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As Morgan begins to consider the case her daughter becomes more and more withdrawn, and emotional.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

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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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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/

Witness Caroline Mitchell

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Another original concept for a psychological thriller by this brilliant writer.

I sat down with this book early on New Year’s Eve afternoon, and put it down when the fireworks were going off outside.

What a way to end a year.

This story has, at its core, an abusive relationship where a man keeps control over his girlfriend by demeaning her as a person; physically, emotionally and mentally.

The relationship ended 10 years ago and is recalled in a journal kept by the main protagonist Rebecca. Her nightmare came to an end when her abusive partner Solomon was jailed for a serious crime.

Becky, as she is now known, has started a new life in the wilds of the Welsh Countryside. She is married to a vet and has a lovely daughter.

Everything is good in Becky’s life until she finds a strange phone and starts getting texts on it. Solomon is out of prison and wants revenge for his ten years behind bars.

Becky is to witness a crime for every year he has been in prison. She cannot tell anybody about the crimes, she cannot tell the Police she has witnessed the crimes, and worse of all, she must choose the victims of the crime.

At first the crimes are petty but each is more severe and people start to get hurt.

This book explores the abusive relationship in 2005. It describes how Solomon targets a weak Rebecca at a time when she is most vulnerable, and how he uses his personality and charisma to embed himself in her life.

The parts of the book set in 2015 explore some moral dilemmas that are frighteningly realistic. This book explores how a person can choose which of the people they love to suffer over another. Would it be easier to substitute strangers for loved ones……….Could you use the Witness tasks to extract revenge???

Who will be the victim of the ultimate crime.

The story is great, it’s original, and it had me hooked from start to finish.

The writing is excellent. There was no point in this book where I “skipped over” any passages.

Save the best till last, as the saying goes. Well this was the last book I read in 2016, and I can’t think of a better read all year.

Angela Marsons Blog Tour Blood Lines

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And Then There Were 5

Blood Lines is the 5th in the Detective Inspector Kim Stone novels set in and around the Black Country.

I reviewed the book a few weeks ago and used the phrase “The best psychological thriller since Silence of the Lambs”. Why did I think this?

Simply because Angela Marsons has built a set of characters I have come to know and care about, Kim Stone being the main one. In Dr Alex Throne she has conceived a homicidal sociopath with many of the same traits as Hannibal Lecter, and she hates Kim with a passion.

Kim has already had one scrape with Dr Alex, and only just survived. In this book Dr Alex is pulling strings whilst in prison, and once again Kim Stone is her target.

Not since Silence of the Lambs’ Clarice Starling and Hanibal Lecture have I felt such a connection between two characters as I have felt between Kim Stone and Alex Throne.

So how did Alex Throne come about. I got to ask Angela a few questions.

 

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I asked her; I compared Alex Thorne with Hannibal Lecture. Where did the character come from and who, or what inspired her?

Angela replied; I wanted to explore how someone who truly had no empathy would think and act. When writing from Alex’s point of view I literally do have to strip myself of emotional attachment and kind of turn off my heart to try to understand the mechanics of her mind.”

So I asked.

Have you studied any sociopaths to help build her personality. Real or fictional

Not any particular individuals but I did a lot of reading on the subject, especially from Robert Hare, who is credited with developing the only reliable checklist in measuring a sociopathic personality. Also, the book The Sociopath Next Door is a true eye-opener.

 This answer shows why Angela’s books are so good. I admire the fact that she has an idea but then sits down and looks into how to make the situation, or character, real.

The next question was about the relationship between Kim Stone and Alex Throne.

Once you decided on the character of Dr Alex what was the next step in forming the complex relationships with the people she controlled.

It was all about manipulation. Not all sociopaths are serial killers, they just want what they want, and see no barriers to getting what they want. Alex wanted a better understanding of guilt, and in effect the ability to control it. This prompted the foundation of characters for Alex to interact with.

 The other thing I like about Angela Marsons books is the setting. I’ve said before the stories are set close to where I live, I have been tempted to go out and photograph where some of the scenes are set and do a virtual tour on a future blog. So how does she identify where she’s going to set some of her scenes.

My next question was based on one particular house in Blood Lines

We’ve spoken before about where you set the crimes. What struck me this time was the house on Mucklow Hill. Without going and being very nosey I think I can almost identify the house, definitely the little road it’s on. Was setting the family home, of the first victim, in such a specific place deliberate.

