BLOG TOUR THE LOST CHILDREN HELEN PHIFER

 

IMG_1578

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.

51Wm6atJkLL

Advertisements

Let the Dead Speak Jane Casey

51F315SsdqL

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

Bay of Martyrs Tony Black and Matt Neal

512yLJzJLcL

 

I’m sorry to say this book was a bit of a damp squid.

The story was predictable from very early on. The characters were the usual collection of; corrupt politicians, dodgy developers, bent cops and a flawed journalist with different women inexplicably lining up to sleep with him.

I was looking forward to reading something different, and I kept with it till the end but ultimately it was a let-down.

It starts with a body washing up on a beach. The police decide, way too early, it’s an accidental death whilst and the main protagonist, the journalist Clayton Maloney, realises it’s far from it.

When Clayton is sent to interview the Local MP about his involvement with a new development its immediately obvious that the body on the beach, the politician, and the crooked developer are all linked.

Chuck in a bent police officer who is thwarting Maloney in his investigations and the only thing that is missing is the glamorous female assistant to the alcohol loving journalist and you have a story. Oh, wait there is a glamorous assistant. Bec O’Connor the photographer.

Like many of the other characters in the book O’Connor adds nothing to the plot except for the equation of whether she’ll sleep with Maloney or the only straight copper in the book.

I have to say I am yet to read a book, that is written by two authors in collaboration, that works.

The Lost Children Helen Phifer

 

 

51Wm6atJkLLr

 

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.

Angela Marsons Kim Stones Series Looking forward to DEAD SOULS

51VDFHeqdwL._AC_US218_

 

So, the latest Detective Inspector Kim Stone novel by Angela Marsons is available for pre-order on Amazon.

Why is this great news?

Because she is my favourite author, and not just mine. Within a couple of hours of her announcing it was available, on twitter and Facebook, the book was at number 16 on Amazons sales list. This was no surprise as it was recently announced that she has sold over 2 million books worldwide.

So, what makes Angela so popular. I can’t speak for everybody but here’s why I like her books so much.

The most important thing, to me, in a good story is its believability, it has to be real. Angela’s stories are. There is no over-exaggerated, unrealistic crimes. Everything you read is something that could, or has, happened. Yes, the crimes would make it to the front pages of the local paper and onto the local news, but there are no over-the-top, sensationalised, story lines which would have the general population in a panic over national news headlines.

Each story is self-contained, so the books can be read as stand-alone novels, but an outstanding cast of characters run through the them. I have found myself liking the most unlikely of people, getting conned into thinking some are nice, reliable people, only to find out they are the complete opposite, and actually hating others.

Characters that have bit parts in one book reappear in others.

All of the characters, especially Kim Stone and her team, are developing throughout the series. Books don’t always need cliff hanger finishes, they just need characters you want to meet again.

Every time I pick up a new book in this series I look forward to the character’s stories as well as finding out what crime has been committed and who’s responsible for it.

Then there is always the setting. The Black Country. I know some of the appeal in these books, for me, is that they are based around where I live. But that’s not the main thing, it’s the way Angela captures the places, and people of the region. You don’t have to live here to appreciate that. Greg Isles is also one of my favourite writers but I’ve never lived in Natchez on the Mississippi.

Why does the Black Country make a good setting? because it has everything. There are low social-economic housing estates and edge-of-the-country piles worth millions. There are every possible combination of nationalities, and the communities they develop. There are out of town shopping malls, and there are run down market towns. There are people who are the salt-of-the-earth and there are out and out scumbags, and everybody in between.

The possibilities are endless, as is Angela’s story telling ability.

The books are a testament to Angela Marsons and her persistence. She has been writing for years and suffered God knows how many rejections by publishers.  Now she is one of the UK’s top selling crime authors and is going from strength to strength.

 

How good are these books? Silent Scream, the first in the series, was published by Bookouture in February 2015. Now, in March 2017, we are eagerly awaiting DEAD SOULS, the sixth book in the series.

If a publisher is willing to bring that many books to the shelf in that short a time, the stories must be good.

So, if you haven’t read any of the books in this series yet, and you want to know why I Iike them so much.

I’ve put some links below to my reviews of the first five.

Treat yourself, you won’t be disappointed.

 

 

https://nigeladamsbookworm.wordpress.com/2015/07/26/silent-scream-evil-games-angela-marsons/

 

https://nigeladamsbookworm.wordpress.com/category/lost-girls/

 

https://nigeladamsbookworm.wordpress.com/2016/04/17/play-dead-angela-marsons/

 

https://nigeladamsbookworm.wordpress.com/2016/09/24/blood-lines-angela-marsons/

An Honest Man Simon Micheal

 

41p-xdv5rvl-_ac_us218_

An Honest Man Simon Michael

Early 1960’s London.

A diamond heist and the death of a woman start this story. What follows is a brilliant story that has all the classic ingredients of a one set in this era,

Moral dilemmas

Family dilemmas

Dodgy policing

Sex and gangland violence.

If that isn’t enough to get you reading, this is a book which I would have read in one sitting if time would have allowed it.

Criminal Defence Barrister Charles Holborne is back. Months after being cleared of killing his estranged wife, he is now being ostracised by his profession. Rumours are abounding that he was responsible for her death even though he was never charged.

Now working in another firm Charles’s money is running low and he is getting no work. No solicitors are commissioning him, and he’s living off scraps given by the court.

After a chance meeting with a Legal Clerk from his old firm Charles gets retained to defend a solicitor who is being accused of aiding criminals.

From the beginning, it looks like the Solicitor has been hassled by the police and that he has been framed by them in revenge for them losing an earlier case.

The deeper into the case Charles looks the more convinced he is of the Solicitors innocence.

Meanwhile Charles’s personal life is taking its toll. His father is taken seriously ill and this affects Charles emotionally as well as financially.

When the case comes to Court Charles is not only faced with convincing the Jury of his client’s innocence, but also has to battle the prejudices of his legal colleagues who are still convinced he had a hand in the death of his wife.

Simon Michael has written a terrific story that could only be based in 1960’s London. Charles Holborne is from a Jewish Family and had to change his name so that the prejudice legal profession would take him seriously.

The crime in the story is simple and would have been so much more convoluted in the modern day.

Police “tactics” in the 60’s and 70’s lend themselves to this type of story.

Probably the most telling of all, is the code of conduct between the criminal fraternity which makes this era, the only time this story could have been set in.

I have given testimony in many Court Cases, mainly as an expert witness, so I have experience of watching a case unwind. I have also been privy to some of the pre case meetings, and sat in whilst legal team have argued amongst themselves about the best way to advance a case.

Simon Michael tells the most realistic story from within the Courtroom that I have ever read. This book had me transported back into the Court.

Best of all. I didn’t see the end coming.

I cannot wait for the next book in the series, because there must be one, this one finishes on a “oh good god” cliff hanger.

My Review of the first in the series, The Brief is found at the link below

https://nigeladamsbookworm.wordpress.com/2016/02/15/the-brief-simon-michael/