Greg Isles will love Anne Frasier

What Lies In The Dark CM Thompson

What Lies In The Dark   CM Thompson

The book starts with a young girl running through the woods. She is scared of the woods but she is more scared of the big boys at school who might be on her safe route home. The opening few pages explores and explains her fear. The rest of the book examines the fears of a community.

The main story starts with Detective Sergeants Victoria “Bullface” Bullrush and Aaron Fletcher attending a murder scene. There is a marking on the body which confuses the detectives, and about the significance of which they disagree about.

As the story unfolds it is evident that there is a serial killer in the area and that they are killing women, the attacks becoming more frequent.

Thompson looks at the fear of local people and the affect the crimes are having on them, and also looks at the affect the investigation is having on the Police Officers.

The story rattles to its conclusion with a bit of padding. The author uses case files to remind the reader about each of the victims, and by the time you get to them you need them to bring the story back into line.

I’m tempted to say this book is a series of very small stories linked by some slightly unbelievable main characters. It’s almost a scatter gun approach to a Police Procedural. For the first 2 chapters I wasn’t sure what country it was set in, and I still don’t know where in the UK it was set.

This all led to it being a very frustrating read

In Bitter Chill Sarah Ward

In Bitter Chill           Sarah Ward

It is not often I can say I have found an original plot line. One that I have not come across before, and when I do I usually find them contrived. After all a Police procedural based around a murder can only be done so many ways, can’t it?

From Arthur Conan Doyle, through to Lynda La Plante somebody somewhere must have covered just about every plot, or so I thought until I read In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward.

DI Sadler and his team, DS Palmer and DC Childs, are called to investigate an apparent suicide in a Hotel in Bampton within the Derbyshire Peak District. Not an incident they would normally be involved with, but the dead woman is the mother of one of two girls who were kidnapped in 1978, a case that was never solved.

Their boss Superintendent Llewellyn had been a recruit PC in 1978 and wants his team to re-examine the kidnap whilst investigating the apparent suicide.

One of the two girls, Rachel Jones, was found 3 hours after initially been taken and now works in the same town, as a Genealogist. She has no little of the incident, but the suicide of her friend’s mother starts a turn of events that begins to bring back memories.

As the Police carry out their investigations Rachel starts her own using her skills, and knowledge, as a local historian, but who if anybody will unravel the facts that will bring either case to a close.

The book looks at the effects of the kidnap on the surviving girl. How she has developed into a slightly introvert expert in her field. It looks at the psychological effects it has on her, and how the investigation into the death of her friend’s mom’s suicide makes her question her own family and how they dealt with her disappearance.

The story is complex but easy to follow. The reason its easy to follow is because its hard to put down. I didn’t put it down long enough to come anywhere near forgetting what I had previously read.

The use of a Local Historian/Genealogist as one of the main protagonists in the book is a stroke of genius. It is this that makes this story unique. Interlinking crimes set in the same community but separated by nearly 40 years. The Police investigation is shackled by passage of time and the real expert being one of the victims. How much leeway can they give Rachel without compromising any findings, or her welfare?

I made extensive notes to help me write this review, but I don’t want to give away any of the story so I won’t be using them, I will say that the main characters, and many others, in the book have interesting storylines within the main context of the book. They are all developed as the story moves along and by the end of the book I was left hoping that there would be more to come in future instalments.

Here’s hoping that In Bitter Chill will be the first of many books by Sarah Ward.

When I researched Sarah I found out that this is her first book, and that she has written a lot of reviews for other books in her own blogs at www.crimepieces.com

For me that makes the originality of this book even more impressive. They say everybody has a book in them, and with my experiences I would like to think I had one in me, but every time I sit down to try and come up with a plot I always think “no that’s already been done”, or “no I’ve read that before somewhere”

Well Done Sarah. I look forward to many more tales from the Derbyshire Peak District.

Under A Silent Moon Elizabeth Haynes

Under A Silent Moon     Elizabeth Haynes

This is the second book written by Elizabeth Haynes that I’ve reviewed. It’s the first book in what will hopefully be a long series about DCI Louisa Smith.

The book revolves around the murder of Polly Leuchars, a woman with very loose morals. Living in a small community it seems she has slept with most of the population, both male and female, at some time.

Such a promiscuous person is bound to make enemies but who killed her? Was it a crime of passion, or did somebody kill her because she got too close to the local criminal family, the Maitland’s.

A few hours after Polly is discovered the body of a local woman is found in her car at the bottom of a quarry close to the house Polly was found in. Are the two deaths related?

Freshly promoted DCI Smith leads the investigation. As the reader is introduced to her, and her team, it is quickly evident that Louisa is single, but at one time she has had a relationship with one of her team, DI Hamilton, who had neglected to tell her that he was married at the time. Will their relationship effect the investigation, or will DI Hamilton’s loose morals lead him to become compromised during the investigation.

As the story moves forward it becomes apparent that many of the suspects have had an affair with Polly, or another mysterious woman that Polly had been involved with.

The story looks at the affect that one woman can have on a local community. Some of the relationships she formed were with strong-minded people, but she also allowed the vulnerable to fall in love with her. It leads to a complex who-done-it, who-did-who, and how-many-murders, are there tale.

I love Elizabeth Haynes’s books. She writes real world stories with a no holds barred. She approaches murder scenes with the same manner as she approaches some of the more intimate moments. Everything is written perfectly.

Her experience of working with the Police has given her a wonderful insight into what a real Major Investigation is like.

I love the way she uses a Police Memo, from Louisa’s boss, Detective Chief Superintendent Buchanan as a preface to allow the reader a reference point for all of the characters. Charts at end of the book show the digital tactical situation boards that would have been used during such an investigation, brilliant.

If writing’s all about going the extra mile Elizabeth has gone an extra ten.

If you love reading this type of book, or are interested in the writing process, Elizabeth Haynes has a website worth looking at.

http://www.elizabeth-haynes.com

Little Black Lies Sharon Bolton

Little Black Lies   Sharon Bolton

1994 in the Falkland Islands and children are going missing. 3 so far and the community are split. Is there a serial offender on the Islands or are they simply having accidents in the baron wilderness of the islands and not been found.

Catrin is a mother who lost her 2 boys in a car crash two years ago. Her friend Rachel was looking after them when the accident happened. Again the islanders are split, some take Rachel’s side but many blame her for the deaths. Catrin more than anybody else, and she is plotting revenge.

The latest boy to disappear may be hampering Catrin’s plans, from the start of the book the reader is told she is on a tight schedule to kill somebody, it quickly becomes clear its Rachel.

Catrin has separated from her husband who has moved on since his son’s death. An ex-squaddie Calum, haunted by the events of the Falklands war 12 years earlier is now living on the island and is in love with Catrin, but she ignores it.

Calum is adamant that there is a killer on the island but the more he delves the worse it looks for Catrin.

She has a plan to kill Rachel and the sudden interest she is gaining from the locals is making her task difficult.

The missing boy is found but one of Rachel’s children goes missing. Is it the work of a serial offender, or is it Catrin’s revenge.

This story is told from the viewpoint of a grieving parent and a retired squaddie wit PTSD. It revolves around a closed community spread over a huge area. The description of the landscape, along with an appreciation of the life of a Falkland Islander, adds to the darkness of the souls of the main character.