The Girl Who Had No Fear Marnie Riches

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The Girl Who Had No Fear       Marnie Riches

Welcome back George McKenzie.

The 4th in the series and things just keep going from better to better.

Long ago Marnie Riches’ character George McKenzie was called “the new Lisbeth Salander”, well that’s no longer fair. This series of books is every bit as good, if not better than Stig Larsson’s Millennium Series; and Doctor George McKenzie is very much out on her own as a character.

The start of this book see’s George back in the UK carrying out research into violent criminals in a maximum security prison. She’s also still worrying about her mother’s disappearance and wondering about the mystery that is her father.

Meanwhile, in Holland, her partner, Police Investigator Paul van den Bergen, is on the track of a murderer in Amsterdam.

Meanwhile, in Central America, a drugs lord-come arms smuggler, come people trafficker, is causing chaos which as far reaching effects.

All this might sound confusing but it’s not. If you haven’t read any of the previous books in the series you could still read this as a stand-alone, but why would you want to miss the first three.

The story progresses with George returning to Holland to help Paul investigate a series of sudden deaths which seem to be linked with drugs and the Gay Scene in and around Amsterdam.

The investigation takes the pair to Central America and back to Europe. On route there are encounters with drugs cartels and bands of violent, armed, female gangs.

All of which lead to a shocking end, no spoilers but you will not be disappointed.

As usual with Marnie Riches books the gangs and the locations have been well researched. The story-lines are believable as are the characters.

This story takes the reader from drug fuelled sex parties in Amsterdam, to the jungles of Central America, to the Caribbean, and back to Europe.

The only advice I’d give the reader is, keep your eyes on the dates at the beginning of every chapter, I didn’t and ended up having to go back and check.

At well over 300 pages you might think this book will take a while to read. It won’t. Once you start you will have difficulty putting it down.

 

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A Gentleman In Moscow Amor Towles

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I fancied reading something a bit different. Usually when I feel this way I trawl through Amazon putting in searches such as Political Thriller or Historical Crime.

I had been doing this when a list of suggestions included A Gentleman in Moscow. The cover was intriguing so I read the blurb that went with the book, again interesting.

Well I have to say that the book didn’t fall short of my expectations.

Alexander Rostov is a Count in post-revolutionary Russia. The book is set in 1922 and the Count has returned to Russia following years of self-imposed exile in Paris. Living in luxury in the grand Metro Hotel all seems to be going well until Rostov is taken before the court for penning a poem before his exile.

The sentence doesn’t seem too bad; he is confined to his hotel. Unfortunately, he is not to remain in his luxury suite but is sent to live in a room in the dusty attic formally used by servants.

Taking a few pieces of furniture and books with him Rostov tries to make the most of his circumstances, helped along the way by a few trusty staff from the hotel.

What follows is a series of adventures over several decades. The Count takes on the guise of different characters, takes work in the hotel and generally sets about entertaining the reader.

The Count is a lovely character that it is impossible not to like. He remains a gentleman whilst everything around him is going to pieces.

With Moscow deteriorating outside the hotel remains an oasis of opulence but it feels as though it will crack at any moment, and if it does what will happen to Rostov.

It might be the time of year but I felt like I was reading a book which should be turned into one of the feel-good-in-hard-times movies.

A good read.

Angela Marsons Blog Tour Blood Lines

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And Then There Were 5

Blood Lines is the 5th in the Detective Inspector Kim Stone novels set in and around the Black Country.

I reviewed the book a few weeks ago and used the phrase “The best psychological thriller since Silence of the Lambs”. Why did I think this?

Simply because Angela Marsons has built a set of characters I have come to know and care about, Kim Stone being the main one. In Dr Alex Throne she has conceived a homicidal sociopath with many of the same traits as Hannibal Lecter, and she hates Kim with a passion.

