Their Fatal Secrets Janice Frost

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Another new author to add to my list of must reads. Janice Frost kept me captivated with this book from the moment I read the first chapter. What I enjoyed, and found different to a lot of the books I’m reading is, it wasn’t heavily weighted to the Police side of the investigation.

The book starts with a body being fished out of a canal by two drunk students. The body is quickly identified as Leanne Jackson, a good girl turned bad, and then turned good again. The biggest part of the investigation is working out why this girl has been murdered.

However, it’s not the Police investigation that the book follows. Jess Stokes watches the Police Divers searching the river. Before Leanne had gone off the rails she used used to protect Jess from bullies when they were at school. Twice since Jess had seen Leanne as she got into trouble with the Police but ignored her. She had also ignored an email from Leanne asking for help. Now she is dead, and Jess feels guilty enough to try and work out what happened to her.

The Police team investigating the death start to make slow headway and Jess always seems to be one step in front of them. When Jess, and the 2 other women living in the flats in the same house as her, start to make disturbing discoveries, she starts to think she is being warned off. Is she putting herself in danger, should she stop.

There is a wonderful juxta-position between the naive Jess and her neighbours, and the Police Investigating team.

Ava Merry is the DS on the team, she is a fit extrovert who doesn’t mind partying. Ava and Jess have a passing acquaintance as early morning swimmers at the local pool and Jess reaches out to Ava to gauge how the investigations going.

When things at Jess’s house start to take a nasty turn Ava starts to become worried for her safety. Will it stop her digging.

This book is based in a town with a canal and marina. The murderer is shown straight away, as is the crimes he is committing, so there is no mystery. The man works in partnership with other criminals to get young girls onto a canal boat.

The tension in the book is all about Jess’s welfare, her investigation, and the Police’s investigation.

A real page turner the outcome is not clear right up to the last couple of pages.

I have often wondered why more crimes aren’t set on Canal Boats. They have free roaming rights across the country. As far as I’m aware there is not much in the way of surveillance on canals, and nobody takes any notice of them.

I once investigated an arson where the fire setters had used a canal boat to get into a remote car park on an industrial estate and start a fire which destroyed a factory before making their 3mph get away. Meanwhile the Police closed the roads of around the incident.

When you think about it a lot could be going on in those boats.

Pages:241

Publisher: Joffe Books

Available on Amazon

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Broken Bones. Angela Marsons. Blog Blitz. Review and Preview

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On November, the 3rd the latest book in one of the best Police Procedural Series.

Angela Marsons has based her fictional detective in the very real Police Station of Halesowen, in the West Midlands. This is a perfect setting, giving her the opportunity to explore crimes in the urban deprivation of some parts of the industrial Black Country, whilst also having access to some of the wealthier areas of the borders with Staffordshire and Worcester.

The crimes and the people that Angela writes about are realistic and believable. Broken Bones is book 7 in the series but can easily be read as a stand-alone novel, but I guarantee that you’ll read the other 6 if you read this one first.

One of the most outstanding things about Marson’s writing is the way she makes the reader invest in her characters. With each book the story of Stone and her team is developed. Along with some recurring peripheral characters, the team become embedded in the mind of the reader. I find myself looking forward to the next instalment to see what is happening in their professional and person lives, almost as much as I look forward to seeing what crime they are going to be faced with next, and how they are going to solve it.

Marsons also deals with crimes prevalent in the modern day; forced labour, the slave trade, drugs and prostitution; and the effect the crimes have on the criminals, their victims, and the families of those involved.

All-in-all Angela Marsons writes the books I want to read.

Realistic, believable, fast paced, criminal physiological thrillers with no promise of a happy ending.

Below is my review of Broken Bones and a preview of the prologue of the book.

The Review

It’s here, the 7th book in the DI Kim Stone series. I tweeted, as soon as it became available, that Angela Marsons was the only author that I put other books down for, to read hers, when they come out. 

Did it live up to my expectations?

Hell Yes!

Detective Inspector Kim Stone and her team are back. The story starts with a young girl sitting on the roof of a Black Country Tower Block on Christmas Day. She gets pushed off.

 Over the next few weeks as the midlands is covered in snow, a baby is abandoned outside Kim’s Police Station, a prostitute is murdered on her patch, and as the team become involved in solving these crimes they become start to uncover a link to illegal Romanian workers.

 The books takes the reader into the underworld of prostitution, drugs, and modern slavery.

 With two main line of inquiry and Kim has to split her small team into pairs.

