Next to Die T.J. Brearton

IMG_2181

 

How do you draw up a list of suspects when the deceased has made enemies every time they do their job.

And, what if the dead person is not even the intended target, but it’s a case of mistaken identity by the killer.

Imagine the type of plot line you could write with just those two principles. Well you don’t have to imagine it anymore. T.J. Brearton has taken these two strings and knitted one hell of a story.

The book starts with the killing of a Social Worker who has been working late into the evening and is the last to leave the office. She has made enemies, lots of them, people who have kids taken from their parents often do, but is this what got her killed.

Bobbi, is one of her co-workers, and although a lot younger, bears a passing resemblance to her, and she drives an almost identical car. Was she the intended victim, there are good reasons she could have been.

Detectives Mike Nelson, State Police, and Lena Overton, Lake Haven Police, take on a joint investigation. Working together brings them closer together and there is a definite chemistry between the two but will it hamper the investigation.

As they start to look into the murder they find a unsolved crime from 10 months earlier. If the two are really connected does that mean that there have been other crimes that have not been reported, is somebody attacking Case Workers from Social Services. If they are does that mean that the attacks haven’t finished, who will be the Next to Die, and can the detectives from 2 different agencies work together to stop the killer.

Nobody in this book, except Nelson and Overton, are who they first appear to be. Everybody has something lurking in their past, but does that make them a suspect or a future victim.

I have rarely read a book which kept me as engrossed. Every string of the plot is gripping, the story as a whole is addictive.

The characters are well written; the scenes are well described; the plot is captivating.

T.J. Brearton has quickly moved to the top of my list of authors whose books I look for as soon as they are available. He has gone from the “to be read” pile, to the “Must be read” list

Reading his biography it is easy to see why; he  studied psychology, philosophy, and religion to gain a degree in Social Sciences. He has been a photographer and a film maker.

What does this tell me about him?

As a photographer and a film maker he will have observed people; as a student of psychology and philosophy he will understand the people he observed.

That is why his characters are so good. Those characters make excellent stories.

Its early in the year but I should imagine this will be one of the best books I read in 2018.

Pages: 356

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing date: TODAY GO AND BUY IT

Available on Amazon

 

Advertisements

The Devil’s Dice Roz Watkins

IMG_2209

 

 

I love crime thrillers with a difference. This book blends a hint of Dan Brown, with a rich mix of Angela Marsons, and is set in the Derbyshire Countryside.

Where does the hint of Dan Brown come in? From the very start. A man is found dead in an ancient cave house. As the forensic teams start to examine the scene the lead detective, DI Meg Dalton finds an old carving of the Grim Reaper with the legend “Coming for PHH” The dead man is PHH, the carving is over 100 years old, he died today.

The cave is tied by local legend to the story of people being found hanged in the cave and tunnel system close by. They are called the Labyrinth and are close to the rock formation, The Devils Dice.

Close to the Devils Dice is an old cottage on the edge of a quarry face. For years people have thought of the cottage as being cursed. People who live there are prone to committing suicide, or worse. Guess where PHH lived.

The rich mix of Angela Marsons? Rox Watkins has created a character in DI Meg Dalton that is as fascinating as Angela Marsons’ DI Kim Stone.

Dalton is a single woman dealing with major family issues, which she is trying to keep to herself and not let them disrupt her work. She has a team member DS Jai Sanghera who is determined to help her, but will she let him.

Then there is the crime. Although the crime is wrapped up in ancient folk law it is very much a modern crime, and its investigated in a very realistic manner which makes the story not only believable, but also very enjoyable to read.

As the investigation continues into the death of PHH more deaths occur, are they linked, are they even suspicious, or is all the talk of the curse beginning to affect even the most cynical of Police Officers.

The story has many threads and it’s not until the last couple of chapters that they all come together to create a brilliant end to the book.

It’s not often that I read a crime novel these days which is so full of originality. After all there are only so many ways a crime can be committed, and there are only so many reasons why. I’m sure somebody will point out there have been similar stories, but I haven’t read them, and certainly not in the same book.

A great read and I can’t wait for the next book from Rox Watkins

Pages: 384

Publisher: HQ

Publishing Date UK: 8th March 2018, available to pre-order on Amazon

Cold Heart Stephen Edger

 

IMG_2190

This is the 3rd book in the Di Kate Matthews series, a series that just keeps getting better.

The story starts in the middle of an investigation. 15 year old Daisy has been missing for 7 days and Matthews is interviewing the Head Teacher of her school.  During the interview a member of staff announces that he thinks he has found a body in the derelict school sports hall.

What he’s actually found is a resuscitation doll; but what Kate finds when she’s looking around the building is what appears to be a kill room, with lots of blood and a foot.