Kim has already had one scrape with Dr Alex, and only just survived. In this book Dr Alex is pulling strings whilst in prison, and once again Kim Stone is her target.

Not since Silence of the Lambs’ Clarice Starling and Hanibal Lecture have I felt such a connection between two characters as I have felt between Kim Stone and Alex Throne.

So how did Alex Throne come about. I got to ask Angela a few questions.

 

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I asked her; I compared Alex Thorne with Hannibal Lecture. Where did the character come from and who, or what inspired her?

Angela replied; I wanted to explore how someone who truly had no empathy would think and act. When writing from Alex’s point of view I literally do have to strip myself of emotional attachment and kind of turn off my heart to try to understand the mechanics of her mind.”

So I asked.

Have you studied any sociopaths to help build her personality. Real or fictional

Not any particular individuals but I did a lot of reading on the subject, especially from Robert Hare, who is credited with developing the only reliable checklist in measuring a sociopathic personality. Also, the book The Sociopath Next Door is a true eye-opener.

 This answer shows why Angela’s books are so good. I admire the fact that she has an idea but then sits down and looks into how to make the situation, or character, real.

The next question was about the relationship between Kim Stone and Alex Throne.

Once you decided on the character of Dr Alex what was the next step in forming the complex relationships with the people she controlled.

It was all about manipulation. Not all sociopaths are serial killers, they just want what they want, and see no barriers to getting what they want. Alex wanted a better understanding of guilt, and in effect the ability to control it. This prompted the foundation of characters for Alex to interact with.

 The other thing I like about Angela Marsons books is the setting. I’ve said before the stories are set close to where I live, I have been tempted to go out and photograph where some of the scenes are set and do a virtual tour on a future blog. So how does she identify where she’s going to set some of her scenes.

My next question was based on one particular house in Blood Lines

We’ve spoken before about where you set the crimes. What struck me this time was the house on Mucklow Hill. Without going and being very nosey I think I can almost identify the house, definitely the little road it’s on. Was setting the family home, of the first victim, in such a specific place deliberate.

Angela answered. I didn’t use the location for any particular reason, but I like to use places that I think local readers will recognise. Most locals know where Mucklow Hill is.

One character cannot carry a series of books and Kim Stone has a team of officers around her that appear in every book. The subtle sub-plots they bring into each story help the series move along. My next question was about these characters.

Kim is a great character but it’s the rest of the team and the way they knit together that makes your stories all the more realistic. What made you choose the difference character traits for them?

I wanted each member of the team to bring something unique to the overall picture but I also wanted each member to bring out a different aspect of Kim’s personality. Bryant is her friend, Dawson challenges and frustrates her and Stacey she wants to nurture and encourage.

 So what of the future for Kim and her team

Are there any plans to promote Kim, or any of the others on the team, or bring any new characters into the team? Likewise, do you see her staying in the MIT or moving to something else

No plans to promote Kim yet as she prefers to be on the ground with as little paperwork as possible. Other members of the team will feature more in future books and there will definitely be changes as we progress through the series.

 I’m glad Kim isn’t moving but are you ever tempted to put her in the inner city. I loved the settings and characters in your stand-alone novel The Forgotten Woman.

She may move around a bit as I do want to explore more locations.

 My last question to Angela was a personal one.

I see you talking, and encouraging lots of other authors, on social media. Who do you read when you’re relaxing, and is it hard not to be influenced by other people’s storylines.

I read Caroline Mitchell, Mel Sherratt, Val McDermid and for something completely different I love Renita D’Silva. When I’m reading I have to switch off the writer part of my brain as I just want to enjoy a story written by someone else.  I don’t get influenced by other stories as I normally have the next 3 or 4 Kim books whizzing around in my head.

 Well that’s good news for me because in that last answer Angela mentions having 3 or 4 more Kim Stone books in her head.

Personally I can’t wait for the next one.

Thank You Angela. For the Books and the chat.

