The Stolen Girls

 

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The Stolen Girls   Patricia Gibney

I’ve been looking forward to this book since finishing the first in the series, The Missing Ones, which was one of the best debut novels I’ve read for a while.

In her first book Patricia Gibney tackled some daunting subjects and she hasn’t shied away from them this time.

Human trafficking for the sex trade, illegal organ farming, war crimes, teenage self-abuse, prostitution and alcohol, all play a part in this story.

Lottie Parker is back. The troubled Detective Inspector, widowed, mother of 3 teenage children, and struggling to stay off the booze, she had it tough in the first book, and things get no better for her in this one.

The daughter of one of Ragmullin’s criminal head men has gone missing. Exiled in Spain he sends his right-hand man to try to locate her.

Meanwhile the bodies of young girls are beginning to turn up in the trenches of the road works which are being carried out all over the town. Is one of the girls the daughter of the Godfather.

Banded back together with her team, and partnered with her trusty confidante DS Mark Boyd, Lottie is tasked with finding the murderer of the girls in the trenches.

Whilst she is investigating the murders a young woman turns up on her doorstep with a little boy. Who is she and why does she appear to know Lottie’s dead Husband

The investigation leads her to a privately-run detention centre for asylum seekers. The man in charge of the centre served with Lottie’s husband in Kosovo. Was Parkers husband as good a man as Lottie thought. It was a terrible war, with terrible atrocities, have some of these crimes moved to the small Irish town of Ragmullin.

What a book. Patricia Gibney may have arrived on the book shelves recently but she’s going to stay on them for a long time.

This story had me hooked from the beginning. From the rape, and murder, of a family during the War in Kosovo, too the teenage angst suffered by Parkers youngest daughter, this book is beautifully written. Not once did I feel like the author was stretching the bounds of reality. Not once is there a lull in the action. Not once did I want to put it down.

Bring on the next Lottie Parker book. I can’t wait to see how she is coping; and I can’t wait to see what crime Ragmullin will suffer, and how the team will investigate it.

Pages: 455

Publisher: Bookouture

Available: On Amazon from the 6th of July or to pre-order now.

Dead Souls Angela Marsons Blog Tour

 

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I have been a big fan of Angela Marsons since the first Kim Stone book, but what makes these books so special, and what makes Dead Souls the best one yet.

A big bit about my review off Dead Souls was that it was written from the heart, there is a passion about everything that is written in this series. A passion for realism, a passion for her characters, a passion for her settings, and this all adds up to a fantastic story.

The opening chapter of this book describes a man attempting suicide. The detail in this opening few pages is outstanding and hooked me from the very start, but that was only the beginning.

In Kim Stone, we have a character we can all empathise with, she makes the decisions we wish we could. Yes, she can be a stubborn pain in the bum, but she’s fair and loyal to those around her. In this book, we see her team acting alone as she is tasked with working on a joint investigation with a neighbouring force. Just like in real life, when a key member of the team is missing the dynamics change, and Angela has written this beautifully, taking the opportunity to expand on some of the lesser characters in her books.

One of the Constables in her team, Stacey Wood, has always sat nicely in the background carrying out the computer based investigations, and rarely getting out on the street. In this book, she is more prevalent. Investigating the death of a teenage lad she starts to reflect on her own youth, her own insecurities her sexuality. She disagrees with the rest of her team over parts of the investigation and starts to feel more isolated, the more isolated she becomes the more her thoughts begin to affect her. She becomes convinced that the teenager’s death is not the suicide everybody else is treating it as and sets of on her own, unauthorised investigation.

Meanwhile the two main male characters in the team Bryant and Dawson, struggle with which one of them is going to be the “Alpha-male” without Kim’s controlling hand. As a series of serious assaults, and a murder, are connected Bryant is promoted to Inspector, effectively replacing Stone. The shift in the personalities at this point are intriguing. Will Dawson be adult enough to work effectively with Bryant. Bryant himself has always been happy playing second fiddle to Stones lead, but how does he handle being the main man.

With both being preoccupied with their own feelings and both trying to prove themselves, to each other as well as the bosses, will the investigation be compromised; and will either of them notice Stacey’s struggles.

All the time she is away Stone is working with Tom Travis, an ex-colleague and ex-friend; but why did he stop being a best friend and turn into a disgruntled associate in a neighbouring Force. It is no secret that the two don’t “play well together” and whenever Tom has turned up in previous books he has been a pain in Kim’s side. Thrown together to investigate a crime which has happened on the border of the two forces the pair have very different working styles and investigative techniques. At time this relationship is tumultuous, but will it ever be effective. It is one thing, compulsive reading.

Then there are the crimes being investigated by both teams. Stone and Frost are investigating a historical murder after the bones of 3 bodies are dug up on farmland during an archaeological dig, being carried out by a group of University students and their teacher.

This leads them to look into the history of the people who own the land and their tenants. Two families who could not be more diverse but are intrinsically linked through the generations.

Stone’s team in the West Midlands have are investigating a series of hate crimes that seem to have no motive. The targets of the crimes are from different backgrounds and would be seen as being from different minority groups, all of which are the targets of hate crime, but why these people, and why now?

Angela Marsons always manages to have one character in her books that makes me want more. There was the brilliant murderer Alex Thorne, a character I compare to Hannibal Lecter. In this book, the journalist Tracy Frost makes a brief welcome return, but by far one of my favourite characters in these books is back, Dr A the Macedonian Archaeologist who works at Aston University. This character is brilliantly written and provides a few light-hearted moments. A leader in her field, no pun intended, she is a friend of Kim’s who does not suffer fools lightly. One of her endearing features is her accent. In the middle of all the mayhem and murder she is written with a voice the reminds me of the French Policeman in ‘Allo ‘Allo, but she is no fool, in fact she is the complete opposite. I would love to see her featuring in her own book.

I don’t usually give star awards unless it’s on a site like amazon, where it’s a requisite, but for those who look for that type of award, it’s a 6-out-of-5 or an 11-out-of-10.

The way I measure a book is in how much I look forward to it, and when it arrives how long it takes to read.

I look forward to each Kim Stone novel like a kid looks forward to Christmas, and this book I read in 2 days, I only put it down to sleep and eat.

It really is the best book I’ve read.

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.

I really can’t wait for the next one.IMG_1204

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

The Lost Children Helen Phifer

 

 

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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

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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/