Angela answered. I didn’t use the location for any particular reason, but I like to use places that I think local readers will recognise. Most locals know where Mucklow Hill is.

One character cannot carry a series of books and Kim Stone has a team of officers around her that appear in every book. The subtle sub-plots they bring into each story help the series move along. My next question was about these characters.

Kim is a great character but it’s the rest of the team and the way they knit together that makes your stories all the more realistic. What made you choose the difference character traits for them?

I wanted each member of the team to bring something unique to the overall picture but I also wanted each member to bring out a different aspect of Kim’s personality. Bryant is her friend, Dawson challenges and frustrates her and Stacey she wants to nurture and encourage.

 So what of the future for Kim and her team

Are there any plans to promote Kim, or any of the others on the team, or bring any new characters into the team? Likewise, do you see her staying in the MIT or moving to something else

No plans to promote Kim yet as she prefers to be on the ground with as little paperwork as possible. Other members of the team will feature more in future books and there will definitely be changes as we progress through the series.

 I’m glad Kim isn’t moving but are you ever tempted to put her in the inner city. I loved the settings and characters in your stand-alone novel The Forgotten Woman.

She may move around a bit as I do want to explore more locations.

 My last question to Angela was a personal one.

I see you talking, and encouraging lots of other authors, on social media. Who do you read when you’re relaxing, and is it hard not to be influenced by other people’s storylines.

I read Caroline Mitchell, Mel Sherratt, Val McDermid and for something completely different I love Renita D’Silva. When I’m reading I have to switch off the writer part of my brain as I just want to enjoy a story written by someone else.  I don’t get influenced by other stories as I normally have the next 3 or 4 Kim books whizzing around in my head.

 Well that’s good news for me because in that last answer Angela mentions having 3 or 4 more Kim Stone books in her head.

Personally I can’t wait for the next one.

Thank You Angela. For the Books and the chat.

 

My review of Blood Lines

 In Evil Games Angela Marsons introduced us to the brilliant character Dr Alexandra Throne.

In Blood Lines she brings her back.

In my opinion this character is the best nemesis to any character since Hannibal Lecter tormented Clarice Starling in the Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris.

Incarcerated for her part in previous murders Throne starts to manipulate the people around her. She is a vicious sociopath who has only one target. Kim Stone.

Pulling at strings like a master puppeteer she identifies people’s weaknesses and manipulates them to carry out her will. Each action falling into place like jigsaw puzzle bits until the final picture is revealed.

Angela Marsons writes the sections with Alex Throne very cleverly and although it is obvious from the start who her target is, she keeps the reader on the edge of their seat right up till the last page to see if she succeeds.

Meanwhile Kim Stone and her team are faced with several murders in the Black Country. Are the murders unrelated, or is there something which ties them all together.

The first body turns up in a posh car in a layby in a dodgy area, a lady who obviously has money. The second is a drug addict girl found on an urban nature reserve. Surely these people can’t be connected.

Kim is looking into these murders when Dr Alex Throne manipulates circumstances to make Kim visit her.

Kim knows she shouldn’t visit. The last time the two became involved with each other Alex nearly destroyed Kim. But can Kim resist. Even if she can, is Alex back inside her head.

With the investigations into the murders moving ahead Kim has to deal with issues in her team, and Alex in her head.

With two storylines this book moves along so fast that, even at nearly 350 pages, you will wonder where the time has gone when its finished.

I make no bones of the fact that Angela Marsons is my favourite author at the moment.

The Detective Inspector Kim Stones books are nothing short of brilliant. The reason they are so good is that the storylines, the characters, and the locations are so well research and written.

In Kim Stone Angela Marsons has found a main character that sits alongside all of the best Police Officers in modern fiction.

In Alexandra Throne she has found the best, and most fitting, criminal foil for any Detective since 1991.

In doing so she had written not just a good Police Crime Thriller, but in my opinion the best Psychological Thriller since Silence of the Lambs

If you know somebody who loves a good Police Thriller, and they haven’t discovered Angela Marsons yet, the Kim Stone collection would make a magical Christmas gift.

Angela’s books are available in shops, on-line via Amazon, and are published by Bookouture

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While You Were Sleeping. Kathryn Croft

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While You Were Sleeping    Kathryn Croft.