 With the team are recovering from the events of a few months earlier, Kim pairs up her young Detective Sergeant Kevin Dawson, with her young Detective Constable Stacey Wood. This partnership is the Yin and Yang of policing. Full-on-Kevin is a typically out-going personality that likes to push the limits, and is full of self-confidence. Black Country girl Stacey, is quiet, methodical, and deep thinking. They both have a positive effect on each other, and bring the best out of each other as people, and as Police Officers. As they investigate the abandoned baby case they are thrust into the world of illegal immigrants and forced labour.

 Meanwhile Kim uses her trusted crusty-old Sergeant, Bryant, to keep her on the right side of the line that divides pushing Police Procedures to the limit, and breaking the law.

 Kim and Bryant look into the death of the prostitute and the investigation takes them to the seedier side of two “titutions” that go hand in hand. Destitution and Prostitution.

 Bully boy pimps, gangs, drugs, the horror of street-walking-sex-trade workers, physical abuse, and grooming are day to day occurrences  for the prostitutes of the Black Country.

 Now, just to make matters worse, somebody has killed one of their own. As Kim and Bryant start their investigation they come across some familiar faces and the reader gets to see the other side of their lives. The vulnerable women and the desperation that leads them into the life they live.

 The story covers the investigations into these crimes, and others that get committed, compelling end.

 When I first started blogging I said I was dubious about prolific authors who publish more than 1 book a year. My thoughts, and experiences, were that a good book takes time to write, and that anybody who managed 2, or more, each year was just churning out words and hoping their fans would keep buying.

 Angela Marsons has proved the exception to that. 7 books, in this series, in a little over 2 years; and over 2 million copies sold. Each book raises the bar, each book is better than the last.

 The only other author that has kept me hooked on a series, of Police procedural books, for this long is Tess Gerritsen with her Rizzoli and Isles series; and that is not bad company to be in.

 She remains my favourite author, and there are a lot of good authors out there at the moment.

The Preview
PROLOGUE

Black Country: Christmas Day

Lauren Goddard sat on the roof of the thirteen-storey block of flats. The winter sun shone a grid onto her bare feet dangling over the edge. The cold breeze nipped at her wiggling toes.

The protective grate had been erected some years ago after a father of seven had thrown himself over. By the time she was eleven she had stolen a pair of wire cutters from the pound shop and fashioned herself an access point to the narrow ledge that was her place of reflection. From this vantage point she could look to the beauty of the Clent Hills in the distance, block out the dank, grubby reality of below.

Hollytree was the place you were sent if Hell was having a spring clean. Problem families from the entire West Midlands were evicted from other estates and housed in Hollytree. It was displacement capital. Communities around the borough breathed sighs of relief as families were evicted. No one cared where they went. It was enough that they were gone and one more ingredient was added to the melting pot.

There was a clear perimeter around the estate over which the police rarely crossed. It was a place where the rapists, child molesters, thieves and ASBO families were put together in one major arena. And then guarded by police from the outside.

But today a peace settled around the estate, giving the illusion that the normal activities of robbing, raping and molesting were on pause because it was Christmas Day. That was bollocks. It was all still going on but to the backdrop of the Queen’s Speech.

Her mother was still slurring her way around the cheerless flat with a glass of gin in her hand. Her one concession to the event was the line of tinsel wrapped haphazardly around her neck as she stumbled from the living room to the kitchen for a refill.

Lauren didn’t expect a present or a card any more. She had once mentioned the excitement of her friends. How they had enjoyed presents, laughter, a roast dinner, a chocolate-filled stocking.

Her mother had laughed and asked if that was the kind of Christmas she wanted.

Lauren had innocently nodded yes.
The woman had clicked the television to the Hallmark Channel and told her to ‘fill her boots’.

Christmas meant nothing to Lauren. But at least she had this. Her one piece of Heaven. Always her safe place. Her escape.

She had disappeared unnoticed up here when she was seven years old and her mother had been falling all over the flat pissed as a fart.

How lucky was she to have been the only one of the four kids her mother had been allowed to keep?

She had escaped up here when her mother’s drinking partner, Roddy, had started pawing at her groin and slobbering into her hair. Her mother had pulled him off, angrily, shouting something about ruining her retirement plan.

She hadn’t understood it when she was nine years old but she had come to understand it now.

She had cried up here on her sixteenth birthday when her mother had introduced her to the family business and to their pimp, Kai Lord.

She’d been up here two months earlier when he had finally found her.

And she’d been up here when she’d told him to fuck right off.

She didn’t want to be saved. It was too late.
Sixteen years of age and already it was too damn late.

Many times she had fantasised about how it would feel to lurch forward onto the wind. She had envisioned herself floating to and fro, gently making the journey like a stray pigeon feather all the way to the ground. Had imagined the feeling of weightlessness of both her body and her mind.

