Murder Game. Caroline Mitchell Christmas book recommendation 3

Earlier today I saw a tweet by Caroline Mitchell stating it was 4 years today that she held the first paperback copies of her first published book. Coincidently I was just about to write this blog recommending her books as great Christmas Presents for anybody who likes no holds barred, realistic crime thrillers

A few months ago I reviewed, and took part in the blog tour, for her novel Murder Game. It is one of the best books I’ve read this year. The link below leads to my post on the tour. I think you’ll see why I have recommended it as a Christmas Present

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Last Cry Anna-Lou Weatherley

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I struggled with writing this blog. There is so much good to say about this book; the story, the characters, the writing, but there is a couple of things that very nearly put me off it.

I’m glad they didn’t, I’m glad I stuck with it to the end. It’s a great book with a great story so what could I have possibly found wrong with it. I’ll tell you at the end of the blog.

The book starts with a murder in a hotel. I think it’s safe to say that the victim, a successful banker, is killed by a very attractive Escort, or a woman posing as one. The killer is aware of how to stage a scene using Counter Forensics. She makes the death look like a suicide at first inspection, but she knows that a good cop will spot it for what it is straight away. Is that what she wants?

That’s exactly what she gets. DI Dan Riley is sent to the scene and immediately see’s it for what it is. Riley is a complex character who is still in mourning for the loss of his partner, and their unborn child, in a motorcycle accident 2 years ago. As much as he is mourning he is also trying to get his life back on track, and has started to dabble in the dating scene. The scenes where he is conflicted about his basic feelings, of wanting to be with somebody else whilst feeling guilt at charting on his dead partner, are brilliantly written.

The book has two protagonists, the killer, and Dan Riley. Chapters are devoted to each, and every chapter had me hooked. The killer is horrible and everybody will be fully aware of what she is doing, and wonder how stupid the other victims are for not seeing her for what she is. But that’s the thing about killers, they don’t have a sign tattooed on them to give us a warning.

Riley is just the type of man you’d like to share a drink with, or just sit down with and have a chat. He is what most Police Officers are, normal.

The killer is working to a plan and the bodies are starting to pile up, but will Riley managed to identify her, and stop her before she commits her worse crime. I can guarantee that the last 30 pages of this book will have readers gripped, and what an ending. By the time you get to the end you will think you have it all sorted in your mind; but then there’s that last few pages.

So, what were the things that were wrong with this book. I read it on a Kindle and I thought there was a reason that I didn’t know the name of the main protagonist, even though he’s there almost from the start. Then I began to wonder if the author had just forgot that she hadn’t given him a name; but no, we find out his name 14% into the book. I knew everything about him before I knew his name, it just felt strange

Secondly, and this would usually really wind me up, you can drive a bus through the inaccuracies in the Policing in this book. There are problems with procedures and ranks. There are things that happen during the investigation that had me shacking my head, after all if you have CCTV of somebody entering a room, how can you not have footage when they leave the same room.

But if you can get past these, this book is really worth reading. A great story, with a great ending.

Pages: 307

Publishers: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 31st January 2007.

Available to pre-order on Amazon

GONE MISSING BLOG BLITZ

Gone Missing - Blog Tour

Today is the Blog Blitz day for the publication ofT.J Brearton’s fabulous new book Gone Missing.

I posted my original blog a few weeks ago and have been reading other bloggers  reviews, there is not a single dissenting word written.

T.J Brearton has spent weeks at the top of the Amazon book charts for other publications and I can see no reason why this book shouldn’t have its time at the top.

 

My review of Gone Missing

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.

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The Death Messenger Mari Hannah

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The Queen of Northern Crime Fiction is spreading her wings.

Mari Hannah is back with the second in the Ryan and O’Neil series.

Following on from the Silent Room, this book can comfortably read as a stand-alone novel without the reader feeling like they have joined the party half way through.

Detective Superintendent Eloise O’Neil, formerly of Professional Standards, is back in Northumbria, but this time she has been asked to form her own Unit to investigate high profile serious crimes.

The first person she brings in is Detective Sergeant Matthew Ryan, formerly of Special Branch, and one time person of interest to O’Neil when she was in her former role.

The chemistry between the two is electric; but whereas Ryan is a heart on your sleeve type of person who finds it hard to hide his emotions, and is usually quite prepared to share what he is thinking, O’Neil is almost a split personality. She swings from happy and flirtatious, to moody and brooding in a split second and, more often than not, half way through a conversation.

O’Neil also holds secrets. Why was the Unit formed and who is funding it? It is legitimate, it is legal, but is its ultimate boss as above board.

The team form to investigate their first crime, the disappearance of a Scottish Judge who is about to start Hearing a high-profile case.