 

My review of Blood Lines

 In Evil Games Angela Marsons introduced us to the brilliant character Dr Alexandra Throne.

In Blood Lines she brings her back.

In my opinion this character is the best nemesis to any character since Hannibal Lecter tormented Clarice Starling in the Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris.

Incarcerated for her part in previous murders Throne starts to manipulate the people around her. She is a vicious sociopath who has only one target. Kim Stone.

Pulling at strings like a master puppeteer she identifies people’s weaknesses and manipulates them to carry out her will. Each action falling into place like jigsaw puzzle bits until the final picture is revealed.

Angela Marsons writes the sections with Alex Throne very cleverly and although it is obvious from the start who her target is, she keeps the reader on the edge of their seat right up till the last page to see if she succeeds.

Meanwhile Kim Stone and her team are faced with several murders in the Black Country. Are the murders unrelated, or is there something which ties them all together.

The first body turns up in a posh car in a layby in a dodgy area, a lady who obviously has money. The second is a drug addict girl found on an urban nature reserve. Surely these people can’t be connected.

Kim is looking into these murders when Dr Alex Throne manipulates circumstances to make Kim visit her.

Kim knows she shouldn’t visit. The last time the two became involved with each other Alex nearly destroyed Kim. But can Kim resist. Even if she can, is Alex back inside her head.

With the investigations into the murders moving ahead Kim has to deal with issues in her team, and Alex in her head.

With two storylines this book moves along so fast that, even at nearly 350 pages, you will wonder where the time has gone when its finished.

I make no bones of the fact that Angela Marsons is my favourite author at the moment.

The Detective Inspector Kim Stones books are nothing short of brilliant. The reason they are so good is that the storylines, the characters, and the locations are so well research and written.

In Kim Stone Angela Marsons has found a main character that sits alongside all of the best Police Officers in modern fiction.

In Alexandra Throne she has found the best, and most fitting, criminal foil for any Detective since 1991.

In doing so she had written not just a good Police Crime Thriller, but in my opinion the best Psychological Thriller since Silence of the Lambs

If you know somebody who loves a good Police Thriller, and they haven’t discovered Angela Marsons yet, the Kim Stone collection would make a magical Christmas gift.

Angela’s books are available in shops, on-line via Amazon, and are published by Bookouture

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The Woman in Black Kerry Wilkinson

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The Woman in Black

Somebody is leaving severed hands on the streets of Manchester, strange, but there’s more to come. Each hand is missing a finger, stranger still, but there’s even more to come. Somebody is sending the missing fingers to the Police.

If this wasn’t enough when the Police start to check CCTV images they discover the person who is leaving the hands in the streets is dressed in a hooded robe. Not only do they disguise their look with the robe but they are evidently camera savvy, and know exactly how to hide their face from the cameras.

At any other time, this would be investigated with the full strength of the force, but a prominent local politician’s wife has gone missing and the majority of Manchester’s MIT is looking into that case.

Detective Sergeant Jessica Daniel is given the task of finding out, not just who’s leaving the hands on the street, but also identifying the owners of the hand.

Working with a small team she needs to find a link between the owners of the hands and find out what has happened to the rest of the body’s, if there is any. And of course who is the hooded person.

Daniel’s small team is pushed to the limits but whilst the MP’s wife is missing they have no hope of help.

As the story progresses there are times when it looks like the 2 enquiries are never going to be resolved.

Just to add a bit of spice the book carries a nice little sub-plot. There is a new person in the Major Investigation Team. Detective Sergeant Louise Cornish, a recent transferee from Coventry. Although she’s on the main team she shares a small office with Jessica Daniel. Something is not right from the start and the women tolerate each other, but where will it lead.

This is the latest in the DS Jessica Daniel series and it’s just as good as the rest. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and like the way Kerry Wilkinson has managed to find a crime which is original, yet believably credible. Not an easy feat with so many Police Procedural novels on the shelves.