Lauren took a deep breath and exhaled. In just a few minutes it would be time to go to work. Heavy rain, sleet, snow, Christmas – nothing kept the punters away. Trade might be slow but it would still be there. It always was.

She didn’t hear the roof door open or the footsteps that slowly strode towards her.

She didn’t see the hand that pushed her forward.

She only saw the ground as it hurtled towards her
Broken Bones by Angela Marsons, out on 3rd November 2017

UK 🇬🇧 http://amzn.to/2wwkvci

US 🇺🇸  http://amzn.to/2vDLPsP

Gone Missing T.J. Brearton

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A good stand-alone novel, from a well-established author. What could go wrong? Absolutely nothing. This book has a hook that got me straight from the start.

Katie is the daughter of a wealthy family that owns a chain of restaurants and hotels. Her and David, her husband live a happy life on the outskirts of New York.

When Katie goes out for a jog she chooses 1 of 3 routes, all of which start and end the same way, on a pathway into a park.

Finishing her run one morning Katie hears a baby crying in a van. Texting her husband what she has found, and jokingly saying if she goes missing call the police, she opens the van and leans in to comfort the baby. Then it all goes horribly wrong for her as she realises, too late, that the baby is a doll, and that its bait to trap her.

The book then takes two main strands. The story of Katie and her kidnappers, and her attempts to regain her freedom; and the story of the investigation into her disappearance.

Investigator Justin Cross is a complex character, and when he is tasked with finding Katie, or identifying the people responsible for her kidnap, he throws himself at the investigation with no regard to his own wellbeing.

The story alternates chapters between Katie’s existence and the investigation into her disappearance. I must say, as much as I enjoyed the whole book, I really enjoyed the chapters covering Katie’s story

Her Husband helps with the investigation but all the time he is growing frustrated with the lack of progress, and at the same time becoming more and more worried that he will never see his wife again.

Fans of C.J. Box will love this book. Katie fights for survival in the woods of New York County. She has to make decisions that nobody should ever have to make. All the time her own ethics make her second guess each decision. Decisions she knows she will have to live with for the rest of her life.

The story never lets up in its breath-taking pace, from start to finish something happen on every page.

Pages:395

Publisher UK: Bookouture

Publishing date: 16th November 2017.

Available now to pre-order on Amazon

Blood Rites David Stuart Davies

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This is the book that takes all the Police Procedural Novels stereo-types, rips them up and throws them in the bin.

 

Set in 1985, when being gay was still seen as being taboo in the Police, the main protagonist is Detective Inspector Paul Snow.

 

Paul is gay, and to protect his professional “credibility” he keeps it to himself. In fact, to protect himself, he has been celibate for 10 years.

 

As the story starts Snow is dating a recently divorced Headmistress from a local Catholic school; and to convince himself he has changed, he even sleeps with her.

 

If this book hadn’t been so well written some people might find this story line insulting, but it isn’t. It highlights the struggles people had and the book is set right in a time when bigotry was rife.

 

The book starts with a killer washing a blood-soaked knife in his kitchen sink, and then regresses 3 months to the start of a killing spree.

 

Whilst Snow is on a date with Matilda, the Headmistress, a man is mugged and the mugger is later knocked over and killed in a hit-and-run. The mystery killer of the novel loves the instant karma that has served justice, and a seed is planted.

 

It’s not long before the killer starts his spree.

 

Snow and his team investigate the first murder, the victim is a drunk wife beater.

 

As more murders take place Snow and his team make very little headway. Pressure is starting to mount on Snow; both professionally to catch the killer, and personally as he struggles with his sexuality and a conflict in his relationship with Matilda.

 

The plot moves quickly, and realistically, showing the investigation from Snows perspective. His frustrations with the lack of a break in the case multiply with every new victim. The only apparent connection between the victims is the manner in which they are killed.

 

When he does begin to realise there is a connection he has no proof of it, leading to more frustrations.

 

The book crashes to an unbelievable climax that actually had me utter an expletive out loud, luckily, I was sitting in the lounge on my own. What an ending. I honestly cannot think of another one like it.

 

There has to be a sequel, and I can’t wait to read it.

 

Pages: 304

Publisher: Urbane Publications Limited

UK Publishing date: 9th November 2017.

Available now on Amazon

Dying Breath Helen Phifer

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Detective Inspector Lucy Harwin is back in another realistic crime thriller.

When I reviewed The Lost Children, the first book in the DI Harwin series, I said how good it was to read a book that portrayed a criminal investigation properly. The right ranks-to-roles, the correct terminology, the attitudes and ethos’s of the officers and the relationships between departments. It was one of my favourite reads and put Helen onto the list of my favourite authors

This book is just as good.