Where do I start with a book like this? What a story.

Until recently I hadn’t read a psychological thriller that I enjoyed for some time; but recently the lady crime writers are coming up trumps, and this is right up there with the best.

Kathryn Croft has spun a spider’s web of a story which revolves around the family of the main protagonist Tara.

Tara is married to Noah and has 2 children, 17-year-old Rosie, and 11-year-old Spencer.

It would be fair to say that the family is not a happy one, but they are together, and living in the same house.

The story starts with Tara waking up naked in a neighbours bed, with his bloody body carved open at the side of her. With no recollection of what happened except that she received a text from the man’s wife asking her to go to the house, only to find the husband home alone, Tara panics and runs home to her empty house.

That weekend her son is away for the night, her daughter is staying with a friend, and her husband is on a business trip to New York.

In her panic and confusion, she decides not to tell the Police, her first mistake.

As the story unfolds the reader is introduced to Tara’s immediate family and her sister Lisa; as well as the wife of the dead man Serena, and one of Tara’s work colleague’s Mikey.

Tara’s family and friends are full of lies, deceit and half-truths.

Is anybody above suspicion? No.

Does everybody seem to have a reason to want the neighbour dead? Yes.

This compelling story has twists and turns a-plenty, but they all flow so well.

There are over 30 chapters and I think I must have built nearly as many hypotheses as to who had killed the man, his name is Lee by the way.

I swung from being convinced that Tara was actually guilty to her being totally innocent many times. Each of these was interjected by me thinking, for one reason or another, that one of the others had killed him. Only for my latest theory to be destroyed by the actions of somebody else.

I loved this book.

It is not often I get to the end and think, well I didn’t think they did it; but then look back and think all the indications were there and that I hadn’t missed a clue. There are no real late revelations that made me think, well if I’d have known that earlier.

It is just a masterpiece of masterpiece of writing that managed to keep me in suspense until right up to the end.

This book is not published till November the 16th.

If you are looking for a Christmas gift for somebody who enjoys a good read, look no further.

Dancers in the Wind Anne Coates

Dancers in the Wind    Anne Cates

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When I requested this book from Urbane Publications I did not realise what a treat I was in for.

I had never heard of Ann Coates before, but I don’t think I’ll forget her. In fact, I think we’re going to be hearing a lot from her. This book is great.

The main protagonist for this story is the single mom, and freelance journalist Hannah Weybridge.

Hannah is struggling to make a living since the birth of her daughter, but is given a job interviewing one of the street walking prostitutes of London, and one of the police officers tasked with sorting out the prostitution problems of the capital city.

The prostitute she interviews is “Princes” the second protagonist of the story. A young girl who has run away from home and ended up on the streets of London.

The Police Officer, and third protagonist, is Detective Inspector Tom Jordan. What Hannah doesn’t know about DCI Jordan is that he is leading an enquiry into the disappearance, and possible murder, of at least three young prostitutes, all from the same area that Princess works in.

Anne Coates has given this story an extra sense of threat and realism by setting it in the mid 1990’s. An era when old school policing was still in the minds of the public, and when there was still a few “old-school coppers” running things how they wanted to, and not necessarily within the bounds of the law.

When Princess turns up at Hannah’s house having suffered a severe assault, she begs Hannah not to get the police involved.

The story the takes a path that finds Hannah getting conflicted by her own moral compass. Does she allow Princess to stay with her and her infant daughter; does she involve DCI Jordan, and it doesn’t help that she is beginning to find him more interesting than she expected but is still unsure of whether he can be trusted.

From her own aspect Princess is not sure how much to trust Hannah. She has to stay off the streets but she also has to make money. What she doesn’t want is to bump into any of her old clients. What she does do is keep journals in notebooks.

The more the story goes on the more intriguing it becomes.

I don’t want to give anything away, so no more about the storyline, but I can say I enjoyed every page from beginning to end. The pace never stops.

Anne Coates has picked a great era to set this story in. It is given more credibility being set in the 90’s than if it was set in the modern day.

Not only that, but when you finish the book you will understand what I mean when I say the storyline is given even more credence by what we now know happened in those times, and who was involved.

An absolute treat of a book. The last few pages are a preview her next book. God it’s going to be a long wait.