And so begins a complex investigation, which has the team going off in many directions.

Like any real Police Investigation the officers are led by the evidence and their own instinct. At times the plot is like a domino rally. Once one domino has been set tumbling it sets of others, at times the domino’s split and two trails set of in opposite directions but eventually all coming back to the same point.

The accidental discovery of the kill room seems to signal bad news for Daisy’s family but are the team investigating Daisy’s murder or has she become involved in something which has led to disappearance.

With corruption, prostitution,  and many other serious crimes on the table maybe Daisy going missing is the best thing that could have happened.

This book is really good and had me turning page after page. In fact I read this in as close to one sitting as any book I’ve ever read.  Roll on book 4 .

Pages: 350

Publishers: Bookouture

Publishing date: 12th March 2018.

The Reunion Samantha Hayes

IMG_2174 2

 

How would I describe this book.

It’s like an episode of Midsummer Murders that’s been directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

I was figuratively peeping between my fingers when I read parts of it.

The story starts with a bunch of teenagers having a day on the beach. One of the girls, Claire, is looking after her younger sister Eleanor. When Eleanor goes for an ice cream she never comes back.

The main part of the book starts 21 years later. Claire is now married to Callum and has two children of her own. She still lives in the same seaside town where her sister went missing. Her Mom and Dad live in the same farm they have always lived in.

Claire’s dad is suffering from dementia and she decides to get her childhood friends back together to spend a week helping her Dad reminisce on the happier days when they all used to hang out together.

They have all moved away but keep in touch. All of them have issues, but don’t we all. There’s Jason, Claire’s brother a struggling actor who’s wife is pregnant with twins.

Then there’s Maggie, who is what can only be called a Nomadic Cougar, and her temptress 15 year old daughter Rane.

Claire’s former love interest Nick. The restaurateur, who is newly single under tragic circumstances, and who still holds a flame for Claire.

Even before they arrive at the farm for the reunion strange things start to happen. Claire is beginning to get abusive phone calls. She’s an estate agent and she starts to get false alarms to viewings.

The subject of Eleanor is never far below the surface. Everybody still remembers the day she went missing, but the only person bold enough to ask questions about it is Rane.

There are simmering undercurrents throughout this book. There is no blood and guts, but there is suspense in abundance.

As the story unfolds there are flash backs form a girl who is being held captive. Is it Eleanor or is it somebody else who has gone missing.

This story kept me turning the pages late into the night and early in the morning. It’s been a long time since a book, which on the surface is quiet and genteel, has had the me feeling so much suspense.

 

Pages: 410

Publishers: Bookouture

Published on: 9th February 2018

Available to pre-order on Amazon

The Photographer Craig Robertson

IMG_2172

 

This book covers issues so current that at times I almost felt like I was reading a fly-on-the-wall expose of a real investigation.

From the start of the book a vicious rapist is identified and taken to court, only to have key evidence thrown out on a technicality. The one and only witness who has been brave enough to come forward to give evidence at the trial breaks down and runs away leaving the judge no choice but to throw the case out.

The accused rapist is a semi-famous business man and his name has been released to the press, his victim is only known by a pseudo name. The moral debate about this is touched on, but what follows is a huge amount of trolling abuse aimed at the victim and the female police officer who took the case to court.

Detective Inspector Rachel Narey is the officer in question. She is becoming the target of abuse and threats of violence.

Rachel is frustrated that the case got thrown out of court, and even more frustrated that a file containing hundreds of photographs of random women taken all over the streets of Glasgow was thrown out of evidence; and that she was forced to return the photos and all copies of them to the accused.

She knows she had the right man, her bosses know she had the right man. They also know that every woman in the photos is a victim, or potential victim, of the attacker. Those photos are now off limits. How can she get after him?

When her husband, Tony, a journalist, is sent the photos on a computer file he knows he can’t tell his wife. He also knows he may have the biggest story he has ever had, but at what cost to his marriage.

Meanwhile a rape counsellor has been on the trail of a man who attacks his victims in a very specific manner, and it’s the same way that Narey’s victim was attacked. She has a file she’s named “The Beast File” containing 9 year’s worth of investigations. She has never got near identifying the victim until now.

Three lines of investigation start. DI Narey is still after her man but is confined by the letter of the law. Her husband Tony is not nearly so confined but without official status he is placing himself in danger.

Then there is Tony’s Uncle Dan, an ex-cop and God Father to Rachel and Tony’s little girl. He arrives to stay and look after the girl because of the threats made on social media to Rachel. He opens up a third line of inquiry when he joins in the twitter chat and ingratiates himself with the bigoted keyboard warriors that hide behind their computer screens.

With all three looking for a way to put the attacker behind bars the story highlights the difference between how different people can get information, legitimately or otherwise.