When a DVD, showing the apparent crime, scene arrives at the Units HQ it quickly becomes obvious that this is not the first DVD that O’Neil is aware of. Tensions between her and Ryan almost ruin the newly formed team when he finds out. Especially as he suspects O’Neil is trying to protect somebody outside of the team.

As more DVD’s start to arrive, and as bodies start to be discovered, the team needs to expand; but the right people have to be taken on. Both O’Neil and Ryan have their reasons for choosing some very specific people. Will either, or both, get their way.

When the new members come on board they bring with them some exceptional skills and experience, and they are great characters for the book.

Along with them Ryan recruits his blind twin sister. Caroline excels at hearing things that other people miss. Usually a CPS Prosecutor Ryan is particularly protective of her because of her blindness. Will she be put into danger by helping the investigation?

The crimes are being committed by somebody with skills in the use of making movies, or so it seems. The recordings are professionally done, and there is a narrator common to all of them. Why would somebody film the scenes, and why taunt the team by sending them to them?

This story is nothing but top fantastic. Mari Hannah has set most of her books in the North East but by forming this cross boarders National Response Team she has opened the doors to let her team roam across Britain and Europe.

The characters are great. Each one brings its own mix to the chemistry which is so much a part of Hannah’s books.

The story explores the trials and tribulations of a criminal investigation.

It explores the frustrations of the team as they build hypothesis after hypothesis only to see them all smashed. Suspects are identified, then discarded. Will the team find the perpetrator?

This is writing of the highest quality and the reader is left wanting more at the end of each book.

This one is no exception.

Pages: 350

Published by Pan Macmillan

Publishing Date: 16th November 2017

Murder Game Blog Tour

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Caroline Mitchell writes from experience. Her biography, on her own website, tells us that she was once a Police Detective who worked on cases involving high risk victim of domestic abuse and serious sexual offences. This is a woman that’s “been there and got the T-shirt”, and it shows in her writing.

Rarely do I read books as realistic as the ones Caroline writes, and even more rarely does an author hook me with her stories from the very first page, but she does.

Murder Game Description

 A serial killer is playing a terrifying game of life or death with his victims. After he captures them, a countdown begins. He marks the time by sending clues to the whereabouts of the women he has taken in three disturbing images: alive, tortured, dead.

In a race against the clock, East London Detective Ruby Preston must play the twisted killer’s terrifying murder game and decipher the clues before more women die…

But this isn’t the first time the police have seen such a sickening crime. The notorious Lonely Hearts Killer, Mason Gatley, was put behind bars ten years ago for murdering six women in exactly the same chilling way. Desperate for more information, Ruby persuades her boyfriend, Nathan Crosby, to use his criminal connections to set up a dangerous meeting. Because to catch this killer, she needs to think like one…

But the closer Ruby grows to the dark and charming Mason Gatley, the more worried her team become. Is Mason really helping her catch the killer? Or is he lining Ruby up to be his next victim?

 My Review

Everybody loves a good serial killer story, and this one is really good.

Detective Sergeant Ruby Preston, and her team, are back.

Years ago Mason Gately was caught in the act of murdering his 6th Victim. Nicknamed by the press The Lonely Heart Killer, he found his victims through the personal adds in local papers, Gately had a very specific way of killing the women over several days.

When Melissa Phillips, the wife of a high-profile BBC News Journalist, goes missing; and he starts to receive images of her, similar to those sent by Gately of his victims to their families, alarm bells begin to ring.

Ruby’s boss, DI Downes, had worked on the original case and knows that some of the details of the original murders had never been released to the public. So how does the new killer know how to recreate the murders in such detail? Is Gately actually the Lonely Hearts Killer, or is the wrong person in custody.

As more people go missing the similarities between the murders continue and each case is a rush against time to save the victim.

Meanwhile the killer is contacting a confidential telephone help line and talking, in a round-about way, about his crimes. Will the call handler understand who they are talking to?

Ruby is still dating her first love, who she is only recently become reacquainted with, Nathan. Just to add spice to the story Nathan is part of one of the biggest crime families in Shoreditch.

This relationship opens doors for Ruby to interview Gately, and so begins a relationship very similar to that of Starling and Lecter.

What sacrifices will Ruby have to make to get the information she needs, and how many people will suffer before she gets it.

This is another great story in this series by Caroline Mitchell. Each book gets better, and as ever I was left wanting to read the next one straight away.

I suppose I’ll just have to be patient.

Amazon Links for Murder Game

UK: http://amzn.to/2v1l8v5

US: http://amzn.to/2umrDqp

Caroline’s website

www.caroline-writes.com

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

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