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 Crow Girl Erik Axl Sund

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The Crow Girl     Eric Axl Sund.

I had heard a lot about this trilogy of books before it was amalgamated into one, and at 786 pages it is a big book.

Not only is it big but it is tough reading at times, not because it is badly written, it isn’t, but because of the subjects it covers.

This book looks at systematic child abuse, generational abuse, peer abuse, multiple personality disorders, child trafficking, kidnapping and manipulation of vulnerable people.

Jeanette Kihlberg is an Investigator in the Stockholm Police. Married with a teenage son life at home is not good. Her aspiring artist husband is not pulling his weight and she is having to borrow money from her father. She is becoming more alienated from her son as she spends more time at work.

Then the murders start. The bodies of young men who have been, very severely beaten and mutilated start to turn up around the city. As Jeanette becomes embroiled in the investigation she identifies a suspect, a man already under investigation for child abuse, but her investigations keeps being thwarted by a senior prosecutor.

Meanwhile psychotherapist Sofia Zetterlund is interviewing people who have been accused of, and victims of, child abusers. One of the people she is interviewing is Karl Lundstrom, Jeanette’s main suspect.

When Jeanette is refused permission to interview Lundstrom personally she talks to Sofia and strikes up a close friendship.

Another of Sofia’s clients is Victoria Bergmann, a victim of abuse from a young age. Through interviews between Sofia and Victoria, and flashbacks to Victoria’s early life, the reader is introduced to a very disturbed girl, turning into a very disturbed young woman

Another strand of the story sees a young illegal immigrant boy drugged and held captive. He is abused and brainwashed until he becomes a machine carrying out the whims of the person holding him. Through this manipulation, the boy becomes a killing machine, but is he as under control as his kidnapper thinks, and can they really control him.

As Jeanette’s marriage continues to break down, and her professional life become more frustrating she turns more towards Sofia for solace and friendship.

The more Sofia becomes involved with her clients, the more she cognitively deteriorates. She finds herself blacking out when listening to tapes of interviews with her clients. Falling asleep at night her dreams are filled with the implanted memories of Victoria.

I don’t give spoilers beyond halfway through the book, so I won’t comment on who of the main protagonists has the multiple personality syndrome, or how it affects them and endangers those close to them, but it’s one hell of a story line.

This book is not for the feint-hearted. Some of the abuse scenes are amongst the toughest I’ve read. They are graphic but don’t go all the way, just far enough to leave the reader in no doubt as to what happens, or is happening to people.

It is one of the best psychological thrillers I have ever read.

I think I would have preferred to read it as the tree separate books. I took a break after part one, feeling slightly uneasy about the story; but I soon picked the book back up to finish it off.

I have read a lot of other reviews which say the book is too long. I disagree, it tells the story with no slack. It has to be as long as it is.

I think readers are going to have to find a new name fort this genre, Nordic Noir doesn’t seem right.

Maybe Nightmare Invoking Nordic Noir would be more appropriate.

A great book, but not a relaxing read for your holidays.

 

Pages 786

Publisher Vintage

Available for the Kindle via 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

The Killer On The Wall Emma Kavanagh

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The Killer on the Wall      Emma Kavanagh

 

The population of a tight knit town on the Scottish borders is left terrified when three bodies are found propped against Hadrian’s Wall.

Over the next two weeks more bodies are found and then Heath McGowan is found and arrested by Sergeant Eric Bell.

Twenty years later the young girl, 15-year-old Isla Bell, who found the first bodies is now a Criminal Psychologist.

For twenty year’s the sleepy town of Briganton has tried its best to get over its notoriety, bus-loads of tourists still visit the site where the bodies were found, and the occasional documentary team arrive to record a program.

Dr Isla is carrying out a study into Serial Killers using MRI technology to measure their brain functions. At last she has the chance to interview and examine McGowan, The Wall Killer.

And that’s is when the murders start again.

Sergeant Eric Bell, now celebrity cop Superintendent Eric Bell, takes charge of the new investigation but seems to be frustratingly stubborn in his opinions and ways.

Detective Constable Mina Arian, a recent transferee from the Met, doubts Bell and begins to investigate both series of killings. Is the right person in prison, did he have an accomplice, or is there really a copy-cat killer on the rampage.

This story is told via the eyes of three main protagonists.

Isla, the girl that finds the first bodies, and is now the insecure Criminal Psychologist, who is afraid of the dark, and her own shadow at times.

Ramsey, Isla’s husband who was a survivor of the first attack when the tree bodies were left against the wall.

Mina the Detective Constable that was born in Iraq bit moved to London with her family when she was 4. The woman that is badgered by her mother, the cop that thinks everybody else is looking in the wrong direction.

Each of these main protagonists have a great story. All of them are conflicted in themselves, but seem to be spiralling around a conclusion they don’t want to recognise.

This is a great story.

A psychological thriller that kept me reading from the first page right up to the end.

A story that managed to surprise me in the last couple of chapters.

A story that left me wanting another instalment.

