Two Girls Down Louisa Luna

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One of the best things about e-readers, and the various sites from which you can download books, is that I have discovered authors that I would never have encountered in the bookshops of the UK.

Various holidays over the years have resulted in me finding authors, and then have the frustration of not being able to buy their books here.

Today’s review highlights how good it is to find a good book by a great author, who is published in the UK, but on a small scale, and who I would probably never found.

Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna is a gem of a book.

When two very young girls go missing from a Mall in Pennsylvania their single mother is left distraught. Jamie Brandt is a single mom and her two girls, Kylie (10) and Bailey (8) are her life. The small-town Police Department are understaffed and over worked and, as much as they want to find the find the girls, it seems an impossible task.

Jamie’s Aunt contacts a Private Investigator in California with a history of recovering missing children.

A bit like a Female Jack Reacher 33 (but a lot more realistic) year old Alice Vega arrives in town and starts her own investigation.

Realising she need local help, and restricted by the Police, she reaches out for former cop Max (Cap) Capland, a single father with a very forthright 16-year-old daughter.

The investigation into the disappearance of the two girls leads Vega and Cap through the underworld of small town USA. Whilst battling with the underworld they butt heads with the Local Police.

There is the inevitable will-they-won’t-they element to the relationship but it definitely adds to the story.

The twists and turns come fast in the case and it is not a book where you will easily guess what the ending is going to be, but it’s a great ride getting there.

For those of you, like me, who have never read a Louisa Luna book before, I would compare her stories, and writing style, to Marnie Riches. If you like the Girl Who….. series and Born Bad, you are going to love this book.

Pages: 320

Published by: Doubleday

Publishing date: 9th January 2018.

Available to pre-order on Amazon

The Walls Hollie Overton

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I’m going to say this right at the beginning of this blog. This is one of the best psychological thrillers I’ve ever read.

Kirsty Tucker is a Public Information Officer with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. She has one of the toughest jobs in the prison, dealing with death row prisoners, and the press who want to talk to them as their execution approaches.

In her private life, she is a single mom bringing up her teenage son, Ryan, whilst looking after her ill father.

When Ryan gets into a fight at school Kirsty can’t believe what she sees. Her usually studious son has beat up one of the school jocks. When she finds out Ryan has been taking secret martial arts lessons she goes to confront the instructor.

The instructor is Lance. He’s attractive, fit, attentive and single. The obvious relationship soon blossoms and Kirsty and Lance become inseparable.

Everybody loves Lance, but what are his secrets and what type of person is he really.

Meanwhile Kirsty is developing an unusual friendship with a death row inmate, Clifton Harris-The Baby Killer. Nobody likes, or trusts, Clifton so why does Kirsty connect with him so well.

This plot is full of twists and turns. Not everybody is who they seem to be and, as a reader, I found my allegiances, and suspicions changing throughout the book.

Kirsty and her family are put in danger, she gets hurt, but who can she turn to.

How is she going to ensure the family’s safety, can she bring herself to deal out her own justice, or should she turn to somebody else.

There are very few books that have made me exclaim out loud, but there was at least twice when my wife looked across at me and asked me why I was shouting out loud.

The characters in this book are fascinating. I defy anybody to not connect with Kirsty.

There is no way I could see the way this book was going to end, there were times when I thought just end now why things are going well, there were others when I wanted it to keep going.

This book goes beyond the usual victim-revenge story. It covers the ethics of thought. Can a victim become an aggressor?? Will the normally law abiding, placid person, manage to take things into their own hands, and if they do, do they think they can live with the consequences, legal and moral?

Most authors would have been happy to end this book at an earlier stage of the story, but Hollie Overton has done a masterful job of continuing a story beyond where many would have placed the last full stop (period).

In the Acknowledgements Hollie Overton said writing this book challenged her in ways she’d never imagined. Well she met the challenge well and has produced one of the books of the year.

Clear the number one spots on all the book sales and download charts, The Walls is published this week.

Pages: 385

Publisher Digital: Cornerstone Digital

Publisher Hard Copy: Century-Penguin Random House

Available on Amazon: 10th August 2017.

The Night Market Jonathan Moore

 

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Set in the near future, I don’t think it would be right to label this book as Sci-fi, more like an anticipation of how things will be in 50 years time.

Carver and Jenner are two Inspectors in the San Francisco Police Department. On Thursday night they attend a grisly murder scene with two uniform cops.

The body is decomposing before their eyes, but not in a way they have ever seen before. As they begin to examine it a HazMats team burst into the room and usher them through decontamination.