It shows the frustrations of modern policing, what can be done and what can’t.

It shows the frustrations of victims who get up the courage to step forward, only to be let down by the judicial system.

It shows how easy it is for so called secret identities to be found out; and how they become widely known through social media, and the effect that has on the person who is so often the victim of a serious crime.

This book could not be more topical. It reflects issues that have been in the press very recently, and even mentions the Black Cab Rapist whose immanent release is causing so much consternation.

I like books that get me thinking. This book got me thinking about some of the laws of this country, and the way some trials are reported.

It also got me thinking something I have never thought before. Maybe some of this investigative journalism is better placed to find out the truth than a proper legal investigation.

For a work of fiction that takes some doing.

Then I read Craig Robertson’s biography.

Now I know why this book is so good.

I’m off to find his back catalogue. I can’t not read them. I hope they are just as good as this one. They have a lot to live up to.

Pages: 448

Publishers UK: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date UK: 25th January 2018

A Map of the Dark

IMG_2168

 

Special Agent Elsa Myers of the FBI’s Child Abduction Rapid Deployment Unit is one complex character.

 

Covered in scars she tries her hardest not to cut herself anymore; but scratching her old scars is impossible to resist. That is why she wears long sleeves and heavy trousers in the heat of the summer. That is why she steers clear of intimate relationships. That is why she is slightly withdrawn at times when she should be concentrating on other things.

The other thing in this case is the disappearance of a 17-year-old girl from New York. Girls that age go missing all the time in NYC; so why does Detective Alexi (Lex) Cole call in Elsa as soon as she is reported missing.

Because she is a hard working student, with a job in a coffee shop, and no history of getting into trouble. She just does not fit into the usual stereotype of the girls that go missing of their own accord.

But: when do good girls turn bad, and what is bad.

As Elsa and Lex dig deeper into the girl’s disappearance they start to make a few discoveries. Maybe the girl is not as squeaky clean as her family think she is.

With her family not knowing the whole truth about their daughter, and with her friends lying to protect her, the investigation is slow. Elsa needs to unravel the truth about the missing girl. As she does she starts to recollect her own childhood and the reason why she self harmed. The memories start to get her reaching for the Swiss Army knife she always carries in her bag.

As well as carrying out the investigation Elsa is backwards and forwards to hospital to visit her dying father. As her childhood memories resurface the interaction with her father, and sister start to change.

Will Elsa survive this investigation in good health? At times its touch and go as mentally she finds it hard to balance her work with her personal life.

I really enjoyed this book. I like a good story with good characters, but this one had something else.

The girl that goes missing.

A good girl? Yes.

However the usual teenage problems start to come into her life. Pressures of school work, boyfriends, and slightly dodgy opportunities.

This little sub-plot about how one or two decisions, not even necessarily bad decisions, have that domino effect that can lead to a person having a very bad day.

Pages: 320

Publishers UK: Mulholland

Publishing date UK: 11th January 2018.

Motherland G.D. Abson

IMG_2113

 

Set in modern day St Petersburg this is a fast-paced crime thriller will be loved by readers of good old fashion spy books by Len Deighton, as much as lovers of modern Scandinavian Crime by people like Jo Nesbo.

Detective Natalya Ivanova works in the Criminal Investigation Directorate, a police force staffed by chauvinistic, homophobic, racist men, not least of all is her Husband Mikhail and his best friend, and Sergeant, Rogov.

When a young, pretty, and wealthy woman, is attacked in the street before going missing, Natalya is sent to look into her disappearance. It transpires the woman is the heiress to a fortune amassed by her father who is a Scandinavian Businessman, but he is being less than helpful.

The investigation is set against the oxymoron of today’s Russia. Iphones and laptops are aplenty, but the technology for forensics is nearly none existent, unless you work for one of the governments agencies. Natalya’s one true ally is the senior criminologist (CSI) Leo Primakov, who has to buy equipment out of his own pocket and rely on American TV shows to help him keep up to date with his science.

As she begins to investigate the disappearance of the young heiress it becomes apparent that people are trying to steer her away. From gentle suggestions from at first her husband, and her boss, to outright threats by officers of the FSB, the successors of the dreaded KGB, and no less ruthless and corrupt.

Natalya’s investigations lead her to start to suspect those nearest to her, but are they trying to support her or scupper her efforts. Is Mikhail corrupt or worse.

There is a lovely line in the book where Natalya tells her husband “women hate the lie more than what it conceals” This is the whole premise of the book. Natalya is straight, and she hates people who aren’t. That means she is going to find out who took the missing heiress; and hopefully find her alive whilst keeping herself alive.

If you like your books fast-paced, gritty, and realistic this book is definitely for you.

Pages: 258

Publisher: Mirror Books

Available on Amazon