Summer holidays are coming, and people are going to be looking for a poolside book. Don’t wait, get it now. You won’t be disappointed.

Pages: 384

Published by: Arrow

Everything but the Truth Gillian McAllistar

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Everything but the truth    Gillian McAllister

 

This is one of those books that has you shouting at the main protagonist, Rachel, at the top of your voice.

Just like watching a film when the young girl enters the dark lodge, in the middle of the woods, then decides to explore the basement, without a torch.

It’s been a long time since I got so immersed in a story that I shouted out loud, but I did, more than once, in this one.

Rachel is an ex-doctor who is now working as a researcher. She is pregnant and living with the man of her dreams, Jack, the big, bearded, Rugby player from the wilds of Scotland.

She hasn’t known Jack that long but moved in with him after becoming pregnant.

Is Jack too god to be true, Hmmm.

Rachel also suffers from memories, not quite the dreaded flashbacks of many recent books, about a young lad who she diagnosed and treated for cancer. The memories haunt her and she suffers silently as this part of the story unfolds whilst it intertwines with the main thread.

The main thread is one for the psychological thriller fan.

Rachel and Jack are living in Newcastle, where Jack is a journalist. All is going well until one morning Jacks IPad lights up in the middle of the night. Rachel picks it up and reads the message as its displayed on the lock screen. That’s when things begin to change.

Rachel has never visited Jacks Scottish home till this point, but she’s about to.

When she arrives, she realises that she doesn’t really know that much about Jack.

Why do his friends appear to be keeping a secret?

Why does Jack seem to have a nickname which occasionally slips out, but then everybody denies or makes up a bad excuse for?

As Rachel spends more time in the Scottish village the more warry she becomes, what is the secret, or is it just Baby-brain paranoia, because it wouldn’t be the first-time Rachel has fixated on a boyfriend and become paranoid about his behaviour and fidelity.

When in Scotland Rachel and Jack stay with his family, and they’re strange. In fact, everything about Jacks life in Scotland starts to look strange to Rachel.

Starting this book I was looking for reasons as to why Rachel would behave like she does, could she really be that naïve.

Then I went through a stage when I thought, it’s everybody else that’s normal and Rachel is just being paranoid and it’s her with something to hide.

These swings went on all the way to the end. Are we reading through the eyes of a victim, listening to her legitimate worries, or are we reading through the eyes of a paranoid young lady who is being protected from herself by people who care for her?

Is it Jack with the secret, or is it Rachel, or could it be both?

You’ll have to read this book to find out.

Some books can be a bit of bubble-gum for the brain. Some can take your brain for a ride in a tumble drier.

This one will take you for a spin.

If you work out the finish before you get there, well done, I didn’t

Ashes to Ashes PaulFinch

 

 

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I have to say I have never read any of Paul’s previous books, and I really don’t know why I’ve never come across him before. A quick look at Amazon told me this was the 6th book to feature DS Mark Heckenburg; but I must say reading this as a stand-alone, or out of sequence, book didn’t detract from my enjoyment of it.

I had only read the first 5% when I sent a tweet out saying WOW what a start to a book. The next 95% did not let me down either. Its fast paced, and intriguing.

It’s one of those books where you keep looking for a point where you can put it down and get on with what you should be doing. In the end, I gave up and just read it straight through.

Detective Sergeant Mark Heckenberg, Heck, works in the Serious Crime Unit, a national resource based in London. It has to be said he is the typical “doesn’t work to the rules” “always in trouble with his bosses-who secretly like him” type of character. A cross between a British Cop and Jack Reacher. Not my preferred type of protagonist but I really did enjoy this book.

His latest investigation is taking him home to Manchester.

A torturer-for-hire has moved from the Capital to Manchester and the SCU team follow him.

Once they’re there another crime crosses their investigation. Somebody is using a flame thrower to kill people associated some of Manchester’s gangs. Very unoriginally the press give this killer the name of “The Incinerator”.

Meanwhile, as The Incinerator piles up victim after victim it appears that The Torturer is also working within the Manchester  Gang Scene.

The race is on to find both killers, who they are associated with, and why they are carrying out the killings.

 

Vic Ship is the head of a established gang and he has started introducing Russian Thugs into his team to enforce his law.

Lee Shaughnessy is a young man, the head of a breakaway gang. Both have a history of drugs, prostitution and violence. Both want to run Manchester, but is either of them capable of the atrocities that are taking place, or is somebody else trying to disturb the food chain.

The story runs at a very, very fast pace. Every page is a new breathless experience, and maybe, just maybe that could be the only thing wrong with it.

If you like your Lee Child you will love this.

If you prefer a more sedate, and dare I say it, more realistic read then this book won’t be for you.

I have said in previous blogs, and my Bio, I don’t do suspended reality. Yes we have violent crime on the Streets, and yes it is getting worse, but this for me was just a step too far.

However would I read the next one, yes definitely, and not only that I’m going to read the first 5 as soon as I’ve got a chance.

I think I’ve just found my guilty pleasure amongst my usually keep-it-reel reading list.