Sunday morning Carver wakes up in bed with no memory of anything since Wednesday.

His neighbour, the hermit like Mia, is reading a book at his bedside and informs him she saw some people bring him home on Friday, and that she had looked after him ever since.

Carver is the main protagonist of the book and most of the narrative is told from his point of view. As he battles to regain his memory he starts to put together what happened to him and his partner; but who can he trust, Jenner is back at work as though nothing had happened, and he knows nothing about Mia. There is nobody else.

His investigation links to the murder he and Jenner had been investigating for some time. Somebody was killing people in China Town. They were having their faces carved open and then being cut in half. How is this linked to Thursday nights body.

His discoveries will put him in danger, test his relationships and see people die.

All of this in the first 15% of the book (on an e-reader) and what follows is a good old fashioned conspiracy theory set in a slightly futuristic San Francisco.

The story is compelling, and I found myself totally engrossed in it. Jonathan Moore has set the story in a time which is not unconceivable, and his descriptions of the City, its population, its crimes, and its utter deterioration are as addictive as the characters.

I don’t usually read Sci-fi, and I haven’t seen anything in the blurb for this book to suggest it is, but the story is so well written that I didn’t realise it was set in the future until I was hooked by it. Then there was no putting it down.

I will be looking up more of Mr Moore’s books. This one is very good.

Pages: 272

Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 11 January 2018.

Available to pre-order on Amazon

 

Kill Me Twice Simon Booker

 

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Kill Me Twice      Simon Booker

When this book popped up for review there was two things that immediately attracted me, the synopsis, and the authors biography.

The book did not disappoint.

I like books where the crimes and happenings are not seen from the Police point of view. The person outside the investigation, the witness, the victim, the person who discovers a crime and is affected by it, or is not believed, the wrongfully accused trying to clear their name. Some of the best books I have ever read have been narrated by, or had the main protagonist, that have come from one of those groups.

This book involves a few of those in its list of characters.

Morgan Vine is an investigative journalist who has succeeded in annoying most of the legal profession, including the police, by publishing a book about miscarriages of justice. So when she, and her 20 year old daughter, Lissa, are attacked whilst walk some cliffs it is safe to say she is not the Polices favourite victim. Strangely during the attack Lissa has her hair set alight with the attacker using a zippo lighter, so distinctive in sound, but so common in use.

A few days later Morgan visits a 27 year old single mother in the Mother and Baby Unit of the local prison. The woman, Anjelica Fry, is incarcerated for murdering her baby’s father and setting his flat on fire with the body in it; but she is adamant she is innocent and believes that Morgan can prove it.

As Morgan begins to consider the case her daughter becomes more and more withdrawn, and emotional. Dealing with the case and her daughter is stressing Morgan out.

When an incident occurs that makes Morgan and Lissa move out of their home on the beach, and into a local hotel, Morgan begins to believe Anjelica’s story.

As the investigation continues Morgan meets some fascinating characters.

Woman released from the prison who have secrets to keep, and babies to feed.

Prison Officers with secrets in their past

A Prison Governor purportedly running a clean and successful institute

A forensic Dental Odonatologist with a reputation second to none

A flirting Police Inspector

And a very handsome temptation in the way of Ben Garmiara a Fire Scene Investigator.

Without giving away too much of the plot Morgan begins to think that the body found in the fire is not Karl, Anjelica’s baby-father. How will she prove it when the top Odonatologist has given evidence in court identifying the body by his teeth.

Trying to convince the original investigating team is impossible. Morgan turns to the flirtatious DI Neville Rook, who has taken a shine to her since investigating the attack on her and Lissa on the cliff, though even he is underwhelmed by her thoughts

Lissa still becomes more withdrawn as Morgan’s investigations continue. Could she be involved in some way and is her mother’s blindness to this putting her in danger.

When a recently released prisoner and her child turn up at the same hotel as Morgan and Lissa are staying in things take a twist for the worse.

With seemingly nobody believing her Morgan carries on until she finds one ray of light. Ben the Fire Investigator, but is he too good to be true.

The end of this book is every bit as enthralling as the beginning, and there is not let up in pace and enjoyment through the middle either.

Simon Booker has written a great story that interweaves several strands all of which you know will come together, and they do.

As a Fire Investigator myself I was ready to suspend my own knowledge to read this book, but I didn’t have to. There are some points in this book which most people will take for granted, but there are a couple of little things in here that made me sit back and go, “WOW, he really does know what he’s on about”

It’s the attention to detail that makes a good story.