The story focuses on two eras’: Lucy and her team investigating a series of modern day crimes; and an anonymous boy growing up with his aunty in the 80’s and 90’s.

The boy growing up is obviously a deviant, and it’s not hard to conclude that he is going to be part of today’s crimes; but what part, and who is he?

There are several candidates but I didn’t guess which one was the murderer until it was revealed on the last few pages. Up until that point it could still have been any one of them.

Lucy and her team pick up the investigation into the murder of a woman who is found battered to death and posed in an unlikely position.

She is the first but not the last. Each victim is killed in a way that appears planned but random. Is Brooklyn Bay in the grips of a crime epidemic or a serial killer.

With each murder being committed in a different manner the team are struggling to link them. When the skeletal remains of a woman are uncovered in some woods Helens boss DCI Tom Crowe decides she needs help and drafts in DI Patrick Baker to take over the body in the woods investigation

Lucy conducts most of her investigation with DS Matthew Jackson, her friend and safety net against getting herself in trouble with the bosses. The rest of her team all take an active part in the investigations, and all have their own character that gives the team a great dynamic. The team are good, highly motivated officers, so when DI Baker appears apathetic Lucy soon starts to lose her cool with him.

This book doesn’t look so deeply at the private lives of some books but we know enough about Lucy and her team to build allegiances. I like Lucy and the connection she has with her team so I felt every frustration she had with Baker. That must be the indication of a good writer.

As the two sides of this story headed for a massive collision at the end of the book I found myself sitting for hours glued to the screen of my Kindle.

Helen Phifer has written another great book that has kept her in my top authors list and I cannot wait for the next instalement.

Pages: 269

Published by Bookouture

Publishing Date: 23rd November 2017

Available to pre-order on Amazon

Now You See Me Kierney Scott

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Introducing Special Agent Jessica Bishop, a name I think we are going to get to see a lot more of.

Five foot two, red-haired, big breasted, and intelligent. She has studied for her PhD in Psychology and is brilliant at analysing every move a person makes and every word they say.

Too good to be true? Yes, she’s flawed, very flawed.

During the book her history becomes known and gives credence to the way she behaves in her social life. She has a very blasé attitude to close personal relationships, she uses men in a way that would have most of us running for the hills.

In total contrast she is fiercely protective to her work partnerships.

When a torso is recovered from a bayou in Louisiana Jess and her Partner are sent to investigate. This is the third body to be found with the same wounds in three months. Working with her new partner Nash she starts to look for connections between the victims.

All is going well until her ex-partner, Jamison Briggs, returns from a two-year undercover operation.

Jess can handle the return but Briggs and Nash don’t get on. The conflict starts to affect the investigation and things start to take a turn for the worse when a forth body is found and Jess begins to see connections to her past. Will keeping the connections to herself, to keep her secret, harm the investigation and put people in danger.

From the muggy, oppressive, murder scenes in the bayou; to the seedy pub washroom stress-relief scenes in Washington, the story thunders to an end which made me hold my breath for way to long.

This book is utterly compelling. The story takes second place to the introduction of the characters for the first half of the book, but comes into its own in the second half.

Those of you that read my blogs know I enjoy the characters and the way they develop through series. I think that Jess and her team are going to be fantastic, if somewhat complex, people to get to know.

Pages:318

Published by: Bookouture

Publishing date: 27th November 2017

Available now to pre-order on Amazon

The Wrong Man. Kate White

 

This book has me in a quandary. I really enjoyed the story but there were times when I found myself just wanting to say, “get on with it”

 

The story is based on Kit Finn, an interior decorator in New York. She is a slow and steady type of girl that decides he life needs a bit of a kick up the butt. So, when she goes on a trip to the Florida Keys she decides to blend a bit of business with a vacation. On the last night, she decides to throw care to the wind and spend the night with the handsome stranger she’s just met.

 

That is when her life takes a strange and dangerous turn. As the title of the book would suggest the stranger is not who he says he was. But why would he lie to her, and why arrange a second date.

 

Kit becomes involved in murder and deceit as she tries to find out why the mystery man would lie to her.

 

The story gets very modern day Nancy Drew as she ignores the advice of her friends and the Police and tries to unpick the things that are going on around her.

 

I know it’s not much, but I can’t say much about the story without giving away the plot.

 

Did I enjoy the book? Yes

 

Would I recommend it? Yes, but not to people who enjoy a dynamic story. Its more the type of book you’d buy your favourite Aunty who enjoys a good mystery as much as she enjoys a good chick-lit novel

 

Pages: 302

Published by: Canelo

Available on Amazon