Simon Booker has more than created a good story, he’s created a credible story.

For me they are the best ones.

Pages: 448

Published by: Zaffre

Available on Amazon for pre order

Publish Date: 24th August 2017

Nemesister Sophie Jonas-Hill

 

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A deeply complex book, with many twists and turns, this book will never be described as bubblegum for the brain. Dark and sinister from the start to the end it kept me engrossed from page 1.

It starts with a woman with no memory stumbling into a shack in deepest Louisiana. Barely conscious she holds the male occupier at gunpoint, he sees she’s hurt.

From that point on the story gets dark. Not unlike the Bourne Identity the main protagonist starts to regain her memory and the story of what leads to her appearing in the shack starts to unfold.

As the title suggests the girl has a sister. The mystery woman starts to remember the sister, or is it implanted memories of someone else’s life, or maybe even memories of her own life.

The story moves rapidly and switches, in some places confusingly, between the present and the memories. But this is good, this is very good; because for the first time, for a long time, I read a book that kept me on my toes. It kept me hooked like no other book has for years.

The man in the shack takes care of the girl. But who is he, and why is he helping her.  A couple of Freudian slips, when he is talking to her, puts the girl on her guard. Is he spinning her a false story, or is her memory loss causing her to be forgetful or misunderstanding.

As her paranoia grows his activities seem become more intimidating in their innocence. Why would a complete stranger help somebody with no memory who has stumbled into his remote shack.

When the shack is attacked it seals the woman’s faith in her helper. She is after all free to leave if she wants to, then he locks the doors and puts the key in his pocket.

Exploring the house when he’s asleep the woman makes a discovery and starts to piece things together in her mind. Should she escape, or is she safer where she is, does she have a choice.

I loved this book. It finishes on a cliff hanger, and I was pleased to see that Sophie Jonas-Hill is working on the sequal.

Hurry up Sophie I can’t wait for Broken Ponies

Pages: 304

Publisher: Urbane Publications

Publication Date: 6th July 2017.

Available to pre-order from Amazon

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.

Deaths Silent Judgement Anne Coates

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Deaths Silent Judgement    Anne Coates

What a fantastic read.

Set in the 1990’s, an era which is rapidly becoming my favourite for crime fiction, the story in this book is realistic, and frighteningly believable

Journalist Hannah Weybridge is back, and the story starts a short time after the end of Anne Coate’s previous book Dancers in The Wind.

When Hannah finds her best friend murdered in a church life begins to take an interesting and dangerous turn.

Her friend Liz was a dentist. She had a successful practice in the City, but since returning from carrying out charitable work in Somalia, she has also worked in the church roviding dental care to vagrants.

This opens a whole list of characters who Hannah meets.

Liz’s Mom, Lady Celia Rayman, is not happy with the Police investigation into her daughter’s murder and asks Hannah to have a look at the case.

As Hannah starts to dig she meets the vagrants who live in the Bull Ring, a cardboard city at one of London’s Train Stations. Finding out that Liz had Biblical knick-names for these patients she ponders  if the names have any significance.

She digs into the charity that Liz worked for in Africa, uncovering the uncomfortable truth surrounding Female Genital Mutilation, kidnapping, and trafficking, but has this got anything to do with Liz’s murder.

Then there’s the clergy. Liz was killed at a church working for one of the local Priests projects.

When the priest goes missing and turns up a few days later, in intensive care, Hannah becomes concerned that the church is trying to cover things up.

Hannah Weybridge is one of those characters that it is easy to fall in love with. Still traumatised by the events which took place in Dancers in the Wind. Living at home with her 14-month old daughter she is paranoid about most things. Her daughter is looked after by her Nanny, allowing Hannah to carry on her work as a journalist, but that career has been hampered by the earlier events. The story she submitted was spiked and Hannah has been shackled by a contract that allows her very little scope to write.

With her personal life falling apart, or at least becoming very complicated Hannah starts to piece together the jigsaw that was Liz’s life.

Did it involve her work with the Vagrants?

Was it something to do with the charity work that Liz had been working on?

Has it got something to do with the church?

Is Liz’s family history anything to do with her death?

All of these strands are possible right up till the last couple of chapters when things start to become resolved.

Right at the very end there’s a nice little twist. A cliff hanger which will have you waiting for the next Hannah Waybridge story just as much as I am.

Pages: 244

Publisher: Urbane Publications

Publishing Date: 11th May 2017.

Pre-order available on Amazon